As any bride will tell you, having the best bridesmaid possible on your big day to ensure it goes off without a hitch, is as important as the flowers arriving on time and the groomsmen behaving.
But from organising last-minute changes to the all-important seating plan to warding off any last-minute meltdowns, being ‘chief hen’ is no mean feat.
Now brides up and down the country have honoured the ladies who helped their nuptials run smoothly by nominating them for a Best Bridesmaid award.
Held to coincide with National Bridesmaids Day, the award recognises the women who pulled out all the stops to help their best friend get the wedding of their dreams.
Organisers Red7 – a hen, stag and group travel company – will treat the winner to a stay for two at a four or five star hotel, which will include afternoon tea, time in the spa and a three course meal.
Here, FEMAIL exclusively reveals the women who battled epileptic seizures, stood in for family members and made last-minute dress alterations to make sure their best friends’ big days ran smoothly…
Saved the day when Mum fell ill
Emma McMullan (seen centre), from Derry, Northern Ireland, nominated Katey McNay (right)
Emma McMullan, from Derry, Northern Ireland, nominated Katey McNay.
She said: ‘My mum took ill at the wedding and had to leave early. Katey first of all looked after my mum making sure she was OK and helping her feel as comfortable as she could.
‘She arranged for my mum to get home to save me trying to organise it and then continued to check in on her.
‘At the reception, Katey stepped up and made a speech on behalf of my whole family, telling everyone how we are “like family”. She stood by side with pride and I can’t thank her enough for that.’
Last-minute dress alterations
Katie Strong (pictured centre) of Birmingham, nominated her sister Lori Knight (centre right)
Katie Strong, from Birmingham, nominated her sister Lori Knight. She said: ‘Lori made my dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses and the mother of the bride’s outfit.
‘She was still perfecting things literally minutes before we said “I do” as my flower girl accidentally ripped her dress.
‘But, Lori didn’t panic. She just popped out her sewing needle and thread and saved the day. We all looked fantastic and all had the dresses of my dreams.’
Shoulder to cry on
Kirsty Atkinson, from Hull, nominated Diana Johnson (seen together on Kirsty’s wedding day)
Kirsty Atkinson, from Hull, nominated Diana Johnson for her support not only on the big day, but throughout her life.
Kirsty said: ‘The reason I chose her is because she has always been there for me through all my battles in life, the domestic violence from a former partner, and the death of my father. At the drop of a hat, she was always by my side.
‘She has been my best friend for over 15 years. At my wedding she dried my tears and helped me into my dress.
‘She is not an emotional person. But seeing her cry touched my heart, knowing my best friend finally knew I had finally married my soulmate, and my new journey would be a life of happiness.
‘I can’t thank her enough for all she does and did to make my wedding day so special.’
A big help on the road to recovery
Angharad Morris, from Pontypool, Wales, nominated Megan Touhig (pictured together on Angharad’s hen do)
Angharad Morris, from Pontypool, Wales has nominated Megan Touhig, who was instrumental in helping her get her life back on track.
‘Eight years ago I had a terrible car accident and Megan helped me recover and helped my rehabilitation including helping me walk again,’ she said.
‘When I got engaged she said “Right, as maid of honour just tell me what to do and it’s done”.
‘Jokingly I said “who said you got the job?” Next day I received a CV of why she was suitable for the role and her previous experience.
‘We thought we’d have to postpone the wedding after a recent house fire left us in temporary housing. She has been amazing and not complained once. I definitely couldn’t ask for a better best friend or bridesmaid.’
Battled through epileptic seizures
Lorna Venables, from Chester, put her sister Michaela (next to Lorna, right) up for the award
Lorna Venables, from Chester put her sister, Michaela, forward for the award, because she went above and beyond for her wedding – despite going through a difficult break up from a six-year relationship only eight weeks prior.
The bride said: ‘She was so strong through it all, she never made me feel like I couldn’t be excited about the wedding or that I should filter anything because she was sad.
‘She was so selfless and still so genuinely full of love and excitement for us. She also suffers from uncontrolled epilepsy so was dealing with multiple seizures a day through all this.
‘But she still managed to show up in the most amazing ways for me through that whole process and I’m forever grateful.’
Helping to deal with bereavement
Amy Matthews has put forward her best friend Sue Tucker (pictured together), from South Gloucestershire, for the award
Amy Matthews has put forward her best friend Sue Tucker, from South Gloucestershire, for the award.
The bride said: ‘One month before my big day we all headed to Benidorm for my hen do. This included a group of my friends, my mother and my godmother. We had the best time.
‘When we got home that very night my godmother passed away in her sleep suddenly without warning. Sue was my rock. Four days later my amazing grandmother passed away in the blink of an eye.
‘I was broken, I still am. Sue was by my side through it all. The funerals were held the week before my wedding.
‘My wedding day arrives, happy and heartbroken at the same time I try and keep the smile on my face. When she could see me struggling she gave me the look, the look of “I’ve got you”. When I was crying she wiped my tears.
‘Because of her, I got through the day and I married the best man in the world feeling stronger – all because Sue held me together.’
Sorting out last-minute problems
Aimee Harper is jointly nominating her best friends Amy and Kim (seen together) for the award
Aimee Harper, from Bridlington, nominated her best pals Amy and Kim for a joint nomination.
‘On my hen do Kim knew I’d be missing my mum who had passed away. She brought her with us on a balloon,’ she recalled.
‘Three days before the wedding the groomsmen’s suits had not arrived. Kim soon sorted that out. I didn’t even know there had been an issue until after the wedding.
‘To top it off, she wasn’t even my maid of honour. Initially I had said I wasn’t choosing a maid of honour. Then my best friend Amy’s mum fell ill with cancer. We wanted to cheer her up and Kim encouraged me to choose Amy, which I did.’
Picked up the pieces after an illness
Jade Parry, from Telford, has suggested Jade Mansell (pictured left) should be given the award for making the wedding run smoothly after her other bridesmaid fell ill
Jade Parry, from Telford, has suggested Jade Mansell should be given the award, explaining: ‘On my wedding day my chief bridesmaid collapsed – an ambulance was called and paramedics spent over an hour in my house before she was taken to hospital.
‘This left Jade to pick up the pieces and ensure we were on time. It left less than an hour for my makeup artist and hairdresser to sort me out!
‘If it wasn’t for Jade my day would have been ruined. She took my two kids on in her stride and walked down that aisle on her own and she owned it!
‘I am so thankful for her not only for being an amazing friend but for being so selfless from day one. Everyone needs a friend like her. Thankfully, my other bridesmaid has since made a full recovery.’
Never missing any event
If managing one wedding wasn’t enough, Sally Essex (pictured right), from Birmingham, happily managed five. She has been nominated for the prize by Emily O’Connor (pictured left)
If managing one wedding wasn’t enough, Sally Essex, from Birmingham, happily managed five. She has been nominated for the prize by Emily O’Connor.
The bride said: ‘I don’t think there is any woman alive who is more committed to her friends, and their happiness, than her.
‘I have known her for over ten years since living together at university and she is my absolute soul sister in every way. Sal was my bridesmaid in October this year when I got married in Scotland, she was also Maid of Honour for our friend Jess, and bridesmaid for her best childhood friend Millie in August.
‘She also said yes to being bridesmaid for two more of our friends, Steph and Anna who are getting married March and May 2020.
‘None of this is easy given that geographically speaking, she is in Birmingham, I am in Durham, Jess is in Leeds, Millie is in London, Anna is in Chester and Steph is in Sheffield – but she literally never missed a single thing.
‘In June 2019, her wonderful father, to whom she was so close, sadly passed away after a twelve month battle with terminal cancer.
‘She is the most genuine, caring and loyal friend that anyone could imagine, and even when she was facing such tremendous grief, supporting her mum and her brother through this awful time, she was still so committed to all of her friends and brides, insisting that this was a helpful, positive presence in her life.
‘I cannot fathom how there would be anyone that deserves this prize more than her given everything and I would just love to be able to spoil her with a treat to say thank you for being an absolute one in a million.’
The judging criteria: Top qualities for a star bridesmaid
Sending her off in style You’re her best friend and now is your chance to prove it. Once she’s married there will likely be a few less girly nights out, so pull out all of the stops and make this one to remember.
The dress You are her real life mirror and honest sounding board. This is no time for rose-tinted glasses – she needs to know if her bum actually looks big this time – but make sure when she finds ‘the one’ your expression tells her so. Your bride needs to look utterly fabulous, so get searching and suggesting.
Keeping everybody calm when it counts Wedding days are notoriously emotional and highly stressful, ensuring that your bride is able to enjoy her magical day is paramount.
Organise the troops Whilst you’re chief, there are deputies – make sure all the other bridesmaids, flower girls and pageboys are ready to go, know what they’re doing and where they’re meant to be. No member of her key wedding party should be MIA or left behind.
Ensuring your bride is able to use the bathroom An essential task and the reality of wearing so many skirts. Familiarise yourself with your bestie’s dress fastenings before the big day so you’re not fumbling around when it comes to the task.
If she says jump, you say how high You’ve been her wing lady for years and have proven skills… but through the planning stages and right up to the day itself you are her right hand lady and should expect to be at her beck and call for all things – big or small.
Competition entries can be put forward by the bride or groom, and the deadline for submissions is midnight on Saturday 29 February 2020. Red7 will announce the winner on National Bridesmaid’s Day (13th April).