“Take a lot of pictures! Brides have a hard time capturing all the fun moments at the wedding because they are so busy, so being able to look at photos your bridesmaids took is really fun,” says recent bride Nikki Hanley.

Vagnocci says if you want to be a super-star bridesmaid, bring the following with you the day of the wedding to help the bride: face powder, oil-blotting papers, bottled water, mints, Band-Aids and tissues.

“My bridesmaids all made me feel so beautiful on my wedding day—they were all smiles and compliments and seemed like they were having fun—it made the whole ‘backstage’ part of the wedding so special,” Hanley says.

My friend asked me to be the maid of honor; does that mean I have a bigger job?
With the top honor comes more responsibility. Maids of honor generally are in charge of the bridesmaids (making sure they’ve all ordered their dresses and show up on time for the wedding). They also get the honor of acting as a witness when the couple signs their marriage license.

The task of planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party also falls on your shoulders. While you should certainly ask the other bridesmaids for help, it’s up to you to lead.

I love my friend, but I just can’t do this right now. How can I (nicely) turn down an offer to be a bridesmaid?
The most important thing is to be honest with your friend and tell her why you can’t do it. Sometimes the problem can be worked out. If it’s a money or time issue she may be able to help. If it’s because you don’t agree with whom she’s marrying or something serious, then realize that your friendship might be damaged if you say no, but you have to do what’s right for you.

Michael Lasky, who runs the site bridesmaid101.com, offers some advice for those embarking on the bridesmaid journey: