Five things you should always do to be a good bridesmaid—and friend—for the bride.

Bridesmaids with Bouquets
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Southern weddings are a big deal, and often mean a big bridal party. So whether you're from the South or just went to school here, you're bound to be asked to be in at least a few friends' weddings. Also a big deal in the South? Manners and following proper etiquette. So we've rounded up five of the most important rules all Southern bridesmaids ought to know—and follow—when one of your best friends is getting married.

Accept graciously—except in a few extreme circumstances

There are only a few reasons why you should ever turn down a request to be a bridesmaid (for example, you or an immediate family member is graduating on the day of the wedding), and none of them include not feeling like you should do it. Even if you're surprised by a bride's request, act honored and graciously accept. Aside from conflicts you simply can't change, the only time it would be appropriate to turn down a bride's request is if finances are a serious concern. A close friend will surely understand and probably be willing to discuss you skipping out on certain pre-wedding events so that you're able to stand by her side on the most important day.

Offer to help with a bridal shower

While it's quite typical for the bridal party to host a wedding shower, it's very common in the South for extended family and close friends of the bride's mother to offer to host a shower. There might be five or more different groups offering to host a brunch or tea. The bride may consolidate all of these requests into one shower so that a group of 10 women are all pitching in to help host. In that case, it's unlikely the bridal party would need to host a separate shower, but it's always polite to offer to help even if you're simply invited as a guest—whether that's with planning, setting or cleaning up, or contributing financially.

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Send a wedding gift—yes, even when you're in the bridal party

This can sometimes come as an unwelcome surprise, but members of the bridal party are still considered guests at the wedding, and as such, are required to give a gift to the bride and groom. Ditto to any showers you're invited to or hosting. Yes, you've already spent a lot of money and devoted a lot of time to the wedding, but this is simply good etiquette. One cost-cutting solution? Go in with other bridesmaids on a large group gift.

Be an "easy" bridesmaid

Don't be the one difficult friend who unnecessarily stresses out the bride—even if it's not intentional. This means honoring the bride's deadlines when it comes to choosing a dress style or placing an order for your dress. And also going with the flow when it comes to other day-of requests the bride makes for your accessories, hair, and makeup. If the bride asks for open-toe nude shoes, don't ask if gold is okay—or worse, just show up with gold shoes on the day of.

The same goes for hair and makeup. This is not the time to bring up that you think updos make your face look round. Typically, brides will coordinate stylists to come help the bridal party get ready (who pays for this and whether it's optional varies) so it shouldn't be a matter of what you're capable of or used to doing yourself. Most brides want their friends to be comfortable and happy with how they look, so minimal instructions like "I just don't want your hair completely down" are common. But don't be that one bridesmaid who asks if just pinning your hair out of your face works.

Don't forget day-of bridesmaid duties

When it's finally the wedding weekend, everyone involved in the wedding should do their best to keep the bride from getting stressed. Sometimes that means not telling her when something (or someone) is missing, and sometimes that means getting the party started at the reception so the expensive band she picked out isn't playing to an empty dance floor. Help run any last-minute errands, make sure guests sign the guestbook, keep the bride's drink refreshed, and go find any guests she says she hasn't seen yet. First and foremost, being a bridesmaid is about making this the best day of your friend's like, not having a VIP ticket to the biggest party of the year.