Once at the reception, the bride may want the chief bridesmaid to be a part of the receiving line. The purpose of the line is to allow the guests to meet the bridal party, and to ensure that the bride and groom say at hello and thank you to each guest.
You may also have the responsibility for displaying the bride’s bouquet somewhere safe (and preferably cool), ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during the rest of the day. Liaise with the venues wedding co-ordinator to get a vase or jug of water to keep the flowers refreshed.
The chief bridesmaid should also circulate amongst the guests during the reception, ensuring that they are enjoying themselves and don’t need anything. In this way you act as the bride’s back-up; she will have only limited time to spend with each guest.
Although the speeches at the reception are generally a male prerogative, it is becoming more usual for either the bride, chief bridesmaid, or even both of you to make a speech.
The first dance is exclusively reserved for the newlyweds, but it is traditional for the chief bridesmaid to take to the floor with the best man and join the happy couple midway through the first dance.
Finally, when the couple change into their going-away outfits, the chief bridesmaid should be on hand to take care of the bride’s wedding dress and ensure that it is returned to her home. The other attendants’ outfits may need to be returned if they’ve been hired and she may well ask you to take responsibility for this.
There is a lovely tradition behind the small thank-you gift the bride and groom will probably get you. The giving of extra presents to the bridesmaids is an ancient custom, handed down from the days when the groom had to catch his bride and, rather than actually chasing her, he used to bribe her friends to lure her to a place where he could stealthily approach her!