It's a terrific honor to be selected as someone's Maid-of-Honor or Best Man. However, there are duties attached to those roles and you need to be able to depend on them to fulfill those duties when it comes crunch time for your big day.
The most common reason Brides and Grooms don't get what they need from their bridal party is that they don't really know what you need. Let's face it, unless you've served in these roles in a previous well-planned ceremony, how could you possibly know what is expected of you. This is why I can't stress enough how important it is to meet several times with your bridal party and be specific about what you need them to do. Clearly spell out who will be responsible for what duties and equally importantly, when they should do these things.
Every bridal party member should have a written copy of the reception itinerary at least a month before the rehearsal and make sure they have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Then, don't stop the rehearsal at the end of the trip back down the aisle. Walk through what happens after leaving the ceremony. Which way will they go as they exit? Where will photos be taken? What order will they enter the reception? Walk through all of the important steps. What's interesting is that unless you're familiar with the processes, you may not realize where you'll need help until you walk through it yourself. For instance, it's time to cut the cake. Do you really plan to stand there and cut 100-200 slices of cake on your wedding day? Not likely. This is where you realize a bridesmaid should take this over after you've finished cutting the first slices for each other. But which one has the skill and patience to best handle this successfully? Standing at the cake table is not the time to figure it out. Choose someone well in advance and make sure they know it. She should be ready and waiting to jump in without you needing to look around for her or get her attention.
Finally, when in doubt, depend on your planner/coordinator to help you know where you'll need help. They can be a wealth of information because who does this more than they do? Your planner has probably seen just about every possible snag and should be forthcoming with that info to help you avoid the common pitfalls. Thinking you don't need the expense of a planner? Think again! Their expertise will almost always help you save more in added expenses and frustration than you will ever pay for their services. It a great return on your investment!