Wedding Party Roles and Responsibilities

Wedding Party Roles and Responsibilities

The Spruce

One of the most personal and important aspects of your wedding planning process will be choosing your wedding party. Your wedding party (also known as the bridal party) may vary depending on your personal preferences, religious practices, and cultural traditions. You don't even need to have a wedding party, but it is helpful, and even if you elope, you may need a witness or two. A typical wedding party might include people closest to you to help you plan your big day and be by your side when you walk down the aisle to say your vows.

Learn about the duties, roles, and responsibilities of each person involved in the wedding party.

Who Should Be in Your Wedding Party?

There are three types of wedding party responsibilities, depending on the individual's role. Some of your wedding party will be involved in planning the wedding; certain people will have a hand in ceremonial and officiating duties during the wedding; and others will act in supplemental supportive roles throughout the wedding. Here are the three types of responsibilities and which people in the wedding party fall under each category.

Planning the Wedding

Every bride (and groom) needs an aide, or a right-hand person to handle many of the wedding details. The maid/matron of honor (also known as a best woman) and the best man are also called honor attendants of the wedding.

The maid/matron of honor will be by the bride's side during all the planning of the wedding and typically handles the following:

  • Plans the bridal shower and/or bachelorette party
  • Goes wedding dress shopping with the bride
  • Serve as the point of contact for the bridesmaids
  • Handles some wedding day details such as toasts for the couple
  • Helps the bride dress for the event
  • Leads the way for the bride to walk down the aisle at the ceremony
  • Holds the bride's bouquet at the ceremony
  • Helps guests handle wedding gifts brought to the reception

The best man advises the groom before, during, and after the wedding and typically does the following:

  • Plans the bachelor party
  • Gets the groom to the ceremony
  • Handles transportation for the groomsmen
  • Offers some fees and tips to various vendors, including the officiant
  • Helps obtain the marriage license
  • Brings the bride's wedding ring and holds it at the ceremony
  • Toasts the couple at the reception

Ceremonial Roles

If there's no officiant, there's no wedding, making it the number one role during the actual ceremony. And in addition to the couple's parents who may help plan and pay for the wedding and parties, those in ceremonial roles may have other brief but symbolic ceremonial activities that can take place at the ceremony or reception:

  • Officiant: helps the couple prepare materials for the actual ceremony and then leads the ceremony, pronouncing the couple legally married
  • Mother of the bride: escorted by an usher down the aisle to her seat at the ceremony or can walk on the other side of the bride as she walks down the aisle
  • Father of the bride: typically walks the bride down the aisle at the ceremony, offers a speech, and participates in an important father-bride dance at the reception
  • Mother and father of the groom: escorted by an usher down the aisle to their seats at the ceremony
  • Grandparents: also escorted by an usher down the aisle to their seats at the ceremony

Supplementary and Support Roles

Bridesmaids, or bride's attendants, groomsmen, and ushers are all trustworthy friends and family members who support the needs of the couple, the maid/matron of honor, and the best man. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can also be younger members of the family, typically pre-teen to 16 years of age; They can help plan some activities and male members can act as ushers to escort guests to their seats at the wedding ceremony.

Here are things that bridesmaids typically handle throughout the wedding:

  • Support the maid/matron of honor with planning activities
  • Help plan the bridal shower and/or bachelorette party
  • Help with DIY details such as addressing/mailing invites, making shower favors for guests, and crafting wedding reception escort cards
  • Help keep the dance floor moving at the reception
  • Answer questions for wedding guests at the reception
  • Gather and watch over gifts that guests have left at the reception for the couple

Here are things that groomsmen typically handle throughout the wedding:

  • Help plan and pay for the bachelor party
  • Decorate the getaway car as a surprise for the couple during the ceremony
  • Often act as the ushers at the ceremony, helping to escort guests to their seats
  • Help keep the dance floor moving at the reception
  • Answer questions for wedding guests at the reception
  • Help bring gifts from the wedding reception to the couple's desired location.

Including children in the wedding party is a great idea for mixed families and those who want to include their nieces and nephews. Here are roles that children often play at a wedding:

  • Ring bearer: a young boy or girl under 10 years of age who walks down the aisle before the flower girl/boy, usually holding a small pillow with two typically fake wedding bands attached
  • Flower girl or boy: adds a cuteness factor as toddlers walk down the aisle before the wedding party scattering flower petals—sometimes more than one flower girl or boy do this job
  • Pages/train bearers: a very traditional role of one or two boys or girls under 10 years of age who assist in carrying the ends of an extra-long bridal veil or wedding gown train as the bride walks down the aisle
  • Readers: can be any age, but it is a better role for teenagers who aren't afraid of the limelight as they read the couple's chosen poems or religious passages during the ceremony

Wedding Party Members Specific to Particular Religions

  • Jewish weddings traditionally include chuppah carriers. They hold the poles of the chuppah, which is a sacred wedding canopy symbolizing the couple's new home. Traditionally, chuppah carriers are men, but may also be any four people the couple is close to.
  • Muslim weddings include hattabin, who are the groom's attendants.
  • Christian weddings may include candle lighters, which are traditionally young teenagers. They walk in the processional ahead of the mothers of the bride and groom and light the candles at the altar.
  • Eastern orthodox weddings may include a koumbaro (male) or a koumbara (female). This role is highly symbolic and handles the binding crowning duties during a traditional ceremony.

Traditional Roles of the Wedding Party

Your wedding party is often considered to be quite involved in your wedding planning process. They will likely dedicate a significant amount of time and possibly money to participate in your day, so it's important to thank your wedding party for all their assistance throughout the process. Make sure to properly thank your wedding party for all of their hard work and to show your appreciation for their support, friendship, and all the hard work they put into your special day.

Planning the Party

The wedding party helps the couple with various wedding planning tasks such as addressing invitations, running errands, decorating and craft projects, and more. The couple may seek advice from their wedding party in order to help make important wedding decisions.

Dressing to Impress

Members of the bridal party are often asked to wear certain attire (bridesmaids' dresses or tuxedos) as requested by the couple to indicate their involvement in the ceremony.

Lending an Ear

The wedding party helps the bride and groom get ready on the wedding day, calming their nerves and making them feel comfortable.

Making Memories

The wedding party typically takes formal photos with the couple either before the ceremony or during the cocktail hour for the couple's wedding album.

Best Seats in the House

Often, the wedding party is seated at special tables at the reception, either with the newly-married couple or close by.

Committing Long-Term

The wedding party serves as a support system to the couple in their new marriage, encouraging their love and helping them see through arguments and fights long after the wedding day.

Bachelors and Bachelorettes

Sometimes, the wedding party will plan special events for the couples, such as bridal showers, bachelor or bachelorette parties, or even wedding night surprises.