A guide to the wedding party and its members' duties
The bride and bridegroom are the stars of the show, but there are many supporting roles to be filled in a wedding ceremony. Here's a guide to wedding party members and their responsibilities:
Maid or Matron of Honor
Usually the bride's sister or best friend is chosen as the maid or matron of honor. Some brides have both. The maid or matron of honor is a great help from the planning process onward. Her traditional duties include
Lending the bride a hand with details ranging from addressing envelopes to making favors and shopping.
- Staging a shower for the bride, alone or in conjunction with the bridesmaids.
- Purchasing own wedding attire.
- Assisting with organizing the bridesmaids on the wedding day.
Helping the bride get dressed before the wedding rite.
- Helping the bride manage her veil and train during the ceremony.
Hanging onto the bridegroom's ring until it is exchanged for the bride's bouquet during the ceremony.
- Serving as a legal witness by signing the wedding certificate.
There is no rule on how many bridesmaids should be in attendance. However, most brides do not have more than eight and 12 is traditionally the limit. There may be an odd or even number of bridesmaids.
... If there are three or less bridesmaids, they walk down the aisle single file preceding the maid or matron of honor. If you have an even number of four or more, you may wish to have them walk down the aisle in pairs.
... Should the bridesmaids outnumber the ushers in the recessional, the extras can walk alone or pair up.
... The traditional role of the bridesmaid entails:
- Helping with pre-wedding tasks.
- Purchasing own wedding attire.
- Helping throw a shower for the bride and attend all parties related to the wedding.
... The bridegroom usually selects a brother, best friend or close relative as his best man. If it's his second wedding, he might choose his father or a son as the best man.
... Besides offering moral support, the best man's duties include: o Paying for own wedding attire.
- Helping the bridegroom get dressed and drive him to the church
- Organizing clothing fittings for the ushers and supervise them on the wedding day.
- Holding the bride's wedding ring until the right moment during the ceremony.
- Delivering the officiant's fee.
- Witnessing the wedding certificate.
- Making the first toast to the newlyweds at the reception.
- Dance with the bride.
- After seeing the couple off for their honeymoon, taking the bridegroom's attire to the rental shop or cleaners.
... One suggested formula is to figure on one usher for every 50 guests, however, there is no prescribed rule and usually couples elect to have an equal number of ushers and bridesmaids.
... Good friends, close relatives and brothers of the brides and bridegrooms usually serve as ushers. Their responsibilities include:
- Paying for own wedding attire.
- Getting to the church at least one hour before the ceremony to help seat guests.
- Distributing wedding service programs, if there are any.
- Traditionally, seating the bride's guests on the left and the bridegroom's on the right. The sides are reversed in an Orthodox Jewish wedding.
- Seating the bridegroom's parents in the right front pew. The last person seated is the bride's mother, who is escorted to the left front row.
- Unrolling the aisle runner before taking places.
- Escorting the bridesmaids out of the church.
- Overseeing the placement of wedding gifts.
... Usually girls, ages 4 to 8, are chosen as flower girls. Children any younger than 4 years of age will have a difficult time understanding what's going on and may get antsy.
... Usually a bride has one or two flower girls.
... The flower girl may scatter rose petals from a basket as she walks down the aisle or just carry a bouquet. If your church or other wedding location prohibits scattering rose petals, consider having the flower girl pass out small roses.
... If you have a flower girl, you might want to ask a boy about the same age to be a ring bearer. Carrying the ring or rings on a fancy pillow, he may walk alone or with the flower girl, preceding the bride.
... Like a ring bearer, a trainbearer is not necessary but adds a cute touch to the ceremony. A trainbearer, who might be a boy or a girl, follows the bride down the aisle carrying her gown's train.