Wedding

Who’s Who in the Wedding Party: Roles and Responsibilities

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2018

Once you’re engaged, the first order of business is deciding who will be in your wedding party. What is a wedding party? The wedding party is made up of the bride and groom, and the attendants who will stand beside them on one of the biggest days of their lives.

The wedding party is responsible for helping the couple plan, keeping them sane and cheering them on during the big day. The most notable duties of the wedding party include taking photos with the bride and groom on the wedding day, planning special pre-wedding events like the bridal shower and bachelor and bachelorette parties and helping the bride and groom get ready before the ceremony. They also usually have a special seat at the reception.  

It’s your special day, so feel free to tailor the group to fit your vision for the day. Don’t be afraid to have a wedding party as small or as large as your heart desires! Read on to learn more about each of the members of the wedding party and their individual responsibilities.

Wedding Party Roles

  • The Maid of Honor: She’s head of the bridesmaids and helps the bride with planning.
  • The Bridesmaids: The bride’s closest female friends and relatives that stand beside her.
  • The Best Man: He’s head of the groomsmen and the groom’s right-hand man.
  • The Groomsmen: The groom’s closest male friends who stand with him at the altar.
  • The Junior Bridesmaids: Young girls who are close to the bride and stands among the bridesmaids.
  • The Junior Groomsmen: Young boys that are close with the groom but are too young to be groomsmen.
  • The Ring Bearer: A young boy who carries the couple’s rings down the aisle.
  • The Flower Girl: A young girl who walks ahead of the bride scattering flowers.
  • The Bride’s Parents: The bride’s parents traditionally serve as hosts of the wedding reception.
  • The Groom’s Parents: The groom’s parents are traditionally responsible for paying for the engagement dinner.
  • The Ushers: The ushers help escort guests to their seats before the wedding.
  • The Officiant: The priest, rabbi, minister or friend who is ordained and responsible for getting the couple married.

The Maid of Honor

There’s no bigger honor than being asked to serve as a bride’s maid of honor! The maid of honor has many important responsibilities, including serving as head of the bridesmaids. Maid of honor duties also include planning the bachelorette party, and being the bride’s right hand woman throughout wedding planning. The bride usually gives this role to her sister or closest female friend. When choosing your maid of honor, consider who you’d most like to have by your side throughout the whirlwind of planning and wedding fun to come!

 

Maid of honor duties include:

 

  • Helping the bride with wedding planning
  • Leading the bridesmaids in planning events like the bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Hosting or co-hosting the bridal shower
  • Attending all pre-wedding events
  • Spreading the news about where the bride and groom are registered
  • Helping the bride get ready on the big day
  • Serving as one of the signers of the marriage license
  • Holding the groom’s ring during the ceremony
  • Helping the bride change for her honeymoon and storing her gown in a safe place until she gets back
  • Helping play hostess during the reception
  • Make sure the bride eats and drinks water
  • Troubleshooting any problems that arise as needed
  • Decorating the getaway vehicle with the bridesmaids and groomsmen to help give the couple a noisy wedding send-off

The Bridesmaids

Asking your girls to be your bridesmaids is such a sweet celebration of your friendship. Bridesmaids are oftentimes the bride’s closest female friends and relatives of marriageable age, but can also consist of any close friends that have supported you. Bridesmaids are typically asked to wear a particular dress to the ceremony, take pictures with the rest of the wedding party and stand beside the bride at the altar. Your wedding will be one of the most important days of your life, so make sure that you have all of your girls by your side!

 

Bridesmaid duties include:

  • Helping the bride shop for her dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses
  • Assisting the maid of honor with planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Getting dressed with the bride before the ceremony
  • Attending all pre-wedding events
  • Offering support along the way
  • Sharing details with other guests like where the couple is registered, when they will return from their honeymoon and where to send gifts
  • Helping with any crises that may arise during the big day
  • Being social and helping make guests feel welcome
  • Getting the party started on the dance floor

The Best Man

Once you pop the question, it’s time to ask your best friend to stand beside you as your best man on your big day. The best man has many important responsibilities, including serving as the groom’s right-hand man throughout the wedding planning process. He’s also in charge of rallying the other groomsmen during wedding planning and on the big day. This role is usually filled by the groom’s brother or closest male friend. Make sure that the friend you choose will help keep you sane throughout wedding planning craziness!

 

Best man duties include:

  • Helping the groom choose wedding attire for the groomsmen
  • Ensuring that all groomsmen have bought or rent their clothing at least three months in advance
  • Attending all pre-wedding events
  • Supporting the groom with wedding planning
  • Acting as the groom’s support system
  • Holding the bride’s ring during the ceremony
  • Planning and hosting the bachelor party
  • Serving as one of the signers of the marriage license
  • Making sure all the groomsmen are in the right place at the right time
  • Helping play host during the reception as needed
  • Dancing with the maid of honor during the first official dance
  • Helping rally the bridesmaids and groomsmen to decorate the getaway vehicle
  • Giving a wedding toast to the happy couple at the reception
  • Helping collect the presents at the end of the night
  • Coordinating transportation to the airport for the couple’s honeymoon
  • Making sure all service providers have received payment and been tipped

The Groomsmen

These are the groom’s most important guys who will stand by his side at the altar. They will usually be asked to wear the same formal attire and will take pictures with the rest of the wedding party on the day of the wedding. Make sure you have all your best friends standing beside you to help you celebrate your marriage!

 

Groomsmen duties include:

  • Supporting the groom throughout wedding planning and on the big day
  • Attending all pre-wedding events
  • Helping the best man plan and pay for the bachelor party
  • Helping decorate the getaway car with the bridesmaids
  • Ushering guests to their seats before the ceremony if needed
  • Getting ready with the groom on the day of wedding
  • Dancing with bridesmaids and single female guests at the wedding
  • Helping to carry away gifts following the wedding if asked

The Junior Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Having junior bridesmaids is a sweet way to include younger female friends and relatives. A junior bridesmaid is a role that is most often filled by a girl who is between 9 and 13 years old. Those asked to be a junior bridesmaid will usually wear a dress to the ceremony that is more age-appropriate, but still similar to the attire of the other bridesmaids. Junior bridesmaids usually do not attend the bachelorette party or have the same financial obligations that are expected of the other bridesmaids.

Boys too young to be groomsmen can also participate as junior groomsmen. They will not attend the bachelor party but will still stand beside the groom at the altar during the wedding ceremony. Being a junior groomsmen is a little less of a commitment, so it’s the perfect way for younger boys to get involved in the wedding.

The Ring Bearer and Flower Girl

The ring bearer is a young boy who carries the couple’s rings down the aisle during the ceremony. The boy’s parents are responsible for paying for his attire and getting him to the wedding on time. Ring bearers usually range in age from three to eight years old. It’s usually wise to avoid giving him the ring until right before he walks down the aisle!

If you include a flower girl in your wedding party, she will most often walk ahead of the bride scattering flowers across the aisle or holding a small bouquet. Make sure to include her in the rehearsal so that you ensure she feels comfortable with this responsibility prior to the wedding. The flower girl is usually between four and eight years old. Her parents will be responsible for her attire and for getting her to the venue on time.

The Parents of the Bride and Groom

Traditionally, the bride’s parents serve as the hosts of the wedding reception. They should aim to be the last to leave the reception and should make arrangements for the gifts to be taken home and for the reception to be closed out as needed. The mother of the bride will help the bride coordinate invitations and plan the details of the wedding and the reception. The father of the bride’s most well-known responsibility is of course walking his daughter down the aisle during her last moments as a single woman.

The groom’s parents also have a few responsibilities of their own. Traditionally, they will reach out to the bride’s family following the engagement to introduce themselves and share in congratulations. They are also usually responsible for paying for the rehearsal dinner, and sometimes will even opt to throw the couple an engagement party. Additionally, oftentimes the mother of the groom will share a dance with him at the reception.

The Ushers and Officiant

The ushers’ main responsibility on the wedding day is to help escort guests to their seats before the ceremony. This means guiding female guests by their arm to where they will be sitting and serving as a general guide to the attendees. Having ushers is a great way to include additional friends and family members in your wedding without having too many groomsmen.

The officiant is the person responsible for actually getting the couple married. Examples include a priest, a rabbi, a minister or your closest friend.

Optional Additional Roles

Pages

Many couples no longer include pages in their wedding party, but traditionally this position is filled by young children who hold the bride’s train and escort her down the aisle.

Candlelighters

Some Christian ceremonies include pre-teens that light candles at the altar before the mother of the bride is seated. Candlelighters may dress similarly to the rest of the wedding party but they also don’t have to.

Shushavim

This is a Jewish term referring to anyone close to the couple that helps them plan and prepare for the wedding. There often isn’t a wedding party in many traditional Jewish weddings but certain members of the shushavim such as a mom, sister or best friend might perform tasks similar to members of the wedding party.

Chuppah Carriers

In Jewish weddings, close family and friends may hold up chuppah poles during the ceremony.

Koumbaro/Koumbara

This term refers to an Eastern Orthodox groom’s best man. Traditionally the role is filled by the groom’s godfather, but a close relative or friend can also do the job. The role is highly symbolic with many duties. A Koumbara is the female version.

Hattabin

A Muslim term for male family and friends that participate in the wedding and help prepare the groom for the ceremony.

While there are general expectations for each role within a traditional wedding party, feel free to customize your group to best suit the concept of your wedding. Your wedding party will be by your side throughout the planning process and during the celebration, so it’s important that the group is made up of your closest family and friends that will cheer you on throughout the process. Make sure that all of your very favorite people are included! Don’t forget to thank the members of your wedding party for their love and support with the perfect wedding party gift.

Who's who in the wedding party - Infographic