Early in the planning stages of your wedding, you and your fiance should choose those special people who will be your attendants. Usually you choose your closest friends and relatives to share in the excitement of your big day. Following is a list of the traditional wedding participants and their responsibilities.
Maid of Honor
The maid of honor is usually a special friend or sister of the bride. She is expected to help the bride as much as possible.
- Helps the bride with addressing invitations, serves as a shopping adviser, helps bride with gifts, etc.
- Attends all pre-wedding parties, showers, etc.
- Pays for her own wedding attire.
- Helps in organizing the bridesmaids and their wedding attire, and makes sure they know their ceremonial duties.
- Is in charge of the groom’s wedding ring until the appropriate time during the ceremony, when she exchanges it for the bride’s bouquet.
- Along with the best man, signs the wedding certificate as a legal witness.
- Helps the bride in arranging her veil and train, and also when dressing for the wedding.
- She is also a member of the receiving line.
The bridesmaids are primarily to add a warm, personal, colorful touch to the wedding festivities. They are always invited to all pre-wedding parties, showers, etc.
- Bridesmaids are responsible for the purchase and fitting of their wedding attire (the bride may wish to buy their accessories).
- Bridesmaids may assist the bride with pre-wedding tasks and errands.
- Bridesmaids participate in rehearsal and ceremony and also in the receiving line.
The best man is usually a brother or best friend of the groom. He is the groom’s right-hand man in organizing his activities for the day.
- Helps to host the bachelor party (or dinner, which is optional).
- Pays for his own wedding attire.
- The best man transports the groom to the church, and helps him dress for the ceremony.
- Supervises the groomsmen and ushers and makes sure they are properly dressed and that they know their duties.
- The best man takes care of the bride’s ring until the appropriate time during the ceremony.
- He presents the clergy person with his/her fee either just before or just after the ceremony.
- The best man, along with the maid of honor, signs the wedding certificate as a legal witness.
- The best man offers the first toast to the bride and groom at the reception.
- He transports the newlyweds to the airport or from wherever they are leaving for their honeymoon.
- The best man returns the groom’s formal wear either to his home or back to the formal wear shop.
The groomsmen are usually close friends, brothers, or relatives of the couple.
- They pay for their own wedding attire.
- They attend the bachelor dinner or party (if one is held).
- They attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
- They escort the bridesmaids during the ceremony processional and recessional.
Ushers have more details to attend to. They should be specifically instructed as to their responsibilities.
- They pay for their own wedding attire.
- They should arrive at the church at least an hour before the ceremony.
- They light the candles about 15 minutes before the ceremony begins (if this assignment is given to them by the clergy).
- The ushers should obtain from the couple a list of guests for special or reserved seating.
- They should make sure that grandparents, godparents, etc. have their flowers before they are seated.
- The ushers distribute wedding service programs to the guests while seating them; or they may put the programs in the pews ahead of time.
- The usher should introduce himself/herself to the guest and should ask whether he/she is a guest of the bride or the groom.
- The bride’s guests are traditionally seated on the left side and the groom’s guests seated on the right side. Sides are reversed in an Orthodox Jewish wedding. Ushers may choose to balance the sides if one is filling up much faster than the other. In many church weddings, parents now go down the aisle with their respective children.
- The usher should offer his/her right arm to the woman of a pair of guests, or to the oldest woman of a group. Other members of the guest group walk slightly behind as the usher escorts them to their seats. Single men may simply walk beside the usher.
- The groom’s parents should be seated last of all. They should be seated in the right front pew, and then the bride’s mother in the left front pew. After the head usher escorts the bride’s mother to her seat, no more guests are seated until after the processional. In some cases, the families are just simply seated as they come in.
- After carefully unrolling the aisle carpet, the ushers should take their places. An extra usher should remain to seat latecomers.
- The ushers should escort the parents of the bridal couple and any special designated guests out of the church after the recessional.
- The ushers then indicate to other guests pew by pew, when they may leave their seats following the recessional.
- Check over the church/synagogue to see that it is clean and orderly.
- At the reception, ushers generally do not sit at the bridal table(s), but sit with the other guests
Mother of the Bride
- Assists the bride in selecting gown and accessories, wedding colors and attendant’s attire, and personal trousseau.
- Helps in compiling the guest list, and in addressing invitations.
- Provides friends with information about gift registry preferences of the bride.
- Assists in ceremony and reception details.
- Selects her own dress and consults with the groom’s mother on their styles and colors of dresses.
- Keeps the father of the bride and the groom’s parents informed on wedding plans and preparations.
- May take care of incoming gifts.
- Acts as the official hostess at the wedding and reception. She is the last person to be seated at the ceremony and the first to greet the guests in the receiving line (see previous usher section). The bride’s mother also sits in the place of honor at the parents’ table. However, this is at the discretion of the bride and her mother.
- May ride with father of the bride to the ceremony or assist in dressing the bride the day of the ceremony.
Father of the Bride
- Rides with the bride to the ceremony.
- In the traditional procession, he escorts his daughter during the processional, then sits with the mother of the bride in the left front pew. However, many brides walk down the aisle with both parents. (See also groom’s parents.)
- Preferably stands in the receiving line or may mingle as the host of the reception.
- The father of the bride should dress in conformance with the groom and his attendants.
- The father of the bride is usually the last person to leave the reception, and also bids guests farewell.
- The groom’s parents should call on the bride’s parents to express their approval as soon as possible after the engagement.
- The groom’s parents might walk down the aisle with their son.
- The groom’s parents sit in the right front pew during the ceremony and they are special guests at the reception.
- The groom’s mother always stands in the receiving line, and the father may stand in the receiving line or mingle with the crowd.
Flower Girl and/or Ring Bearer
- The flower girl is usually between the ages of 4 and 10. Her dress may be exactly like the bridesmaids’ or something similar. She should carry a small bouquet, or basket. She precedes the bride and her father.
- The ring bearer is usually between the ages of 3 and 6 years of age. He carries a small pillow with a ring stitched onto it (preferably a fake ring). He also precedes the bride and her father.
- The ring bearer may be dressed in short white pants, with a fancy white shirt, bow tie, and white shoes; or he may be dressed to match the men in the wedding party.
- The parents of the flower girl and ring bearer pay for their children’s wedding attire.
- The flower girl and ring bearer should be included in transportation arrangements.
- The children and their parents should be included in the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
- The children do not have to stand in the receiving line.
- It is a wise suggestion to have a baby-sitter to take care of the children during the reception so that the parents can relax and enjoy the evening.
You may find that you would like more friends and relatives involved than the size of your wedding party allows. There are a number of other duties that need attention. You might have a friend read a scripture passage at the ceremony; or serve as a candle-lighter; or greet guests as they arrive.
You may need assistance at the reception also. You could possibly ask a group of friends, or relatives, to decorate the hall, and to be in charge of the wedding gifts – take them either to your parents’ home or your home. You might ask younger cousins or friends to attend the guest book, and clean up after the reception.