The main job of the wedding party is to help the couple with the planning of the wedding, arranging the bachelor or bachelorette parties and on the day assisting the bride and groom to get ready, and to make sure the day runs smoothly.
Sound simple but when it comes down to it, it is important that each member understands what is expected of him/her.
Firstly, let’s have a look at the processional and recessional:
This is your and your wedding party's entrance into the ceremony and traditionally there is a specific order to it.
The Mother of the Bride - The mother of the bride’s entrance signals that the processional is about to begin. Once she reaches the end of the aisle, she takes her seat to the left of the aisle in the first row.
The Groom - Once the mother of the bride has taken her seat, the groom will take his place at the head of the altar.
The Best Man - The best man will either take his place next to the groom or will walk in arm-in-arm with the maid of honour and then take his place next to the groom.
The Groomsmen - The groomsmen will either take their place next to the best man or take their seats to the right of the aisle in the first row. Some couples also choose to have the groomsmen and bridesmaid walk in together arm-in-arm where after they will either take their place next to the best man or their seats.
The Bridesmaids - The bridesmaids start the processional; either one-by-one or arm-in-arm with the groomsmen; before the maid of honour. They then either stand up front next to the altar or take their seats on the left side of the aisle in the first row.
The Maid of Honour – The maid of honour walks down the aisle after the last bridesmaid either by herself or arm-in-arm with the best man. She then takes her place next to the altar where she will stand next to the bride during the ceremony.
Ring Bearer/s – The ring bearer carries a pillow with the rings on and follows the maid of honour. He will hand the rings over to the best man where after he then takes his seat with his parents.
The Flower Girl/s - The flower girl follows the ring bearer and may carry a basket of petals, which she scatters as she walks. When she gets to the front she can then take her seat with her parents.
The Bride - The father of the bride traditionally escorts his daughter down the aisle, standing to her right. After he "gives her away" to the groom, he then takes his seat beside the bride's mother.
When the ceremony is finished there is the recessional - this is your and your wedding party's exit after the ceremony and just like the processional there is a specific order to it.
The signing usually takes place after you are named husband and wife, during this time the guests can start to exit the church - the ushers and/or groomsmen can assist here to make sure it runs smoothly. Only the wedding party and parents of the bride and groom stay for the signing.
Once outside the guests will collect their confetti (or other) and gather around the entrance waiting for the bridal couple to come out.
After the signing is done the recession starts with the flower girl and ring bearer, followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen, then the maid of honour and best man, parents and lastly the new couple.
When the couple come out they are then showered with confetti from the waiting guests. This is also a good time to say a quick ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to some of the guests before you run off for your photo session.
Now we can have a look at the different roles and responsibilities of each member:
Maid/Matron of Honour
Firstly - just to clarify - a Maid of Honour is a lady who is not married where the Matron of Honour is one who is married.
Out of all her attendants, the bride relies most heavily on her maid of honour.
Her duties include:
Out of all his attendants, the groom relies most heavily on his best man.
His duties include:
Bridesmaids are a support team for the maid of honour
Their duties include:
Other than the bachelor party the groomsmen do not play a very big role before the wedding. They are more involved in the wedding itself and are expected to remain at the reception for its entire duration.
Their duties include:
If you want to involve any younger family members in the wedding party who are between the ages of 9 and 16, this is the designation they will receive. They do not attend the bachelor/bachelorette party, nor are they held to the same financial obligations (though their parents will be). They do however attend other major functions and fulfil the same responsibilities as senior members.
The junior bridesmaid wears a dress that’s usually more age-appropriate than those of the adult bridesmaids, in the same colour and fabric where the junior groomsmen may sport a tux or suit. The attire is usually paid for by the parents.
Traditionally, flower girls are between the ages of 4 and 8 are usually a member of the bride or groom’s extended family. During the processional, she walks ahead of the bride, scattering flower petals in her path or simply carrying a pretty bouquet or basket.
After the flower girl makes her way down the aisle, she will generally sit with her family. Her attire is usually paid for by her parents.
The ring bearer is traditionally a young boy (or girl), aged 4 to 8, who carries the wedding rings on a satin pillow (or other object) down the aisle - if there’s a flower girl, the ring bearer will precede her. The rings on the pillow will often be fake (just in case), with the real rings being held by the maid of honour and best man.
Like the flower girl, the ring bearer’s parents pay for his attire.
Father of the Bride
Traditionally, the father of the bride will pay for the wedding; however, this is no longer common in modern society. Many modern couples will pay for their wedding themselves or receive financial assistance from both sets of parents.
His duties include:
Father of the Groom
Traditionally, the grooms father pays for the rehearsal dinner, however, this is not expected or common practice among modern couples and some couples may opt to not even have a rehearsal dinner. He might also fulfil numerous dancing, toasting and other obligations (escorting guests, move tables, address problematic service) and checks in with the bride's dad occasionally to offer support.
Mother of the Bride
The nature of the bride's mother's role is entirely up to the bride. She can fulfil any tasks assigned to her by the bride. She is there to offer assistance (and moral support) with wedding details from setting up the guest list, reception hostess, fashion critic to therapist
Mother of the Groom
If required, the mother of the groom can take on the same tasks as the mother of the bride – or they can even share the responsibilities.
Her most important duty though is the mother-son dance.
This is the celebrant or religious cleric who performs the marriage ceremony. Examples include a priest, a rabbi, a minister, or a justice of the peace.
The officiant will also assist the couple to sign the marriage certificate and help with all the paperwork.
This is a good task that can be assigned to family or friends who are not part of the wedding party but want to be included. These men/women will help to escort guests to their seats before the ceremony and around the venue.
Also known as train bearers, these young boys/girls (aged 6 to 9) are in charge of carry the bride's extra-long wedding gown train as she walks down the aisle.
These ‘very important extras’ are similar to ushers but can have many different roles. These are people you may delegate tasks to on the wedding day, for example you may put someone in charge of getting the guest book signed, fielding guest questions or explaining a family tradition.