Weddings celebrate the strength and uniqueness of your love story that has led you to say, “I do.” Surrounded by family and friends who have watched your relationship grow, you and your partner take the next step into a life together.
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) will include not only the people who will help you plan your big day but also are those you will want by your side when you walk down the aisle and say your vows.
Typically your wedding party is made up of your sisters, brothers, and closest friends or family members.
To honour those who have played important roles in your lives, asking your loved ones to fill different roles in a wedding ceremony lets them continue to be a part of your story.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do You Need a Wedding Party?
- 2 What Does the Wedding Party Do?
- 3 Wedding Roles & Responsibilities: Who Does What?
- 4 Religious Wedding Party Roles
Do You Need a Wedding Party?
The answer is: it’s entirely up to you. Your wedding party is the group of people you want to include in the events leading up to the big day, during the ceremony, and at the reception.
Giving your nearest and dearest a role is a meaningful gesture, but it’s more than merely that. This particular group will support you throughout this period of your life; they will be right there to hold you steady through planning and executing this memorable occasion. When it comes to your special day, Vogue Ballroom has proven itself to be an iconic wedding venue and function centre in Melbourne.
What Does the Wedding Party Do?
Each member of your wedding party will have responsibilities unique to their role (which you can always change based on your individual preferences). As a whole, however, here’s what makes your wedding party special:
- The members of your wedding party should help you with many different aspects of the wedding planning process. The people who make up your wedding party may help you pay for the wedding, assist them in picking out the wedding attire, put together invites, craft wedding decorations and be available for any of those last-minute needs that always pop up.
- The wedding party members are also usually in charge of planning and hosting many wedding events, including the engagement party, showers and beach parties.
- Members of the wedding party traditionally help the couple prepare on the day of their wedding.
- Wedding party members may wear special or matching attire. They may match each other or wear wedding colours. Usually, the wedding party members are dressed formally, even if the dress code is semi-formal or even casual.
- The wedding party is also included in the photo session after the ceremony. The couple will likely ask for different configurations of wedding party members for family and friend pictures.
- During the reception, the wedding party will often be given prime seating. They may sit at a large table with the newlyweds or at the closest tables to them.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the wedding party members serve as moral support for the couple during the wedding planning process and during the wedding itself. There will be frustrations and challenges along the way and perhaps some nerves or big emotions on the big day itself. The wedding party is there to offer love and encouragement. They help make the wedding a truly special day for the couple.
Wedding Roles & Responsibilities: Who Does What?
Let’s face it, choosing your wedding party can be difficult. The last thing you want is to offend anyone by leaving them out. However, who you want to include in your special day is a personal decision. Those in your wedding party should be your best friends, siblings, and perhaps a close family member or two to keep things simple.
Bride and Groom
The bride and groom’s big responsibility is to get married, of course, but here are myriad planning decisions to make first. Ideally, the bride and groom work together on these decisions to share the workload and to make sure both are happy with the plans. A small list of basics:
- Set budget
- Choose a date, style and site for wedding
- Meet with ceremony officiant to discuss details
- Coordinate invites, flowers, photographer, etc.
- Shop for wedding bands (each pays for the other’s)
- Write wedding vows if they choose
- Send thank-you notes for all gifts.
In addition to their joint responsibilities, the bride and groom each traditionally handle certain details on their own, including making sure their family compiles a guest list.
The bride chooses her bridesmaids and honour attendant. She plans and hosts the bridesmaids’ luncheon and gives her attendants thank-you gifts, and buys a gift for the groom.
The groom chooses his groomsmen and best man and picks their attire. He buys thank-you gifts for his attendants and the bride. He arranges and pays for the marriage license and the officiant’s fee, and he reserves a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
In the past, the bride’s parents usually had the dubious privilege of footing the bill for the majority of wedding expenses. Today costs are likely to be distributed among the bride’s parents, groom’s parents and the couple themselves, but there are still certain responsibilities the bride’s parents hold.
Traditionally they host the first engagement party. They help the bride with the guest list; and offer assistance (and moral support!) with wedding details. The bride’s mother chooses her attire, then informs the groom’s mother of her choice so they can complement each other.
With the bride’s parents’ paying for the bulk of the wedding, the father of the bride fronts most of the budget. In addition, brides’ dads have picked up additional to-dos along the way. Dad’s chores might include:
- Airport duty.
- Coordinating maps/directions to the wedding site.
- Scouting potential wedding reception venues.
- Doling out tips to wedding day staff and a variety of toasting and hosting tasks.
The bride’s father gets fitted for formal wear. On the day of the wedding, he escorts her to the ceremony site and may walk her down the aisle (perhaps with her mother on the bride’s other arm). He is the last to leave the reception after saying goodnight to guests and settling outstanding bills with the caterer, bandleader and coat-check, restroom and parking attendants.
The bride’s mother may serve as a wedding planner, guest list moderator, traditional reception hostess, fashion critic and therapist. Other possible duties include researching family and ethnic wedding traditions, attending the bridal shower (maybe even hosting it) and rehearsal dinner, and dancing the night away at the reception. The nature of the bride’s mother’s role is entirely up to the bride.
Customarily, the groom’s parents contact the bride’s parents after the engagement. They may host an engagement party (after the bride’s parents do). They provide a list of guests to the couple – hopefully sticking to an agreed-upon number. They consult with the bride’s parents on attire. They host the rehearsal dinner on the evening before the wedding, and they may contribute to some wedding expenses.
Groom’s father used to get away with fading into the woodwork, but nowadays, he’s suited up for action. In terms of cost contribution, the groom’s dad traditionally pays for a few major items, notably the rehearsal dinner. He might also fulfil numerous dancing, toasting and other obligations (escorting guests, move tables, address problematic service). It’s nice too if he checks in with the bride’s dad occasionally to offer support.
The groom’s mom can assume any of the bride’s mom’s responsibilities if she’s up for it. Dole out to-dos diplomatically to prevent conflicts. She attends the bridal shower and is escorted down the aisle during the prelude. Her shining moment? The mother/son dance.
See our list of Melbourne Wedding Celebrants to help you make an informed decision when saying your vows.
Maid of Honor
Out of all her attendants, the bride relies most heavily on her maid of honour. Traditionally, the maid of honour is the bride’s sister or closest friend. A married honour attendant is technically referred to as a matron of honour but has taken a back seat in recent popular vernacular.
Before the wedding, the maid of honour’s duties includes coordinating the bridesmaids’ activities, such as meeting for a dress fitting and organising the bridal shower and bachelorette party. She also helps the bride and groom with any preparatory errands or tasks, like addressing the invitations and keeping records of gifts.
On the wedding day, the maid of honour helps the bride dress and accompanies her to the ceremony. She signs the marriage license as the bride’s witness, arranges her veil and train during the processional and recessional, and holds her bouquet at the altar. At the reception, she dances with the best man and organises the bridesmaids for formal pictures. Before the couple leaves for their honeymoon, she helps the bride change and makes certain her dress and bouquet are kept safe until she returns.
You may choose as few or as many bridesmaids as you wish to be at your wedding (although generally, 12 is the limit). Bridesmaids can be single or married and of any age, although girls between the ages of eight and 16 become junior bridesmaids and take on abridged responsibilities.
The main role of a bridesmaid is to assist the maid of honour with her wedding-planning duties and help the bride as needed. Your bridesmaids help you with tasks like addressing invitations and will help plan the shower and bachelorette party (and contribute to the cost). The maid/matron of honour and all bridesmaids pay for their own attire, as well as transportation and lodging if they travel to the wedding from elsewhere.
Of course, bridesmaids walk in the processional and recessional. During the reception, they mostly mingle and dance with the groomsmen and other important guests.
A girl between the ages of 9 and 13 is typically known as a junior bridesmaid. On the wedding day, she wears a dress that’s usually more age-appropriate than those the adult bridesmaids wear, in the same colour and fabric.
She doesn’t attend the bachelor/bachelorette party, nor is she held to the same financial obligations as the bridesmaids (though her parents will be).
The flower girl is usually between the ages of four and eight, depending on her level of maturity. She walks ahead of the bride during the processional, scattering flower petals in her path or simply carrying a pretty bouquet or basket. She should also be included in the wedding rehearsal so that she is comfortable with her role. Her parents are expected to pay for her attire and arrange for her transportation.
The flower girl’s parents are expected to pay for their attire and are invited to attend the rehearsal dinner.
The ring bearer is traditionally a boy who carries the wedding rings on a satin pillow (or symbolic rings, with the real rings being held by the honour attendants) down the aisle. The maid of honour and best man take the appropriate rings off the pillow (you may want to tie them on with an attached ribbon for safekeeping) and give them to the bride and groom. Like the flower girl, the ring bearer “s parents pay for his attire and arrange for his transportation. You have the dress, you have the shoes? But what about the Wedding Jewellery? Check out our list of Wedding Jewellery Shops here.
As the maid of honour to the bride, the best man is the groom’s biggest source of support. Generally, he is the groom’s brother or best friend, and he can be married or single.
The best man’s main role before the wedding is to organise the bachelor party. He helps coordinate the groomsmen’s formalwear fitting, picks up the groom’s attire before the wedding, orchestrates the toasts at the rehearsal party, and confirms the honeymoon travel reservations the day before.
On the day of the wedding, the best man makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony site on time. He brings the bride’s ring, holds the officiant’s fee until after the ceremony, and signs the marriage license as the groom’s witness. Afterwards, he organises the groomsmen for formal pictures, dances with the maid of honour, and orchestrates the toasts during the reception. Finally, he makes sure the getaway car is ready, with the couple’s luggage inside. After the celebration, he sees that all rented formalwear is returned.
The groomsmen (sometimes referred to as ushers) have very few responsibilities before the wedding. Mainly, they help the best man plan and host the bachelor party (oh, and get fitted for a fabulous tuxedo). Of course, they should periodically check with the groom and best man to see if they can handle any other tasks.
On the wedding day, the groomsmen should arrive early at the ceremony site, ready to greet (and perhaps seat) guests. They’ll be involved in the wedding and are expected to remain at the reception for its entire duration.
They pay for their own attire and are responsible for being fitted for and picking up their clothes from the formalwear shop. As well, they pay for their own travel and lodging expenses.
The male counterpart to a junior bridesmaid is a junior groomsman or junior usher (he wears a tuxedo). These “tweens” neither attend the bachelor/bachelorette party nor are they held to the same financial obligations (though their parents will be).
The cleric or city official who performs the marriage ceremony. Examples include a priest, a rabbi, a minister, or a justice of the peace.
Males (or females) escort guests to their seats before the ceremony. Ushers are often employed in addition to groomsmen—this way, you can involve other important guys in your day, including pre-teen relatives who may not have been up for all of the groomsmen duties (especially planning a bachelor party).
Religious Wedding Party Roles
Some Christian services include candle lighters. These roles are usually taken by teenagers or young people in the family. The candle lighters walk ahead of the bride and light the candles at the end of the aisle.
During a Muslim wedding, the groom picks Hattabin rather than groomsmen. This group traditionally consists of the groom’s friends or close family members.
At Jewish weddings, the wedding party may include chuppah carriers. The chuppah is a canopy beneath which the wedding ceremony takes place. If the structure does not stand on its own, the carriers hold the poles of the canopy throughout the ceremony.
In a Greek Orthodox wedding, the couple must appoint Orthodox Christian wedding sponsors. The Koumbaro is the male sponsor, and the female is called the Koumbara. These sponsors are traditionally responsible for gifting the couple the silver tray on the wedding table that holds the bride and groom’s crowns and rings.
Your wedding party is often considered to be quite involved in your wedding planning process. They will likely dedicate a notable 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 show your appreciation for their support and friendship.