A Guide to Help You Figure Out Traditional and Optional Roles in a Wedding Party
You’re engaged! You’ve probably told your loved ones and closest friends about this incredible news. The first order of business (or second) is to determine what roles the people closest to you both will do on your magical day!
To help you figure out who is in the wedding party and who does what, we’ve put together a list of traditional (and optional) roles for your nuptials.
The wedding party consists of those closest to you who will help you before, during, and even after the wedding.
Members of the wedding party will typically:
- Help with your wedding planning in some way
- Address invitations
- Run errands
- Help shop for wedding attire
- Plan parties and showers
- Help the couple get ready on the wedding day
- Act as witnesses on the marriage license
- Pose for wedding photos
- Give toasts
- Offer love and support before, during, and after the wedding
The following are traditional wedding party roles:
While obvious, these roles are listed because you can’t have a wedding without them.
Your wedding is all about you and your love tying the knot. So it wouldn’t be a wedding without you!
Maid/Man of Honour & Best Man/Woman
Many brides and grooms choose a special person to stand by their sides on their big day. This special person could be a best friend, sibling, cousin, or anyone who they couldn’t imagine getting married without.
Often, the best man and maid of honour are responsible for helping out with events leading up to the wedding, such as planning bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties.
The best man/woman will be the right-hand person for the bride and groom on the wedding day, wearing formalwear, holding onto the wedding rings, and providing emotional support.
Along with your maid of honour, your bridesmaids will make up your side of the bridal party. Your bridal party members are the women (or men) you want to surround yourself with leading up to and on your wedding day.
The bridesmaid’s role in a wedding includes supporting you during this special time and helping you transition to this new chapter in your life with care, love, and laughter.
Bridesmaids duties on the day of the wedding include standing by your side and making sure you look and feel your best. They will wear formal dresses and accompany you during pre-wedding events and parties. They will also help you with wedding planning and tasks.
Junior bridesmaids are younger bridesmaids who may not wear the same style of dress as your adult bridesmaids, and won’t take part in some events, like the bachelorette party.
The groomsmen are a team of the groom’s best friends and closest family who will make this exciting yet stressful time more fun and exciting. They make up the groom’s side of the bridal party, along with the best man, and will dress in formalwear on the wedding day.
Junior groomsmen are younger and often not old enough to take part in some pre-wedding activities, like the bachelor party.
Bride’s Parents: Mother of the Bride and Father of the Bride
The bride’s parents often host the first engagement party, help the bride make the guest list, and offer support and assistance with the wedding planning details. Traditionally, the mother helps choose the bride’s wedding gown, and the father dresses in formalwear and walks the bride down the aisle at the wedding ceremony.
There is usually a father-daughter dance during the wedding reception. And the bride’s parents may (or may not) cover most of the wedding costs, however, this was something that was considered the norm in the past; nowadays, the couple will typically cover the cost of their own wedding either out of pocket or through stag & doe fundraising.
Groom’s Parents: Mother of the Groom and Father of the Groom
The groom’s parents may also host an engagement party after the bride’s parents host one. They help with the guest list for the groom’s side of the wedding, and they consult with the bride’s parents about attire for the groom, so it complements the bride’s gown.
The groom’s parents may also host the rehearsal dinner on the evening before the wedding. And there is often a mother-son dance during the wedding reception.
Ushers also wear formalwear and help out before the wedding ceremony, holding doors open and assisting guests to their seats. Often, the groomsmen also fulfill the role of ushers.
Traditionally, the ring bearer is a boy who wears formalwear and carries the wedding rings on a pillow down the aisle to the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. And sometimes, the ring bearer is a dog.
But this traditional role is considered symbolic these days. There are usually fake rings on the pillow in case they get lost. And the best man will usually hold onto the real wedding rings.
The flower girl is responsible for walking down the aisle in a pretty dress ahead of the bride, often dropping flower petals to create a beautiful floral path for the bride.
To get married, you need an officiant to marry you and your partner. Examples of officiants include city officials, clerics, rabbis, priests, ministers, or justices of the peace.
Aside from the traditional roles, other roles in a wedding party can include these optional roles:
You may wish to give your grandparents a role in the wedding. It’s up to you what roles you choose for them.
Huppah (Chuppah) Carriers
For Jewish ceremonies, the huppah or chuppah carriers carry the poles of the huppah (chuppah), which is a sacred wedding canopy symbolizing the couple’s new home. Traditionally, the carriers are men, and there are four of them. However, they can be any four people who are close to the bride and groom.
Pages are boys or girls who hold the bride’s train as she walks down the aisle. This role is optional since many trains these days are not large enough to need holding. But if you want to go all out with a large train, consider asking some children in the family to help out.
Traditionally, the couple’s parents, guardians, or younger family members will light the taper candles before a unity candle ceremony. But, if you are having this type of ceremony, you can choose anyone to fill this role.
Wedding Guest Book Attendant
If you have a friend or family member who insists on helping out at your wedding, and you’ve already filled other roles, consider asking them to be the guest book attendant.
While this role isn’t necessary—most guests will sign the guest book without prompting—an attendant can encourage everyone to sign your guest book and make sure no one forgets.
You may wish to ask a few people to read poems, psalms, or passages during your wedding ceremony. The reader is a great role for someone who doesn’t have stage fright and who you really want to include in your ceremony.
Wedding Program Attendant
If you are planning to give wedding programs to guests, you’ll need someone to hand out these programs before the wedding ceremony. Ushers can take care of this role as well since they will be greeting all your guests before the ceremony.
After the wedding ceremony, guests will often throw rice, blow bubbles, hold sparklers, or do something else that is fun while the bride and groom walk down the aisle together or out of the church/ceremony location.
If you want something like this, choose someone to organize it—e.g., make someone responsible for handing out bubbles, rice, or sparklers before you walk away with your new spouse.
This role is perfect for someone who wants to help on your wedding day and who is very organized. They can be like your wedding planner, making sure everything is going smoothly, but you won’t have to pay them.
*Note: Sinders Bridal House offers Attendance Day Services to help you with every detail so you can focus on the most important thing – making lasting memories with the ones you love. We’ll join you on your wedding day to ensure you are comfortable, confident, and relaxed in your wedding day attire. There’s nothing better than the feeling of peace of mind on a significant day when you’ve got a dedicated professional by your side. For more info, ask us about our Attendance Day Services!
Ultimately, the roles you choose to fill for your wedding are entirely up to you and your spouse-to-be. But keep these roles in mind when thinking about who you want to include in your wedding party.
And don’t forget to thank all the members of your wedding party for their help and support throughout this busy time. Their help and love will help ease the stress of wedding planning and make your big day even more special.