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A Simple Guide to Wedding Party Roles and Responsibilities

Franky Shanahan

Are you confused by wedding party roles and responsibilities? Wondering who does what?

Traditionally, the wedding party assists with various wedding planning tasks and helps you get ready on the day itself. They’re usually expected to wear certain attire and pose for formal photographs. They’re often seated at the top table during the reception and some members are responsible for planning special pre-wedding events such as the hen or stag parties.

the grange bride and groom smiling
The Grange. Photo by Interlace Photography

Who Does What?

These days, it’s becoming more and more normal to ignore wedding traditions that no longer fit the modern world we’re living in. There are no hard and fast rules. Wedding parties come in all shapes and sizes which means roles and responsibilities can be assigned in many different ways.

‘Bridesmen, groomswomen, best women, wedding squads, and bride tribes are replacing traditionally rigid, women-on-one-side, men-on-the-other wedding parties, with a range of special day attendants that break the binary.’ – Melissa Kravitz for Glamour

Your cultural or religious background may also influence the make up of your wedding party. For example, Jewish weddings traditionally include Chuppah Carriers. They’re responsible for holding the poles of the chuppah – a sacred wedding canopy which symbolises the couple’s new home.

rivervale barn bridal party
Rivervale Barn, Hampshire. Photo by Gingersnap Photography.

Who’s Who?

The following list of wedding party roles and responsibilities is intended as a guide. Feel free to pick and choose the attendants that feel right for you, delegating jobs and tasks however you see fit.

Maid of Honour

The maid of honour is usually a bride’s chief support before, during, and after the wedding. They typically help with wedding planning and keeping the bridesmaids organised. They tend to take the lead in terms of planning the hen party, and they sometimes make a toast or give a speech at the reception.

Traditionally, a bride asks her sister or closest female friend to be her maid of honour. If you decide to choose a male maid of honour, the term ‘bride’s honour attendant’ may feel more appropriate. Whether male or female, consider the amount of responsibility you’re giving them and ensure they’re able to meet these expectations.

rivervale barn bride and groom confetti
Rivervale Barn, Hampshire. Photo by Gingersnap Photography.

Best Man

The best man’s most visible duty is usually helping guests find their seats before the ceremony and standing near the groom throughout. It’s rare for them to be involved in the finer details of wedding planning, but they’re generally expected to organise the stag party and give a speech at the reception.

Val Mattinson of Benessamy Wedding & Event Planning has shared a more detailed list of duties here. Alternative versions of this role include ‘best woman’ or ‘groom’s honour attendant’.

Bridesmaids

As well as attending the wedding and assisting the bride throughout, bridesmaids often help during the planning process too. They tend to go dress shopping with the bride, and they’re usually expected to support the maid of honour in organising the hen party.

On the day itself, a bridesmaid’s duties might include running errands, holding the bride’s bouquet, carrying the train of her dress, and taking part in a receiving line.

the keeper and the dell wedding party
The Keeper and the Dell, Norfolk.

Groomsmen or Ushers

Groomsmen are expected to support the groom and assist him in the run-up to the wedding. They’re responsible for planning the stag party and are expected to attend any other pre-wedding events or rehearsals.

On the day of the wedding, groomsmen may be asked to show guests to their seats, dance with bridesmaids, or help carry gifts and personal items at the end of the night.

Flower Girl

Flower girls are usually between the ages of 4 and 8 with a special connection to the couple getting married. They usually enter before or follow behind the bridesmaids with a basket of flowers, scattering them down the aisle.

If you’re worrying about choosing between several possible candidates, there’s no reason why you can’t have two or even three flower girls. However, it’s a good idea to avoid choosing someone too young. Little ones can easily become confused or scared when faced with a room full of people and a lengthy aisle to walk down.

The Keeper and the Dell Norfolk bride and groom kissing
The Keeper and the Dell, Norfolk.

Page Boy

Traditionally, page boys were tasked with carrying a bride’s train down the aisle. Nowadays, they’re often trusted with the wedding bands, walking down the aisle in tandem with the flower girl. In the US, page boys are often referred to as ring bearers.

If you’ve wondering when you need to have your wedding party on board, be sure to take a look at our handy wedding planning timeline.

A Simple Guide to Wedding Party Roles and Responsibilities | Find Your Perfect Venue Blog

Tags: Best Man, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Maid of Honour, Wedding party, Wedding planning, Wedding roles,