Do you wonder what is a bridal attendant or what are wedding attendants' duties? Organization of a wedding is often compared with a stage production. It does not only involve a lot of time and money, it needs a full cast of more or less important characters.

 

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While everybody understands the roles of a bride and the groom, a role of some of other wedding attendants is not always clear to wide audience. We can start with the termins 'wedding party' and 'bridal party' which are in most cases used interchangeably, but the later may be sometimes reserved for the bride's attendants only (there is no such phrase for groom's attendants), what may cause unnecessary misunderstandings.

 

In this article we will talk about wedding attendants, their roles and expected etiquette. Some of them will be accompanied with links, where more info about their duties is available. So meet the cast of characters!

 

Wedding attendants and their duties in alphabetical order

 

 

Best Man

  • participates in all stages of wedding, from start of planning to the couple's return from the honeymoon
  • helps groom and all the groomsmen finding a tuxedo or similar outfits
  • throws the bachelor's party, including organizing gift giving to the groom
  • takes care of the transport of happy couple to and from the reception, also helps at departure to honeymoon (including decorating the car)
  • is charge of giving toasts at rehearsal dinner and wedding reception (he organizes who and when gives one, traditional order after the meal at the reception is: father of the bride, groom and best man)
  • gives the toasts at rehearsal dinner (right after groom's father, who traditionally pays for it) and at the reception (his is first and should be the best of all)
  • stands by the groom through the ceremony, signs the marriage license and takes care of payments to the officiant, church etc.
  • if the couple leaves to honeymoon right after the wedding, takes care of gifts until they return
  • checks if groomsmen are properly dressed and are taking care of their duties
  • is in charge of the rings, documents and hired clothes
  • signs the wedding license as official witness
  • calms the groom, if anything unexpected occurs

 

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Bible Bearer

  • is a kid, in most cases related to the bride or the groom (a niece or nephew for instance)
  • carries a Bible while walking (by Ring Bearer and Coin Bearer) down the aisle during processional and recessional at Catholic weddings
  • his attire is expected to be paid by his family
  • is part of formal wedding photos

 

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Bridesmaid

  • helps maid of honor at all wedding related activities, from planning of bridal shower to the end of wedding reception
  • helps the bride wherever and whenever necessary, especially on wedding day
  • greets and ushers guests, handing out wedding programs, encourages mingling, introduces guests
  • is present and supportive at shoppings and all events
  • contagiously smiles even at the most stressful situations
  • always has inexhaustible supply of handkerchiefs ready
  • there can be many bridesmaids, up to twlve in formal weddings
  • pays her share for bridal-shower and hen party as well for her dress, accessories, hair-do, makeup, lodging and transportation, if not explicitly agreed otherwise

 

Bridesman

  • this relatively new term is used instead of bridesmaid, if bride wants to include male friend on her side of wedding party
  • his duties depend on the position he occupies, so thus his alternative names, like Her Man of Honor (yes, there can be two), or Man of Distinction

 

 

 

Candle Lighter

  • is a child aged from nine to twelve years
  • can be one or more of them
  • only in very traditional Christian ceremonies
  • lights the candles at the altar right before the wedding ceremony starts

 

Coin Bearer

  • a young boy usually walking along with ring bearer
  • carries thirteen coins of silver and gold, representing Christ and twelve apostles
  • coins are blessed for prosperity and often passed from generation to generation
  • only at very traditional Christian weddings
  • this tradition was probably started by Spanish colonists and is for instance very alive in Philippines

 

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Father of the Bride

  • traditionally covers majority of the expenses, including the tips for the stuff involved on wedding day
  • is actively involved at planning, especially at choosing a wedding venue, the program at wedding day and transportation and lodging of out-of-town guests
  • can be in charge of all the maps which may be useful to wedding guests
  • walks his daughter down the aisle
  • is traditionally the host of the wedding reception
  • has a short welcoming speech at the beginning of reception
  • stay at the reception to the very end and takes care of all predicted and unpredicted expenses

 

Father of the Groom

  • pays for and hosts the rehearsal dinner
  • has the first toast at the rehearsal dinner
  • can throw more pre-wedding parties, for instance engagement party, or a dinner where the bride-to-be is officially introduced to the most important members of extended groom-to-be's family
  • can significantly help at certain wedding related activities, for instance coordinates members of the wedding party at official photo shooting
  • may contribute to other expenses too (for instance pays for the honeymoon or splits costs with parents of the bride, in some pays up to one half, sometimes pays only for beverages at the reception etc.)
  • is not expected to have a speech at ceremony, but in case he significantly participated at payments, may be included (still etiquette requires prior consultation with the newlyweds, Best Man and bridal parents)

 

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Flower Girl

  • is traditionally three to eight years old, but older ages may work great as well
  • can be a boy too (in this case is called Flower Child)
  • there can be more than one flower girl, especially if we want to include more relatives or daughter from more than one friend or if we are dealing with very shy girl, who needs some support
  • wears a cute dress which is traditionally paid by her parents
  • is invited to all wedding related events except for the bachelorette party and is included in formal wedding portraits
  • carries flowers in a basket or a bouquet, may scatter rose petals
  • at the ceremony follows the Ring Bearer and precedes Maid of Honor down the aisle, walks in front of Maid of Honor when leaving the ceremony

 

 

 

 

Groomsman

  • assists the Best Man at everything he my ask
  • is present at all wedding related activities
  • they pay for their attire, accessories, transportation and lodging
  • are life of the stag party
  • help everybody get to the dance floor at the wedding reception
  • look great in tuxedos
  • may perform duties of candle lighter, usher etc.
  • often join their buying power to get really special wedding gift

 

Grommswoman

  • the same as the Groomsman (belongs to the Groom's side of the wedding party), but is a woman
  • is sometimes called Groom's Maid or, if we are dealing with female equivalent of Best Man can be called Best Maid or Best Matron (if she is married)

 

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Maid of Honor (or Matron of Honor, if she is married)

  • is sometimes called Chief Bridesmaid
  • participates at all stages of wedding from first drafts of plans to the return from the honeymoon
  • plans bridal shower and hen party
  • helps the bride at everything, especially at everything related to the dresses and jewelry (brides' and bridesmaids')
  • directs and coordinates other bridesmaids, including transportation and lodging
  • keeps record of wedding gifts, including spreading the world about the wedding registry (if any)
  • holds groom's ring at the ceremony
  • is in charge of bouquets, veil and train, helps the bride to the restroom, if necessary
  • performs duties of the hostess at the wedding reception
  • has a toast at the reception, often right after the Best Man
  • has a dance with the Best Man as the official dance program
  • is always ready to offer a helpful advice or consolation, no matter what happens
  • signs the wedding license as official witness
  • has all the contacts of everybody included in the wedding always at hand

 

Man of Honor

  • the same as Maid of Honor (belongs to the bridal side of the wedding party), but is a man

 

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Mother of the Bride

  • is actively involved at all stages of wedding, especially at planning and everything related to dresses, she often becomes unofficial wedding consultant
  • can be in charge of specific elements of wedding, like communication with caterer or florist
  • is in charge of the guest book at the ceremony and the reception
  • hosts the wedding and the reception
  • can host or co-host a wedding shower
  • in many cases acts as intermediary between both families, coordinating colors of dresses, guest lists, accommodations for out-of-town guests, ...
  • can be in charge of the wedding gifts, especially is somebody needs to store them until the newlyweds return from the honeymoon

 

Mother of the Groom

  • invites the parents of the bride to cocktail or dinner to officially express congratulations
  • participates in all stages of wedding, especially at compiling a guest list
  • plans and co-hosts rehearsal dinner
  • can be in charge of contacting one or more wedding vendors
  • coordinates dresses with mother of the bride
  • can be in charge of RSVPs and makes calls to late responses

 wedding-officiant-duties

Officiant

  • person, who conducts the marriage ceremony
  • can be a court clerk, justice of piece, judge, priest or any other person by permanent of temporary authority to perform a wedding ceremony (depends on the state and situation)

 

 

Page Boy

 

  • is sometimes called Pageboy
  • is not necessary, but is often included for minor duties at weddings, as it is a great opportunity to get younger relatives or fiends' kids involved
  • there can be more than one Page Boy
  • is not necessary a boy
  • is in general from seven to ten years old, but sometimes he can be up to sixteen
  • sits with the parents throuhg the ceremony and at other events, if his services are not needed
  • can be used for performing the duties of ring bearer, train bearer or usher
  • is part of official wedding photography and videography

 

 

Reader

  • is dear friend, who reads a passage at the wedding ceremony, but can't be included in more 'official' role of wedding party
  • can read few lines from Bible, short poem or few thoghts about marriage
  • it is very important to clear with her or him, if this role suits her (him), because sometimes simply doesn't share the same beliefs as the bride and the groom

 

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Ring Bearer

  • this is usually a boy aged between three and six years, in general for semi-formal, formal and ultra-formal weddings
  • his duty is to walk in front )more often) or of side (less often) by Flower Girl, and carries the wedding rings, meaning he is actually the head of the bridal party as it enters the church
  • in most cases he is not carrying real rings, which are just sewn patterns in the fabric on the pillow, typically made of white satin
  • if the real rings are used, they are attached with a thread or ribbon to the pillow
  • when he approaches the altar, he gives a pillow to the Best Man and Maid of Honor
  • when the ceremony starts, stands with the groomsmen or sits with his parents
  • his attire is in general payed by his parents
  • at the reception sits with the parents
  • apart from the ceremony rehearsal and ceremony itself he can be invited to a rehearsal dinner and other events, but this will not necessary happen
  • makes a cute pair with a Flower Girl on wedding photos

 

Tradition Bearer

  • in most cases a very yung person, like Coin Bearer of Ring Bearer
  • only at very formal weddings where old families with long history are ivolved (nobility, for instance)
  • carries a banner, coat of arms or similar symbol of the family, from which comes one of the happy couple

 

Usher

  • person, responsible for greeting wedding guests at the ceremony and help them to their seats
  • arrives early (at least 45 minutes before the ceremony starts)
  • can help with their coats, directs them to restrooms, shows where the sign book and table for wedding gifts are and so on
  • can hand out programs too
  • during ceremony can stand with the groomsmen, sit in one of first rows or stands at the back, near the door (may close them as well)
  • encourages mingling
  • can be part of the pictures or not
  • in the roles of ushers groomsmen, bridesmaids, pageboys and other members of wedding party can take part
  • helps the groom or the bride is any unexpected problem occurs
  • is expected to smile no matter what, has superb manners and is a master of small talk
  • in general there is one usher for every 50 guests

 

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Train Bearer

  • is present at ultra formal weddings only
  • is always very young
  • could be male or female, one or more of them (in most cases a pair is used)
  • must attend rehearsal and may attend some other events
  • lifts and holds train of the bride's gown as she walks down the aisle, following her in the processional and recessional, carrying the train
  • is invited to some of the wedding events, but this is very dependent on his age, type of event, hour, location, ...
  • is part of formal wedding photographs

 

Please note:

For certain roles of wedding attendants we like to include kids, which are adorable, add warm and relax feel to the event and always look great in photos, but may also cause a lot of mess and noise, can have tantrums or simply forget what are supposed to do.

 

It is very important to spend some time teaching them about their roles, present them to other members of the party, so they will be accustomed to the situation and you need to have a backup plan for every possible situation which may occur. This means parents should be always very near, there should be a lot of handkerchiefs, comic and coloring books, and responsible adults to entertain and babysit them if necessary.

 

 


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