Bridal Party Roles: What to Know

A bride, groom, and their wedding party celebrate after fulfilling their bridal party roles. Photo by Lela Spiva Photography

Mardie Caldwell

April 18, 2023

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So you just got engaged…congratulations! Your engagement can be one of the most fun and exciting seasons of your life. You can’t wait to call your family and friends and tell them the great news. Who you choose to call first may be a great indicator of who you may want in your wedding party.
Choosing the members of your wedding party is one of the most significant decisions you will make and one of the first. To begin, you need to decide how big your wedding party will be. The bigger the wedding party, the higher the cost, so consider your budget when choosing how many members of the wedding party there will be. Next comes the sometimes the tricky part. Who will be in your wedding party?

Your Maid of Honor & Best Man

The best man fulfills one of his bridal party roles by helping his friend affix his boutonniere. Photo by Katelyn Bradley Photography Generally, your maid of honor and best man are siblings or best friends. These two will have more tasks than the rest of your wedding party and must be organized, kind, supportive, and reliable. Of course, fun and humor will be important as well. There are a few things to think of before making this choice. A maid of honor and best man are often relied on heavily to help prepare for the wedding, so before choosing, consider:

  • Do your choices have time to assist you in preparing for your wedding?
  • Do you feel calm and content when you’re around them?
  • Can you count on them to follow through with any tasks you assign?

If you are unavailable to make a decision about a detail for your wedding would you feel comfortable with the choice they would make?

What Are the Maid of Honor & Best Man’s Duties?

The best man and maid of honor roles come with a fair share of responsibilities. They help the couple with all elements of their wedding, from planning to helping choose attire. Here is a quick and easy breakdown of what each role is typically responsible for. Feel free to save these lists of bridal party roles to your phone to share them with those you ask to be your maid of honor and best man!

Typical Maid of Honor Duties Before the Wedding

  • Plan bridal shower
  • Shop for a wedding dress with the bride
  • Help the bride stay organized and relaxed
  • Be a point of contact by sharing their email with other wedding party members
  • Help organize and create any DIY projects the couple has planned for the wedding
  • Prepare a Wedding Emergency Kit with essentials like Aspirin, Band-Aids, nail polish, etc.
  • Help choose the musical playlist
  • Plan bachelorette party

Typical Best Man Duties Before the Wedding

  • Offer to assist with the groom’s to-do list
  • Assist in the selection of suits or tuxedos
  • Create Groom Emergency Kit
  • Keep rehearsal dinner on track and make a short speech
  • Assist with any DIY projects the couple has planned
  • Plan bachelor party

Maid of Honor Tip

Themed wedding events are always fun and involve great food, drinks, games, and decorations. Only some people invited to the wedding need to be invited to the wedding events leading up to the Big Day. For a bridal shower, for example, the guest list will be the bride, wedding party, close family including grandmas, aunts, cousins, and then your close friends.
Be sure and plan these wedding events so they are not too close to the wedding day or too many to-dos. High-stress levels can make these events no longer enjoyable.

Typical Maid of Honor Duties During the Wedding

  • Keep the bride relaxed and happy
  • Make sure the bride drinks water to stay hydrated
  • Check-in with vendors, officiant, and photographer to ensure all are on time
  • Help the bride get dressed and be her stylist; for example, if you see wrinkles, get that steamer out and make sure she looks her best!
  • Make sure the wedding party members are on their best behavior; don’t allow anyone to cause the bride stress
  • Offer to take some pictures of the preparations and post them on social media if the bride desires
  • Keep track of any gifts received
  • Hold the bouquet for the bride during the “I dos”

Typical Best Man Duties During the Wedding

  • Welcome guests
  • Organize procession
  • Hold onto the rings until the ceremony
  • Take care of any last-minute details that come up
  • Decorate the car for the bride and groom’s exit after the reception
  • Make sure groomsmen stay on schedule and on task
  • Give a speech

Best Man Tip

What is the traditional order of who is where? For a traditional wedding processional, the bride and her family will be on the aisle’s left side as you walk towards the ceremony. The groom and his family will be on the aisle’s right side as you walk towards the ceremony. If the wedding party and relatives come down the aisle in pairs, here is the traditional order:

Grandparents of Groom
Grandparents of Bride
Parents of the Groom
Mother of the Bride
Groomsmen & Bridesmaids
Best Man & Maid of Honor
Flower Girl & Ring Bearer
Bride & Father of Bride
A bride and her three bridesmaids posed for a photo by Athena Kalindi Photography at the Rough & Ready Vineyards

Selecting Your Wedding Party

Once you have chosen your maid of honor and best man, you can go on to select the rest of your wedding party. Traditionally, bridesmaids will attend the bridal shower and bachelorette party. They can also help with DIY projects you decide to tackle, such as making your own veil, wedding favors, or centerpieces. Of course, the groomsmen should also be ready to help with any tasks.

Both the bridesmaids’ and the groomsmen’s duties will be primarily on the wedding day. They will help you prepare for your big day and assist with any tasks needed, so your day goes smoothly. You may want to assign a bridesmaid or groomsman to be an emergency contact if you feel the maid of honor and best man have their hands full already.

You and your partner will want to take some time to think through who your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be. There is a lot to consider, and here are some questions you will both want to ask yourselves:

  • How involved do you want your wedding party to be during your wedding planning and on the day of your wedding?
    If you expect a lot of involvement from your wedding party, you need to make sure you choose those who have time to help and who will be enthusiastic about the tasks you give them. You also want to be sure they are reliable. For example, if you ask a bridesmaid to arrange the flower delivery, it will be a problem if she forgets.
  • Are you going to be putting a heavy financial strain on a friend or family member by asking them to be part of your wedding party?
    If you expect the bridesmaids and groomsmen to purchase an expensive dress or rent a costly tuxedo, it may cause a lot of stress if your friend or family member struggles financially. Take into consideration what the total cost to your wedding party will be.
  • Are you going to cause hurt feelings with your choices?
    If you ask one sister and not another sister, will this cause emotional pain or resentment? While this is your wedding, and you need the people you want and can rely on in your wedding party, you don’t want to create a negative situation.

Communication is critical here. If you know someone you love is just too busy and cannot take care of the tasks you need to be done by members of the wedding party, explain that ahead of time. Let them know you are considering their circumstances and do not want to overburden them, and it is not a reflection of how close you feel to that person.

Your “Day of Decision Maker”

If you have a loved one who, due to schedule or financial issues, cannot be in your wedding party, you may ask if they can take on the role of your emergency contact on the wedding day. They can be the “Day of Decision Maker.” This is a very important role, and this person will only have to commit to being available on your wedding day. They will ideally be onsite all day and know your plans and the wedding look you are designing.

This will be the person that the venue and any vendors will go to first to discuss a decision for questions that come up throughout the day. They don’t have to make every decision for you, but they should know you well enough to know when to come and ask the couple a question or to make the decision themselves.

A bride-to-be talking with her sister about being her maid of honor

Honest Communication is Key

Communicating honestly with those you are considering for your wedding party is critical. Once you decide who to ask to be part of your wedding party, the next step is asking your prospects. Prepare to be upfront about what time and financial commitments you feel there will be.
You may be wondering how to talk to your wedding party about expectations. At our venue, we provide couples a “Last Minute Reminders” handout that you can share with their wedding party. Wedding party expectations should be discussed with each individual when asking them to be part of the wedding.
Everyone has different expectations of what they think people should do and how they should be involved in the wedding. Set up a detailed list ahead of time and go over everyone’s roles when asking them to be part of the wedding so they don’t feel surprised when asked to take care of certain tasks, or they can humbly decline if these are duties, they don’t think they can successfully fulfill.
It would not be fair for any of you if someone says, “Yes, I would love to be your bridesmaid!” and then when they find out that you expect them to tour venues and make wedding favors when they don’t have the time it can cause frustration on both sides. You don’t want your friend or family member to be embarrassed or upset down the road, and you don’t need the stress of finding someone else to take their place.
Just as you need to be honest when letting people know what you need from them, don’t be disappointed if someone you ask lets you know they can’t handle what is required. Honesty is best, so nobody is surprised or let down. You want to keep the preparation for your wedding and your wedding day as stress-free as possible.

Photo of wedding cake by Ashton Imagery

Your Rehearsal Dinner

Your entire wedding party is there to support you and celebrate your union. You will see all your planning and hard work coming together during your rehearsal dinner.
At this dinner, your family and wedding party will be shown where they will enter, when they will walk down the aisle, and where they will sit or stand. To make these plans easy, use the Rough & Ready Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal Guide, which you can download for free and fill in with your wedding details.

Outdoor Wedding Tasks

If you have an outdoor wedding, you may want to put your bridesmaids and groomsmen in charge of ensuring that your signs and décor have not blown over. In addition, you can have them help guests take advantage of any sunscreen, parasols, or fans that are available.
Another task you might assign groomsmen or bridesmaids is to escort guests to their seats and greet guests. You could even put your flower girl and ring bearer in charge of picking up any napkins or other paper products that may have blown off a table. None of these tasks should take up much time, but it can be helpful to know you don’t have to worry about these details.

Bridesmaids and the Maid of Honor joyfully hug the bride while getting ready. Photo by A Moment of Joy Photography

Bridal Party Roles: Making Sure You’re Pampered, Loved, and Joyful

The support from your wedding party will carry through to your special day. Don’t be afraid to ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to assist with tasks such as:

  • Ensuring décor is in good shape. If the day is breezy, signs and other items may blow over.
  • Hand out any items you have for guests, such as fans, parasols, or water.
  • Greet guests.
  • Ensure everyone at the wedding feels included.
  • Make sure all guests get their wedding favors when exiting.
  • Keep the fun and energy up and the reception on track.

Most importantly, enjoy every moment of planning your wedding with your wedding party, experiencing your rehearsal dinner, and the joy and love on your wedding day. The members of your wedding party are there to support you and celebrate the love you two share as your future begins as a married couple.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 24, 2022, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell

Written by Mardie Caldwell

Mardie has been a successful businesswoman since 1981. The Rough & Ready Vineyards was created out of Mardie’s desire to contribute to the community. Mardie’s vision to serve the community is rooted in her love of Nevada County, and it provided her with the opportunity to revitalize an old Ranch property into a breathtaking wedding venue.

Her innovative mind and commitment to environmental accountability contribute in a positive way to our community and the surrounding area. With the Rough & Ready Vineyards, Mardie seeks to create the best wedding experience for our clients and their guests, creating memories that will last for generations.

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