Bridal Party Roles

Amy Hoover
Contributor: Deb Ng
Wedding party

Taking part in a wedding is a fun responsibility. Everyone in the bridal party attends the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Beyond that, however, the responsibilities of the bridal party differs by role. People frequently use the terms bridal party and wedding party interchangeably to refer those in assigned positions on the wedding day.

Maid of Honor's Role

The maid of honor is someone very special to the bride, often a sister or close friend. If the maid of honor is married, she may be referred to as a matron of honor. Brides who want a male friend or relative to stand up for them in this role may refer to him as a "man of honor" instead. Primary duties of the maid of honor before and after the ceremony include:

  • Throwing a bridal shower and/or the bachelorette party
  • Assisting with shopping, bridesmaid dress selection, and other shopping duties
  • Helping the bride to dress before the wedding
  • Participating in the wedding processional and recessional
  • Holding the groom's wedding ring and bride's flowers during the ceremony
  • Participating in the receiving line
  • Witnessing the marriage by signing the wedding certificate
  • Offering a maid of honor speech or wedding toast
  • Dancing with the best man at the wedding reception

A maid of honor checklist can help you stay on top of all the expected duties.

Best Man's Role

The best man is also someone special. He's close to the groom, perhaps a trusted brother or best friend. Primary tasks for the best man include:

  • Organizing the bachelor party
  • Helping the groom to dress before the wedding
  • Holding the bride's wedding ring
  • Witnessing the marriage by signing the wedding certificate
  • Participating in the receiving line
  • Toasting the happy couple at the wedding reception
  • Dancing with the maid of honor at the wedding reception

Following a best man guide can help you figure out exactly what may be expected.

Bridesmaids' Roles

Bridesmaids are also entrusted with important tasks.

Bride with bridesmaids

Their roles include:

  • Attending the shower and/or bachelorette party
  • Contributing to bridal gifts
  • Wearing the bridesmaid dress selected by the bride
  • Helping the bride get ready for the wedding
  • Walking in the wedding processional
  • Participating in the receiving line
  • Dancing with groomsmen
  • Mingling with the wedding guests

Junior bridesmaid is a good wedding role for a teenage girl. The junior bridesmaid wears a dress similar to the bridesmaids and walks in the processional and recessional.

Groomsmen's Roles

The groomsmen, or groomswomen, have similar responsibilities as the bridesmaids.

groomsmen and ushers

This includes:

  • Attending the bachelor party and/or coed wedding showers
  • Contributing to gifts for the groom
  • Walking in the wedding processional and recessional
  • Participating in the receiving line
  • Dancing with bridesmaids
  • Mingling with the wedding guests

Groomsmen may also take on the duties of wedding ushers if the bride and groom choose not to have separate ushers.

The Wedding Ushers

The wedding ushers can be either gender. Ushers can help direct parking, hand out wedding programs, unroll an aisle runner, and seat guests at the ceremony. They may have spots at the head table or reserved seating at the wedding reception. At formal weddings, they may wear suits similar to the groomsmen, while at more casual weddings, they could wear nice dress slacks with button-down shirt and tie.

Flower Girl's Role

Because the flower girl is usually a very young child, not much is expected. The flower girl will usually carry a basket of flowers during the wedding processional and may even toss wedding petals on the ground to mark the bride's entrance.

Ring Bearer's Role

Like the flower girl, the ring bearer is generally a young child and isn't entrusted with too much responsibility. In most cases, he'll walk next to the flower girl during the wedding processional while holding a pillow on which the (often faux) wedding rings are sewn.

The Role of Parents in the Bridal Party

The main role of the parents in the bridal party is to support their children, help with planning and tasks, and offer financial assistance, if they decide to do so.

  • Parents of the groom generally plan an engagement party, help with the rehearsal dinner, and take part in the receiving line.
  • The mother of the bride and father of the bride often take a larger role in wedding planning, helping with everything from addressing invitations to attending vendor meetings to walking their daughter down the aisle to taking part in the receiving line.

While the duties listed above are traditional roles, the modern bride and groom may ask for more or less from either set of parents. If the mother of the groom is a talented decorator, she may take a more active role than the bride's mom. Some couples prefer to do everything themselves. Modern couples also may want parents to have more equal roles, like participating in a mother-son dance as well as a father-daughter dance. Don't get too tied up on precedent as a parent; just ask your son or daughter what they expect so everyone is clear.

Alternative Wedding Party Roles

The roles above are the ones associated with most bridal parties. However, some couples want to involve more people in their big day, so they add more roles, which may include:

  • Bride's personal attendant - Someone who is not a bridesmaid, but often helps the bride out with her to-do list for the wedding day.
  • Candlelighters - Adults, teens, or responsible tweens who light candles at the altar before the ceremony.
  • Special readers - Friends and relatives who are asked to read a passage, poem, verse, or other special piece during the ceremony.
  • Officiant - Sometimes the officiant is included in the bridal party, especially if he or she is a close friend or family member.

The couple is free to ask anyone they wish to take part in their wedding part in a variety of roles, from traditional ones to those they create in order to include more friends.

A Position of Honor

It's an honor to be included in the bridal party, so make sure you understand your role before you accept. After all, the bride and groom will depend on you to carry out your role and help ensure their wedding is a beautiful event to remember.

Bridal Party Roles