Traditional Wedding Roles: who does what on the big day
A successful wedding can only be executed if all involved deliver their part. Now I’ve had my fair share of wedding dramas, but I can safely say I finally have the perfect team behind me. Hopefully this post will help you find yours.
Planning a wedding can be very stressful - from dresses to venues to food there’s just so much to think about. Now would it surprise you if I were to tell you the biggest cause of wedding stress is one thing – people!
To ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible, you must make sure everyone knows what they’re expected to do, so to help you I’ve put together a traditional list of roles outlining who does what on the big day. So before you start asking people to be involved in YOUR big day, read on and choose wisely!
Traditionally your fiancé’s parents will contact your parents after your engagement. They may provide you with a list of guests they want to be included – in this case it would best for you to agree on a number beforehand. If you’re having a rehearsal dinner on the evening before the wedding, they would host this.
The Best Man is traditionally the groom’s brother or best friend. He will be required to liaise closely with the Maid of Honour (see below), as their roles are crucial in the smooth running of a wedding. You will lean on both of them heavily for support during the wedding planning process, so make sure they are responsible people.
Usually the Best Man will organise a bachelor party or ‘Stag Do’ (before the wedding!), pick up the Groom’s attire, organise your ushers and be responsible for ensuring the safe keeping of the all-important rings.
On the big day it’s down to the Best Man to get the Groom to the ceremony on time, after this he may (if he’s really organised) organise the Groomsmen/Ushers for official photographs and orchestrate the toasts during the wedding breakfast.
The Ushers are usually brothers or close relatives of the Bride and Groom. They are there to help the Best Man so that he may support the Groom on the big day. The day of the wedding they are expected to arrive early at the venue so they are ready to greet the guests, help them find seats and hand out the Order of Service. They form part of the official bridal party and it is traditional to sit the Ushers at the top table alongside the Bridesmaids.
These days their main role is just to add a little cuteness to the proceedings, but traditionally the Ring Bearer is a little boy who carries the wedding rings on a satin pillow down the aisle (I would advise using ribbon to tie them on the pillow). Like the Flower Girl, the Pageboy’s parents pay for his attire.
The Bride's parents have the privilege of footing the bill for the wedding expenses, however these days couples tend to share the cost with both the Bride's and Groom's parents.
However there are still responsibilities for the Bride’s parents. Traditionally they host the engagement party and help the Bride with wedding planning (if your parents are paying, then be prepared to compromise!).
The Bride’s Mother has the glorious task of helping her daughter find her wedding dress. Sadly I haven’t had this honour, but I am certain my Mother would have been happy with my choice. I look forward to sharing the photographs with you!
The day of the wedding the Bride's father traditionally will walk his daughter down the aisle. After the wedding, in the evening he would be last to leave after saying goodnight to guests (Steve Martin springs to mind!).
Maid of Honour
The Maid of Honour is usually the sister or close friend of the Bride and she will be relied on heavily. From organising dress fittings, bridal showers (very American but increasingly popular here in the UK), bachelorette parties, to addressing/labelling invitations and keeping records of gifts (these days most couples sign up to a gift registry so that’s one less thing for her to think about!). She is there to help the Bride throughout all the wedding planning and also liaise with other Bridesmaids, and ensure any Flower Girls and Page Boys are taken care of.
On the big day itself the Maid of Honour is required to help the Bride into her dress and escort her to the ceremony. She will need to be hands-on and ready to arrange the Bride’s veil and train and finally hold her bouquet at the altar.
After the ceremony she will help organise the Bridesmaids, Flower Girls and Pageboys for official photographs.
When it’s all done it is the Maid of Honour who has the job of keeping the dress and bouquet safe until the newlyweds return from honeymoon.
Bridesmaids are sisters of the Bride and Groom, or close friends of the Bride. I have my three closest friends, Caroline, Sarah and Kate, who have been the best Bridesmaids I could ever ask for and we still have another ten weeks to go! Bridesmaids will need to liaise with the Bride and Maid of Honour during the wedding preparations.
Traditionally they pay for their own attire, but I personally believe if you’re going to be telling your bridesmaids what to wear, how to look etc., then you should pay. It is after all the only way you can guarantee you’ll get the look you want - just my personal opinion!
The Flower Girls are usually a close relation of the Bride and Groom between the ages of four and eight, but of course it’s your wedding so you can ask anyone you like. It is advisable to choose a few Flower Girls, so they’ll be more comfortable with walking down the aisle with a bunch of strangers (mostly!) staring at them.
Their main role, I would say, is to be adorable of course, but it isn’t just about dropping petals before the Bride walks down the aisle. Traditionally the basket held by the Flower Girl would be filled with a mixture of rose petals, herbs and grains, symbolising hope for future fertility, everlasting love and good luck for the Bride and Groom.
The most important factor to consider when choosing a dress for a Flower Girl is comfort. Whilst you may like the idea of a miniature version of your own dress, the way the child feels will reflect in their performance on the big day!
If you’re having a wedding rehearsal it’s important you include her, in order to make her feel comfortable with her role. Traditionally the parents of the Flower Girl pay for her attire.
Well, that’s it folks, if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email. Happy planning!