Wedding Bells: The Duties

For today’s edition of Wedding Bells, I will be going over all the various duties and responsibilities for everyone included in a wedding. Get ready to take notes!

Wedding Bells: The Duties

Right after we got engaged my fiancé and I began to think about everyone we would invite to be a part of our wedding. Like most newly engaged couples, we really didn’t have a clear understanding as to what everyone’s roles would be so I hit the books and did some research… I buried my nose in books such as The Knot’s Book of Wedding Lists (suggested to me by fellow Team LC member, Ilana) and etiquette queen Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, and studied up on the various duties typically expected of everyone involved in a wedding.

From the Maid of Honor down to the Ring Bearer, there are laundry lists of responsibilities associated with each role that no one in their right mind would (or should!) ever know by instinct. Since I noticed that many of you were curious about this too, I thought I’d put together an easy to follow breakdown on the various duties for everyone involved in the wedding party. Check it out below and get ready to take notes!

Maid of Honor

The maid of honor has one of the most important (and demanding) jobs out of the bridal party. Not only does she need to be responsible, she must be very close to the bride as well and be able to keep her cool, calm, and collected throughout the entire process. Duties include the following:

  • Assists the bride with all wedding related shopping: the dress, bridesmaid dresses, accessories
  • Helps organize hair and makeup for the bridesmaids
  • Plans and hosts the bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Witnesses and sign the Marriage Certificate
  • Attends the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Carries an emergency kit for the bride on the day of the wedding (although if you have a planner or day-of coordinator, they usually hold onto this)
  • Holds the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony
  • Stays by the bride’s side at all times and oversee the bridesmaids
  • Holds onto the groom’s ring during the ceremony
  • Helps make favors and address invitations
  • Gives a speech and toast during the wedding reception
  • Acts as air traffic control for the bride, wedding planner, and family
  • Responsible for paying for her own travel, attire, and accessories
  • Gives the bride both a shower gift and wedding gift
  • Helps out however and whenever she can
  • Encourages guests to get on the dance floor during the reception

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids should be a dependable group of ladies consisting of the bride’s closest friends and/or family (sisters, cousins, etc.). Traditionally, if the groom has any sisters, they are included in the wedding as bridesmaids. Duties include the following:

  • Assists Maid of Honor however they can
  • Helps Maid of Honor plan and pay for the bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Greets guests at the reception and encourage mingling
  • Purchases their own attire, transportation, and accessories
  • Attends the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Assists the Maid of Honor in helping everyone get on the dance floor

Best Man

Like the Maid of Honor, the Best Man should be a reliable guy who is very close to the groom. Duties include the following:

  • Plans bachelor party
  • Helps the groom however he can
  • Makes sure the groom and groomsmen are on time to all wedding related events
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Holds onto the bride’s ring during the ceremony
  • Oversees the groomsmen and ushers and helps coordinate attire
  • Transports the groom to the ceremony
  • Seats the Mother of the Bride at the ceremony
  • Helps arrange getaway car for the bride and groom
  • Gives the first speech and toast during the wedding reception
  • Witnesses and signs the Marriage Certificate
  • Delivers wedding gifts to the newlywed’s home (although usually this gets passed onto the parents since it’s more convenient)
  • Responsible for paying for his own travel, attire, and accessories
  • Encourages guests to get on the dance floor during the reception

Groomsmen

Like bridesmaids, groomsmen should be the groom’s closest friends and/or family (brothers, cousins). Traditionally, if the bride has any brothers, they are included in the wedding as groomsmen. Duties include the following:

  • Assists Best Man however they can
  • Helps Best Man plan and pay for the bachelor party
  • Greets guests at the reception and encourages mingling
  • Purchases their own attire, transportation, and accessories
  • Attends the wedding ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Assists the Best Man in helping everyone get on the dance floor
  • Escorts guests to their seats
  • Decorates the wedding car

Ushers

Typically, ushers are not photographed with the bridal party, although they are important—however, not absolutely necessary! Ushers are good friends of the groom who help greet guests and get them to their seats. According to the basic standards of etiquette, there should be one user for every fifty guests. Duties include the following:

  • Arrives at the location early to help set up, light candles, etc.
  • Greets guests upon arrival and assist with seating
  • Passes out programs and encourages mingling

Flower Girl

A flower girl is always a nice touch! However, they are not mandatory. Usually, a flower girl should be between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. Duties include the following:

  • Goes down the aisle before the bride and her father, sprinkling flower petals in the bride’s path
  • Her parents pay for her dress and accessories
  • Attends the rehearsal, however the rehearsal dinner is optional and attendance is up to the bride and groom

Ring Bearer

The ring bearer is usually a young boy between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. Again, the ring bearer isn’t necessary, however is it cute. Usually the ring bearer carries a decoy ring down the aisle for caution. Duties include the following:

  • Goes down the aisle before flower girl, carrying the wedding “rings” on a small pillow
  • His parents pay for his attire and accessories
  • Attends the rehearsal, however the rehearsal dinner is optional and attendance is up to the bride and groom

These duties are based on tradition and can obviously be tailored to your needs and preferences. Some people prefer to not even have attendants, and that is totally fine!

Next time I will be sharing a few creative ways to ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding!

Have you ever been in a wedding? If so, share your best nuggets of advice below!

Xx Alex
Team LC

Sources: The Knot Book of Wedding Lists, Emily Post, The Wedding Book, Bride & Groom
Photo: The Long Haul
Categories: Alex Gariano, Wedding
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  • Stacie Wong

    I have been a bridesmaid and now I am planning my own wedding. As a bridesmaid I didn’t have much responsibility and wished I could have helped out more but with a large wedding party there wasn’t much to do. Now as the bride to be planning everything it’s true that I have counted mainly on my sister (maid of honor) to help me out every step of the way. The only difference is I paid for all the attire. But the responsibilities listed ads pretty accurate! ;)

  • Meghan Conard

    Great tips!
    Check out my new post mc2squared.blogspot.com
    xx-MC

  • Rachel Trampel

    Oh boy… looks like I have a LOT of responsibilities coming up haha! I am the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding in October! I helped her pick out her dress/bridesmaid dresses and just worked on her save the dates! I need to start planning her bachelorette/bridal shower parties!

    http://www.rachelslookbook.com

  • Bev

    love the deets you go into for each role! i could have used this (no… my WEDDING PARTY could have used this) guideline to better everyone involved!!

  • Donna Hale

    What a great comprehensive list! As a day of planner for weddings, I get asked these sorts of questions more often then not. One thing I suggest for brides is spreading out all the MOH items to the bridal party. If one of your bridesmaids loves doing DIY then have her support you there, if another enjoys the party aspect have her plan the bachelorette. That way everyone is doing what they enjoy!

    http://www.soyouagree.com

  • Emma Fox

    Really good post! I forgot it was Alex writing this, I thought it was Lauren! I was so confused!

    http://foxtrotbravo.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Kiki32

    I have been in 5 weddings thus far and have 2 more to be in this summer and let me tell you…this list is somewhat skewed. The majority of the items listed on the MOH are correct but when has the whole wedding scene changed that the Bridal Party is NOW responsible for the Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party?? Where I’m from (and something my mother always told me) is that the Mother of the Bride is responsible for throwing the shower…not the bridal party.
    With all the obligations & $$ involved in being in a wedding I don’t think it’s acceptable any longer to EXPECT your bridal party and MOH to pay for everything. The Mother of the Bride and Groom should be involved in the Shower 10000% and help offset the cost for the Bridal Party.
    Expecting the MOH to also pay for a shower gift, wedding gift, throw the bach party, throw the bridal shower and the other laundry list of duties is pretty intense. Nowadays with weddings costing so much, not just for the couple to be but also those involved I think we should stop expecting so much and be thankful for what they are giving rather than always focusing on what material items they should provide. That’s just my two cents since being a part of so many special days. ~kd

  • Sarah Jean

    When you don’t have a mother, it gets a little tough for me to expect her to pay. My mother passed away a few years back and my mother in law will help out some. But I think it’s still the responsibility of the MOH and all the bridesmaids to front most of the money for the shower and Bach party. That’s always how everyone I know did it.

  • Kiki32

    Sarah I can completely understand your situation and I am not making light of the passing of your mother in any form (very sorry for your loss) but strictly looking at the responsibilities both time and money wise then hopefully it would be the help of the extended family who would chip in for the bridal shower.
    The first 3 weddings I was in, the bridal shower was thrown by the family of the bride & groom then all a sudden it was like a paradigm shift in the wedding world that threw all the commitments and time upon the bridal party, which is a heavy plate to hold. I understand it is the bride’s special day 10000% but asking someone to be in a wedding has much more responsibilities and duties than I ever witnessed before. As much as the MOH and bridal party are there to be a part of the special day and event it doesn’t mean they need to go broke while supporting and showing their dedication and love for the couple. The wedding itself symbolizes the commitment and endearing love..not all the events leading up to it.

  • Kristin0251

    The first wedding I was a bridesmaid for, we were responsible for planning and paying for the bridal shower and bachelorette party. The bride also gave us a few choices to choose from for the dresses and let us pick our own hair, makeup and shoes. For an upcoming wedding this summer I am again a bridesmaid. This time around, the bride has already planned her own bachelorette party, her mother is planning the bridal shower, and she picked up the dress style, shoes, and hair on her own. Both are totally different experiences and I almost prefer the first. When being asked to be a bridesmaid, you are aware of the responsibilities and costs. I want to make sure my friends have an amazing day so I am willing to do as much as I can for them.

  • Lauren

    Great list! I’m getting married in May and could use this. Any suggestions on hair…since I live in FL and it’s hot in May, I’m thinking all up.

  • Ariel

    Love this! I am a bridesmaid/wedding planner for my friends wedding next summer :)

  • shawnee rajala

    So fun to read… I’m a bridesmaid for the first time this summer :)

  • Helen

    Hi, I just wanted to put some comments from my experience as MOH, regular bridesmaid, and also accidental unofficial bridesmaid.

    When I was the MOH, I was the only one in the wedding party aside from the Best Man. The bride paid for my dress and didn’t ask me to give her any gifts. I paid for the bridal shower (hosted at home) and with the best man, paid for a simple coed bachelor/bacherette party. I was also responsible for driving the bride around on the big day and keeping her calm and fed.

    As an accidental unofficial bridesmaid, my friend had a small destination wedding and didn’t have any attendants. She also didn’t want any showers and party. So instead a few of us girls who arrived at the location in advance, took her out to dinner the night before. On the day of the wedding, us girls, all took turn taking care of the bride. Helping into her dress, keeping calm and fed. I became the main “”bridesmaid”” by coordinating the planning with the wedding planner and freshening the bride’s makeup.

    I am now a regular bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. For this one, she has a large wedding party, so we spilt into 2 groups. One group is reponsibile for planning the bachelorette party and the other group is planning the bridal shower. The groups are paying for the events. The bride is paying for our dresses and also because she is doing a destination wedding too, she is paying for our rooms at the location.

    From my three experience, I feel there are no hard and fast rules. Each bride has a different relationship with their wedding party and also different budgets/expectations. Not to mention culturally, there are different expectations. I think that as a bride and as a bridemaid, it is only fair to discuss with the opposite party whose’s responsible for what. At the end of the day, it isn’t fair to expect the bride and her family to pay for everything, but it also isn’t fair to expect the bridal party to pay for everything. Talk it out.

    The only rule that has not changed and should never change, is that it is the bridal party’s responsibilty to help keep the bride calm and cool on her big day. To talk her out of her fears and to help her enjoy her big moment.

  • Katina Yoakum

    We are trying to plan a game for a lingerie shower that will include people from their 20’s to 70’s. We would like it to be tasteful but not corny because of the grandparents that will be in attendance. Any ideas ladies.

  • Nushie

    Have each guest bring a pair of underwear for the bride and have the bride guess which guest brought which pair. It’s tasteful, fun, and interactive.

  • Kimber Beasley

    I’m going to be my sister’s Maid of Honor next spring and I have no idea what to do to help her. I’m only 21, I have no job, and I live an hour away from her. With gas prices it’s hard to go back and forth to help her. I really don’t want to let my big sister down. Any advice?

  • Mary

    Hi, Alex! I love this blog. Thanks for all the advice and inspiration.
    How many bridesmaids do you think are acceptable and appropriate to have? My fiance has three sisters. I want to include them, but I don’t want a huge bridal party. It tends to get more expensive.
    What do you or anyone else here think?

    -M. (@marycherubini)

  • Cranerider

    I totally agree.

    Frankly, posts like this make me cringe.
    Though the post was helpful in explaining what the responsibilities of each attendant are I don’t agree with a lot of points.
    When did it become a “”job””, a demanding one at that, to be a MOH?
    How are these “”duties””?

    Maybe it’s just the terms that were used, but why on earth is it an obligation, for example, for the MOH to give the bride a shower gift AND a wedding gift?
    Did I mention it’s her “”duty”” to do so?

    It seems hardly fun and rather stressful- in these conditions, I doubt I’d want to be one the bride’s girls.
    As a bride to be, I wouldn’t require this of my entourage.

    In some cultures or families, the bride and groom (or their families) pay for the attire of the entourage.

    I don’t know… I think it’d be more reassuring or less bridezilla-ey if this were “”how to help the bride and groom”” or “”Entourage responsibilities””.

    Just had to get that out.

  • vish03

    I am going to a destination wedding in October. It’s my boyfriends best friend who is getting married. The couple is German and most of the wedding party is from Germany, including the MOH and Best Man. Only one of BM’s is here. I waited patiently for this BM to come to me (I am known as the planner, organizer, crafty person)for help with the bridal shower. Good thing that I have the entire bridal shower already planned. All linens ordered and delivered, cake ordered, restaurant for bridal shower reserved (I live in WI they live in MI) and every detail is already planned out. I emailed this BM a few weeks ago and all I could get out of her was she needs to see if she is working (the date was chosen by the bride)and that if after my 6 hour drive I needed to put the cake somewhere she would ask her mom if I can put it in her fridge. Not a word about helping out not to mention any financial assistance! We have shelled out about $3,000 just for the flight to Miami, hotel (3 nights before the cruise) and cruise. That is not to mention the close to $1,000 I will end up spending on the rest of the bridal shower.

    Do you guys think we still need to give them a gift?

    Do you think this BM needs to help me a little more?

    • Guest

      Frankly, if you wanted financial or other help, you should have involved her from the start. I don’t think helping throw the shower should be an obligation for a BM, but always a good gesture. I’d be peeved if a MOH asked me to contribute to the shower that I hadn’t actually gotten to have a say in (what the budget is, when, where). It doesn’t really sound like you have made her a host, so it’s sort of unfair to expect her to act like one all of the sudden…unless she’s expecting to be listed as a host on the invitation?

      By the way, I’m not sure what social circle you run in, but $1000 is a whopping amount to spend on a shower. If you were uncomfortable shouldering that whole amount by yourself, you should not have proceeded with the plans without knowing if anyone else would contribute.

      I’m uncomfortable going to a wedding sans gift and would spring for at least something small. Shocked that this is even a question when you’re throwing a $1000 wedding shower.

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  • Skyler Dane

    Thanks for a great breakdown. I am the maid of honor for my best friend and have been using Bachelorette Party Ideas to come up with some fun ideas for her party. I would absolutely recommend it, especially if you are totally uncreative like me!

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