Most weddings include a wedding party (also often called a bridal party), and the couple chooses a few people close to them to stand by their side during the ceremony. But, the wedding party responsibilities start before the ceremony begins – so this guide will go over the different roles, what their jobs are, and why they exist!
A Note About Gender Roles
Traditionally, wedding parties are divided by gender, and many of the titles assume that there’s a bride and a groom – so we get words like “best man” and “maid of honour.” While these titles have stuck around, it’s important to acknowledge that they may not fit every wedding.
You might have a man of honour or a person of honour instead, and bridesmaids can be all different genders – so it’s totally okay to find new terminology that works for you and your crew.
Wedding Party Responsibilities
Now, let’s get into the different roles and responsibilities of a wedding party! These are the traditional wedding party responsibilities of each person, but of course, you can tweak them to make sense for you. Just be upfront about what you expect from everyone before they agree to be in your wedding party.
Maid (or Matron) of Honour Responsibilities
Fun fact – traditionally, your loved one is a maid of honour if she’s unmarried, but a matron of honour if she is! This is usually a sister or close relative, or someone you consider a best friend. This person has a lot of responsibilities, so it’s important to choose someone who’s up for it! For example, if you’re close with your sister, but you know she won’t enjoy taking charge or isn’t the most reliable, this role might be better for someone else.
Here’s what the maid of honour is typically responsible for:
- Being there for the bride – this is the most important part! Anything the bride needs, whether it’s emotional support or help contacting a vendor, they’ll typically turn to the maid of honour.
- Lead the bridal party – the maid of honour is also responsible for being the leader of the entire bridal party, and coordinating important events like dress shopping.
- Host the bridal shower – hosting the bridal shower is a big job, and the maid of honour typically is in charge of planning it, with some help from the bridesmaids.
- Sign the marriage license – the maid of honour, along with the best man, usually serve as the two witnesses!
- Give a speech – the maid of honour and best man both give a speech.
Best Man Responsibilities
The groom chooses a best man – the counterpart to the maid of honour. Whether it’s a brother, family member, or a close friend, just like with the maid of honour, it’s important to make sure that this person is ready for the responsibilities that come with the role!
Here are the wedding party responsibilities of the best man:
- Being there for the groom – whether it’s emotional support on the big day or help with something that comes up, the best man handles it all!
- Lead the groomsmen – the best man coordinates all of the groomsmen, making sure that everyone gets their attire, and knows what’s happening.
- Hold the rings – the best man usually holds onto the rings until it’s time to give them to the ring bearer before the ceremony. If there’s no ring bearer, the best man gives the groom’s ring to the maid of honour to hold.
- Sign the marriage license – the best man is usually one of the witnesses when it’s time to sign the paperwork.
- Give a speech – the best man typically gives a speech after the maid of honour during the reception.
The maid of honour is usually the head of the bridesmaids, but the rest of them have duties too! Here are the wedding party responsibilities of the bridesmaids:
- Plan the bachelorette/stagette/doe party – the bridesmaids all help plan the bachelorette party, to put together a celebration that their BFF will love.
- Attend the bridal shower – bridesmaids are expected to attend all the pre-wedding festivities, including the bridal shower, which usually involves family and friends of the couple. Often, the bridesmaids help the maid of honour plan!
- Getting ready together – the bridesmaids, and the maid of honour, get ready with the bride.
The groomsmen are the ones who are there to support the groom. Here are a few of their responsibilities:
- Plan the bachelor/stag party – groomsmen and the best man usually work together to plan the bachelor party, making sure their friend will have a blast.
- Getting ready together – groomsmen usually need less time to get ready, so they spend the morning of the wedding kicking it with the groom, then get ready together and make sure everyone’s got their boutonnieres on.
Some More Wedding Party Responsibilities
There are a few more wedding party responsibilities for everyone in the entourage – general tips and things to remember to make sure everything goes smoothly!
- Get your attire – members of the wedding party usually get their own attire, so be sure to do this on time and get things tailored if needed.
- Attend pre wedding events – if you live farther away, you may not be expected to be there for everything, but the wedding party usually attends all of the festivities before the wedding, like the engagement party and the rehearsal dinner.
- Be on time on the wedding day – weddings can be stressful, so don’t add to that by being clueless! Make sure you’ve seen the timeline and you know when you’re expected to be ready for photos and when the ceremony begins.
- Have fun! – Part of the wedding party responsibilities is to keep the couple happy, so be there to handle any hiccups, but also be there to keep spirits high and have a good time!
Choosing a Wedding Party
If you’re a couple picking your wedding party, this can be a hard job! Decide how many people you want on each side (somewhere between 3-8 is the average, but you can have as many, or as few, as you want) and find a cute way to ask them. It’s also totally okay if there’s a different number of people on each side!
Think about who you truly want to be by your side – and who would enjoy these wedding party responsibilities – and who you want to be in your photos!
If you’re on the wedding planning wagon and want some more pointers, then feel free to get in touch! I’ve seen my fair share of wedding parties 🙂
The Person Behind The Lens
If you like unconventional, honest, friendly and real photos, I’m your person.
Sam Wildridge is a lifestyle photographer / filmmaker based in Wainwright, Alberta. Sam has been capturing wedding, family + corporate photos for 9 years and defines her style as "organic storytelling".