Wedding Etiquette

Wedding Party 101: Everything You Need to Know

Amongst the total whirlwind and craziness that comes with planning a wedding, it’s reassuring to know you have your very own support system to help you through it all: your wedding party!

This special bunch of people will be completely invaluable to your sanity in both the lead up to the day and the celebrations themselves. Your wedding party will be there to support, guide and rejoice with you from the beginning to the end. So it goes without saying that you need to choose the right people for the job!

Your wedding party will be involved in much more than just your bachelorette night or your rehearsal dinner. There’s a whole lot of responsibility and commitment that comes with the role, so it’s important to really take your time when choosing the guys and girls who will be such a huge part of this process.

Choosing your wedding party is a decision you’ll want to make early. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by knowing who to ask, how to ask and what these roles actually include. Luckily, we’ve included some helpful tips for you below to assist with making the right choice!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-party
Photography: Nicole Leever Photography

What are the wedding party roles?

First things first, what shoes do you actually need to fill when it comes to choosing your wedding party? The roles of your wedding party can be quite different, so it’s important to first consider what kind of responsibilities your chosen group will be taking on board.

Maid of honour

Your maid of honour (or matron of honour if she’s already married) will be your right-hand woman both before and during the big day.

The maid of honour will be in charge of delegating tasks to the other bridesmaids, organising and hosting special events like your hens party, and attending dress fittings and other important milestones with you. She’ll also be the go-to contact on the day for any emergency issues that might arise.

Your chosen maid or matron of honour should therefore be supportive, organised and responsible. She should also be somebody that you trust completely and who knows you better than anyone else!

Bridesmaids

Your bridesmaids will play a huge part in the preparation and planning of your big day! They’ll become your sounding board for much-needed advice, along with helping the maid of honour organise your pre-wedding celebrations. If you’re planning a DIY wedding, they’ll also be able to help you with any crafty tasks behind the scenes.

When choosing your bridesmaids, don’t forget you’ll be spending the morning of your wedding with them getting prepared for the big day. You’ll want to surround yourself with people that you can truly relax and have fun with, who can also keep you calm under pressure.

Best man

The best man will be your groom’s number one sidekick in the lead up to the wedding day. He’s essentially the male version of your maid of honour – somebody to manage the groomsmen, organise and host any special events, and make a toast on the night itself.

The best man will need to be confident and reliable in order to take these responsibilities on board. He should also be somebody that keeps cool under pressure and can take control of group situations.

Groomsmen

Your groomsmen will be there to support the groom in any way possible and complete any tasks delegated to them by the best man.

Along with putting their hand up to assist with any pre-wedding duties, they’ll also greet and mingle with guests on the day by welcoming them to the ceremony. Your chosen groomsmen should therefore be dependable, charming and charismatic!

With so much behind-the-scenes organisation and commitment required from each member of your wedding party, you can see why choosing the right people for the job becomes so important!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-party
Photography: Kieran Moore Photography

Who to choose for your wedding party

Now that you know exactly what’s involved for each member of your wedding party, you’ll want to take some time to really think about who you want to surround yourself with throughout this momentous occasion.

Not only should the members of your wedding party be reliable, trustworthy and responsible, they also need to be people who you have a close and personal bond with. Basically, the people you can’t imagine not being a huge part of your day!

When it comes to filling the roles of your wedding party, think about the special people in your life who have always been there to support you. This might be a sister, cousin, group of best friends or even long-standing colleagues. You may also have a close bond with family members from your groom’s side, too.

It’s important not to feel pressured by other people’s opinions here. There might be people in your life who are assuming or expecting to be asked, but don’t let this sway your decision. It’s your day, and a HUGE day at that – so simply base your decision on the people who you have the closest connection with.

Don’t feel like you have to be limited by tradition, either. For example, if your best friend is a male, or you are extremely close with your brother, there’s nothing stopping you from including them on your side of the bridal party! These days, it’s definitely not unusual to see a man of honour or grooms-woman at modern weddings.

The one rule that should definitely be followed, however, is to only ask people who you can see being involved in your life for years to come. The sad truth is that friends come and go, so before making any concrete decisions, ask yourself if you can see that person in your life in 10 years time. If the answer is no, they might not be the best choice.

Think back to when your hubby-to-be first popped the question. Who were the people you wanted to call immediately to share the news with? There’s a good chance that these are the exact people you’d want to share the rest of the experience with too!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-party
Photography: Miramar Photography

How many people to include in your wedding party

So now that you know what kind of a role they are going to play, how big should your wedding party actually be? There’s definitely no clear cut answer here, as there are some different variables to take into consideration before making a final decision.

Firstly, think about your wedding vision. What does your dream wedding look and feel like? Is it a very small and intimate affair with just a handpicked selection of loved ones? If so, you might only want to include a maid of honour and a best man. Alternatively, for an extravagant 3-day festival of celebrations, you might want nothing more than an entire entourage of girlfriends next to you!

Your guest list will also have an impact on the number of people you choose for your wedding party. If you haven’t already created your guest list, it might help to do this first to give you a better indication of a suitably sized wedding party.

The bigger the wedding, the more planning and organisation is required before the day. In this case, it would make sense to have more people there to support and assist you with the added pressures and preparation that you will be taking on board.

You’ll also want to think about any budget constraints that might affect the number of people you choose for your wedding party. Although your wedding party is generally responsible for their own attire, there are other costs you might need to cover like their hair, makeup and bouquets. Think about the realistic wedding budget you have to play with, and keep this in mind when choosing your wedding party.

It’s generally recommended to cap your wedding party at 12, as it can start to get crowded and distracting during the ceremony. Truthfully though, there’s definitely no right or wrong answer. Just make sure you take a moment to think about what feels right for your own unique situation!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-party
Photography: Jessica Bordner
Personalised hangers: Delovely Details

How to ask your wedding party

Now that you know exactly who you want to be joining you for your wedding party, here comes the fun part: popping the question!

Asking your wedding party to be involved in this journey with you is an incredibly special and exciting moment for everyone involved. It’s also important to be mindful of the huge commitment you are asking them to make, and ensuring the right expectations are set from the very beginning.

Considering how much time and effort is required from your wedding party to help bring your dream wedding to life, you should definitely think about how you can pop the question to them in a special and memorable way.

This could be a sentimental card with a heartfelt message, or a piece of paper hidden inside a fortune cookie or confetti-filled balloon. It’s worth putting in some creative effort to show how much they mean to you and why you would love them to play such a huge part of your day.

However you choose to “propose” to your wedding party, it should be done in person where possible so that you can also have an honest conversation about what the role includes. Don’t forget that some people might simply be unable to commit to the role due to financial, work or family commitments.

You can ask each member of your wedding party individually for a more personalised approach, or gather everyone together to join in the celebrations (with a bottle of champagne handy, of course!).

However you choose to approach your wedding party, you should make sure that the question is asked with no pressure. Let your wedding party know that you are open to answer any questions or concerns about the commitment they are about to make. It’s important that everybody feels comfortable with their specific role, and the responsibilities that come hand in hand with this.

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Photography: Guy Evans Photography
Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar

Wedding party gift giving tips

Once your chosen wedding party members have accepted their new role (hooray!), it’s important to show your gratitude and appreciation with a thank-you gift. Whether it’s given at the same time you pop the question, at your bridal shower or on the big day itself, wedding party gifts are a common courtesy that should definitely not be overlooked.

Some of our favourite maid of honour and bridesmaid gift ideas include:

  • Matching robes to wear on the morning of the wedding
  • A personalised piece of jewellery
  • A gift certificate to a day spa
  • An engraved gift box filled with champagne, chocolates and other goodies

For the best man and groomsmen gift ideas, we love the following options:

  • A personalised bottle of whisky
  • An engraved flask or pocket knife
  • Tickets to the football or another sporting game
  • A personalised pocket watch

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creative and unique wedding party gift ideas, but it’s definitely something you want to put some thought into. If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid yourself, think back to a gift you would have loved as a memento from the day.

Whatever you decide to gift your wedding party, make sure it’s accompanied by a sincere and appreciative thank you for all of their dedication, time and hard work!

To get some inspiration, be sure to follow us on Pinterest. We have a board dedicated to awesome wedding party gift ideas!

Take your time!

Choosing your wedding party is certainly not a task to be taken lightly. Once you ask the question, you can’t take it back, so make sure you really take your time to consider the very best people for the job.

Your maid of honour, best man, bridesmaids and groomsmen will play a pivotal role in your day. Surrounding yourself with a supportive, reliable and caring group of people will ensure that your wedding planning journey is a positive experience, from beginning to end.

You already know that planning a wedding is no easy feat, but with the right people on board you can make sure it’s a fun and memorable journey. So don’t worry about rules, traditions or other people’s opinions – just keep the above tips in mind to choose the perfect wedding party to join you for this crazy, amazing and unforgettable journey!