Wedding Etiquette

Wedding Party Roles & Responsibilities

Behind every great wedding is a dedicated group of people working hard behind the scenes to make it all happen. They don’t get paid, it’s not their day job, and they do it purely out of love, excitement and support for the happy couple. Yep – it’s time to talk about your all-important wedding party!

The wedding squad, the bride tribe, the entourage – whatever you choose to call them, each member of your wedding party plays a significant role in both the lead up to your day and the running of the day itself. So it’s important to acknowledge the different roles they are going to play throughout the whole experience.

As a newly engaged bride-to-be, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole concept of bringing your wedding to life. Not only is there months (sometimes even years!) of pre-planning and preparation required, you then you have to think about how everything is going to unfold on the big day, too. This is where your wedding party steps in!

The roles and responsibilities of your wedding party don’t just begin when they walk down the aisle at your ceremony. Don’t forget that the members of your wedding party are probably nearly as excited as you about the big day, and they genuinely want to help you through the process!

With that said, how do you know exactly what each member of your wedding party is responsible for, and what tasks should be on their to-do list? There are some generally accepted guidelines when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of your wedding party, so check out our comprehensive guide below to clear up any confusion.

wedding-party-roles-responsibilities
Photography: Brittany Mahood

The wedding party – who’s who?

So, who’s who when it comes to the members of your wedding party? Your wedding party should essentially consist of the most important people in your life who you just can’t imagine not standing by your side on the big day.

It might only be a very small selection of your nearest and dearest, or a larger group of your favourite people, but traditionally a wedding party will include the following roles:

  • The maid of honour, matron of honour or chief bridesmaid.
  • Bridesmaids
  • The best man, or chief groomsmen
  • Groomsmen
  • And of course the bride and groom! (Or bride and bride, or groom and groom!).

Maid of honour

Also known as your right-hand woman and wedding sidekick, your maid of honour will probably save you from tearing your hair out on more than one occasion! Whether it’s your sister, cousin or closest friend, your maid of honour is there to be your support system during the lead-up to your day.

The title ‘maid of honour’ refers to an unmarried woman, so if your right-hand woman is already married then her title will become ‘matron of honour’. Some brides choose to have both a maid and matron of honour – the choice is completely up to you!

The maid or matron of honour is generally deemed responsible for the following:

Before the wedding:

  • Providing general assistance and advice when it comes to wedding planning decisions. Think of her as a sounding board for any wedding-related questions or thoughts!
  • Being responsible for the duties of your bridesmaids. She can also delegate tasks to your bridesmaids and oversee any decisions that the group needs to make, like bridesmaid dresses and accessories.
  • Taking charge of planning any pre-wedding events that involve the bride, like a bridal shower or hens party. She’ll also be responsible for hosting the events and helping to cover the costs involved.
  • Being involved in your dress hunting experience and joining you at bridal boutiques and gown fittings. Expect tears from her when you find ‘The One!’
  • Assisting with any DIY wedding tasks like addressing invitations, addressing place-cards, making guest favours, cutting ribbon for bouquets, etc.
  • Attending your ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  • Purchasing and covering the costs associated with her bridesmaid dress, shoes and accessories.

On the wedding day:

  • Keeping you relaxed and helping to calm your nerves!
  • Being the emergency contact number for any wedding vendors to call with any problems, and communicating with them to solve last-minute dramas. Basically, making sure you are completely oblivious to any hiccups that might be happening and helping to resolve them!
  • Holding your train and veil if required as you walk down the aisle.
  • Walk in the processional and recessional.
  • Holding your bouquet during the ceremony proceedings.
  • Holding the groom’s ring until needed during the ceremony.
  • Signing your marriage certificate as a witness.
  • Checking your hair and makeup throughout the day and fixing any lipstick smudges or stray hairs!
  • Making a toast at your reception dinner.
wedding-party-roles-responsibilities
Photography: Jen Dillender Photography

Bridesmaids

Whether it’s one or two close friends or ten of your favourite girls, your bridesmaids are going to play a pivotal role in your wedding experience.

Cherish these ladies because they will generally assist with the following tasks:

Before the wedding:

  • Acting as a support system for your maid of honour and carrying out any delegated tasks.
  • Helping with the organisation of pre-wedding events and chipping in to cover the costs for any extra festivities like your hen’s party. Plus, attending these events, showering you with attention and making sure you have an amazing time!
  • Contributing to the decision-making process for details like bridesmaid dresses and accessories, and help with scouting for the items.
  • Attend your ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  • Purchasing and covering the costs for their bridesmaid dress, shoes and accessories.

On the wedding day:

  • Being a calming influence in the morning as you get pampered and ready for the big day.
  • Looking out for the page boys and flower girls (if applicable) prior to the ceremony, making sure everyone is in position and ready to walk down the aisle.
  • Walk in the processional and recessional.
  • Looking after your handbag or clutch, and being prepared with emergency items like lipstick, band-aids and concealer.
  • Being the first group up on the dance floor to kick off the night’s festivities!
wedding-party-roles-responsibilities
Photography: Karen Hill Photography

Best man

Even the most chilled out groom needs a buddy to rely on, and his best man is going to be a life-saver when it comes to wedding preparations both before and during the day!

The best man will generally have the following tasks on their to-do list:

Before the wedding:

  • Managing the rest of the groomsmen and delegating tasks where necessary.
  • Organising suit fittings and alterations with groomsmen, picking up the suits when complete.
  • Purchasing and covering the costs of his suit, shoes and tie.
  • Organising any pre-wedding events like the bucks party, and being the host for the event itself. He’ll also be responsible for communicating event plans to your groomsmen and any other invitees, as well as splitting any costs involved.
  • Offering advice, support and assistance to the groom in the lead-up before the day.
  • Attending the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

On the wedding day:

  • Ensuring the groomsmen and groom arrive at the ceremony on time and ahead of schedule!
  • Walk in the processional and recessional.
  • Holding your ring on behalf of the groom until required during the proceedings.
  • Signing your marriage certificate as a witness.
  • Making any last minute cash payments to suppliers if required, and being a point of contact for them on the day for any questions.
  • Offering support to the groom for any miscellaneous tasks required on the day.
  • Making a speech and toasting you and the groom at your reception.
wedding-party-roles-responsibilities
Photography: Nancy Ray Photography

Groomsmen

Even if they are a loud and lively bunch, the groomsmen will definitely provide some much-needed support and assistance for the big day. Don’t dismiss these guys!

The groomsmen are generally held responsible for the following tasks:

Before the wedding:

  • Attending suit fittings and helping to make decisions regarding suit style, colour, shoes and accessories.
  • Purchasing (or renting) their suit and covering costs for their attire, shoes and other accessories.
  • Completing any tasks or responsibilities delegated to them by the Best Man.
  • Assisting with organising the bucks party or any pre-wedding events for the groom, along with chipping in to cover any associated costs.
  • Attending the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

On the wedding day:

  • Keeping the groom calm under pressure, and making sure he eats and stays hydrated!
  • Helping to greet guests upon arrival at the ceremony, ushering them to their seats, directing them to the restroom and answering any questions they may have.
  • Walk in the processional and recessional.
  • Assisting with moving any heavy or bulky items that need to be relocated after the ceremony, like an arbour or chairs.
  • Decorate the wedding getaway car.
  • Join the bridesmaids on the dance floor!

Bride & groom

And now for the VIP members of the wedding party – the happy couple! Although you have the support of your wedding party taking some of the weight from your shoulders, there are some tasks that you definitely should not delegate (as much as you might want to!).

No bride wants to turn into a demanding Bridezilla, so take care not to offload all of your wedding planning to the bridal party.

You should definitely be responsible for the following tasks:

And most importantly, don’t forget to show your appreciation to your wedding party superstars both before and after the big day. Let’s be honest – you couldn’t do it without them, so cheers to your wedding party and raise a glass for them at your wedding reception! A thoughtful gift or thank you card will also go a long way to show your gratitude.

wedding-party-roles-responsibilities
Photography: Sally Pinera Photo
Florals: Mallory Joyce

Don’t be afraid to mix it up

Although these notes are a helpful guideline to follow, you can definitely tweak them depending on what you and your wedding party are comfortable with!

We recommend having an upfront conversation with the members of your wedding party, to ensure everybody has a clear idea of their roles and responsibilities both before and during the day.

Don’t forget that each member of your wedding party will have different skill sets, different commitments and different situations when it comes to free time and finances. An honest conversation will make sure everyone feels comfortable with what’s expected of them.

And the best part – once all of the tasks have been ticked off these to-do lists, you can finally relax, let your hair down and spend the whole night celebrating with these incredibly important people. Cheers to that!