The bridal party are typically a group of people whom the bride and groom hand pick to stand next to them and help out in any way leading up to and during their wedding. Traditionally the roles of bridal party members are dictated by their title. For example, the best man, or matron of honour both have their own unique jobs. The different roles of bridal party members were historically set out by the origins of each of their titles. For example, members of the bridal party were supposed to ward off evil spirits during Roman times, and today are expected to act as a support system for the bride to work through their emotions.
Roles of bridal party members
Maid or Matron of honour
First things first, these two titles are not interchangeable, the ‘head bridesmaid’ or the bridesmaid who stands next to the bride is chosen by the bride to help out in any way possible leading up to and during the wedding day. She would be the ‘Maid’ of honour if she was to be unmarried, or ‘Matron’ of honour if she is. Alternatively if you chose to have a man as your main ‘helper’ then he would be known as the ‘Man of honour’. This person should be someone you have the utmost trust in as they are often tasked with helping plan much of your wedding day and making sure the bride is emotionally in the right place to go through with the marriage ceremony. They are also usually asked to give a speech at the wedding reception, sign the registry and holding the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony.
Bridesmaids can be seen as assistants of the Maid or Matron of honour when considering the roles of bridal party members. They are there to flank the bride and look stunning, but never better looking than the bride 🙂 As I stated earlier their main role is to act as emotional support for the bride to help her through her day. They also help out with putting on the bridal gown and usually are called upon to dance with the grooms men after the first dance.
The Best Man
The history of the Best man does not really paint a picture of what the best man does at today’s weddings. The best man’s role at modern weddings is very similar to the Maid, or Matron of honour, whereby they are to keep the groom calm and collected before the wedding ceremony, but also traditionally is the keeper of the wedding bands, without which there would be no symbolic representation of the bride and groom becoming man and wife. As such, out of all the roles of bridal party members, his could be seen as symbolically the most important of the lot. The best man is usually one of the groom’s best friends whom he trusts above all others as often they are also in charge of organising rowdy bucks nights where its tradition for the groom to be kind of ‘taken for a ride’ of the last moments of being a bachelor. The best man is always asked to give a speech at the wedding reception and is traditional for that speech to be quite funny, making fun of the groom and complementing the bride.
Typically, grooms men are more friends of the groom, there as the bridesmaids are to offer emotional support. Before the wedding the grooms men usually help pay for the bachelor party and usually will be behind the ‘decorating’ of the get away car at the end of the night. During the ceremony the grooms men would be tasked with seating all the guests before the bride arrives and will also be called upon to dance with the bridesmaids during the reception.
Junior Grooms men or Bridesmaids
Generally children ranging from 9 to 16 years old, the junior grooms men or bridesmaids are generally relations to the bride and groom whom are important enough to stand with the others at the ceremony. Usually they are not given any particular role other than looking cute or dapper in their miniature versions of their suit or gown. These members of the bridal party are usually separate to page boys and flower girls.
Of all the the roles of bridal party, the flower girl is often seen as the one role that steals focus from the bride, as generally the flower girl is dressed up like a tiny princess and can be very cute running down the aisle in front of the bridal party at the beginning of the ceremony. Her role is to embellish the aisle that the bride will soon walk down with flower petals, hence the name ‘flower girl’.
Page boy / Ring bearer
The name ‘page boy’ is taken from the medieval rank of ‘page’ or a knight in training. Usually boys the same age as the flower girl, the page boy can be tasked with carrying the wedding rings instead of the best man, however due to the young age of many page boys, their parents or the best man are often close by keeping an eye on them.
Mother of the bride
The mother of the bride is usually right there amongst it all when it comes to preparing for the wedding. It’s not at all uncommon for the Mother of the Bride to have her daughter’s wedding plan all sorted by the time they even begin high school and will often start saving for it by then also. The Mother of the bride will also be a huge source of emotional help along with the bridesmaids and will often also help out with details such as bombonieres and choosing of dresses.
Father of the bride
In an ultra traditional setting, the father of the bride would be called upon to finance the wedding. However, in modern times it’s usually a task for the entire family to pay for the (rather large) cost of a wedding. The father of the bride’s primary role at a wedding is to ‘give the bride away’ at the beginning of the ceremony by walking her down the aisle, also giving a speech at the reception and dancing with the bride.
Mother and Father of the groom
The Mother and Father of the groom’s main task is to make sure her son looks the part at the wedding ceremony. Making sure his tie is set correctly, placing the flowers correctly on his lapel and helping out putting on cufflinks. All things grooms and their grooms men have trouble with in my experience as a wedding photographer. Their other roles would include mingling with guests at the wedding, and making sure everything is running smoothly.
Officiant / Celebrant
Also known as any number of religious titles, such as ‘priest’, ‘father’, ‘padre’ if it’s a religious wedding as is tradition. Of all the roles of bridal party members, perhaps this one shouldn’t really be there, as the Officiant of the wedding is really only a service provider paid for by the couple, and not part of the bridal party at all. However, they do have a big part top play in the wedding… obviously. They run the wedding ceremony, sort out the procession order and help with writing vows. they will also assist the couple to sign the marriage certificate and help with all the paperwork to make it legal.
Usually friends, or distant relatives of the bride and groom, of the roles of the bridal party, the ushers may well be the most short lived. They will often stand out the front of the ceremony location, most commonly a church, and hand out programs or pamphlets to guests as they arrive. Often also handing out items to throw over the departing bride and groom at the end, such as flower petals or bubble makers.
Hopefully this list detailing the different roles of bridal party members helps you decide who would be best suited to fill these roles at your wedding, or to fill you in on your own duties! 🙂