Today’s weddings are continuously becoming more creative. We are always hearing about something new that a wedding couple has added to make their day just a little bit different. With that, we have also seen a return to what could be considered the traditional weddings. Despite the fact that new slants and additions certainly can serve to spice up a wedding, the “old favorites” remain special in the eyes of many wedding couples.
With this return or adherence to tradition, the roles of attendants, though also changing somewhat with the times, still hold their special place in the planning and execution of a wedding. I have always preferred the title “honor attendant,” because it should, indeed, be an honor to participate in the special event of loving friends or family. I also prefer the word responsibilities to the word “duties,” because it too evokes a special commitment to fulfill a very special role.
Here then are the traditional roles of the various honor attendants at a traditional wedding.
THE MAID AND/OR MATRON OF HONOR tend to as many needs of the bride as possible. This list suggests just some of the responsibilities one or both can provide to make the day more stress-free for the prospective bride.
1. Attend the rehearsal and the accompanying rehearsal dinner
2. Helps the bride get ready before the ceremony and before she leaves from the reception location
3. Acts as a legal witness to the signing of the marriage certificate
4. Brings the groom’s ring with her to the ceremony
5. Carries the bride’s going-away clothes to the reception and takes the wedding gown with her for safekeeping until the bride returns from her honeymoon
6. Holds the bridal bouquet during the ceremony
7. Folds back the bride’s veil and replaces it, if the ceremony includes a kiss, or drinking of wine
8. Straightens the bride’s veil and train at various times . . . including during the ceremony, where appropriate, as well as when the bride comes up and goes down the aisle
9. Takes a place in the receiving line at the reception
10. Provide emotional support and a supportive presence during all the wedding-related events
THE BRIDESMAIDS provide backup assistance to the matron and maid of honor and a support system for the bride before, during, and after the wedding
1. Help the maid and matron of honor in performing their responsibilities
2. Assist in making the preparations for and share the cost and responsibilities for the bridal shower(s)
3. Function as mini-hostesses, mingling with and assisting the guests, wherever possible during the ceremony and the reception
4. Attend the rehearsal and accompanying dinner
JUNIOR BRIDESMAIDS provide an opportunity to include younger female relatives and close friends in the bridal party. Their responsibilities are simply to walk down the aisle.
THE FLOWER GIRL provides a natural tension breaker and “announces” the bride.
1. She may carry a basket of flower petals down the aisle and scatter them as she walks
2. She may hand individual flowers to guests with aisle seats
THE RING BEARER provides a “foil” for the flower girl. He may walk down the aisle alone, carrying the wedding rings on a satin pillow, or he may walk down alongside the flower girl.
THE BEST MAN tends to as many needs of the groom as possible. This list suggests just some of the responsibilities the best man can provide to make the day more stress-free for the prospective groom.
1. Provides emotional support and a supportive presence during all the wedding-related events and assists the groom with all wedding-related preparations
2. Confirms the honeymoon travel arrangements and picks up tickets before the wedding day
3. Assists with the arrangement of and shares the expenses of the bachelor party
4. Attends the rehearsal and accompanying dinner
5. Helps coordinate the groomsmen’s formal-wear fitting 6. Makes sure the groom gets to the wedding ceremony site on time 7. Helps the groom get ready and dress for the wedding
8. Acts as timekeeper to make certain the groomsmen (ushers) and the groom arrive at the ceremony location (at least one hour early)
9. Takes charge of the ushers by briefing them on special seating arrangements and all their other duties.
10. Organizes the groomsmen for formal pictures
11. Holds and handles payment of the fee to the wedding officiant
12. Holds the marriage license and bride’s ring for safekeeping
13. Offers support and direction to the ring bearer
14. Takes a place in the receiving line at the reception
15. Prepares and proposes a toast in honor of the bride and groom13. Handles last minute and other details for honeymoon plans, like caring for and dealing with the couple’s luggage (brings it to the checkroom at the reception or to the car in which the couple will be
16. Arranges for the groom’s going away clothes to be at the reception
17. Carries the groom’s travel clothes to the reception
18. Acts as toastmaster and timekeeper at the reception
19. Gives the groom the honeymoon tickets and reservations, after the reception
20. Takes the groom’s tuxedo with him after the wedding, for safekeeping or, if a rental, to be returned
THE GROOMSMEN OR USHERS provide backup assistance to the best man and a support system for the groom before, during, and after the wedding. Groomsmen and junior groomsmen may wait at the head of the aisle, with the best man, while the bridesmaids enter single file. Or, if you prefer to have the wedding party walk down the aisle in pairs, the junior bridesmaids and groomsmen may walk down in pairs followed by pairs of bridesmaids and groomsmen.
1. Assists with the arrangement of and shares the expenses of the bachelor party
2. Attend the rehearsal and accompanying dinner
3. Arrive at the ceremony at least an hour in advance . . .
4. Usher family members and guests to reserved seating
5. The head usher escorts the mothers of the bride and groom to their reserved seats
6. Hangs aisle ribbons to cordon off reserved seating and rolls out the white bridal carpet
7. Ushers individually escort the bridesmaids down the aisle, after the wedding ceremony
8. Makes and assists with travel and transportation arrangements to the reception for the bridal party and guests (who haven’t their own transportation)
9. Helps the bride and groom make their “getaway” after the wedding
JUNIOR GROOMSMEN provide an opportunity to include younger male relatives and close friends in the bridal party. Their responsibilities are simply to walk down the aisle.
If you will bear in mind that nothing is etched in stone, the roles of the honor attendants can be molded to suit the particulars of each occasion. As for the attendants themselves, the best words of advice are to think about the Golden Rule. Attendants will be well prepared before and fulfill their honor roles best, if they take a few moments to think about what they would like to have done or have had done for them on their special day.