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Each of the members of your wedding party has specific responsibilities to perform at the wedding. All members of the wedding party, including children, should be present at the wedding rehearsal. However, the children do not have to attend the rehearsal dinner. If they are invited to the dinner, their parents should be invited also. All adult members of the wedding party and their spouses should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. If someone in the party is engaged or seriously involved, their fiancé or significant other can be invited as well.
All members of the wedding party should be present when the wedding pictures are taken. This may be either before or after the ceremony, or both.
Following are the general duties of the individual members of the wedding party. The bride and groom may ask their attendants to assist in other ways as well, depending on the situation.
Responsibilities of: The Maid of Honor/Matron of Honor
When accepting the honor of being the bride's primary attendant, the maid/matron of honor should be prepared to pay for her dress and shoes, unless the bride indicates otherwise. She may also need to pay for her own transportation and lodging if she is coming from out of town.
If the maid/matron of honor lives near the bride, she should take an active role in helping the bride plan the wedding, including helping make decorations and decorating the wedding and/or reception sites. It is also appropriate for the maid/matron of honor to host a bridal shower if she chooses to do so, but it is not required. If the female attendants' dresses are rented, the maid/matron of honor may be asked to pick them up the day before the wedding and return them after the wedding. The maid/matron of honor should be well acquainted with the details of the wedding plans so that she can handle any last-minute problems that occur. In order to fully understand the plans, she may want to attend at least one of the bride's meetings with the wedding coordinator. She should also work closely with the best man at the rehearsal and on the wedding day to see that everything goes smoothly.
On the day of the wedding, the maid/matron of honor will be expected to do the following:
• Help the bride dress
• Precede the bride down the aisle
• Arrange the bride's train during the ceremony, if needed
• Hold the bride's bouquet during the ceremony
• Carry the groom's ring, or get it from the ring-bearer's pillow, and hand it to the bride at the appropriate time (unless the best man holds both rings)
• After the ceremony, she may stand in the receiving line, but she does not have to
• Oversee reception activities and generally assist as a hostess while the bride and groom are occupied with the receiving line
• Communicate closely with the wedding coordinator on any necessary matters
• Sign the marriage license
After the wedding, the maid/matron of honor should assist in clean-up and removal of decorations. She should collect and return any rented dresses or other items, and do anything else that the bride might request.
Responsibilities of: The Best Man
If the best man is from out of town, he may need to pay for his own transportation to the wedding and for lodging while there. He may also be asked to pay for the rental of his tuxedo. If the best man lives near the groom, he should take an active role in helping the groom with any pre-wedding planning that needs to be done. If requested to do so, the best man should pick up the tuxedos from the rental shop the day before the wedding and distribute them to the appropriate people, then return them after the wedding (only if the groom paid for all of the tuxes). The best man may also be in charge of planning the bachelor party if one is held.
On the day of the wedding the best man will have a number of responsibilities, including the following:
• Assist the groom in dressing
• Run last minute errands for the groom
• Work with the maid/matron of honor and wedding coordinator to handle any last minute details or problems that occur
• Assist with ushering if needed.
• Escort the maid/matron of honor out of the sanctuary at the end of the ceremony. If the bride chooses, the best man may also escort the maid/matron of honor down the aisle when the ceremony begins.
• Hand the bride's ring to the groom during the ceremony. The best man may either carry the ring, or retrieve it from the ring bearer's pillow. He may also be asked to carry the groom's ring if the bride chooses.
• Pay the minister, organist, soloist, and any others that need to be paid for services rendered during the ceremony if they have not already been paid. The groom or the person responsible for the payments should give the best man an envelope with a check enclosed for each service provider. (The wedding coordinator may do this instead of the best man.)
• If the reception is being held at a separate location, the best man may be asked to drive the bride and groom or other members of the wedding party to the site if they did not rent a limo.
• Sign the marriage license
Unless the best man is also serving as an usher, he and the groom should retire to their dressing room after the pictures have been taken and while guests are arriving and being seated, generally 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. It is tempting to mingle with the guests, but that is best left for the reception.
After the wedding, the best man is not required to stand in the receiving line. After the reception ends, the best man should collect all the tuxedos and return them to the rental shop at the designated time, unless the groom has made other arrangements. (Don't forget the shoes.) He should also assist with any post-wedding clean-up, removal of decorations, and transporting of the wedding gifts if the groom requests.
Note: It is acceptable for the groom to choose a female to serve as "best man." She is then called the honor attendant. If there is an honor attendant, she should dress with the ladies, but join the men for photos. She should wear a black dress, or even a tuxedo, rather than dressing like the bride¹s attendants. She would not assist the groom in dressing, nor would she escort the maid of honor out, though they may walk together. She should wear a corsage rather than carrying a bouquet.
Responsibilities of: Groomsmen, Bridesmaids, and Ushers
G R O O M S M E N
If the groomsmen are from out of town, they may be requested to pay for their own transportation to the wedding and for their lodging while there.
Groomsmen often serve as ushers, seating the guests before the ceremony. If they are not serving as ushers, they should stay in their dressing room with the groom and best man after the pictures have been taken, out of sight of the arriving guests. It is tempting to mingle with the guests, but don't give in to temptation. Everyone can mingle at the reception.
Groomsmen act as escorts for the bridesmaids and stand near the best man during the wedding ceremony. The groomsmen should attend the reception and remain in their tuxedoes for a reasonable length of time before changing, preferably until most of the guests have left. After changing, their tuxedos should be given to the best man, or another designated individual, who will see that the tuxes are returned to the rental shop. (If the groomsmen paid for the rental of their tuxes, rather than the groom, it is their responsibility to return them, not the best man's.)
The groomsmen should help with clean-up and removal of decorations after the reception, if requested to do so. If the ceremony and reception are being held at the same location, the groomsmen may be asked to move chairs from one area to another, set up tables, and do anything else needed to quickly prepare for the reception. Groomsmen do not stand in the receiving line at the reception.
B R I D E S M A I D S
During the ceremony, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle, either alone or with the groomsmen, and before the maid/matron of honor. After the ceremony, they will be escorted by a groomsman as they follow the maid/matron of honor and best man up the aisle and out of the sanctuary. They then proceed to the site of the reception as quickly as possible. They should plan on remaining at the reception until most of the guests have left before leaving or changing out of their wedding clothes. If needed, they should help with clean-up and removal of decorations after the reception. The bridesmaids do not stand in the receiving line at the reception.
The bridesmaids may be asked to pay for their dresses and shoes, depending on the bride's budget. They may also need to pay for transportation and lodging if they come from out of town.
U S H E R S
The groomsmen may serve as ushers, or the groom may choose other individuals to serve as ushers. Plan on having one usher for every 50 guests. If people other than groomsmen serve as ushers, they should be dressed in tuxedos that are similar to those worn by the groomsmen, or in matching suits. Ushers should not be dressed in casual shirts and slacks unless the wedding is casual. The primary responsibility of the ushers is to seat the wedding guests before the ceremony. Ushers will be given instructions at the rehearsal about where honored guests, such as mothers of the bride and groom and grandparents, are to be seated.
If the reception is being held at the same location as the ceremony, one of the ushers may be asked to accept gifts at the door, then give them to a person who has been designated to take gifts to the reception area. At the end of the ceremony, after the wedding party has exited the sanctuary, the ushers will return to escort the mothers out and to dismiss the guests, unless the bride and groom choose to do it themselves. The ushers should be able to direct guests to the location of the reception, whether it is being held in another room in the same building or at another location. They should also be familiar with the location of coat racks, rest rooms, nursery, and any other areas that guests might inquire about. If the reception is being held in the same location as the ceremony, the ushers may be asked to assist in moving chairs, setting up tables, putting out centerpieces, and other necessary activities to quickly prepare for the reception.
The ushers do not stand in the receiving line at the reception. Ushers should remain in their tuxedos for a reasonable period of time during the reception before changing. After changing, the tuxedos should be given to the best man or another designated individual, who will return them.
Responsibilities of: Ring Bearer, Flower Girl, and Candle Lighters
R I N G B E A R E R
The ring bearer is often a boy, though a girl may also serve as a ring bearer. It is also acceptable to have more than one ring bearer, if desired, or none at all. On the day of the wedding, the ring bearer will walk down the aisle after the bridesmaids and either before the flower girl or with her. He/she will carry a pillow that has either the bride and groom's rings attached to it, or plastic rings attached.
The child who is chosen to be the ring bearer should be old enough to understand what is happening and to cooperate with people who may be strangers without becoming frightened. If the ceremony isn't too long, the ring bearer should stand with the groomsmen. If the child is young, or the ceremony is long, the child may take a seat on the front pew after he/she has given the rings to both the bride and the groom. After the ceremony, the child may be more comfortable if he/she is able to change into other clothing. Children do not stand in the receiving line at the reception.
Depending on the clothing that the bride chooses for the ring bearer to wear, the ring bearer's parents may be asked to purchase the clothing, or he/she may wear rented clothing. Who pays for the cost of the clothing should be agreed upon with the bride and groom at the time the child is asked to participate in the wedding.
F L O W E R G I R L
Though either a girl or a boy can be a ring bearer, only a girl can be a flower girl. It is acceptable to have more than one flower girl, if desired, or none at all. Dress the flower girl like a child, rather than in a miniature formal. The bride will decide what the flower girl wears and it may be up to the child's parents to pay for the clothing.
During the wedding, the flower girl precedes the bride down the aisle and sprinkles flower petals for the bride to walk on (if the church or ceremony location allows it). During the ceremony, she will stand beside the bridesmaids. The child or children who act as flower girls should be old enough to understand what is happening and to cooperate with people who may be strangers without becoming frightened. If the child is young, or the ceremony is long, it is acceptable for the flower girl to be seated on the front pew or with her parents if they are seated near the front of the room. The flower girl does not stand in the receiving line at the reception.
C A N D L E L I G H T E R S
Older children or young adults should be chosen to act as candle lighters. If there are numerous candles, you might choose two candle lighters. If there are only a few candles, one candle lighter can probably handle them all. If the candle lighters are male, they should be dressed in tuxedos similar to those worn by the groomsmen. In fact, the groomsmen or bridesmaids, or one of each, may act as candle lighters, if you prefer. If the candle lighters are female, they should wear dresses that coordinate with those worn by the bridesmaids, but they do not need to match exactly. Be certain that the persons chosen to light the candles are tall enough to reach the top-most candles in the tallest candelabra.
The candle lighters will be the first members of the wedding party to go down the aisle. If there are candles on the ends of the pews, those should be lighted first, then the candles at the front of the room. The candle lighters do not light the unity candle and may be requested not to light the two side candles if the mothers of the bride and groom are going to do so. After lighting the candles, the candle lighters should retreat back up the aisle. They may then be seated with their parents or the other guests. After all of the wedding party has left the sanctuary and the mothers of the bride and groom and grandmothers have been ushered out, the candle lighters may return to extinguish the candles. The candle lighters do not stand in the receiving line at the reception.
Candle lighters or their parents may be asked to pay for their own clothing for the wedding.
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