As the host of a wedding, it’s your job to ensure that every role is filled. Whether it is large or small or takes place at the ceremony or reception. Most people are familiar with the basic positions in a wedding, but there are a plethora of lesser-known wedding roles. Assigning a person a role in a wedding is also an effective way to honor them if they are not included in the wedding party. Unless you plan to have a massive entourage up at the alter that is! To help you plan a day that includes all of the most important people in your life, we’re discussing ideas for both traditional and non-traditional wedding roles. With tasks for anyone from your twelve best friends to a third-cousin-twice-removed.
Primary Wedding Roles: Listed
First things first. Let’s review the primary or traditional wedding roles! These roles are usually the first to be filled, as they ensure a much smoother wedding day. The majority fall under the category of wedding party roles, including the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the officiant. The other wedding positions are optional, depending on your personal preference and if there are enough additional people to fill the roles.
Bride / Groom
A bride and groom? It’s a no-brainer that these roles will have to be filled for a wedding. But we’re here to discuss roles for non-bridesmaids, as well as other non-members of the wedding party. Still, you need at least two people to fill these roles, or there really isn’t much of a point to continue?
Maid / Matron / Man of Honor
The most important wedding role, aside from the bride and groom, is the maid of honor. She will stand directly next to the bride, as her closest friends and supporter. But much more important than that, she will take on a much larger set of responsibilities leading up to the wedding. Such as helping the bride with her wedding day attire, and other wedding planning tasks. Such as hosting a memorable bridal shower and bachelorette party. Delivering an impressing wedding speech and toast. As well as being the go-to person for advice. When asking, or being asked, to take on this role it’s essential that you understand the full scope of responsibilities.
Bridesmaids / Junior Bridesmaids
You probably know what a bridesmaid is, but do you know what they are responsible for? Yes, a bridesmaid is one of your best friends and someone you believe will support you throughout your engagement and on the day of your wedding. They are meant to assist with wedding planning and similar tasks, like dress shopping. A junior bridesmaid is the same as a bridesmaid but earns this title because she is younger. Typically between the age of 9 and 14. They usually partake in most bridesmaid activities and may help out where they feel like it. Although they typically will not attend the bachelorette party.
Best Man / Woman
A best man is essentially the same as the maid of honor, with slightly different wedding tasks. The responsibilities of a best man include supporting the groom throughout the wedding planning process and standing next to him on the day of the wedding. He usually helps keep the groom organized, as well as the other groomsmen, and hosts the bachelor party. Sometimes, he will be tasked with holding onto the bride’s rings. And as always, he will need to deliver a great - and appropriate - wedding speech.
Groomsmen / Junior Groomsmen
Similar to bridesmaids, groomsmen are tasked with supporting the groom and assisting with wedding-related jobs. A groomsmen’s responsibility differs, however, in that they are usually much less involved - unless otherwise requested. They remain hands-off, except for attending a suit fitting and helping to plan the bachelor party. Sometimes they might double as an usher, to help guide guests at the wedding. The same applies to junior groomsmen, who often consist of younger siblings or cousins.
Every wedding needs an officiant, whether the ceremony is religious or not. This person leads the ceremony and takes care of the marriage license, at least filling out and signing it anyways. More religious weddings may assign the role of officiant to ministers, priests, pastors, or rabbis. Other traditional options include judges, county clerks, and so on. At this point in time, however, most anyone can become legally ordained. If you want to honor a specific person with this role, ask them to become ordained online via the organization of their choosing.
The role of a ring bearer is simple, and the perfect job for a young man under the age of 8. They will simply walk down the aisle carrying the rings, but not the real ones. Let’s be honest, trusting a kid with your sentimental and very expensive jewelry is a risk. One we aren’t on par with! This role is more of a cute tradition than anything, so don’t take it too seriously. Have fun and let your little one have fun too.
Similar to the ring bearer, a flower girl is a traditional role. This job entails walking down the aisle, alongside the ring bearer, dropping flower petals along the way. Your flower girl should also be under the age of 8. You can find an adorable, age-appropriate flower girls dress over on the Wedding Shoppe. As with the ring bearer, have fun with this wedding role. For example, consider letting her walk with the family dog!
Parents of the Bride/Groom Roles
The parents of the bride and groom take a very active and honoured role in the wedding. They are giving their kids away, but also enjoy making this milestone everything that their children have ever dreamed of. However, every family is different, so feel free to shift around these traditional roles. Any mother or father figure in your life can be assigned one or multiple of these wedding positions.
Mother of the Bride
The role of mother of the bride is actually quite similar to a bridesmaid. She will help the bride plan the wedding, perhaps being more hands-on, and support her throughout the process. At present, she usually assists with planning the bridal shower, along with the bride’s aunts or cousins. If she likes, she may give a speech or toast at the rehearsal dinner or reception. Come the day of the wedding she will help orchestrate the chaos unless you hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. She will also take an active role in the ceremony itself, as a part of the procession.
Mother of the Groom
As the mother of the groom wedding tasks will vary. It usually depends on how much help the bride wants or needs. She often helps host pre-wedding events and supports her son throughout the wwedding planning and on the big day. She too may give a speech or toast, and will also enjoy a mother-son dance at the reception.
Father of the Bride
In the past, the largest responsibility of the father of the bride has been paying for the wedding. But it is no longer as common. His main tasks occur on the day of the wedding. Typically, he will have a first look with the bride, will almost always give a speech, as well as partake in a father-daughter dance.
Father of the Groom
The father of the groom doesn’t necessarily have any traditional responsibilities. He will often pay for the rehearsal dinner, as well as the wedding bar. However, you are welcome to provide him with additional roles, such as greeting guests on the big day or helping usher relatives to their seats.
Alternative Wedding Roles and Responsibilities
Looking for additional wedding roles for friends? There are plenty of non-wedding party related roles at a wedding. They’re the perfect way to honor other friends or family, whether the task is large or small. The reality is that having additional people help with your wedding will lessen the burden you feel, and make these people feel special due to being involved.
Usher / Junior Usher
The role of an usher is sweet and simple! They will stand at the entrance of your ceremony space or venue, to greet guests and guide them to their seats. They typically wear suits but can dress according to the bride’s clothing recommendations for guests. Many times, this role is assigned to friends or family members of the bride and groom that aren’t in the main bridal party. It’s great for uncles, as well as older cousins.
Never heard of a personal attendant? No problem! This person will assist the bride on the day of the wedding (and sometimes help with pre-planning) but is not a bridesmaid. It is usually a friend or family member who didn’t make the cut for your bridal party, and therefore a great way to avoid any hard feelings or guilt. They can still be included in a lot of the festivities that bridesmaids are, including the bachelorette party and getting ready for the wedding together. Sometimes, they’ll even wear the same style of dress as the bridesmaids, but in another color.
Wedding Guest Book Attendant / Wedding Program Attendant
If you haven’t heard of a wedding guest book attendant or program attendant, it’s because they are becoming less common. These are slightly outdated roles but are a good option for family members who desire to be involved and who you don’t want in the immediate party. The wedding program attendant is assigned with passing out programs as guests enter the venue. Whereas the guest book attendant oversees that people sign the guest book. They might also watch the gift table, to ensure cards are placed in the correct place and that nothing is stolen.
Other Traditional Wedding Roles: Religious
Aside from the most obvious wedding roles, there are a few less common but equally important responsibilities. These roles are specific to certain religious, and some non-religious, weddings. Keep them in mind, in case they are a requirement or a desire at your event.
At religious weddings, people may read a passage during the ceremony. Or, for non-religious weddings, this may be a poem or other reading that is meaningful to the bride and/or groom. It simply requires the ability to read and enunciate, so it’s a good job for teens and older relatives who are not in the bridal party.
A more traditional position, and less common nowadays, these young boys (or girls) hold the bride’s train or escort her down the aisle. If you’re shooting for a Princess Diana look or you have a seriously massive train, pages are a necessity. Just be sure to practice so that they know how to do their job properly, like fanning your skirt on the alter.
A role at some Christian weddings, the job of a candle lighter is pretty self-explanatory. They are tasked with lighting the candles at the altar before the mother of the bride takes her seat. This person is typically between 9 and 12 year-olds but can be filled by any age. It’s a great position for a younger sibling or cousin. Even a more distant family member might enjoy being involved.
Assigning these wedding jobs is just one of many steps on a wedding to-do list, but a necessary one. Especially early on! In doing so you will have all of the support you need throughout the wedding planning process, plus one of many weights off of your shoulders. It is our personal hope, at the Wedding Shoppe, that this list of wedding roles and responsibilities will help you better prepare for your big day. Are there any ideas or wedding roles we forgot? Let us know in the comments below!
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