Your Wedding Party Guide: Who Does What?

wedding party roles
Photo by Kane and Social

The saying might be “It takes a village to raise a child,” but  when it comes to planning a wedding, the same rules definitely apply! From the mother of the bride to the father of the groom, the bridesmaids, ring bearer, officiant and everybody else in between, there are a lot of people in your wedding party that can help take your wedding planning from feeling stressful to downright fun. But who’s supposed to do what? This cheatsheet will give you a general overview of the different roles members of your wedding party can have, to ideally help you decided who does what and when:

Best Man:

The Best Man is typically in charge of planning the bachelor party, signing the couple’s marriage license, and—most importantly—holding the rings at the ceremony! He’ll also typically give a toast at the reception.

Maid of Honor:

The Maid of Honor is the planner extraordinaire. In addition to handling both the bridal shower and bachelorette party, the Maid of Honor will help things run smoothly on the morning of your wedding and help with any last minute DIY details! During the ceremony, she’ll be in charge of holding the bride’s bouquet and fluffing her train if need be. She’ll sign the marriage license as a witness and give a toast at the reception as well.

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Bridesmaids and groomsmen:

The other members of your wedding party are tasked with helping to get the party started (they should be first out on the dance floor!) and playing de facto host/hostess to guests. Before the wedding, they attend events like wedding showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. They can also be occasionally called upon to help with some cumbersome tasks, like stamping envelopes for invitations.

Bride’s parents:

Back in the day, the parents of the bride were tasked with paying for the whole wedding! Gulp. These days, budgets can look any number of different ways, but the parents of the bride often still help with the cost of the reception. The father of the bride will usually give a greeting or a toast, and the mother of the bride has many roles, from helping to select the dress to helping with the guest list. She’ll also be the main hostess at the reception site, and will usually be the first there in order to greet guests. Often, the bride’s parents will also help deliver any outstanding balances or tips vendors, such as the DJ or photographers, at the end of the night.

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The officiant will perform the marriage ceremony, sign the wedding license, and sometimes lead a prayer or blessing at the reception. This can be anyone from a religious leader (like a priest or rabbi) to a close friend or family member who applies to be a temporary officiant or becomes ordained online via organizations such as The Universal Life Church Monastery. Get more info on how to officiate a wedding here.

Groom’s parents:

Again, budgets and circumstances today vary greatly, but the parents of the groom typically throw the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding and chip in for flowers. They also usually have a say in the guest list.

Flower girl:

This is usually a little girl no older than ten. Her duties include walking down the aisle just prior to the bride to scatter flower petals.

Ring bearer:

This is typically a little boy no older than ten who walks down the aisle before the flower girl carrying the rings. (Psst—these are sometimes fakes, due to the fact that little little kids generally the most responsible wedding guests! Lol. The Best Man will usually have the real rings in his pocket.)


Ushers are friends or family members of the couple that escort guests to their seat. If you’re having a traditional wedding seating where the bride’s guests are on one side and the groom’s are on another, they’ll ask guests who they’re there for and help them find a place to sit.

Of course, not all of these roles are completely necessary. If you’re having a smaller wedding, you may choose to go without ushers. If you don’t know many children, don’t feel pressured to have a ring bearer or flower girl. Some couples even forgo having a wedding party at all, or decide instead to have a “Man of Honor” or “Best Woman.” Who-pays-for-what is a conversation you’ll need to have with your parents or relatives before assuming that various events will be covered by certain people. Just remember that at the end of the day, it’s up to you and your future spouse to decide how big of a wedding party you want, and who would be best in a specific role. Also up to you? To make the process as fun as you can for EVERYBODY involved. 🙂

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