Ensuring everyone knows what jobs they are doing on your BIG day will enable you to relax and enjoy yourselves. It can be tempting to take on everything yourself, but you’ll thank yourself later that you chose to enlist the help of the bridal party to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the day! Leaving you more time to celebrate and relax!
So first we take a brief look at what a traditional bridal party consists of:
- Mother and Father of the Bride
- Mother and Father of the Groom
- Best Man
- Chief Bridesmaid
- Flower Girls
- Page Boys
- Ring Bearers
Not all of these roles may have a place in your wedding and some may have different names, for example some woman prefer to have a Maid of Honour or men may want to have a party of Groomsmen instead of a Best Man and Ushers. Some even go as far to rename their Bridesmaids as ‘Blue’ Maids and ask them to dress as the brides ‘something blue’!
In advance and throughout the day there will be different role that each of these people play throughout the planning. Here’s a quick breakdown of what they should all expect to be doing.
The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen are in charge of organising the hen and stag dos for the Bride and Groom. Some may do it as a team, although more traditionally the Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid would take the lead.
Arrivals on the day
It’s quite traditional for the Bridesmaids and the female side of the party to get ready in the same location as the Bride, although if a big bridal party sometimes they may get ready at home and meet at the Bride’s location before leaving for the venue together.
For the male side of the party normally the Best Man will be with the Groom while other members of the men’s side would meet at the venue to greet the arrival of guests around 30-60 minutes before they are due to be at the wedding.
Ushers must be at the venue at least 30 minutes before the guest’s arrival, which is about 20-30 minutes prior to the wedding start time. This ensures they are on hand and briefed by the vicar, registrar or wedding planner on any seating arrangements in advance of arrivals.
Guests will start arriving around 30 minutes before the ceremony, followed closely by the Groom and Best Man.
Around 5 minutes before the ceremony is due to start the bridesmaids and younger members of the bridal party should arrive and wait for the Bride’s arrival outside the venue.
The last person to be seated before the procession should be the Mother of the Bride as this signifies to the congregation that the Bride has arrived.
Traditionally the Father of the Bride would walk the Bride down the aisle, but some more modern ceremonies will have the Mother of the Bride or both parents. The traditional order of the procession for a church wedding would be:
- Ring bearer or flower girl if you have one
- Bride on her father’s left arm
If having a registry office wedding or civil ceremony at a registered location, you have a bit more free reign to do as you wish in your ceremony. You can still have all the usual bridal party performing their duties but as long as you don’t have any religious symbols, music or readings then you are free to change as much as you like to the format!
Ceremony and Order of Service
Again, this will depend on the service you have chosen to have. If a church service, it will be very formal with the Vicar telling you what can and can’t happen, if a civil ceremony you’ll be able to involve as many people as you wish. The roles required for the ceremony would be either the Best Man or Ring Bearer placing the rings on the Vicar’s bible or passing directly to the Bride and Groom and two witnesses signing the register with the Bride and Groom, this is usually the two mothers or the Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid.
At the Reception
After the ceremony has taken place if formal photos are being done the Groomsmen would be in charge of helping the photographer find certain people for certain photos. This is an extremely important job to ensure no-one’s grandma is forgotten in the corner!
After photos the guests would be invited into the dining room via a formal receiving line, this is normally in this order to greet guests:
- Bride’s parents
- Groom’s parents
- Bride and Groom
- Chief Bridesmaid
- Best Man
After the meal, the Best Man (or toastmaster, if you have one) introduces the speeches in the following order:
- Bride’s Father
- Bride (if doing one)
- Best Man
The Bride’s Father (or an old family friend) always speaks first, welcoming the guests to the reception and his new Son-in-law to the family. He will complement the Bride and would end by proposing the toast to the Bride and Groom.
The groom replies to his Father-in-law’s toast, thanking him and the Bride’s mother for their daughter, for their welcome into the family and for the reception (the wording can be discreetly changed if the newlyweds and/or the grooms’ parents have contributed to the expense). He thanks the guests for coming to celebrate the day and for the presents they have given. He thanks his Best Man and the attendants for the help they have given to the Bride. He then proposes a toast to the Bridesmaids.
Now girl power is more firmly established, it is not uncommon for the Bride to say a few words and if she chooses to do so, she should speak after her new husband. This is a good opportunity for her to thank all the people who have helped her plan the big day, to thank her own parents for all their support and to thank the Groom’s parents for welcoming her into their family.
Last of the speeches is always the Best Man, who replies to the groom’s toast to the Bridesmaids, wishes the happy couple well, reads the cards and messages and announces the cutting of the cake. This is also one of the most anticipated speeches amongst the guests and there are a lot of great speech examples and quirky formats online for those worrying about living up to the hype!
The Evening Reception
Traditionally this started with the couple’s first dance. This will usually take place after the arrival of the evening guests. The Best Man and Ushers will make sure the guests are aware that this about to start and let the DJ or band know to start the party!
Goodbye and Good Luck
At a formal wedding the Bride and Groom should be the first to leave the reception. It is at this point the Bride should through her bouquet to her eagerly awaiting guests. The Bride and Groom leave for their honeymoon and to start their many years of happiness together!
In recent and more modern times it is not uncommon for the couple to stay until later not taking their honeymoon until later in the year, if at all. This means they are free to party at their wedding until late!