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Traditional wedding roles

Savannah Reams: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Once the blissful time period which surrounds an engagement begins to die down, a sense of anxiety begins to set in for the happy couple. It is time to plan a wedding. For many, especially those with large families and many friends, a wedding is a huge affair. Planning and coordinating a sizable event is never easy and can often overwhelm the bride and groom. Weddings are costly and require a lot of effort. Rightly so, many people must come together to assist the happy couple in throwing the affair. However, at times, it can be difficult deciding what responsibilities should rest with each person involved. While a bride and groom can choose to plan their nuptials however they like, many still prefer tradition. Listed below, are traditional wedding roles and responsibilities that may assist you in planning your big day:

Bride and Groom

According to tradition, the bride and groom work together to set their budget; choose the date, style and site for the wedding; meet with the ceremony officiant to discuss details; shop for wedding bands (each paying for the other's); coordinate invitations, a photographer and flowers; write wedding vows, if personal vows are preferred, and, as is courteous, send thank-you notes for all gifts.


The bride has her own set of duties for the wedding. The bride chooses bridesmaids and/or junior bridesmaids, chooses a maid of honor or matron of honor, picks their attire, plans and hosts a bridesmaids' luncheon and gives them thank you gifts. The bride is also responsible for buying a gift for the groom.


It is the groom's responsibility to choose groomsmen and a best man, as well as purchase gifts for the groomsmen and bride. The groom is also responsible for paying for the marriage license and officiants fee and, if guests are traveling from out-of-town, the groom reserves a block of hotel rooms.

Bride's Parents

While the bride's parents are usually referred to as the "bill footers" this is not always the case. Costs are usually distributed among the bride's parents, the bride and groom, as well as the groom's parents. However, there are certain responsibilities the bride's parents hold. Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first engagement party. They also assist the bride with the guest list and wedding details.

The bride's mother chooses her attire for the occasion and is responsible for communicating with the groom's mother, so they can dress to complement one another. The bride's father is fitted for formal wear. On the wedding day, the father of the bride escorts her to the ceremony site and, usually, walks her down the aisle, unless the bride has other preferences. Traditionally, the father of the bride is the last to leave the reception and, after bidding guests goodnight, he settles any outstanding bills with the caterer, band or venue.

Groom's Parents

According to tradition, the groom's parents are responsible for providing a guest list to the bride, making sure to stick to the agreed upon number. They coordinate attire with the bride's parents, as well. Most commonly, the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner on the night before the wedding. If they so wish, the groom's parents may contribute to wedding expenses.

Maid of Honor

The maid of honor is the bride's main worker bee. She is in charge of coordinating the bridesmaids' activities, meeting for dress fittings, and organizing the bridal shower and bachelorette party. She also assists the bride and groom with errands and tasks such as addressing invitations and keeping records of gifts. On the wedding day, the maid of honor helps the bride get dressed and accompanies her to the ceremony. She signs the marriage license as the bride's witness and arranges her veil and train during the processional and recessional. She also holds the bride's bouquet at the altar. At the reception, the maid of honor dances with the best man and organizes formal pictures with the bridesmaids. Before the couple leaves, the maid of honor helps the bride change and makes sure her dress and bouquet are kept safe until she returns. Like the maid of honor, bridesmaids also assist with errands and preparations. The maid of honor and all bridesmaids pay for their own attire, as well as transportation and lodging if they travel from elsewhere. They all walk in the wedding processional.

Best Man

The best man is the groom's most significant source of support. His primary role is organizing the bachelor party. However, it is also his responsibility to make sure the groom makes it to the ceremony on time. The best man helps coordinate the groomsmen's formal wear fitting, picks up the groom's attire before the wedding and orchestrates toasts at the rehearsal dinner. He confirms honeymoon travel reservations the day before the wedding. On the day of the wedding, he brings the bride's ring and signs the marriage license as the groom's witness. At the reception, he organizes the groomsmen for formal pictures, dances with the maid of honor and leads toasts. Lastly, the best man makes sure the getaway car is ready with the couple's luggage inside. He also makes sure all rented formal wear is returned. Like the best man, the groomsmen offer support, assist with errands and help plan the bachelor party. They arrive at the ceremony early, making themselves available to greet and seat guests. Like the best man, they are also responsible for being fitted for their attire, paying for their attire, as well as their own travel and lodging expenses.

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