On your wedding day, your bridal party is the group of people who will be by your side. They will also assist you in planning all pre-wedding events leading up to your big day. Continue reading to find out who's who in a bridal party and everything you need to know about the roles each person will play.
What Exactly Is a Bridal Party?
A bridal party is a group of loved ones who participate actively in the events leading up to and on the day of your wedding. They include the best man, maid of honor, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and other important people who will assist with everything from the rehearsal dinner to the reception. You'll pose with them for wedding photos, follow them into the reception, and rely on their help to make your special day as stress-free as possible.
Historically, the term "bridal party" referred to the bride's side of the wedding party. However, in recent years, it has become more of a catch-all term for the entire wedding party. Though the terms can be used interchangeably, it's become more common now that people feel less social pressure to adhere to rigid gender norms for their weddings.
Do You Need a Bridal Party?
A bridal party is not required, but it often makes the festivities more memorable and less stressful. Key members of bridal parties, for example, can take the lead on specific aspects of the wedding planning process.
However, there are times when a large bridal party is not necessary. People planning small weddings, for example, may forego a traditional wedding reception in favor of a more intimate gathering.
How Many People Are in a Bridal Party?
Bridal parties can be as small or as large as a couple desires. In the United States, it is customary for each partner to have three to five people (bridesmaids or groomsmen) standing beside them during the ceremony. This includes the maid of honor and the best man. Some couples may choose to have more or fewer guests.
Feel free to take a DIY and nontraditional approach to selecting wedding party members for your nuptials. For example, if the bride wants her brother or a close male friend to stand by her side, she can choose him as a man of honor. When it comes to putting together a bridal party, the only non-negotiable is that it be a group of people you love and who love you.
9 Roles in a Bridal Party
Putting together the right bridal party will make your wedding day even more memorable. Here are nine wedding party roles to consider when putting together your own:
1. The best man: The best man, who is frequently the groom's best friend or brother, plays an important role at any wedding. His primary responsibilities include organizing a bachelor party for the groom and groomsmen and toasting the newlyweds at the wedding reception. It's become something of a tradition for these speeches to be lighthearted, humorous, and tender at the same time.
2. Bridesmaids: Close friends, sisters, and cousins of the bride are the most common bridesmaid candidates. They attend the bachelorette party, give the bride gifts at her shower, and sometimes accompany her as she shops for her wedding gown in the run-up to standing by her side at the altar. They also wear bridesmaid gowns of the same color and style.
3. Flower girl: Some couples have a young girl spread flowers at the beginning of the wedding ceremony before the bride walks down the aisle. This could be the daughter of a niece or a friend. If the couple already has a child, she or he may serve as the flower girl. Some brides may also include younger relatives as junior bridesmaids in their wedding parties.
4. Groomsmen: The groomsmen are usually his closest friends and family members. They attend the bachelor party, the rehearsal dinner, and the ceremony. As part of the wedding party, they will stand on the groom's side of the aisle.
5. Maid of honor: The maid of honor (or matron of honor if she's married) is responsible for planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party, as well as giving a speech in honor of the couple at the wedding.
6. Officiant: In religious ceremonies, the officiant may be the congregational leader to which the bride or groom belongs. Anyone vested with power by the state to perform this role can do so in more secular weddings. Without an officiant, you may have a pleasant symbolic ceremony but not a legal wedding. You'll need one to get a marriage license there.
7. Parents of the couple: The bride's and groom's fathers and mothers play an important role in the wedding party. The father and mother of the bride and groom will join their children on the dance floor to sentimental songs. Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for the engagement party and the wedding itself, while the groom's parents pay for the rehearsal dinner.
8. Ring bearer: On their wedding day, the newlyweds may hire a young nephew or a friend's son to march the wedding rings down the aisle. To avoid mishaps, some couples may provide alternative wedding bands to the ring bearer.
9. Ushers: Other close family members and friends may be asked by the bride and groom to usher everyone else on the wedding guest list to their seats. They can relax and enjoy the rest of the wedding as spectators once they've ensured that everyone is where they need to be.