Let’s Have a Wedding! Part 2: The Wedding Party

We’ve got the invitations out of the way!  You are on your way to having a proper wedding.  Now you are going to need to know what all the people in your wedding party are responsible for.  This can be a bit tricky and since everyone will want to help out, you are going to have to put some people in their place.  They may not like it, but there are some responsibilities that fall to certain members of the wedding party and those people will probably expect to do their part if they know anything about how weddings are supposed to be done.  Feelings can get hurt pretty badly if you don’t do this the correct way.  So, today we are gonna learn about the different people in the wedding party and what their jobs are in terms of what goes on.

First off, what is a bride?  This should be self-explanatory, right?  You would think so.  A bride is the woman that is to be married.  It means something else as well.  My older brother had the other meaning right for a while when he referred to his wife as his “lovely bride” for about a year.  He still does this though and while it isn’t technically correct anymore, it is endearing.  The other meaning of bride is a newlywed woman.  The bride is woman in the white dress that is attended by bridesmaids that wear one of the bride’s colours.

The male counterpart of the bride is the bridegroom.  This is frequently shortened to just the groom.  Many people don’t realize that the groom is responsible for purchasing the bride’s flowers.  Just like the bride, the groom can be called so for about a year or so.  Then it gets odd since the phrase refers to the man getting married or the man that has just been married.  Typically, the man wears either a tuxedo or a dark suit for the wedding.  Depending on the wedding this may be overlooked in something more fitting for the wedding itself.  The groom also has attendants of his own called groomsmen and their ties, as well as the groom’s, typically are the same colour as the bridesmaids’ dresses or are another one of the bride’s wedding colours.

When it comes to bridesmaids, there are several types of them.  The most important of the bridesmaids is the chief bridesmaid.  Sometimes called the maid of honour, if she is not married, and the matron of honour, if she is married.  Her duties include planning the bachelorette party, planning the bridal shower, addressing the invitations for those two events, helping with the addressing of the invitations for the wedding, typically helps with the dress shopping, and if there are no ring bearers, she holds the groom’s ring for the bride.  The lady taking this position is typically the bride’s best friend or her sister.  Naming this person can sometimes break friendships.  So, be prepared for that.  I have been a maid of honour once.  It was…awkward. That’s another story though.  I have so many sisters that I will probably end up asking my best friend so that my sisters don’t get miffed at me.

The maid of honour or matron of honour has her counterpart called the best man.  Like the maid of honour, he has several key duties to be performed including party planning.  He is in charge of the bachelor party for the most part, though the groom does take some responsibility for it.  Just like the maid of honour he stands beside the bride and assists her throughout the day, he stands next to the groom and assists him throughout the day.  The best man is in charge of the ushers and keeps the rings safe until the ceremony begins when he gives the ring bearer the rings.  However, if there is no ring bearer, he is in charge of the bride’s ring for the groom.  Since he is a witness to the wedding, I mean, it would be difficult to not be when you are standing right there when it happens, he signs the marriage certificate as a witness.  Probably the duty that gets most guys that are named the best man nervous is that they are to give the speech at the reception that has become known as the best man’s speech…how creative.  Fun fact!  Did you know that in Australia the best man is to support the same football team as the groom, typically the local team?

Next comes the rest of the bridesmaids.  You do not have to have more than just the maid of honour, when I was the maid of honour I was the only bridal attendant.  They typically help the Maid of honour with her duties.  These bridal attendants wear a simpler version of the maid of honors’ dress.  The price of their dresses and clothing are typically split between them and the bride.  If one is having a destination wedding then the bride may want to help pay the price on that or risk not having any bridesmaids.  The only exception to this is for the junior bridesmaids if you chose to have them.  These are usually children that are too old to be flower girls and too young to be full bridesmaids.  The ages of junior bridesmaids are about 11 to 17 years old.

The groomsmen are basically glorified ushers that get to wear fancy suits and stand up at the altar in a row beside the best man.  You think I’m joking and I’m really not.  That is what they are there for.  There is the same number of them as there are bridesmaids.  However!  Yes, there is a however and it’s an exciting one!  Previously, the groomsmen had a much more amazing name and were called “bride-knights”.  This is because when brides were captured they had help carry the bride back to the groom’s home.  Over time, they became much more chivalrous and were there to defend the bride and groom from people who wanted to kidnap the bride or who wanted them dead.  Now, that sounds much more exciting than what modern groomsmen do.  Let’s go back to that.  I want men with swords at my wedding.  Please take note of this future husband!

Aww, look at the cute little girls in their cute little dresses!  Flower girls are those that have the job of walking down the aisle before the bride does.  Typically, they scatter flower petals on the ground.  Since people think children are adorable when they are in frilly dresses, they wear white dresses like the bride that are traditionally purchased by the families of the bride and groom.  The reason for this is that they are typically members of the bride’s family or the groom’s family.  Remember when I mentioned the age of the junior bridesmaids in the previous paragraph.  Well, flower girls are usually between the ages of 3 to 10.

If you thought little girls in their white flower girl dresses were cute, the page boys in their little suits are just as cute.  They are the same age as the flower girls and there are just as many of them.  The ring bearer is a page and carries the rings, typically tacked down some way so they are not lost, on a satin pillow in the colours of the bride’s colours.  Some cultures have the other pages, if there are more of them, have other duties.  If the bride’s dress has a train, the page boys under the age of 7 carry the train.  If they are between 8-10, they help the groomsmen.  Some cultures have coin bearers that carry gold and silver wedding coins.  If there are wedding coins, there are 13 to represent Jesus and the 12 apostles.

Now we have the last member of the wedding party is the officiant.  This is the person that actually performs the wedding ceremony.  However, that is just the frilly part of what their duty actually is.  The actual job of the officiant is to witness the formal and legally binding consent given between the two getting married to be in a monogamous relationship.   They may have other responsibilities as well, depending on where you get married.  In quite a few places, judges are able to perform wedding ceremonies.  These are typically called civil unions and are performed by a specific type of judge called a justice of the peace.  Most places have religious leaders perform wedding ceremonies.  This is why it is important for the leaders of churches to be ordained so that they can perform legally binding ceremonies.  In this case, they are usually called celebrants rather than officiant.

Great!  We’ve got your invitations covered and the officiants together.  Next week we will be covering the attire of the wedding party.  There are quite a few different traditions concerning this and some of that depends on what culture you are a part of.