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The Maid or Matron of Honor

Wedding PartyThe maid (unmarried) or matron (married) of honor is usually a sister, best friend or roommate whom the bride considers her closest and most beloved acquaintance.

The maid (or matron) is the bride's "lady-in-waiting" and attends to almost any details to help the bride. Today, many brides also have a personal attendant to relieve the maid of honor from many duties she traditionally had performed. The maid of honor's main duty is to stand by the bride's side to help with anything she may need.

One of the first responsibilities of the honor attendant is to plan or help coordinate bridal showers before the wedding. Some other pre-wedding duties may include helping the bride choose the attendants' attire, helping address invitations, and lending a hand with any other planning details in which the bride requests assistance.

The maid of honor usually attends all wedding-related events such as showers, luncheons, the rehearsal dinner, and gift opening party.

At the ceremony, the maid of honor precedes the father and bride down the aisle. She holds the ring, and the bouquet. She's responsible for and folding the bride's veil back and straightening the train as needed.

The maid of honor usually stands next to the groom in the receiving line. She is also an official witness to the wedding by signing the marriage certificate.

If a sit-down dinner is held, she will sit on the groom's left side. During the reception, she attends to any details to help the bride, such as accompanying her to a washroom to freshen up and bustling the train of the bride's gown. Some maids of honor are called upon to give a toast. If a dance is a part of the festivities, she may be included in special dances and is expected to dance with the best man and the groom.

The maid of honor's financial obligations usually include paying for her attire, which may include not only her dress but chosen shoes, jewelry and other accessories. She will also contribute to, or cover all of the cost of a shower, along with buying shower and wedding gifts. The out-of-town honor attendant should expect to pay all of her own travel expenses including transportation and lodging.

The Bridesmaids

Bridal partyBeing a bridesmaid holds very similar responsibilities to that of a maid of honor. These attendants are usually also close friends or family members of the bride or sometimes even of the groom.

Bridesmaids should be willing to help the bride with a variety of tasks, including addressing invitations and helping in any way that the bride may ask.

Like the honor attendant, bridesmaids are often included in many of the wedding celebrations such as showers, luncheons, the rehearsal dinner and gift opening party. Often bridesmaids will lend the honor attendant a hand and help pay for the cost of a bridal shower.

At the ceremony the bridesmaids lead the procession down the aisle, and usually return down the aisle after the ceremony escorted by a groomsman. The bridesmaid standing immediately next to the maid of honor may find herself holding the bouquet of the honor attendant while she is arranging the brides train or assisting with the veil, etc. After the ceremony the bridesmaids traditionally stand in the receiving line next to the maid of honor.

If a sit-down dinner is held, the bridesmaids sit in a "boy, girl" pattern with the groomsmen. Throughout the reception, the bridesmaids should enjoy their time as a guest, while being mindful of any special "wedding party" dance events where they will be expected to dance with the groomsmen. The considerate bridesmaid will stay close by her bride to help the bride with any minor details, such as getting her water or helping fix her hair, and cheering the bride along to let her know everything is going great!

The financial obligations of the bridesmaid is the same as the maid of honor. She will most likely be paying for her gown and all that goes with it. A bridesmaid should always be respectful of the bride's choice in bridesmaids dresses, even if she doesn't care for it. Although it is very difficult to pay for a gown and accessories that you may not even like, by agreeing to be a bridesmaid you have agreed to abide by the bride's decision. (However, brides should be realistic about what others can afford. An expensive dress may put a large strain on a bridesmaid's budget – as well as on a friendship.) If asked for your opinion, be honest, but tactful and kind. Other costs involved include showers and a wedding gift.

The Best Man

The best man, usually a best friend, brother, cousin or even father of the groom, must be willing to help the groom solve any problem. Organizing the bachelor party is usually his first responsibility. He must also make sure that the groom arrives at the wedding site on time, appropriately dressed.

Carrying the bride's ring is an extremely important task charged to the best man. He will sometimes be responsible for the marriage license.

The best man usually does not stand in the receiving line. He signs the marriage certificate as an official witness. He must be sure that the clergy member receives payment, which should be placed in a sealed envelope.

At the reception, the best man sits to the bride's right, the perfect position to execute his duties as official toastmaster. The clever best man rehearses his toast beforehand, knowing that a practiced toast is always better than an impromptu one.

Some best men are asked to gather all rented clothing from the groom's wedding party and return it on the next business day to the formal wear store.

The expenses of the best man usually include his tuxedo rental (and other accessories), some or all of the cost of the bachelor party, and a wedding gift for the couple. As with all members of the bridal party, if he is from out-of-town, he is also responsible for his expenses for travel and lodging.

Groomsmen & Ushers

GroomsmenThese friends and relatives of the groom (and sometimes the bride) have a variety of jobs. Some groomsmen double as ushers, but often separate individuals serve these roles. Regardless, the groomsmen and ushers usually do not have as many obligations as the best man.

They are required to be at the rehearsal, where they can learn the wishes of the engaged couple and the clergy member. At the rehearsal, they might practice lighting and extinguishing the candles, should familiarize themselves with entrance, exit, and bathroom locations for the guests' comfort and learn seating arrangements.

The groomsmen/ushers should arrive at the wedding site an hour before the ceremony to get their boutonnieres, ready the programs, and help with any last-minute details.

If guests of the bride and groom are to be seated in separate sections, the ushers will need to ascertain the guests' relationship to the couple. Once this is established, the right arm is usually offered to the lady, who is then escorted to the open pew closest to the front of the church. The farthest-forward pews are traditionally reserved for immediate family members.

Last to be ushered in are the mothers of both the groom and bride, respectively. Then the ushers unroll the aisle runner. They stay in the back of the church during the ceremony, directing late guests to back or side seats.

Immediately after the ceremony, groomsmen escort bridesmaids down the aisle. Ushers then escort out the mothers of the bride and groom, and sometimes direct the departure of guests in an orderly manner, to insure the receiving line functions efficiently.

Ushers (sometimes with the help of the groomsmen) decorate the wedding couple's "getaway car" either before or (for ushers) during the ceremony, or as guests file through the receiving line. At the reception, the ushers are usually included at the head table and will often be seated on opposite ends of the table. The rest of the reception the ushers may consider themselves guests and enjoy!

The groomsmen usually do not stand in the receiving line, but do sit at the reception table in an alternating pattern with the bridesmaids. The groomsmen's only obligatory duties at the reception are to mingle with the guests, give help when needed, participate in "wedding party" dances and make merry!

The financial obligations of the ushers and groomsmen include their attire, a wedding gift, and contributions to the cost of the bachelor party.

Ring Bearer, Flower Girls, Junior Bridesmaids, Miniature Brides, etc.

Ring BearerJunior attendants are sometimes included in weddings. The duties of these minor attendants differ from wedding to wedding, largely depending on the bride and groom's desires and the maturity and capability of each child.

The Personal Attendant

In recent years, it has become common for the bride to have a personal attendant. This close friend or relative is responsible for assisting the bride throughout the day. She may also relieve the maid/matron of honor of some of her duties at times when she needs to stay with the wedding party.

It is helpful for the bride to make a list of tasks for which the personal attendant is responsible, such as: assisting the bride with getting ready; pinning on flowers; gathering people for pictures; making sure the wedding party has their belongings after the ceremony; keeping track of the toss bouquet until it's needed; making sure gifts are transported to the gift opening site or the couple's home. The personal attendant often keeps a bag handy with extra necessities, such as tissues, bobby pins, needle and thread, scissors, nylons, make-up, etc.

The role of the Personal Attendant can be a very demanding and fulfilling job. The tense bride needs someone to make her feel comfortable so she can go down the aisle knowing all is going well.

Of course, the main duty of the personal attendant is to help the bride dress, but can also pin on flowers and gather people for the pictures. The personal attendant's knowledge of who attendants and family members are is very important. Other duties may include gathering the wedding party's belongings after the ceremony, holding the toss bouquet until it's needed, and making sure gifts are transported to the gift-opening site or the couple's home.

Generally the personal attendant will help fluff the bride's train right before she enters the church and walks down the aisle. Practicing this (along with the maid/matron of honor) is helpful. The personal attendant also should keep an eye out for lipstick on teeth, undergarments showing, hair out of place, and be ready to assist in keeping the bride looking her best.




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