Traditional Wedding Party Roles

He asked her, she said yes and now the happy couple are about to tie the knot!

Some may think getting down on one knee and uttering those famous and much-anticipated words: “Will you marry me?” are the hardest part of getting married.  But we’re afraid it’s just the start!  Planning a wedding can be a mix of stress and excitement, with one to-do-list after the other.

Fortunately, delegating is not only the most sensible thing to do; it’s also part of wedding planning tradition.  Each member of the wedding party has a role to fulfill, which comes with certain duties and responsibilities.

Traditionally the happy couple makes all the major decisions on the style, colours, flowers and so forth. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty, there are lots of people in the background making sure that the big day is a success for everyone and that happy, everlasting memories are being created.

Have you ever wondered what these traditional wedding party roles entailed? Let us fill you in on a little history!

Bride & Groom to be

Traditional Wedding Party Roles

Apart from saying YES to each other, the bride and groom worked together on planning the biggest event of their future lives together. They chose the date, venue and style of the wedding and set a budget for all to adhere to. The happy couple also met with the wedding

celebrant or church representative to discuss details about the ceremony, exchanging rings and vows.

They coordinated flowers, photographers, guest lists and wedding invitations and after the celebration were responsible for thank you no

tes to everyone who showered them with love and gifts. It was also customary that the bride and groom shopped for their wedding bands together, with each one paying for the other one’s ring.

In addition to that, the bride chose her bridesmaids and the maid of honour as well as the colour for their dresses, while the groom picked his groomsmen and best man as well as their outfits. It was traditionally the groom who paid for the marriage license and fees for a wedding celebrant or other officials too.

Bride’s Family

Back in the day, having a daughter was an expensive business, as the bride’s family had to pay for most of the wedding expenses. Traditionally the bride’s family hosted the engagement party and the mother of the bride assisted her daughter as much as possible with the planning of the wedding. The father of the bride had the privilege of escorting her down the aisle and handing her over to her future husband, and he was the last one to leave the after-party, settling any outstanding bills.

Maid of Honour

As the bride’s right hand, the Maid of Honour has one of the key wedding party roles.  She took care of every little detail including scheduling dress fittings, organising the bridal shower and hen’s party. On the day she assisted the bride in getting dressed, accom

panied her to the venue and made sure her outfit stayed perfect for the ceremony. She walked down the aisle right before the bride and carried the groom’s wedding ring if no ring bearer had been assigned. After the ceremony she signed the marriage licence as a witness before organising pictures of the wedding party, and later danced with the best man. The maid of honour also kept track of all gifts and giftees during the wedding and ran errands in the background to ensure everything went smoothly.

Before the happy couple embarked on their honeymoon, the Maid of Honour helped the bride change into less formal attire as her last duty and looked after the wedding dress until her return.


They supported the bride and the maid of honour, ensuring that everyone stayed on top of their duties to prepare for the perfect day. There was no set number, though 12 was generally the limit. The bridesmaids traditionally walked down the aisle before the bride and functioned as co-hosts, helping guests find their seats and kept the after party running.

Groom’s family

Traditional Wedding Party Roles

The groom’s parents hosted a second engagement party if they wished and contributed as much to the general wedding expenses as they deemed fit. They were also responsible for arranging the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.

Best Man

What the maid of honour was to the bride, the best man was to the groom. He supported him along the journey, organising the bachelor party and suit fittings, picking up the groom’s attire before the wedding and making sure he made it to the altar before signing the marriage licence as a witness. In the absence of a ring bearer, the best man held the bride’s wedding band at the altar. He also gave the first toast after the wedding and confirmed the honeymoon destination, then made sure everything was ready for the couple’s departure onto their honeymoon, including luggage and transport.


They supported the groom and best man, ensuring that everyone stayed on top of their duties to prepare for the perfect day. There was no set number, though 12 was generally the limit. Groomsmen could walk down the aisle with the bridesmaids, to then join the husband to be in front of the altar, giving him strength and encouragement. They also functioned as co-hosts, helping guests find their seats and kept the after party running.

Traditional Wedding Party Roles

Flower Girl and Ring Bearer

These roles were usually occupied by children of either side of the wedding party. The flower girl walked ahead of the bride, scattering flowers or carrying a bouquet, while the ring bearer carried both wedding bands towards the altar.

Where do your family and wedding party fit within these traditions?

These days it’s common for key members of the wedding party (and family members) to be based out of town, or even overseas, meaning their ability to assist with their wedding party roles may be limited.  The Bride and Groom’s to-do list can be overwhelming and as we all know life is busy!  Never fear, assistance is available to help you create your perfect wedding in the form of a Wedding Planner!

 The Collective Concepts team, having not only been brides ourselves, are experienced event and wedding planners and can assist with some or all of the planning. Whether our role is just to coordinate your wedding plans on the day, or if it’s full planning you require, we’d love to hear from you!

Contact us for a complimentary, one hour consultation.

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