A lot goes into planning and hosting a wedding. So, it’s important to keep the right people around you to help you deal with the many ups and downs along the way. Choosing the members of your wedding party is an easy way to do just that. No two wedding parties look alike—they can be made up of friends, family, or a mix of both—but no matter what your party should include people who add positivity and guidance as you plan your wedding. Here’s how to build your perfect wedding party that fits you and your fiance’s needs.
What Is A Wedding Party?
At its simplest, a wedding party is a group of people chosen by an engaged couple to support and celebrate them from engagement to the big day. Typically a wedding party is made up of friends and family and is responsible for certain wedding planning duties along the way. Think pre-wedding showers and parties, participating in the actual ceremony, and even acting as witnesses to the marriage.
Photo Credit // Apollo Fotografie
Traditional Members of the Wedding Party:
A wedding party can be large or small—it’s entirely up to the couple. Traditionally, the wedding party includes bridesmaids and groomsmen, but technically it also includes other members, as well.
Note: This a standard list of traditional wedding party members. A wedding party doesn’t have to follow this outline at all. Choose the members of your wedding party based on your relationships and personal preferences.
- Maid of Honor or Matron of Honor or Bride's Honor Attendant: This person is responsible for overseeing the bridesmaid’s responsibilities and helping the bride with planning. During the reception, the maid of honor typically reads a speech speaking to the couple—particularly focusing on the bride.
- Bridesmaids or Bride's Attendants: A group that consists of the closest friends and family members to the bride. Bridesmaids assist with wedding planning and stand by the bride during the ceremony. More recently, brides are opening their wedding parties to include men, as well: bridesmen.
- Best Man / Best Woman / Groom's Honor Attendant: Equivalent to the maid of honor, this person is the closest friend or family member to the groom. The best man (or woman) stands by the groom on the day of the wedding, makes a speech to the couple during the reception (speaking primarily about the groom), and is responsible for holding onto the wedding rings during the ceremony.
- Groomsmen: A group of the groom’s best friends or closest family members. Groomsmen stand next to the groom during the wedding ceremony and offer moral support during the planning process.
- Ushers: These people literally usher wedding guests to their seats. These are usually other close friends or family assigned by the couple. In some cases, the groomsmen will act as the ushers ahead of the ceremony.
- Bride's Parents: Traditionally, the bride’s parents or parent hosts the wedding ceremony and reception. Other responsibilities may include walking down the aisle with the bride, making a speech at the wedding reception, and participating in a memorable dance.
- Groom's Parents: Traditionally, the groom’s parents or parent host the rehearsal dinner ahead of the wedding ceremony. During the wedding reception, the mother of the groom may be asked to participate in a mother-son dance.
- Grandparents: Both partner’s grandparents. While they don’t traditionally play a role in the wedding (they could be asked to do a reading), grandparents are typically escorted down the aisle before the ceremony and seated in the first few rows.
- Officiant: An individual who officiates the wedding ceremony. For religious weddings, this may be a priest, minister, pastor, or rabbi. For non-denominational ceremonies, an officiant may be a government official or a friend/family member who has registered with the county’s clerk office.
- Flower Girl: During a wedding procession, the flower girl scatters rose petals (or flower petals of choice) down the aisle before the bride walks down. Typically, a flower girl is younger than the age of seven. She is usually the daughter of a family member or a member of the wedding party.
- Ring Bearer: This person is responsible for carrying the couple’s rings to the best man/best woman. Typically, the ring bearer is under the age of seven and the son of a family member or a member of the wedding party.
- Readers: Two to three readers are chosen to read aloud select texts during the ceremony. Usually, couples will choose guests beyond their wedding party to include more loved ones in the ceremony.
Along with the traditional roles of a wedding party, we’ve included some roles a religious wedding may include in the ceremony processions.
- Pages: Otherwise known as train bearers, these are young boys or girls who assist the bride with the train of her dress as she walks down the aisle.
- Candlelighters: Prevalent in Christian weddings, taper candles are lined up at the altar as a symbol and are incorporated into the wedding ceremony. Candlelighters are guests (around the ages of ten or twelve) chosen to light the taper candles before the wedding ceremony begins.
- Shusha Vim: Traditionally, Jewish weddings don’t have a designated bridal or groom’s party. The Shusha Vim is chosen to help assist the couple on their special day (this can be anyone from a sibling, parent, or close friend).
- Chuppah Carriers: During a Jewish Wedding, Chuppah Poles are raised during the ceremony with the help of chosen family members or close friends.
- Koumbaro/Koumbara: Popular in the Eastern Orthodox religion, the Koumbaro/a (Koumbaro for male and Koumbara for female) is a close friend or family member of the groom. The Koumbaro/a assists in both the ceremony and reception traditions.
- Hattabin: In Muslim culture, Hattabins are primarily male friends or family members close to the groom. Acting as a groom’s wedding party, they assist in preparing the groom for the wedding and help with wedding planning. In some cases, the Hattabin is even responsible for seeking out the proposal from the bride.
Photo Credit // Lifelong Photography
Things to Consider When Building Your Wedding Party
Make it unique to you.
As we said, while a wedding party consists of traditional roles, who you choose to include is entirely up to you. There’s no set way or rules to follow when selecting who should be part of your special day. Mix it up—have men and women support both partners. Ask your mother to walk you down the aisle. Train your dog to be your ring bearer. How your ceremony plays out and the people that you include should be unique to you and your relationships.
Just like it’s good to have some yin and yang when it comes to selecting the person you want to marry, the same goes for selecting the individuals who make up your wedding party. For example, ideally, your maid or man of honor is someone responsible and ready to tackle the many tasks that come with the role. Choose someone ‘hands-on’ who’s comfortable taking the reigns.
That said, a full wedding party of the “hands-on” type isn’t necessarily the best idea. Be sure to mix things up and try to build a group of various personalities. Some key traits we love to see in wedding party members:
- Someone with a lively sense of humor
- Down-to-earth, down-for-anything supporters
- The empathetic types to text when you’re overwhelmed
- Party animals—hey, you gotta love ‘em!
Wedding Party Questions
Here are some common questions couples may consider about building a wedding party.
Do We Have To Have the Same Number of Groomsmen/Bridesmaids?
No. There is no wedding party quota! Typically, couples prefer to have the same number of members in their respective parties, but oftentimes that’s for no other reason than procession’s sake. Don’t feel pressured to add additional people to your party just so the photos are even on both sides. Choose each member of your wedding party with intention—you should want each person (even if it’s only a few) to be there with you on your day.
Can I Have More Than One Maid of Honor/Best Man?
Sometimes choosing this important role feels impossible. Fortunately, it’s totally fine to have more than one maid of honor/best man. This is common in the case of multiple siblings or close best friend groups. Just be sure that the people you choose know that they’ll be splitting up those major responsibilities and are ready to help out.
Do I Have To Choose A Maid of Honor/Best Man?
On the other hand, if it seems like too much hassle to choose a maid of honor or best man, forgo the title completely. This way, you don’t have to stress about making a sometimes tough decision—and no one feels left out. That said, we still recommend designating someone to speak on your behalf at the reception (if speeches are your thing). Also, make sure your wedding party is ready to work together to take on those usual maid of honor/best man additional responsibilities.
Do I Have To Include My Fiance's Sibling In My Wedding Party?
The simple answer is no, you don’t. While it’s common to include your own siblings in your wedding party, depending on your relationship with your partner’s siblings, it’s up to you. Obviously, we want you and your partner to avoid any unnecessary drama or hurt feelings so be sure to be upfront with their siblings if you don’t want to include them. We also recommend assigning them another role if they’re interested (they might not be!), such as reading at the ceremony.
Does My Sibling Have To Be My Maid Of Honor/Best Man?
This, again, is totally up to you and dependant on your relationship with your sibling. It’s possible that you have a friend or cousin who you would prefer to act in this role for you. We, as always, recommend being upfront with your sibling to avoid any hurt feelings or drama. It also could be true that your sibling doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of the role. You won’t know until you talk about it with them.
Is It Ok To Mix Up The Genders In Our Parties?
Absolutely. Your wedding party can be as mixed up as you prefer. Why exclude your best guy friend from your party just because he’s a guy? Please don’t do that. Invite any and all of those nearest and dearest to you, regardless of gender (or any other similar limitation), to stand proudly next to you on your big day.
Building a perfect wedding party may not be the easiest task, but it’s a rewarding one. Incorporating friends and family into your wedding day is a great way to build memories and get the support you need.