Wedding etiquette: Who's who?
THE BRIDEThe bride has a lot of work to do before the actual wedding. She is the one who has the final responsibility for most of the planning and arrangements.
This means the bride has to take into account the wishes of her family and the groom and his family as she makes decisions about the wedding.
THE GROOMThe groom doesn’t have nearly as much work to do before a wedding as the bride does.
The best thing he can do is arrive at the wedding on time (or early).
MAID/MATRON OF HONOURAlthough many brides would like their mother to take on this role, there is a fair bit of work to it - and the mother of the bride already has a fair bit to do. This is why the bride usually selects someone else to be her maid or matron of honour. But if she does want her mother to serve as matron of honour, there is no reason why she shouldn’t.
The maid or matron of honour is often one of the bride’s sisters, or another relative or close friend.
If the bride wants two attendants she may chose to have both a maid and matron of honour. The maid of honour is usually the chief attendant.
The honour attendant is expected to help the bride as much as possible with plans for the wedding and on the wedding day. This may include helping to address the invitations and acting as the official person who records the wedding gifts. She may also be the one who arranges with other bridesmaids to have their dresses fitted. She is expected to attend all the pre-wedding parties held for the bride and may also give one herself.
The maid/matron of honour is the one who selects the joint gift given to the bride by her attendants.
On the day of the wedding, she is expected to help the bride dress. At the ceremony she is the one who holds the bride’s flowers as the bride and groom exchange rings - and she is the one who has the groom’s ring and hands it to the bride at the altar. She helps the bride adjust her veil and train as she turns to leave the altar.
The bride’s honour attendant signs the wedding register as the bride’s witness.
After the reception she helps the bride change into her going-away clothes and often helps the bride’s mother put the wedding dress away.
BEST MANThe best man is usually one of the groom’s brothers, although it is not uncommon for another relative, a close friend or even the groom’s father to assume the role.
Like the maid/matron of honour, his task is to help the groom as much as possible.
The best man makes sure the ushers have been fitted for their clothes and that the complete outfit has been delivered to them prior to the wedding. He is the one who collects the money and selects the joint gift given by the groom’s attendants.
He also makes sure the flowers ordered by the groom are delivered in time for the wedding.
He helps the groom make sure he is properly dressed for the wedding and it is his job to get him to the church on time.
He takes care of the wedding ring before the ceremony and is the one who hands it to the groom at the altar. If there is a ring bearer, the best man is the one who makes sure the ring is attached to the cushion and who takes it off again at the altar.
He signs the wedding certificate as the groom’s witness and takes charge of the licence.
The best man is responsible for handing the groom’s donation to the clergyman. He is also the person who helps the bride and groom into their car as they leave the site of the wedding. If they do not have a chauffeured car, the best man is the one who drives them to the reception.
At the reception, the best man makes the first toast to the newlyweds. He reads aloud any telegrams or message that have been received.
When the newlyweds are ready to leave, he helps the groom change and takes care of his wedding clothes. He is also the one to drive them away, as they leave the reception.
His final duty is to make sure any rented clothing - the groom’s, his own, or that of the ushers - is returned.
BRIDESMAIDSThe bridesmaids are generally sisters, friends, or close relatives of the bride and groom. They are, customarily, close in age to the bride. Any close family members who are much younger than the bride can serve as junior bridesmaids.
They have no specific duties, although they generally help the bride with wedding plans. They are invited to all pre-wedding parities and may give one if they wish.
They are responsible for paying for their own wedding outfits, which includes dress and accessories. For this reason, considerate brides are moving away from the one-time-only matching chiffon outfits to dresses similar in style or fabric which can be worn by the attendants after the wedding.
USHERSThey don’t have a lot to do, but the role of the ushers is important.
The ushers are the people responsible for seating guests at the ceremony. To avoid delay, there should be at least one usher for every 50 guests.
They should arrive at the wedding location 45 minutes to an hour before the ceremony is set to begin.
As each guest arrives, an usher steps forward and offers his right arm to the woman. If she comes accompanied by a man, the man follows them to their seats. If several women arrive together, the usher escorts the oldest one to her seat first.
If he doesn’t know the woman he is seating, he may ask if she is a friend of the bride or groom.
The bride’s friends and relatives are seated on the left side, and the groom’s on the right. If the seats become full on one side, guests may be seated on the other side.
A head usher may be designated to supervise the seating of special guests. If one of the ushers is the brother of the bride or groom, he may escort his own mother to her seat, otherwise the head user will assume responsibility for the mothers.
There also needs to be one usher for every bridesmaid in the wedding, since they also act as escorts for the bridesmaids and it is customary for them to pair off as the wedding party leaves the church.
The ushers escort the bridesmaids to the reception if arrangements have been made for the wedding party. If not, ushers help transport guests to the reception.
Ushers are generally brothers, brothers-in-law, other close relatives or friends of the groom.
The ushers usually attend all the pre-wedding parities the groom is invited to.
Like the bridesmaids, they are responsible for providing their own clothing for the wedding. Often this clothing is rented. The groom generally provides their boutonnieres, gloves and neckwear.