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Planning a Wedding: Responsibilities of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Updated on March 6, 2015

What Can You Expect from the Wedding Party?

Planning a wedding is a big task for most engaged couples. If you are inviting a group of 20 people or more to the ceremony and/or reception, you can expect to spend weeks, if not months (or longer) preparing for the event.

Members of your wedding party may be selected based on several factors, including friendship and relation. But bridesmaids, groomsmen - and in particular the maid (matron) of honor and best man - do more than just witness the exchange of vows. When chosen carefully, these people can help make your wedding day and the events leading up to it special and memorable.

So, what can you expect from the wedding party? The answer depends in part on your relationship with each person chosen to stand alongside you. If your best friend is kind of a flake, she may not be reliable as the maid of honor. Perhaps your brother is a really funny guy, but he cannot be expected to be sober enough to make a coherent toast at the reception.

Just as you should consider personalities and the maturity level of any children you include in the wedding party, the same goes for your bridesmaids and groomsmen!

The movie "Bridesmaids" is a hilarious take on the responsibilities of a maid of honor, with two dueling women vying to be the one standing next to the bride at the ceremony. If you haven't seen it yet, enjoy the trailer below. The bottom line is that your "BFF" or your sister may believe they have earned the right to be the maid of honor, but may not really be up for the job!

Preparation for a wedding on the beach
Preparation for a wedding on the beach | Source

What does the Maid of Honor Do?

In general, the Maid of Honor (or Matron of Honor if she is married) is the Bride's right-hand person, with more responsibilities than any one else in the wedding party. Selecting the person to fill this role is a big decision.

Among other things, the Maid of Honor may:

  • Help the Bride shop for her wedding dress
  • Assist the Bride in selecting bridesmaids gowns
  • Help the Bride choose bouquets for the bridal party
  • Plan and/or host a bridal shower
  • Organize the bachelorette party (optional)
  • Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Organize or arrange for the Bride's hair and makeup on the wedding day
  • Assist the Bride in getting dressed on the wedding day
  • Hold the Bride's bouquet while she is exchanging rings with the groom
  • Arrange the Bride's train, if necessary, after the procession
  • Toast the Bride and groom at the reception

The Bride may ask her maid or matron of honor to assist with additional tasks such as arranging for gifts to be transported from the ceremony/reception to the couple's residence, helping with transportation for the couple after the reception, assisting with the flower girl or ring bearer, or even ensuring that the Bride continues to look her best during wedding photographs.

Maid of Honor helping the bride get ready
Maid of Honor helping the bride get ready | Source

Bridesmaids Movie 2011

What does the Best Man Do?

Admittedly, the Groom usually plays a smaller role (if at all) in planning a wedding, so the Best Man generally has fewer responsibilities than the Maid of Honor.

The Best Man can be expected to:

  • Organize the Bachelor party
  • Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Procure cigars and/or drinks for the groom and groomsmen following the ceremony (if desired)
  • If the bridesmaids and Bride are having a bridal luncheon the day of the wedding, arrange for an outing or event for the men (golf, or the like)
  • Toast the Groom at the wedding reception
  • Assist the newlyweds with transportation after the reception and/or to the airport for the honeymoon
  • Arrange for a gift to the couple from the groomsmen
  • Help ensure that rented tuxedos of the groomsmen are returned on time
  • Assist with transporting gifts from the wedding and reception to the couple's residence

Some have suggested that the Best Man is expected to provide comic relief at the wedding reception, or even the rehearsal dinner. The ability to dance or sing, while optional, may be an asset!

My personal observation is that the selection of a Best Man is usually based on the depth of the relationship with the Groom, regardless of his maturity or dependability. This may be because the responsibilities of this role are not usually as important to the success of the wedding! On the other hand, a Bride may shun her best friend or sister in favor of a woman that she believes will do a better job serving as the Maid of Honor. It depends on the individual engaged couple and their friends/family members!

Groomsmen practicing at the wedding rehearsal
Groomsmen practicing at the wedding rehearsal | Source

Responsibilities of Bridesmaids

So what do the rest of the bridesmaids do?

The maid of honor may have the most responsibilities, as well as a bit of the spotlight, but other bridesmaids have important supporting roles, as well. And, I'm not just talking about looking good and showing up for the parties!

Anything that the Bride may ask of the maid of honor, she may also request from the bridesmaids. Often, the tasks can be accomplished in groups of the entire female side of the bridal party, such as shopping for gowns, planning a shower and hosting the bachelorette party.

Bridesmaids can also be individually assigned the responsibilities of addressing wedding invitations and/or thank you notes for the married couple, assisting the Bride in tasting and selecting a wedding cake, creating "groomscake" for the wedding reception, and even helping to plan the menu for the reception.

Bridesmaids need to be available for dress fittings, bridal showers and other parties, the wedding rehearsal, wedding photographs, and the wedding day itself!

There can be many responsibilities of bridesmaids, more or less than the tasks set forth in this article. It varies depending on the size of the wedding/reception, the personalities of the Bride and Groom, and the individual persons selected as bridesmaids.

At the reception, the bridal party can usually relax a bit... after the toast!
At the reception, the bridal party can usually relax a bit... after the toast! | Source

Responsibilities of Groomsmen

Groomsmen generally back up the Best Man, as well as the Groom. The men you select to serve in the wedding party should be responsible and reliable throughout the engagement, the rehearsal and the ceremony/reception.

Not only are groomsmen expected to stand next to the Groom during the ceremony, but they may also act as ushers, helping to seat attendees, and pass out wedding programs. You should expect them to rent and timely return tuxedos or suits for the ceremony, attend the wedding rehearsal and the wedding itself, and be present for wedding photographs.

But, can the men you choose as groomsmen dance?

Groomsmen Dance to Thriller

The maid of honor may help with makeup before the ceremony
The maid of honor may help with makeup before the ceremony | Source

Choose a Wedding Party Based on Your Own Needs

No matter what advice books say, you should choose a wedding party based on your own personal needs, relationships and by following your heart. Surround yourself with the people that matter most to you on your special day, as you'll be creating lifelong memories.

Of course, you can minimize the stress associated with planning a wedding by including reliable persons that can meet the responsibilities you ask of them. Perhaps you wish to save feelings by asking your flightly, but lovable sister to be the Maid of Honor, while requesting your trustworthy friend from college to take on tasks otherwise expected of the role as a bridesmaid. A wedding may also be a time to extend an olive branch and forgive a family member by asking them to stand next to you during the ceremony, provided you keep expectations realistic.

Consider your own circumstances and trust your intuition when choosing a wedding party. And don't be afraid to change your mind before your big day, if necessary.

Maid of honor holding the bride's bouquet as well as her own
Maid of honor holding the bride's bouquet as well as her own | Source

What Factors are Most Important to You in Choosing People to Serve in the Bridal Party?

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How to Choose a Wedding Party


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    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Lenzy - congratulations to your daughter on her marriage! You are right that there are a lot of responsibilities associated with being in the bridal party. All the best, Steph

    • Lenzy profile image

      Lenzy 6 years ago from Arlington, Texas


      Most of the Hub was well done. The only part I didn't enjoy was the third YouTube video. The speaker used the word elaborated twice instead of elaborate. She also spoke about groomsmaids instead of groomsmen. In her profession, I would think she would have that down cold.

      Overall, the Hub was informative and the other two YouTube videos were great. My daughter was married a couple weeks ago and I know that the responsibilities of the bridal party are tremendous.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks SanneL - before the Bridesmaids movie even came out, I witnessed a fair amount of "bickering" between brides and their friends regarding what a maid of honor should and shouldn't do. My sister had a total princess of a bridesmaid too, who acted as if the ceremony was about her. She never got her dress fitted, then she got a boob job so that her dress didn't fit anymore. It is funny to look back on now, but then... not so much.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub - Best, Steph

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      Great hub! You have shared some very helpful advice on this topic! This hub is a must read for those who are getting married. Loved your photos as well!

      By the way - I enjoyed the bridesmaid movie too. I found the movie to be just hilarious.

      Voted up on this one!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks! I thought the movie Bridesmaids was hilarious, and definitely hope that any engaged couple - or bride - doesn't have to endure such embarrassment! :) Best to you, Steph

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Very comprehensive hub--the maid of honor does have a lot of responsibilities, so choosing an efficient one is important. Enjoyed the bridesmaid video and hopefully, no one has to relive the scenes found therein. Nicely done and rated up.