Updated: Oct 30, 2018
When you envision your wedding day, you may see a few key people standing by your side through the ceremony. If you choose to have a wedding party, it should consist of family members and friends who will support you, not only through the wedding planning process and the day of, but also through your marriage.
Wedding parties are an honorary position. It is so important to choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen carefully. You are entrusting them with essential parts of the wedding planning process, not to mention the added financial and emotional expectations that come with the title. So what is fair to ask of your wedding party? And what should you expect from them before and on your wedding day?
Support and Encouragement
Your wedding party is your core group. These are the family members and close friends that you cannot picture your wedding day without. They will support you throughout the wedding planning process, and encourage you as you make a lifetime commitment.
Leading up to your wedding day, they will be there to offer words of encouragement, reminders of what the wedding day is truly about, and support as you navigate planning your wedding. On your wedding day, they will be getting ready with you, calming your nerves, making sure you have everything you need and are present in the moment.
Consider your wedding party as your sounding board. When you are going back and forth on decisions, choosing colors, décor, the general theme, or venue, your wedding party members can lend a listening ear to talk through your priorities. They can also provide perspective when you’ve gone down the 3am rabbit hole of Pinterest.
For the day of your wedding, you may choose to assign a point person (usually the maid of honor) to ensure people are not coming to you if there are any questions about bringing your wedding vision to life. The wedding party can act as a buffer for helping guests or family members with anything that comes up – after all, you should be focused on getting ready and enjoying each moment.
(This is also a great reason to hire a wedding coordinator; they can take over all vendor communications and coordination for the day of, and your bridal party can enjoy being by your side getting ready.)
Parties & Showers
This is the fun part - but it can also be the most expensive! It is often customary to have a bridal shower, as well as bachelor/ette parties.
While bachelor and bachelorette parties can be a fun excuse to get all your friends together and celebrate prior to the wedding, the pressure of having an all-out, expensive weekend has risen to levels that may not be comfortable or manageable for you or your friends.
At the end of the day, you know your friend group best. If flying out of town for a weekend and staying in a hotel is not only feasible, but encouraged by your wedding party, then by all means – go for it! But do not feel like you have to because that is what everyone else has done. Nowhere is it written that it’s a requirement. The entire wedding experience should be about what you want.
So if you do not want to have a bachelor/ette party, or if you are worried about the added financial burden for your family and friends, skip it! Or plan something local and inexpensive. The point of these parties is to spend time with your friends and family, and include them in the wedding planning festivities. For my “bachelorette party", I went out for a low-key night of burgers and drinks in Seattle with a few of my close friends. I didn’t want a big weekend or the added pressure of travel plans and expenses.
So do what is right for you! And if you and your fiancé want a second or third opinion, that is what your best man and maid of honor are there for.
Wedding day preparation needs will differ for every couple, and can range from DIY projects to last minute errands.
When planning your wedding, keep in communication with your bridal party and coordinate what projects they may be willing or even excited to help with. Keep a timeline of projects you can work on way ahead of time (like creating signage or customizing lawn games) and what projects will have to happen closer to the wedding day (like floral arrangements and shopping for day-of snacks).
Day of Responsibilities
Speaking of day-of snacks, your wedding party will have responsibilities the morning of your wedding. Ensuring you eat? Major. There is a lot going on that morning – from hair and makeup appointments to transportation to the wedding venue and getting dressed… Having someone responsible for keeping food stocked and accessible throughout the morning is key.
Depending on what type of set-up and take-down your venue requires, you may also need to assign tasks to your wedding party like setting up décor (or passing it off to your coordination team). Decide early on if you want your bridal party with you the entire morning leading up to the ceremony, or if you want to have fewer people around you and would rather delegate set-up tasks to the rest of your party.
Traditionally, your maid of honor and best man will also give a toast during your ceremony! From heartfelt to entertaining, this is a chance for the ones who know you best to share a bit more about you and your fiance with your wedding guests.
As most newlyweds leave before the very end of the wedding, it’s also important to know who is responsible for each part of the clean-up. From taking trash to its proper place, to ensuring all the décor makes its way out of the venue, discuss with your wedding party, families, vendors and venue to make sure it’s all covered! That way when you make your wedding night getaway, there’s nothing to worry about.
After the Wedding
While the specific wedding-related tasks and obligation end after the wedding day, your wedding party will continue to be a source of support and encouragement throughout your marriage. It’s why it is especially important to choose wisely when selecting your wedding party.
It’s also important to express gratitude. You can certainly surprise your wedding party with gifts on the day of your wedding, from personalized flasks for the groomsmen to jewelry for the bridesmaids. (Etsy has infinite suggestions, and don’t be afraid to branch out – you know your wedding party best) And a handwritten note expressing your gratitude goes a long way as well.
After all, the members of your wedding party devoted time, energy and money to supporting you through the wedding planning process. And they are the ones standing by you for your wedding day – and your marriage.