The Wedding Party
I have witnessed awesome wedding parties or support teams that have enhanced a wedding day with their hard work, attention to detail and genuine friendship…and I have seen, unfortunately, lots of challenges that would make your hair curl and, at those times, it upset the couple usually very close to, or on their wedding day. Your wedding party can make or break your joy bubble.
Ideally, you want to choose friends that are reasonably organized, dependable and have a sense of humour. Your wedding party are there to assist you to relax and enjoy the day! You, in return, need to communicate clearly, be able to listen, delegate and trust your team.
Providing a detailed list of tasks that needs to be done and checking in on who would be happy to do what is likely to be the best approach. Make clear requests, that can be answered with a no, if necessary. If you don’t want to hear a no, then it really is a demand. I wouldn’t recommend that approach in any situation.
Let’s look now look at some of the possible tasks. Remember, this is just a guideline. Some of the tasks listed here may be handled by just the two of you or your wedding coordinator, MC or a trusted family member or friend.
The best man, best woman, bridesmaids or bride’s men or whatever name you choose!
Before the Wedding:
- Go shopping for clothes or arrange the hire or purchase outfits (including shoes). Attend fittings.
- Attend pre wedding meetings at the venue or other selected service providers
- Confirm the checklist and time schedule for the wedding plans and the day of the ceremony
- Assist with the delegation of tasks and ensure people know what they are doing and when.
- Arrange the pre wedding party or get togethers (this is better done weeks or months in advance). Make it a party that everyone will really enjoy and remember for all the right reasons.
- Attend the ceremony rehearsal. Understand the choreography of the wedding and know what your part is and how best you can support the couple. Consider who will hold the bouquet, who are the witnesses. The celebrant or wedding coordinator will usually host the rehearsal and guide everyone as to what to do, where to stand and when!
- Be attentive and enjoy the planning! Be a sounding board for your friends offering guidance and support through what can be an emotional minefield. Encourage the couple to have times of ‘non wedding’ social activities in the build up to the wedding day.
- Organise a treat for a time close to the wedding … a massage, facial, a game of golf, a special dinner with the wedding party or an afternoon tea at a favourite café.
- Make sure the couple has all their travel documents and clothes ready for the honeymoon.
On the Day:
- Safely store the luggage for the honeymoon or arrange for its delivery to the honeymoon venue.
- Make sure you understand the time schedule and support the couple to arrive on time. It is no longer fashionable to arrive late at a wedding ceremony for many reasons – consideration of the guests, the schedule of the photographer and reception venue, the other commitments of the celebrant – some celebrants have a clause in their contract about how long they will wait and extra fees may apply and/or some may leave if they have another wedding to go to. Allow more time than you think is necessary and this will ensure that you are relaxed rather than running late and stressed.
- Have a fully charged mobile phone and the contact details for the celebrant, wedding venue or coordinator, chauffeur, parents of the couple, musician, photographer etc.
- Order a platter, lunch or some snack food to eat before the ceremony. With all the excitement and things to do this can get easily overlooked. Make time for having food when planning your schedule for the day. Even if it is a breakfast wedding, have a small snack beforehand and ensure everyone is well hydrated keeping alcohol consumption is kept to a minimum. If the either of the couple to be married arrives drunk the celebrant is legally within their right to refuse to conduct the ceremony.
Sam and his brother, Mike, arranged for a simple lunch at a local café with their widowed father on the day of Sam’s wedding. Even though it was short, it was a special time for the three of them.
- Check and distribute the bouquets, buttonholes and/or corsages and ensure they are all in the right place at the right time. Understand how the buttonholes or corsages are attached to the clothing. If you don’t know, ask. Experienced celebrants are usually pretty good at this!
- When getting ready, allow some space for parents to have time with their son or daughter, if needed.
- Greet the ushers and make sure they are organised. Ensure they have the order of service booklets or other items to be handed to guests. (
TIP: For all extra wedding ceremony props – like the music player and CD’s, iPod, candles, special signing pen, delegate the bringing of these items to another reliable friend or family member rather than one of the intimate wedding party.
- Make any final payments on the day (to photographers or DJ’s etc) although this is better done beforehand.
- Greet and welcome guests offering introductions where necessary. This is also important after the ceremony and before the reception. Rather than guess a relationship… Are you the bride’s grandmother? Only, to find out she is the bride’s mother and stir some anxiety, ask, ‘How are you related to the couple?’
- Look after the rings and bring them to the ceremony. Hand them over in the right order and at the right time with due respect. Or, if there is a designated ring bearer check they have the rings.
- For the recessional (walking out of the ceremony) you may be partnered to walk down the aisle with another member of the bridal party.
- Help the photographer to gather guests for photos.
- Touch up make up for one or both of the couple.
- Before you leave the ceremony area make sure all guests are able to get to the reception venue (or if the wedding party is leaving before everyone else (i.e. for photographs) delegate this task to a trusted friend or family member).
- Ensure things happen on time. For example, if the wedding party are leaving for photographs offsite encourage them to leave the wedding venue and return to the reception venue on time. Usually the MC is responsible for the timing once the reception starts. If there is no MC then managing the reception schedule is also an important duty.
- Make sure the wedding cake is assembled and looking gorgeous!
- Announce the entrance of the married couple into the reception venue (this can be delegated to the MC or a parent)
- Make sure the wedding presents brought to the venue have a safe place to be stored.
- Introduce the speeches (if there is no MC) and then make a short speech (usually after any parents who are speaking). Respond to the speeches as required and read any emails.
- Relax and enjoy the evening… with only one more task later before the night is out.
- Make sure the car is ready for when the couple leave the reception and announce their departure to the guests…and say farewell.
After the Wedding:
- Return the hire clothing if necessary.
- Make sure the wedding gifts are stored safely for the couple.
- Assist with any follow up tasks if necessary.
Be sure to thank your wedding party for their love and support. Name specific tasks or ways that they offered their time, skills and friendship that helped you to feel supported, loved and cared for.