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Tools and Tips

Wedding Party Privileges and Responsibilities

by Emee Pumarega, CMP edited 11/27/2012

So, what are you supposed to do for your wedding party, and what are they supposed to do for you? It's important that you and they understand the privileges and responsibilities ahead of time, since many items involve expense and can turn into sticky situations later if communication isn't clear.

Let's start with the bridesmaids' responsibilities. The maid or matron of honor traditionally hosts the bridal shower. This does not necessarily mean having to host the shower at any venue the bride wants, with open bar, etc. etc. While the bride is welcome to give suggestions on venues, the person hosting the party has the final say, and it's perfectly normal to hold the shower at a home. A gracious bride will make preferences known and then leave the planning to the host.

Also, the maid of honor and bridesmaids together will traditionally plan the bachelorette party. In some communities, this expense is evenly split among the wedding party members. In other places, everyone pays just for what they order. In every case, the bride should not have to foot the bill. Check to see what is the custom in your area, as well as what the group's preferences are. It's also fine to have the bachelorette party thrown by a work friend or a close gal-pal who isn't in the wedding party.

All of the bridesmaids are responsible for their own wedding outfits, including alterations and shoes. A thoughtful bride will run several choices and budget options for bridesmaids' gowns past the wedding party before getting her heart set on something. And thoughtful bridesmaids will think through the true costs of participating a wedding before saying yes.

Consider that the average cost for an out-of-towner to participate in a wedding party, including airfare, hotel, attire, shoes, and alterations for one bridesmaid can be close to and even exceed $1,000. (Not including airfare for her partner or date!) This is even before any of the costs of hosting a shower, spa day, or bachelorette party are added in. If you have your heart set on a fantasy wedding party day, with your bridesmaids and yourself attending spa visits, getting updos, makeovers, and facials, be sure that bridemaids are financially up for what may be involved, or offer to host some or all of the "extracurricular" activities.

Most importantly, the bridesmaids should offer emotional support. Sometimes this can come in the form of something as simple as just keeping the drama to a minimum. Bridesmaids should not come to the bride with every little alteration problem, minor crisis, or breakout. The bride who is trying to alphabetize 300 escort cards will appreciate it! An even bigger star is the bridesmaid who offers to alphabetize the As through Ls.

In return for their generosity and hard work, the bride traditionally honors her bridesmaids by purchasing a gift for each of them, and by throwing a Bridal Luncheon. This can take place several months to a day before the wedding, is hosted by the bride, and often includes other women including moms, aunts, and other friends of the bride. But it is always held in honor of the bridesmaids for all of their hard work and to celebrate the friendship.

Now, on to the men. The best man's duty is to help the groom, carry the bride's ring, and the marriage license. He also gives the first toast at the wedding reception, and should dance with the bridesmaids. He might also take the bride and groom's luggage to their getaway car, as well as ensure that all of the tuxedos get returned. The best man is the point person for anything the groom may need during the weekend of the wedding.

The groomsmen often act as ushers and help to seat the guests before the ceremony. They also are usually assigned the task of escorting the bride's and groom's mothers, as well as any grandmothers, down the aisle as the final guests to be seated before the ceremony starts. At the reception, groomsmen should be on hand to mix and mingle with the bridesmaids and generally be social. They should also attend the bachelor party, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, as well as any other pre- or post-wedding events. The same consideration towards budget and finances should be taken by the groom with his attendants that the bride takes with hers. If there is to be a golf tournament, or a big bachelor bash in Las Vegas, make sure that the groomsmen know ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.

Just like the bridesmaids, the groomsmen are expected to handle their own attire, fittings, and be responsible for getting their measurements in to the formalwear shop in a timely manner. The best man and groomsmen are also expected to handle their own travel and lodging on their own, although a thoughtful groom will help to make arrangements in several budget brackets.

The groom is also expected to give gifts to his groomsmen. Some popular choices include Leatherman tools, engraved iPods, monogrammeed bowling shirts and other fun items that can be used every day and remind them of the honor of being in the wedding.

And that's what being in a wedding is wedding is all about -- the honor of being asked to participate in such a momentous occasion, as well as the honor of being surrounded by loving family and friends.

For more tips, please visit our blog The Portland Wedding Coordinator

"Thanks again for making our wedding such a wonderful and memorable experience. Everything went off without a hitch and the day was way beyond anything I could have imagined." - Brian Solomon, August 24, 2003
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