Wedding Roles
Who does what – who pays for what.

Being asked to be a part of a bridal party should be accepted as a privilege and not just a requirement naturally expected from that of a close friend. It is a role that should be fulfilled to assist the bridal couple in their wedding plans as it is a ‘helping’ role and not just an honorary title.

A bride to be should always ensure she takes careful time in selecting her bridal party for this exact reason, as she is going to need help in planning her wedding. The people she surrounds herself with on this special day are going to be people she knows she can rely on; people who will be there for her when she needs them.

Many a bride has endured the excitable shopping trip for the bridesmaid’s outfits all happy and joyous, only to have the occasion end in tears and arguments, because the mix of personalities she has chosen just doesn’t work! I know of one bride whose wedding ceremony was ruined when one of her bridesmaids had a falling out with all the others over the style of their hair do’s. Instead of her enjoying her day the whole experience was spoilt by the brooding and bickering of her maids of “honour “.

So when selecting who you pick for your special group, remember these points.

1) Take time to consider who you want to ask. When first setting about your wedding plans not only are you in love, but you are also ‘in love’ with planning a wedding; it’s always fun and exciting to start with and that really is the way it should be. However, if you take the time to consider who you will ask and not excitedly go about asking your sisters or closest friends because you naturally think they are who you should ask, then you will save yourself regret later if you get the mix wrong because you acted impetuously.

2) Make sure those chosen are going to be somebody who you can rely on. This means that they will be able to be a part of the wedding plans, so expectedly they would live within close proximity of you. If you do ask a geographically distant someone to be a part of your wedding party, then it is unreasonable to expect them to be able to be a part of all of the plans; and certainly don’t be disappointed when they don’t commit to everything you ask of them.

3) Consider your partner with regards to your chosen party. This is not as silly as it sounds. Of course you are making your plans together but no doubt you will be thinking a lot more than you are verbalising and there could be a few things on your mind that are not on his. For e.g.: you may have a sister and four girlfriends that you really want with you at your side, but your partner may only have two mates he considers close enough to be with him. Don’t just assume he will be happy with your girlfriend’s partners filling up the numbers on his side. Another example is balance in numbers, the same no of Bridesmaids to Groomsman should be supported by equal flower girls and page boys, should you choose to use them. A modern trend in practice is that of uneven numbers of bridal parties. Despite the fact that it looks odd, consider the feelings of your party. They may say they are okay with it but they may not really enjoy standing alone in the photos and sitting alone at the bridal table. Another point to consider in this arena is the visual balance. Now as insensitive as this may sound, you need to be sensitive to how you select your party. Don’t go putting your fiancé’s six foot three mate with your 5’2” girlfriend; they will probably not share how uncomfortable they feel but no doubt someone at some point in the future will always make the comment of your bridal party photos of how they were out of balance. Consider age also, placing a young bridesmaid with a groomsman who is significantly older, when they don’t know each other, can also cause discomfort.

4) Break the ice. In dealing with all of these issues the main thing that you want to strive to achieve is for everybody to have fun on your wedding day. The best way to obtain this when handling your bridal party is in the duration of the lead up to your wedding. Have at least two to four casual occasions where you and your bridal party get together and have some pre wedding fun. It can be as casual as a barbeque to a night out for dinner or even some jet skiing. These opportunities will do wonders for your party in breaking the ice and allowing them to get to know each other. The result is on the day, they are more relaxed and have hopefully an established rapport with each other and can hold conversations on the day. Even if all of your bridal party already know each other, it would pay to still have these occasions and for the same reason. Where your bridal party are already friends then having a couple of casual get togethers, even if it’s only two it will allow for them to further enjoy the wedding process leading up to the day. You can use these times to just keep them up to date with where you are at with your plans ultimately making them feel valued and needed and in turn making your day ultimately fun.

So who is the bridal party and what role does everybody play and most importantly – who pays for what?

Over time these roles have somewhat changed. This list, although extensive, covers all the roles that can be played in a wedding, and who pays for what, based on current traditions.

Bride – Well honey that’s you, lol! Statistics show that you are a modern woman and are about on average 29 years old. Unlike your previous generation contemporary, you have brought more to your marriage than your previous generation’s predecessors. For example; you are no doubt employed, you have your own car, you are already in your own place (renting or buying) and you most likely even have your own super plan. You found your groom through modern life events, you dated for quite some time before you both discussed the prospect of getting married. About 75% of you then moved into together and started testing ‘married life’ before the decision of marriage was reached. Maybe you have even started your family together and even more possibly if that is the case, you have brought to your union the incredible value of a ready made family and that is what makes your union even more valuable. You are getting married in a wedding venue by a marriage celebrant (51%) and if you are getting married in a church, then you are first a Catholic (32%) and then an Anglican (18%). Either way, you are a modern bride and you know what you want and luckily for you, you have the power to attain it.

Most of you will be paying equally for your wedding with your partner. This is something that is naturally accepted. Depending on your circumstances an amount of assistance is maybe something you would like from your parents. Not to forget either that this is something also that only you would know, but they may also want to give some financial help in your planning.

Today the tradition is that it is not an expected requirement that your parents ‘must’ pay for your wedding, however, they may want to and the amount that is paid from parents to their children’s weddings is now an individual choice depending on the family dynamics.

You are organising the wedding mostly yourself but you will get help

Did you know: 60 to 70 years ago if you were getting married then statistics showed you were on average 23 years old. You no doubt still lived at home and if you had moved out of home then you were then living in the city (If you were ethnic then your marriage was more than likely pre-arranged) and your wedding was a small affair paid for by your parents. You were married in the church by a reverend or a priest. After the ceremony you probably had a reception of high tea in your parent’s garden. If you were wealthy then a hotel reception was planned however this was not common. Your honeymoon was a night in a motel at the beach or if you were lucky, then you went away for the weekend; Frankston or Ulladulla were the luxury destinations. If you’re marriage didn’t produce children in the first year your family worried that you were barren and you certainly you didn’t work anymore once you were married, regardless of children.

Groom – That’s your fiancé, no doubt. Statistics show he is typically 31 years old. He is working and owns his own car and is likely to already be buying a house, if not then he has the money saved for one. He fell in love with you because he chose to, nothing forced or prearranged here. He got to know you well before he made his move as previously he had been having ‘fun’ with his past flames, but when you came along something extra special got his attention and things changed. He took his time on creating his relationship with you. This was because he wanted it to work for the long term so was being extra careful not to repeat any previous mistakes; as it’s more than likely another significant other existed to some extent before you. As you are both working, you are both busy and share a strong and healthy social life together. Therefore it is natural that being both financially stable he would also expect to contribute equally to this special day. His parents will also want to contribute, even though it’s more than likely his father’s parents didn’t contribute to his father wedding, today it will be more than likely that his parents want to contribute but it will be a smaller amount than what your parents will be expected to assist with.

Chief Bridesmaid – Maid/Matron of Honour - If she is not your sister then usually she is your best friend. As it is not just her role to stand along side you and look pretty, she should be fully aware of this and not have you pushing her to do her bit. But in case she isn’t aware of what is expected –here is some help.

This role is a working one and the most important part is her being there for the bride. She should involve herself with her wedding arrangements and show enthusiasm. The bride will experience some testing times in the months ahead so be prepared to get busy and again, be available for the bride. It is the chief bridesmaids’ responsibility to organise firstly the bridal shower/kitchen tea. In this however it is also the bridesmaids’ responsibility to pay for it. If you throw the party you can work with the bride on which location would be best to hold it so that it is easily accessible to the ladies invited. A neutral place like the brides’ parents homes usually works and here well but if you are happy to host it at your house that is also acceptable. If it is in your home have the bridesmaids assist you in doing the catering. Keep it a casual affair as it is not intended to be formal. These parts of the wedding procedures are always very informal and relaxed occasion. You may even choose to play some fun games and girls today have managed with their bridesmaids to make it even less expensive by hosting a catalogue party from a household supplier of goods, where the gifts chosen from the day are the gifts given to the bride for her kitchen tea/bridal shower. Guests usually include the brides’ female family members including aunties and grandmothers. The grooms mother and female family members are also invited as it provides an opportunity for them to share time with the bride in a relaxed setting usually for the first time. The bride may also want invited her extended friendship circle and numbers usually reflect closely those who are on the wedding invitation list. It is considered rude to ask people to the kitchen tea, who are not invited to the wedding.

The Hen’s night is the where just the brides close girl friends get to go out and have a bit of naughty fun. It’s again the chief bridesmaid’s role to organise this, however, it’s worked in equally with the bride and costs are all paid for individually.

The expenses of a wedding, with regards to the bridal party, is always a touchy one. It is traditionally expected that each bridesmaid should pay for her own outfit, hair, makeup, shoes and jewellery as it is considered an honour for her to be a part of the wedding. In return the bride should ensure a gift reflecting the involvement incurred by the bridesmaid, is honourably provided. The bridesmaid should still provide a wedding gift to the wedding couple on the day as well.

In the wedding ceremony the chief bridesmaid is partnered with the best man. The following party is equalled again. As we mentioned earlier, keep in mind your visual balance with height and age, etc. Keep in mind that the chief bridesmaid also gets to sign off on the marriage certificate so must be over the age of 18.

Best Man – It’s not a hard ask and most men have no problem at all deciding on who will fill this role. Whether it be your brother or your best mate the best man also has an important role to fill so when choosing your guy, before asking just ensure that he will be able to help you in the following roles.

The stag night or bucks party is where most best men will think their responsibility begins and ends; and yes it is up to them to organise it. These days however you can work in closely with the groom in ensuring that the party you organise is one that all the guys will enjoy. Make sure that the stag night is an enjoyable one but not a regrettable one. Help the groom in organising the fittings for the outfits and getting all the guys together for this. Be there with him at all times if he needs you in the planning of the wedding. Carry the wedding rings on the day – and don’t lose them. Give the first toast at the wedding reception. Pay for your own expenses and don’t forget to buy a gift. In return a thank you gift should be provided for your best man so make sure you give them one.

The Bridesmaids – Firstly, be thankful that you were asked. Secondly, work co-operatively with your bride, if you don’t like something then focus on making sure that you express this with maturity. It is your role as a bridesmaid to be available for the times that you are needed for fittings and hair trials so when accepting this role, make sure that you are not planning an overseas trip during the process. During the lead up attend the required planning events and be there for the bride at her kitchen tea and her hen’s night. On the day be a source of fun and support during the hours leading up to her walk down the isle. At the ceremony help her with her gown and always check that if she has a long train it is not dragging along behind her in a mess. It is your job to ensure she is well attended to. Move forward to hold her bouquet if you see she needs it, Help her with her veil if it is blowing around. At the reception mingle with the guests and don’t sit up on the bridal table ignoring everybody. If you don’t like what is expected of you then think again before you accept the role. Each bridesmaid is expected to pay her own way and also to buy the couple a wedding gift also.

The Groomsman – Another fun role that helps the groom enjoy the day more as he has those who mean the most to him stand up along side him. Not a role with a lot of duties but with responsibility all the same. Most importantly ensure as a groomsman that again it will be one that the person you choose you can rely on. A groomsman needs to be there for all fittings and if the groom requires any assistance at any time in the wedding plans then the groomsman should be there if he is called upon.
With costs it is expected also that each groomsman pays for their own individual expenses and you are still expected to give a wedding gift to the bridal party so don’t be tight and skimp out when you think no one is watching!

Father of the bride – Other than the important role of giving your daughter away, the role of the father of the bride is limited in responsibility but endless in supportability. Today’s modern times see this role being filled by the significant male figure in a brides life if the father is unavailable maybe her step father, her brother or even her mother may be given the honour of walking the bride down the aisle. With the ceremony itself, if it is a religious one, the likelihood will be that you will be asked to vocalise that it is you giving this woman to this man to marry. However with churches evermore following the lead of celebrants by allowing them flexibility with their vows this is a focus that can be manipulated to some extent to reflect the circumstances of the individual bride.

The usher - Taking on the role of this honorary title is not a difficult one. Other than being available at the time of the fittings for the outfits it is only required that you be at the church early before any of the guests arrive. You must see to it that guests are provided programmes and if seating arrangements are in place then it is your job to have the guests ushered to their correct seats. You are expected to pay for your own way and don’t forget to buy a gift for the wedding couple. In return you will be given a memento of your own in appreciation for your help.