Bridal Party: Everything You Need To Know

Jennifer Skulski

Published: Feb 19, 2021

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2021

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Whether you’re getting ready to select your bridal party or still trying to figure out what a bridal party is and does, this is the guide for you.

Let’s dive in and answer all the pressing questions you may have about your bridal party and wedding party.

What Is A Bridal Party?

bridal party

For starters, it might be best to know exactly what a bridal party is. 

The bridal party is the bride’s main support system leading up to her wedding day. They are the individuals the bride personally selects and asks to be a part of her big day. 

Typically, the bridal party is led by whomever the bride selects as her Maid of Honor. The rest in the group become bridesmaids. The bridal party consists of those closest to the bride and will ultimately take on important duties leading up to the wedding.

What’s The Origin Of A Bridal Party?

bridal party origin

There are many different stories as to how the tradition of having a wedding party came to be. Many of these stories stem from the idea of having a group to protect the bride and the couple during the ceremony.

Other origins involve the wedding party being seen as a social status of wealth as the more members one had, the more prominent the family was viewed.

In ancient times, the wedding party would dress exactly as the bride and groom in an attempt to confuse any vengeful spirits looking to sabotage the married couple.

Today, the idea of the wedding party protecting the newlyweds has evolved into taking on a more supportive and helpful role. 

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Does Your Bridal Party Have To Be Traditional?

traditional bridal party

Wedding ceremonies involve a culmination of long-standing traditions. Bridal parties are one piece of the wedding day tradition. 

However, be sure to keep in mind that your wedding planning is completely up to you and your partner. It should represent a special celebration of your two personalities. Don’t be afraid to throw away the rule book and evolve traditional aspects along the way to plan the perfect wedding for you as a couple!

How Do You Select Your Bridal Party?

bridal party selection

Traditionally, the bridal party is made up of all women. They are sisters, close friends, cousins, relatives, or soon to be sisters-in-law of the bride. 

With that being said, it’s now quite common for men to also be asked to join the bridal party as well. If you have a guy best friend that you’d love to have up there supporting you during your ceremony, then by all means include him in your bridal party as a bridesman.

At the end of the day, your bridal party represents those who will strengthen and support you during your wedding and throughout your journey in marriage. 

What Responsibilities Does The Bridal Party Have?

The Maid or Matron of Honor holds the highest position within the bridal party and thus takes on the highest degree of responsibilities. Her role includes helping the bride throughout the wedding planning process. 

The bride may choose to delegate a variety of different tasks to her maid of honor, from helping pick out the bridesmaid dresses to having her attend the wedding gown fittings. At the reception, the maid of honor delivers a speech to congratulate and celebrate the union of the happy couple. 

The maid of honor is also tasked with planning the bridal shower or the bachelorette party. While the maid of honor may be seen as the main coordinator of these events, the bridesmaids will also play a pivotal role in this process, helping out where necessary.

As for the responsibilities of the bridesmaids, they may be called upon by the bride to help support her throughout the wedding planning process. Your bridesmaids are there to help alleviate your stress during your planning and help with small tasks or to lend their opinions on dresses, decorations, wedding favors, and more. 

Bridal Party Vs. Wedding Party: What’s The Difference?

The bridal party represents the bride’s selection of her closest friends and family. The wedding party on the other hand represents all the selected members who play important roles during the ceremony.

Thus, the wedding party is the larger group which includes the maid of honor, the bridesmaids, the best man, the groomsmen, as well as the ring bearer and flower girl.

What Are The Roles Of The Wedding Party?

bridal party roles

While we already covered what the bridal party is responsible for, let’s talk about what the rest of the wedding party typically does. 

The Best Man, of course, is the male counterpart to the maid of honor and takes on similar responsibilities. He helps the groom leading up to the wedding day and also reads a special speech during the reception.

The groomsmen are the brothers, relatives, and close friends chosen by the groom to support him throughout the process and offer assistance to the best man in planning the bachelor party.

The ring bearer and flower girl are traditionally one of the youngest members of the two joining families between the ages of four and seven. The flower girl has the task of adorning the aisle with flowers prior to the bride’s entrance while the ring bearer has the job of walking the rings down the aisle and up to the altar. Typically, nieces, nephews, or children of your own are selected to fill these adorable roles.

When Should You Ask People To Be In Your Wedding Party?

There’s always a lot of excitement after getting engaged and making the announcement to your friends and family. While you don’t need to start planning your wedding the second your fiancé pops the question, it’s a good idea to start coordinating your plans within a few months.

Deciding upon your wedding party and guest list should be one of your first priorities when planning. You’ll want to give your wedding party plenty of notice that you want them to be a big part of your big day. 

If you’re planning on tying the knot within or around one year after your engagement, you’ll want to notify your crew a few months after you get engaged. If you’re planning on enjoying a longer engagement, try to ask your wedding party around eight months prior to the celebration.

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How Should You Ask People To Be In Your Wedding Party?

bridal party asks

Asking your wedding party to share in your celebration has become an important and creative part of the wedding planning process. This is your opportunity to let your bridal party know how important they are to you.

Oftentimes proposing to your bridal party can involve sending them flowers or gift baskets with fun, personalized favors that ask them to be your bridesmaids. These favors can also be a fun place to show off your personalized wedding hashtag or even a bachelorette hashtag.

How you propose to your bridesmaids is completely up to you, but it also leaves you plenty of room to be as creative, funny, or sentimental as you wish. Ask them with a sweet card, delicious baked goods, or perhaps a bottle of wine. The ideas are endless!

Who Should Pay For The Bridesmaid Dresses? 

bridal party dresses

While traditionally the bride is responsible for selecting which dresses she wants her bridesmaids to wear, the bridesmaids themselves are typically expected to cover their own costs and purchase their own accessories.

Depending upon one’s wedding budget, some couples decide to cover a partial cost of these outfits as a nice gesture of appreciation towards their wedding party.
It may also be beneficial to consider the financial situations of your bridal party prior to selecting their bridesmaid dresses. You wouldn’t want to force them to purchase and wear a dress you don’t think they’ll be able to afford.

What Is The Wedding Party Processional Order?

When the wedding ceremony begins, you may be wondering who walks down that aisle first. Your officiant and the groom typically enter at the sides and are the first at the altar. The wedding processional order then begins with groomsmen and bridesmaids pairing up and walking down the aisle in these pairs. 

If you’re worried about not having an even number of groomsmen and bridesmaids, fear not. You can end the procession with three walking down at once with a bridesmaid having two groomsmen or a groomsman escorting two bridesmaids. If your numbers are a bit more uneven, do a few pairings of three or even one person waking alone.

Next, the maid of honor and best man process down the aisle together. Now it’s the flower girl’s time to shine as she sprinkles flower petals along the aisle as the ring bearer follows close behind.

Now that your entire wedding party has made their entrances, the bride’s moment has arrived and all guests stand while she is escorted down the aisle, traditionally by her father figure. 

The night before your wedding day it’s traditional to have a wedding rehearsal to ease all worries about the order of ceremony. Your bridal party and wedding party are responsible for attending and within a half hour everyone will know exactly what to do and expect on the big day.

What Are The Do’s And Don’ts For Asking Your Bridal Party For Favors?

bridal party favors

Your bridal party should be your go-to group of friends and family whom you can rely upon throughout your wedding planning process. It’s fairly typical to ask your bridesmaids and maid of honor for some assistance in small, possibly time-consuming tasks along the way.

For instance, sealing and mailing wedding invitations or packaging wedding favors are small yet important tasks that your bridal party can help you complete. You can even invite a few people or the whole crew over for a fun social evening as you all work on these preparations.

However, don’t get carried away in what you ask your bridal party to do. They took on this role to support you, but most likely don’t want to plan the entire wedding for you. 

Having a group chat with them and asking for advice every now and then is a great use of your bridal party. Constantly asking them to run lengthy errands and do your wedding chores for you is not a great idea. 

Your bridal party can be a wonderful resource as you plan your big day. A good rule of thumb to follow when delegating tasks or asking for favors is to only do so for tasks you yourself wouldn’t mind doing. Make your bridesmaids feel included without overstepping the boundary.

Time To Pick Your Party!

Now that you have your answers to the bridal party questions you’ve been wondering about, it’s time to pick your crew and ask them to join you for your special day. These will be the close friends and family members right by your side as you say your vows, so choose wisely. 

As you and your fiancé begin to select the members of your wedding party, keep in mind the size of your guest list as a whole to plan proportionally. While all those you invite are there to support you during your nuptials, your bridal party and wedding party represent a core group you can rely upon throughout your planning process.

And remember, this day is for you and your partner. Opt to personalize your ceremony and wedding party in any way you see fit, and don’t be afraid to stray from tradition.

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