The Polite and the Realistic: Attendant Duties

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Your wedding is a big deal to you (plural) and it may also be a reason to celebrate for your dearest friends and relatives. Some of whom you may determine should be part of your bridal party, not just the celebration. It is important that you are clear about what the attendants’ financial and personal responsibilities are so that you can also inform your prospects before they accept the job. 

Financially, the attendants (male and female) pay for their wedding attire, arrange and pay for their own transportation (the wedding host should provide accommodations – says Emily Post), and either contribute to a group gift or give an individual wedding gift to the couple.

Attendants also have to be available for acquiring proper attire (fitting for tuxes and gowns), attend all pre-wedding events including the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner when feasible, and other duties as assigned as outlined below by the Maven of Manners– Emily Post. The italicized commentary is a more modern version of the traditional expectations.

Maid or Matron of Honor

  • John and Sami Wedding-69*Help the bride select the bridesmaids’ attire.
    • -Go shopping with the gang and support the bride in her decision of the expensive ugly dress
    • -Go shopping with the bride and entourage for her dress. Enthusiastically support her choice of gown. 
  • *Organize the bridesmaids’ gift to the bride.
    • -Suggest a gift, ask everyone to chip in, pay for the balance
  • *Make sure bridesmaids have their attire.
    • -Herd the maids to their fittings, schedule pickup with the promise of food or drink
  • *Holds the groom’s wedding ring and the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony.
    • -Check before you get to the altar that you have the ring. Try to stand still.
    • -Arrange the bride’s veil and train, all   day   long. 
  • *Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate.
    • -Without your signature, they’re not really married…just kidding.
  • *Stand in the receiving line, if there is one.
    • -Graciously smile and greet all guests, make no comment about homely dress, aching feet
  • *Help the bride during the reception (gathering guests for the cake cutting, dancing, and the bouquet toss)
    • -Hold the bride’s dress while she pees; carry her emergency kit (safety pins, lipstick, toiletries, flask…)
  • *Helps the bride change into her going-away clothes, and take care of the bride’s wedding dress and accessories after the reception.
    • -Ensure that the bride and groom have a designated driver and a destination
    • -If she didn’t leave in her dress, be sure to collect it and transport it safely 

Nice, but optional

  • *Help address invitations and place cards.
    • -Hire a calligrapher or expect to give up many evenings getting writer’s cramp
  • *Assists in hosting or organizing a pre-wedding party, if the bridesmaids decide to have one
    • -Concede to the bride’s demands of having a surprise bachelorette party


  • Daniel and Blair Wedding-109*Attend the bridesmaids’ luncheon, if there is one.
    • -There will be at least one, be punctual, try to stay sober, and smile 
  • *Supervise flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) if asked.
    • -Play ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS to see who has to wrangle the kids.
  • *Assist the bride at the reception as requested.
    • -Dance with the lonesome cousins, fawn over the grandparents, show up for photos 
  • *Participate in activities such as a receiving line and a bouquet toss.
    • -Smile and nod in the receiving line, enthusiastically wrestle for the bouquet
  • *Contribute to the bridesmaids’ gift to the bride.
    • -Even if it wasn’t your idea of the perfect gift, be sure to contribute

Nice, but optional

  • *Host a shower, bridesmaids’ luncheon, bachelorette, or other pre-wedding party or get-together.
    • -Friends host the shower, anyone can do the team luncheon, talk to the MOH about the bachelorette party. 

As for the guys, they get off pretty easy. Show up, dress up, and party. The Best Man must get the groom (with the ring) to the altar on time and sober and make a toast that is not too racy, sappy or long. Groomsmen support the Best Man, dance with all the single women regardless of age or hotness factor, and return the tuxes on time. But just in case – here’s the longer more detailed version courtesy of E. Post.

Best Man

  • Waggter and Jonai Wedding-76*Coordinates the groomsmen and ushers’ gift to the groom.
  • *Organizes the bachelor party for the groom, if there is one.
  • *Makes sure that the groom’s wedding-related payments are prepared; delivers prearranged payments to officiants, assistants, musicians, and singers at the ceremony.
  • *Sees that the groomsmen and ushers arrive on time and are properly attired.
  • *Instructs the ushers in the correct seating of guests.
  • *Keeps the bride’s wedding ring during the ceremony.
  • *Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate.
  • *Drives the bride and groom to the reception if there’s no hired driver; has the car ready for the couple to leave after the reception and may drive them to their next destination.
  • *Offers a toast to the bride and groom at the reception; dances with the bride, the mothers, the maid of honor, and other single female guests.
  • *Gathers and takes care of the groom’s wedding clothes (returning rental items on the next business day).

Groomsmen and Ushers

  • Chris and Lynley Wedding-270*Attend the bachelor party, if there is one.
  • *Contribute to the ushers’ gift to the groom.
  • *Lay the aisle runner, if one is used, before the processional.
  • *Greet guests and escort them to their seats.
  • *Know the seating order; review special seating arrangements prior to the ceremony.
  • *Hand each guest a program, if programs are provided.
  • *Remove pew ribbons, close windows, re-roll the aisle runner, and retrieve any programs or articles left behind after the ceremony.
  • *Help guests who need directions to the reception site.
  • *Be on hand to assist any guests who are infirm or disabled.
  • *Dance with the bride, the mothers, the bridesmaids, and other single female guests.
  • *Coordinate the return of rental clothing with the head usher or best man.

Now that you know what is expected, be sure you ask people who will be willing and able to rise to the occasion. Your bridal party candidates will be better prepared to accept or decline the invitation to participate as more than a guest if they have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and obligations.


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