From the maid of honor to the ring bearer, here's how to select your big-day VIPs.
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The wedding planning process involves making many decisions: the venue, the dress, and the guest list, to name a few. But one of the trickier choices you'll have to make is deciding who will be in your wedding party. If you're having a hard time choosing everyone from your maid of honor to your ring bearer, we've got you covered. This guide will make the selection process easier by highlighting what to consider when thinking about each important member.
If you have too many people to choose from, start the selection process by first determining how large or small you want your group to be—the number of attendants is totally up to you. After you make that choice, choosing who you actually want to stand by your side on your wedding day should fall into place. To help you on your way, we've asked experts for their best tips. One piece of advice they all agree on? Think about the future. "Do think very hard about the people you see in your life in five, ten, twenty years," says Lindsay Sims of TOAST Events. "These should be the people standing with you."
Being part of a wedding party is also a large undertaking for those involved, so make sure you're thinking of asking only those who are up to the task. One way to do that, says planner Tara Guérard, is to consider who's been there for you during both challenging and happy moments of your life (both of which you'll experience during the planning process). Still not sure where to begin? The following guide outlines not only how to pick these VIP attendants, but also documents what they're responsible for. By the time you're finished, you'll have a clearer outlook on who you want standing with you at the altar.
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Traditionally, the bride invites the sister closest to her in age to be the maid or matron of honor, but these days she can ask any relative or friend—even a grandparent, parent, or adult child. A bride may also name a brother or close male friend to act as her man of honor. If she can't choose between two people, having more than one maid of honor is totally fine, says planner Jacin Fitzgerald, "as long as you've established their roles from the get-go so they're not walking over each other to make sure you are taken care of and stepping on each other's toes to see who's in charge," she says.
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What Are the Maid of Honor's Responsibilities?
As head bridesmaid, the maid of honor is in charge of delegating jobs and keeping the bridal party informed and organized. She will usually help the bride shop for her wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses, tell guests where the couple registered for gifts, and host the bridal shower and bachelorette party. On the wedding day, she'll tend to the bride's veil, train, and bustle, hold the bride's bouquet during the ceremony, and sign the marriage certificate as a witness. At the reception, she and the best man sometimes join the newlyweds for the first formal dance sequence and typically offers a toast.
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How to Choose Your Best Man
When choosing a best man, Fitzgerald says the process is the same as selecting a maid of honor: Think of who you you're closest to. "We're talking the deep kind of friendships, the kind that sees you at your best and worst and loves you all the same," she says. "Not the friends you enjoy going out with, but don't have more than a topical relationship with." She also recommends considering a best man candidate's personality, especially since you'll want someone who will help "keep you even-keel on this very emotional day."
Photography: Vicki Grafton Photography
The best man helps the groom select the men's tuxedos and makes sure the groomsmen get fitted. He may also act as the bachelor party planner. In addition, the best man makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony on time and calms his pre-wedding jitters. He stands at the groom's side during the ceremony, holds the bride's ring, and signs the marriage certificate. Afterwards, he hands out payments for the officiant (and for any other expenses that come up), offers the first toast, safeguards gift envelopes, and orchestrates a smooth departure for the newlyweds when the party is over.
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In addition to her family members and friends, the bride's entourage may include at least one of the groom's sisters. Older girls and young teenagers can also join the party as junior bridesmaids. "Most of our brides have chosen people from the different stages of their lives—childhood, college, work, and family," says Guérard. "This is not a hard guideline, just an idea of what we have seen in the past." Another thing to take into consideration? "Select the girls who jive as a group and are going to put all of their attention into making you feel cared for," says Sims.
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What Are Their Responsibilities?
The bridesmaids often help the maid of honor plan her shower and bachelorette party—they may also cohost these events. They attend prenuptial festivities and assist the bride or maid of honor with assorted tasks, such as securing hotel rooms for guests and keeping a gift log at the shower. Bridesmaids purchase the dress you have chosen, and have it fitted in time for the wedding. If they're wearing dresses of their choosing, they need to be aware of any style or color specifications you may have. At the ceremony, they, along with the groomsmen, precede the maid of honor during the procession.
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Much like choosing bridesmaids, you'll want to pick groomsmen that you're comfortable with. A brother (or brothers) of the bride makes a wonderful addition. Reliability is another factor to think about, according to Sims. "It is always key to have at least one responsible groomsman that the wedding planner can have access to in order to make sure the group is running on time," she says.
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Groomsmen might help host prenuptial celebrations—the bachelor party, in particular. They pay for their own formal attire. At the wedding, groomsmen often serve as ushers; if so, they need to arrive early to roll out the runner, distribute programs, and escort guests to their seats. They walk in the procession alongside the bridesmaids and stand next to the best man during the ceremony.
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How to Choose a Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
If you're close to any small children, you might want to include them in your wedding party. Keep in mind, however, that children can't be expected to behave like adults. Flower girls and ring bearers should generally be at least four years old and mature enough to handle their role in the ceremony. A very shy or fidgety child will probably not do well in the spotlight, so be sure to ask their parents whether they think their youngsters will be able to manage.
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The flower girl precedes the bride down the aisle carrying a basket of petals (which she scatters as she walks), a nosegay, or an alternate accessory of the brides' choosing. After the procession, her work is done, and she can be seated with her parents.
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What Does the Ring Bearer Do?
The ring bearer walks down the aisle ahead of the bride, sometimes accompanying the flower girl. He will carry the wedding rings (or decoys, if he's too little to be trusted with the real thing), which are typically tied to a small pillow. Once he hands the rings over to the best man, he can rejoin his parents.