Bridal Party Breakdown - Who makes up a bridal party, what do they do and how do you pick?

After the proposal a lot of new brides-to-be will immediately start thinking about their wedding day and the people they want in their bridal party. There's the Maid of Honour, Bridesmaids, Junior Bridesmaids, Flower Girls... the list just goes on. But don't worry, our guide will help you understand what each role entails and will even highlight some things you need to consider before asking people to be part of your wedding.

Who is in the Bridal Party?

The Maid of Honour
Matron of Honour
Junior Bridesmaids
Flower Girls
Mother of the Bride
Father of the Bride

Bridal Party questions to ask yourself

Before you tell anyone that you want them in your bridal party it's important to take a moment to think about it properly. For instance:

  • Do you want a large bridal party or a small one?
  • Do you want it to include only family, only friends or both?
  • Is there anyone your family will expect to be in your bridal party?
  • Do you want that person in your bridal party?

Sounds intimidating but you need to take a moment to figure it out because, once you jump on the wedding train everyone and their dog will probably have opinions and suggestions, so it helps if you know your own mind before you speak to others.

This is especially important if you have a sister. There is a huge tradition that the sister of the bride is her maid of honour so you need to decide relatively quickly if you want this to be the case.

The reason you may need to prioritise this is because a miscommunication at the beginning of wedding planning could lead to larger-than-expected issues down the line. Your sister may feel as awkward about this as you do, especially if she already has a friend in mind that she would have as her own maid of honour. Our suggestion – be straight with your sister.

Make it about you and, while you don't want to be hurtful, make sure you are honest about the way you feel and who you want as your maid of honour. If you want your sister, don't worry about who she might want, prioritise yourself and ask her, letting her know there are no 'strings' attached to her own wedding. If you want someone else as your maid of honour, tell your sister who, briefly why and then perhaps be prepared with another bridal party role for your sister to soften things.

What does the Maid of Honour do?

The maid of honour is the bride’s right-hand woman. Other than the groom, this member of the wedding party will probably be relied on most by the bride, both for practical advice and help, as well as rounding up the bridesmaids and being an emotional rock.

The maid of honour also helps with all manner of tasks in the run-up to the wedding including addressing invites, helping chose bridesmaid dresses and of course the bachelorette party.

For your maid of honour it's important to pick someone you can depend on and will be able to put you first when it comes to decision making. Your maid of honour should have your back in the run-up to the wedding so it's important to choose that special lady that you know is always there, and on your side, when you need her.

What does the Matron of Honour do?

This lady is the bride's third in command and is usually a close family member or friend that is already married. The matron of honour doesn't have to corral the bridesmaids like the maid of honour, however she is in charge of the younger wedding attendants on the big day.

The matron of honour will also run errands for the bride and could even help address envelopes, especially if she is from the groom's side of the family! In addition to attending the bachelorette party and the rehearsal dinner, the matron of honour is also supposed to provide advice for the bride.

This position in the bridal party is an important one and something worth thinking about if you want to reach out to family members that are older than you, such as your aunty or the groom's sister. However it's important to remember that her duties involve organising children, so if she's really not good with kids then consider re-allocating those duties, or perhaps pick someone else.

What do the Bridesmaids do?

These lovely ladies, however many you have, don't have quite as many responsibilities as the maid of honour but will still have an important part to play in your wedding. Bridesmaids are basically the brides' errand girls and may be asked to help out in all manner of ways from picking up the boutonnières and bouquets to helping decorate the venue.

Of course these ladies are also tasked with helping the maid of honour plan and execute the bachelorette party too, so while there may be a lot of work, there can definitely also be a lot of play!

When it comes to your bridesmaids it's really worth thinking about which friends and family you want to honour in your wedding. Who do you really want walking down the aisle in front of you? A lot of brides will fall into the trap of asking people because they think they 'should', or asking people they expect to say 'no' but say 'yes', so it's important to consider who you want to plan the event and enjoy the morning of your wedding with.

What do the Junior Bridesmaids do?

Junior bridesmaids are often girls that are too old to be flower girls, too young to be bridesmaids (roughly between the ages of 8-13), but that the bride still wants to include in the wedding.

Due to their age the junior bridesmaids don't tend to have a lot of responsibilities. However, as they are older children they may hope/expect to be involved with some of the more fun aspects of being in the bridal party.

Now we're not suggesting you invite them to the bachelorette party, they're not known for being child-appropriate, however, it might be a nice idea to organise some sort of slumber party for you, them and maybe a couple of your (more child-friendly) bridesmaids so they feel involved in the fun aspect.

A lot of brides chose their junior bridesmaids from family members such as nieces, cousins or their own daughters. This role is more honorary but it's also a great way for you to involve the younger girls from you original or soon-to-be family in the wedding.

What do Flower Girls do?

Look adorable.

But seriously, these little ones don't have anything to do in preparation for the wedding and even on the day their responsibilities involve making it to the end of the aisle and might even stretch as far as scattering flowers, but that's it.

The role of a flower girl is similar to that of a junior bridesmaid – it's a great way for the bride to involve younger children from the groom's or her own side of the family in the wedding.

When you're thinking about flowers girls it's important to remember that they are, usually, younger children and can't always be relied on for immaculate behaviour. Will you be okay if the little one has a melt-down before the wedding because they're tired, hungry or uncomfortable? If not, then it might be best to leave this role out of your wedding party.

What does the Mother of the Bride do?

The mother of the bride probably doesn't get enough credit for the amount she does in preparation for the wedding. While the bride will rely on her maid of honour and bridesmaids for the general help it's the mother of the bride that will be involved in the real organisation (if you invite her to be!).

The mother of the bride will usually be there when the bride picks her wedding dress, will help with the guest list and sending out 'save the dates', she will help with the seating arrangement, chase up missing RSVPs, might help with the florist or caterer and maybe even the photographer.

How much your mother of the bride does really depends on you, but it'll be important to pay attention to her as she's got this role in your wedding party, whether she wants it or not!

What does the Father of the Bride do?

Pay – We joke.

The father of the bride paying for the wedding is a tradition that goes back for generations but some couples want to pay for their own wedding and it's no longer the rule-of-thumb that dad pays.

If you're expecting your dad to pay for the wedding we'd highly recommend sitting down with him to discuss matters because if he sees you as a modern woman he might be expecting you to pay for it yourself – the last thing you want to do is plan a wedding you simply can't afford!

That being said, the father of the bride is likely to help out with other aspects of the wedding such as compiling the guest list, organising the seating and helping the mother of the bride chase up RSVPs.

Of course the father of the bride has one main responsibility and that is to travel to the ceremony with the bride and escort her down the aisle.

This is bound to be an emotional time for the father of the bride and we think it's a good idea to make the most of of the quite moments you get with your dad on your wedding day, so maybe pack some tissues for the car!

For a more in-depth explanation of the responsibilities of the bridal party, check out our blog. Or if you're feeling sentimental take a peak at some of our personalised Wedding Party gifts that will show your loved ones just how much they mean to you.