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Roles & Duties

Etiquette (noun) - A set of rules or customs which control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations. The simple rule to remember about wedding etiquette is never do or say anything that has even the slightest potential to offend.

Weddings are surrounded by tradition, many of which have been replaced or forgotten over time. This area of the website has been compiled to illustrate the expected protocol in certain situations, both traditionally and where applicable, the modern day alternatives.

The Bride

The Bride

Possibly the most important day in a woman's life is her wedding day. A day where, as the bride, she is rightfully the 'star of the show'. She is instrumental in the organisation of her day from start to finish. She would usually begin planning months in advance, even up to the day itself. She would be involved in decision making in virtually every part of the wedding planning, from the cake to the dress, the flowers, the date and type of ceremony - and much more! The ability to organise whilst not offending others is a useful skill during planning. Remember that the wedding is also a big day for both sets of parents. Parents will undoubtedly appreciate any consultation and their opinions may prove beneficial. Ultimately, the couple have the final say on decision making. The bride and the groom would also greet guests at the reception.

The Groom

Contrary to popular belief the groom's role in organising a wedding extends far beyond the acceptance of congratulatory drinks and deciding what to wear at the stag party. Firstly there is the small matter of an engagement ring to choose and buy. He has joint responsibility in the major decisions such as choice of wedding venue, photographer and reception. His contribution taking some of the pressure off his bride to be. Then there is the compiling of the guest list (with the help of his parents) for both the ceremony and the reception. When finalised, he would present both lists to the bride's mother. He also chooses the attire of the ushers.

On the day of the Wedding the groom and his best man should arrive at the wedding venue a good 20 minutes or so prior to the ceremony. Following the signing of the register he walks back up the aisle, with his new wife on his left, to begin the formal photographs. Then it's onto the reception where the bride and groom prepare to greet their guests as they arrive. The groom is expected to introduce his new bride to friends and relatives who have not previously met her. Following the bride's father's speech, the groom should thank the bride's parents for his 'new bride' - and all those involved in the organisation of the wedding. The speech should include a toast to the bridesmaids. After the speeches and the cutting of the cake, it's time for the first dance. Traditionally the groom would invite the bride's mother to dance, the bride's father would then take over, allowing the groom to dance with his bride.

The Best Man

A supporting role to the groom. A position of huge responsibility that should not be undertaken or indeed offered lightly. His duties include:

The arrangement of the Stag Party (this should not be the night before the wedding)
Ensuring a punctual and sober arrival of the groom at the wedding venue.
Issuing of Buttonholes.
Issuing of Orders of Service.
Organising the seating with the wedding venue.
Responsibility for the bringing of rings to the wedding venue.
Presenting rings to the clergyman when required.
Witnessing the signing of the register.
Organisation of the Ushers.
Payment of Church fees on behalf of the groom.
Escorting the chief bridesmaid down the aisle.
Organising the transport from the ceremony to the reception.
'Best man' speech at the reception.
Reading out any telegrams and messages.
Delivery of the going away outfits to the bride and groom at the reception.
Organising somewhere for the bride and groom to change prior to going away.
Ensuring the bride and groom's luggage leaves with them on their honeymoon.
Organising the collection of wedding presents.
Having first dance with the chief bridesmaid.
Ensuring guests' transport arrangements are organised.
'Breaking down barriers' among the guests to ensure the party moves into full swing.

The Bridesmaids

In much the same way as the best man's role to the groom, the Chief Bridesmaid (usually the bride's sister or best friend) has a supporting role to the bride - but one that will not involve making a speech. Her duties are assisting the bride in getting dressed before and after the ceremony. She holds the bridal bouquet during the ceremony and is responsible for the organisation of the other bridesmaids. She will be escorted from the church by the best man.

Responsibilities of the Chief Bridesmaid:

Assisting the bride in recording accepted and declined invitations.
Organising the Hen Night.
Helping the bride with her choice of wedding dress.
Meeting the bride at the entrance to the wedding venue.
Confirming final checks with florist, photographer, reception etc.
Witnessing the signing of the register.
Re-arranging the bridal dress, veil and train at the wedding venue when necessary.
Being on hand to assist with the requirements of the bride as and when they arise.
Making sure the bride is ready on the day.
Accompanying the bride to the hairdresser on the wedding day.
Ensuring the brides transport is on schedule.
Checking that the bride has packed everything for the honeymoon.
Organising the flowergirls and bridesmaids.
Carrying the brides bouquet to the alter.
Lifting the brides veil at the alter.
Assisting the best man introduce people to each other at the reception.
Keeping the remainder of the wedding cake until the couple return from their honeymoon.
Returning any hired clothing.

Responsibilities of Bridesmaid:

·Assist Chief Bridesmaid with her preparations.
· Follow the bride into the church.

The Ushers

The ushers main duties are:

Showing people to their seats at the ceremony.
Distributing orders of service.
Distributing buttonholes.
Distributing hymn books.
Assisting the best man in organising the photographs.
Assisting the best man with organisation of transport.
Generally looking after the guests.
Escorting the bride's mother to her seat.
Introducing guests to each other.

The Brides Parents

Traditionally, the bride's parents had the 'privilege' of paying for the majority of the wedding expenses. Although today the costs are likely to be distributed among both sets of parents and the couple themselves, there are still responsibilities the bride's parents maintain.

Discussing and agreeing the wedding planning with the groom's parents.
Hosting the engagement party
Assisting the bride with the guest list.
Assisting the bride in sending out the invitations.
Witnessing the signing of the register.
Acting as host and hostess at the reception.
Greeting the guests as they arrive at the reception.
Mixing with the guests.

Bride's Father:

Travels to church with his daughter.
Escorts his daughter down the aisle.
Gives his daughter away during the ceremony.
Witnesses the signing of the register.
Escorts the Groom's Mother from the ceremony.
Makes the first speech at the reception.
Raises a toast to the bride and groom.
Bids farewell to departing guests.
He is traditionally the last person to leave the reception.

The bride's mother has a vital role in supporting her daughter with all her preparations. She should listen and respect the brides wishes at every stage, even if these wishes do not match her own.

The Grooms Parents

There are no traditional roles for the groom's parents to carry out. In the past it was an accepted obligation of the brides parents to to meet all wedding expenses. Today however, it is not unusual for the groom's parents to make a considerable financial contribution. Therefore, it is good manners to consult the groom's parents and include them in as much of the planning as possible.

Congratulate the bride's parents on news of the engagement.
Welcome the future daughter-in-law into the family.
Organise a meeting where both sets of parents can discuss arrangements.
Agree the wedding plan with the bride's parents.
Inform the bride's mother of the number of guests from the groom's family.
Welcome the guests to the wedding.
Mingle with the guests.

The Pageboys & Flowergirls

Attend pre-wedding rehearsals.
Accompany each other down the aisle - following the bridesmaids.
Distribute rose petals or confetti to guests after ceremony.
Appear in wedding photos.

Flowergirls may walk in front of the bride scattering flower petals or confetti down the aisle. They may also carry posies which they give to guests as they during the procession.

Pageboys traditionally help carry the long bridal train. They may also carry the rings, on a cushion, to the altar.

The Guests

There is no doubt that the guests have the best deal when it comes to organising a wedding. They have no planning worries. However, they do have a number of simple responsibilities. They include:

Accepting (or declining) the invitation.
Buying a gift from the couples gift list.
Arriving punctually at the wedding venue.
If applicable ensuring children are kept under control.
Throwing confetti.
Not heckling the speeches at the reception.
Thanking the couple and the parents for their kind invitation.

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