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Wedding Roles: Who Does What at a Wedding?

From bridesmaid duties and best man tasks, to mother of the groom jobs and usher roles - here's everything you need to know about wedding roles

A bride and groom with a number of different wedding roles including a flower girl, bridesmaids, groomsmen and ushers

One of the most important tasks on your wedding planning checklist is assigning your wedding roles. But you can't begin to do that until you know exactly what roles at a wedding consist of. 

Some roles in a wedding are instantly granted - the father of the bride or mother of the groom, for example. But for other wedding people such as your bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, ring bearer and more, the choice of who you assign these wedding roles to is completely down to you.

What is the role of a groomsmen at a wedding? What does a bridesmaid have to do on the day? Can your ring bearer be your dog? We get it, you have questions. Many of you won't have done this before. But luckily for you, we have everything you need to know about wedding roles, including a wedding roles list to ensure you don't leave any duty left unassigned.

From the best man duties and flower girl roles, to the mother of the bride tasks and understanding what roles there are in a wedding, we've got you completely covered. 

Wedding Roles Explained: Who Does What at a Wedding?

Before you dive into the world of wedding roles, responsibilities and duties (we promise, they are more fun than they sound!), we want to remind you that no wedding role or tradition is compulsory. Here at Hitched HQ, we are strong believers that every wedding is unique and should reflect your relationship and your vision. 

If a flower boy and a mate of honour work better for you than the traditional roles, or there isn't a mother of the bride in the picture, you can absolutely do things your way instead. There are plenty of alternatives, but this article will give you a concise overview of what the different roles at a wedding are, and traditionally, what they entail. 

What Are the Different Roles at a Wedding? 

Though we always welcome breaking traditions and doing things differently at your wedding, here we have a list of the different roles which are most commonly found at weddings. Whilst these are the most common roles at weddings, if they don't work for you, you can always mix things up to have bridesmates, men of honour or even a best woman - the choice is completely up to you. 

Traditionally, on a bride's side, you will have a maid of honour, bridesmaids - the number is up to you, but between two and four is most common - and a mother and/or father of the bride.

On a groom's side, you can expect to find a best man, ushers, groomsmen (sometimes given the same roles as ushers - but we'll go into that later) and the mother and/or father of the groom.

As part of the wider wedding party, you would traditionally have younger guests assigned as flower girls, page boys and a ring bearer. In more recent years, ring bearers have taken on a slightly different look, with many couples opting to have their dog at the wedding to bring the rings! 

Now we've gone through the full list of wedding roles in the UK, it's time to take a closer look at what each of these jobs entail.

READ MORE: Gender Neutral Wedding Roles You Can Have Instead

Best Man Wedding Roles

A groom with his best man laughing at something funny that's been said witha  group of other men

The role of the best man is to be there to support the groom on the big day and during the wedding planning process. If the groom wants some extra advice when it comes to buying that summer wedding suit, choosing an on-the-day wedding gift or writing his killer groom's speech, then the best man is by his side to help.

Of course, they typically plan the stag do as well as taking on another important best man role, making a hilarious best man speech. Check out our more detailed and in-depth overview of best man roles and duties here

Usher Wedding Roles

The ushers are usually close friends or relatives of the groom and their main role is to help the wedding day run smoothly. Usher roles involve helping to seat guests at both the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, distribute the order of service and point people in the right direction throughout the day.

As part of their role as ushers, they may also help the best man with planning the stag do and can be the perfect sounding board for when the best man wants to run through his speech. The ushers' roles in a wedding often mirror what the bridesmaids do for the bride. They are the groom's wedding people - the ones who give that general helping hand throughout the day. 

Take a look at our guide to usher duties for a much more detailed overview of what you can expect by undertaking this important job. 

Groomsmen Wedding Roles

Three ushers sat with the groom who is wearing a traditional indian wedding outfit, the others are in grey and black wedding suits

Seeing as we've already discussed the roles of the best man and ushers, you're probably wondering, what is the role of a groomsmen at a wedding? 

The terms groomsmen and ushers are often used interchangeably, but traditionally, they actually cover two different roles. The groomsmen are the guys who stand by the groom at the altar on the wedding day, along with the best man. These are usually people who are closer to you than your ushers, maybe siblings or really close friends. 

In a traditional wedding party, you may expect to see two groomsmen standing alongside the best man, and a handful of ushers, taking the total of the groom's wedding people to around five - though, there are no strict rules, you can have as many as you want!

One reason why the terms groomsmen and ushers are so often used interchangeably is because many couples choose to double up this role. They have groomsmen who take on the role of ushers, seating guests and showing them to their tables, as well as then standing by the groom's side during the ceremony. 

Maid of Honour Wedding Roles

The maid of honour role is a special one, often viewed as the equivalent of a groom's best man. This is often the bride's closest confident, sometimes a sister or a lifelong best friend. Their main role is to offer support to the bride both in the lead-up to the wedding and on the wedding day itself.

Whether that’s being an emotional support when wedding insecurities take over, helping to choose bridesmaid dresses or the all-important wedding dress shopping, the maid of honour is the bride’s rock during her wedding planning. They are also the last adult members of the wedding party to walk down the aisle ahead of the bride and whoever is giving her away. 

Traditionally, the maid of honour also takes the lead when it comes to planning the hen party because they know the bride best, and will often be their most trusted friend or family member. 

Maid of honour speeches aren't traditional, but that doesn't mean you can't have them make one. Hitched Editor Zoe Burke was a maid of honour at her sister's wedding where she gave one of the main speeches. She even wrote a guide to giving a maid of honour speech for anyone with the same idea. If you fancy breaking traditions too, you can read her speech here for inspiration. 

For a more detailed overview of maid of honour roles and duties, check out our guide here.

Bridesmaid Wedding Roles

A bride standing with her bridesmaids, all wearing neutral, pink and red mismatch bridesmaid dresses in a bohemian style

Traditionally, it was the bridesmaid’s role to walk down the aisle looking beautiful. This would confuse evil spirits so they didn’t curse the bride. Luckily, nowadays bridesmaids have a much more fun role, with no witchcraft involved at all!

The main role for the bridesmaids is to support the bride, along with the maid of honour. As well as supporting the bride during wedding planning, offering advice on the wedding and helping to plan the hen party, the bridesmaids are also there to act as a support for the maid of honour too. 

Wedding roles the maid of honour has been given are often things that the bridesmaids can help with. This could be anything from putting together DIY wedding invitations, to giving advice on the wedding dress itself or even ensuring that things run smoothly on the day.

There are lots of other jobs which can be allocated to the bridesmaids such as keeping an eye on certain guests, aiding the ushers in helping people to their seats at the breakfast or collecting family members for the official wedding photographs. For a full overview of what the job entails, take a look at our guide to bridesmaid roles and duties

Mother of the Bride Wedding Roles

The mother of the bride role is an important one, but for some brides, this role is taken on by someone who isn't their mother. An auntie or close family friend may take these duties on if the bride's mother isn't around, or isn't involved in the wedding, however the roles can still stay the same.

Many brides lean on their mum or a close female family member for emotional support in the run up to the day, asking them for help with wedding dress shopping and advice. On the day of the wedding, the mother of the bride will help the bride get ready in the morning and be there until she is just about to walk down the aisle.

She will join the bride, maid of honour and bridesmaids as they spend the morning together getting ready for the big day. Traditionally, the mother of the bride also accompanies the bride wedding dress shopping and most will choose a special mother of the bride outfit for the big day. 

The mother of the bride speech isn't traditional, but if the bride is closer to her mother than her father, or there isn't someone else in the picture, the bride may want her mother to say some words on behalf of her side of the family. 

You can read a more detailed explanation of mother of the bride duties here as there are a few on-the-day tasks you'll want to note down. 

Father of the Bride Wedding Roles

a father walking his daughter, the bride, down the aisle in an old style chapel

Similarly to the mother of the bride, when it comes to the father of the bride wedding jobs, this can be undertaken by a step-father, a sibling or a close family relative if the father isn't with you any more or isn't involved in the wedding itself. 

Traditionally, the father of the bride role is one of the most important parent roles on the day - it has the most 'official' on-the-day wedding jobs of all the wedding roles. But not in a daunting way!

Your first act as father of the bride is the big reveal - traditionally you are the first male member of the wedding party to see the bride in her wedding dress ahead of walking her down the aisle - another very important job on the day. 

Following the reveal and walking your daughter down the aisle, you also have the job of delivering a great father of the bride speech. The father of the bride speech, along with the groom's speech, is one of the most traditional ones on the order of speeches list.

Finally, the last traditional wedding job for the father of the bride is the father daughter dance. Some couples choose to skip this tradition - it doesn't hold as much significance for some brides as it does for others - but as we've said before, you choose which traditional wedding people and wedding roles you embrace. You may even want a mother daughter dance, or one with your besties. 

Before you decide what's staying and what isn't, find out everything you need to know about father of the bride duties here. 

Mother of the Groom Wedding Roles

A mother of the groom putting on her son's button hole attached to his rustic wedding suit

The mother of the groom role is just as exciting and important as the mother of the bride. Being the mother of the groom means lots of attention will be on you; you may be hosting the reception, making an effort to mingle with the guests and making sure everyone feels welcome.

In traditional wedding setups, the groom's wedding people are at the venue before the brides which means that as parents of the groom, you can help the ushers to greet people and act as host while you wait for the ceremony to begin.

Many couples like to involve both sets of parents in wedding planning - gone are the days where it's just the bride and her family, which means you will probably play quite a big role in wedding planning. If you are mother of a groom in a wedding with two grooms, the roles traditionally upheld by the mother of the bride will be shared out. 

Find your perfect mother of the groom outfit here, and read up on a detailed overview of what mother of the groom duties really entail. 

Father of the Groom Wedding Roles

The father of the groom role is another really special one. Not only will you be there as emotional support to the couple in the run up to the big day, but you will also want to help the happy couple make all their guests feel welcome by doing plenty of mingling and chatting.

Along with the mother of the groom and the groom's wedding party, you will be there ahead of the bride's wedding party so, as host, you can greet all of the guests and ensure everything is running smoothly.

Although the father of the bride traditionally makes the speech, the couple may want you to make a father of the groom speech or a wedding toast and, if that's the case, you want to be fully prepared. Find out everything else you need to know about father of the groom roles and duties here.

Ring Bearer Wedding Roles

two brides on their wedding day with their dog playing the role of ring bearer - they are holding beautiful bouquets and wearing wedding dresses

The ring bearer has one of the most important jobs of the ceremony as they are required to present the wedding rings to the couple. Who you entrust with that role is totally up to you – it could be a flower girl, a page boy or even a pet! Many couples now opt to have their dog at their wedding, some hire a own ring bearer and others opt for a mere human. Whoever you choose, just make sure you trust them!

It sounds like a simple role, but there's plenty involved. Here's everything you need to know about the ring bearer wedding role.

Flower Girl Wedding Roles

The flower girl role is a smaller wedding role, but a special one at the same time. Traditionally, this role is carried out by one or more younger girls, often family members or children of the couple. Couples can have one or a number of flower girls at their wedding and their traditional wedding role is to walk down the aisle with the bridesmaids, dropping petals or confetti for toe bride to walk along.

However, that doesn't mean that's how you have to incorporate this wedding role into your day. Ross Matthews and his now-husband had Drew Barrymore as their flower girl, and we're sure you've seen the viral videos of flower boys and flower men performing epic routines as they strut down the aisle.

Whoever you have undertaking this important wedding role, make sure they read our guide on flower girl wedding duties so they're completely up to speed, and shop gifts for your flower girl here.

Page Boy Wedding Roles

Two page boys in matching light grey suits with pale blue ties, one is older of a teenage age and the other is younger

Similarly to the wedding role of a flower girl, page boys tend to be younger boys, often members of the couple's families or their children. Traditionally, the page boy's wedding role is to walk down the aisle alongside the flower girl, with their main goal to look completely adorable in the wedding pictures. 

To give the page boy more responsibility, many couples ask them to spread the same petals or confetti as the flower girl or girls, to create a dual role for them. Alternatively, couples who want to involve children in their wedding day often consider asking the page boy to double up as the ring bearer - now that's a big responsibility!

For everything you need to know about this sweet role, read up on our page boy responsibilities article. 

Now you know what the roles entail, why not take a look at our 'Will you be my bridesmaid?' ideas?