Who Does What at a Wedding?

Jan 26, 2023
elopement ceremony

There is a certain amount of confusion about who does what at a wedding. Time to sort it out!

Before I launch into this subject, I would like to point out that the roles are not set in stone, and there is no compulsion to use any or all of the roles I discuss. Indeed, just after Lockdown, weddings did take place, but in the simplest way possible.


In some ways, although she is the star attraction, the bride doesn’t really have to do a great deal. She has to look beautiful and dignified, especially if there is a procession. Otherwise, she has to be careful (particularly if she has a train) while walking, but may not have much else to do at the ceremony.

She may have to recite vows, put a ring on her partner’s finger, and maybe say “I do”. She may sign the certificate, if that happens at that point.

Otherwise, she will be expected to socialise afterwards (and, possibly, give a speech).


The groom gets away with it for the most part too. He will probably welcome guests as they arrive for the ceremony. He is likely to have a team (Best Man and Ushers) to help him, if he needs it.

Otherwise, apart from vows, saying “I do” and putting the ring on the bride’s finger, he has nothing much to do until giving a speech at the reception.

Best Man

There is a tendency for Best Women to exist nowadays too, but there is almost always a Best Man. His task is to look after the Groom. He will keep him calm and do any jobs that are required (such as communicating with a supplier, or something simple like fetching a glass of water). He will probably look after the couple’s rings until the ring exchange.

His spotlight moment comes at the Reception with his speech, which is often a highlight. He should aim at humour (mainstream, normally!) and embarrass the groom just a bit (not too much!). He should not cause offence to anyone.

Bridesmaids and Ushers

The role of bridesmaids and ushers (also known as Groomsmen) is to support the couple.

The bridesmaids will normally be part of the Procession (and sometimes Recession). They need to follow the cue for entry and restrain themselves from walking too fast!

The ushers may direct guests to their seats and be of general help, for example, they may look after gifts.


Unless something else has been agreed, the parents will likely be tasked with welcoming guests. It is quite common for the bride’s father to give a very short speech to start the Reception off. He basically says, “Welcome and thank you for coming”.


The celebrant should arrive in good time and check that all that is needed for the ceremony is ready. This includes the bride (if accessible) and groom. The officiant can help the Best Man keep the Groom calm.

The celebrant’s role is to take over at the start and direct proceedings efficiently (but with affection, humour and elegance).

Feel free to approach me for more information.