Couple getting married at The 228 in front of the tree draped with white material while a bridesmaid in pink dress stands to the side of each of the people getting married. Guests are seated in folding chairs and at the beginning of the aisle is a barrel with a Welcome to Our Happily Ever After Sign leaning against it.

Engaged people think it’s an honor if they ask a person to be part of the wedding party. Not everyone feels the same. Participation in the wedding party involves a big time and money commitment. Not everyone is up for this. Some couples are unaware of the proper wedding party etiquette. Couples expect too much from the friends and relatives that step up to take part in the wedding.

Wedding Party Composition

Each side of the wedding party can comprise a different number of attendants. It’s now common for a wedding party to contain bridesmen and grooms ladies. It’s okay to choose more than one maid of honor or best man. This helps if one is worried about completing the expected duties assigned to them. In fact, you don’t even need a maid of honor or best man. Confirm with the other members of the wedding party that they can perform the extra duties. Choose whoever you want for the best man and maid of honor. There’s no need to make it a family member. If someone in the family wants to be in the wedding, including them helps maintain peace in future years.


Ask people to be in your wedding party only two or three months after getting engaged for a short engagement. Ask no later than six months after if the engagement is longer. This leaves plenty of time for planning. Know the date and location of the wedding before popping the question. Even better, have a reasonable estimate of how much money it will cost them. This gives potential wedding party members can make an informed decision.

Attendance Expectations

Members of the wedding party must attend at least the wedding and the rehearsal. If you have multiple wedding showers, the wedding party members only need to attend one. They might attend all local parties, however. You can’t always expect the wedding party to attend every wedding-related event. This is especially true when many events are involved or guests must travel. If you want someone to attend, ask them and schedule it for a time that’s convenient for them.

Maid/Man of Honor Duties

Don’t expect your maid of honor to help with every bit of wedding planning. Only expect her to help you coordinate with other bridesmaids and plan the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Let her know what you’d like for the bachelorette party. Be sure you take into consideration what members of the bridal party can afford to spend. The maid of honor helps address invitations and holds the bride’s bouquet and her fiance’s wedding ring during the ceremony. She also helps with the bride’s train and is a witness to the marriage certificate signing. She may give a toast at the reception and stand in the receiving line at the reception. A man of honor may perform only those tasks he’s comfortable with. 

Best Man/Woman Expectations

Expect the best man to arrange the bachelor party and help choose the attire for the groomsmen. He’s a witness when the happy couple signs their marriage certificate. The best man makes a toast at the reception and helps deliver wedding-related payments to the vendors. He also holds the ring during the ceremony and returns the groom’s clothes after the wedding. The best woman has similar duties to the best man. There may be a few differences because of everyone’s comfort levels.

Help With Wedding Tasks

If you have multiple DIY projects, don’t expect your wedding party to help with them. You can ask, but you shouldn’t require this to take part in the wedding party.

Money Expectations

Wedding party etiquette requires the wedding party to buy their own attire. The bridal party pays for the bachelorette party and the shower if they’re hosting it. The groomsmen pay for the bachelor party. If you want something that is expensive, it’s nice to offer to pay for it. At least, let them know the expected expenses before they agree to take part in the wedding. Brides often pay for their bridal party to get professional hair, makeup, manicures, pedicures, or spray tans. If the wedding involves traveling, wedding party members should expect to cover their own costs, including the hotel. The bride pays for a hotel room if she wants to spend the night before the wedding with her ladies. Some people believe that the engaged couple should cover hotel expenses, regardless. The couple should pay for transportation to the wedding if you’re all getting ready together. They pay for transportation from the wedding to the reception.

Response Deadlines

Your bridal party may act as a sounding board for your wedding-related ideas. You can’t expect them to drop everything the minute you contact them. Don’t give them deadlines for responding. It’s good to let them know when you’re deciding if it’s time-sensitive.

Wedding Party Etiquette for Presents

Presents are never a requirement for anyone attending a wedding. With all the wedding party expenses, you may not get a gift from the wedding party members. Don’t expect a gift from the wedding party members for every shower they attend. Wedding party etiquette requires the couple to get presents for the wedding party. Couples often present these gifts during the rehearsal dinner, but you can distribute them at any time.

Plus Ones for the Wedding Party

At the very least, spouses, life partners, and fiances of the wedding party should get an invitation. If finances and space allow, let the single wedding party members have a guest. Allow this even if other attendees don’t get plus ones. It’s a perk of being in the wedding party.

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