Know Your Wedding Role

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Oftentimes some of the stress involved with weddings comes from the ones we love the most—family. Every part of your family will have different roles when it comes to wedding planning, and they come along with some do's and don'ts. We’ve curated the following list with some help from brides and their families. And we’ve highlighted some new rules for wedding roles so you can stay savvy about today's weddings!

You are not supposed to bring the young ones to bridal showers, unless it is specifically requested.

Keep in mind that the roles below are generalized and this list is far from all-encompassing. But these tips will help on the road to a successful planning experience and an amazing wedding day.

Mother of the Bride

When asked for a word to describe the mother of the bride, brides said: comforter, ally, helpful, good listener. A mother traditionally is a partner in planning with the bride. According to our brides, the most helpful mothers allow their daughter to have her moment, her day, and provide helpful input upon request.

Pre-planning expectations: Mothers often play an integral role in selecting the ceremony and reception sites as well as attending dress shopping appointments. Mothers help create the wedding invite list and are also excellent invitation proof readers! Lastly, mothers of the bride typically hold a role in budgeting, so it's important they model good communication and let the couple know exactly what they have to work with.

Wedding day expectations: On the wedding day, mother of the bride has the chief responsibility to serve as an ambassador and ombudsmen for the bride and groom. This includes greeting guests as they arrive at the church as well as at the reception.

Make it special: Tuck a special pre-written note to your daughter underneath her napkin or place setting detailing how proud you are of who she has become.

Father of the bride

The father of the bride is more than just a wallet! All teasing aside, most brides described fathers as the main financier of the event.

Pre-planning expectations: Most fathers are not required to do anything more than support their daughter's decisions.

Wedding day expectations: On the wedding day, other than making sure he hands the wedding planner the vendor gratuity envelopes, the father of the bride's only responsibility is to be by his daughter's side in the hour and moments leading up to the ceremony. Dads, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment.  

Make it special: If you can, try and think of some words of wisdom to share with your daughter right before walking her down the aisle. Revel in the last moments your daughter is only yours.

Mother of the groom

Pre-planning expectations: The mother of the groom, along with the father of the groom, is typically charged with financing and planning the rehearsal dinner. Often times because the wedding is not in the same town as the parents of the groom, they will reach out to the couple or parents of the bride for assistance in planning. Mothers of the grooms are welcome to attend all events they are invited to such as dress fittings, menu tastings, meeting with the wedding planner. Mothers of the groom are typically asked to prepare a list of possible guests. The couple may or may not give a guest count limit, so please number your guests in order of importance and expect cuts to be made.

Wedding day expectations: The mother of the groom is the host on the side of the groom's family. She should welcome guests into the church, be a part of the receiving line (if invited) and also welcome guests at the reception. Parents of the groom are typically needed for photos before or after the ceremony.

Mothers of the groom who have the most positive relationship with the bride are those who understand the groom has found his number-one love in life—his wife. Love and treat her as good as he does, and you have the recipe for success.

Make it special: Create a small album of your son's baby photos to give to the bride the week before the wedding along with a note welcoming her to the family. On the wedding day, be sure to let her hear you raving about all her hard work to family and friends!

Groom

In talking to brides, it was clear that the stars of the show really were the grooms. The women noted that the groom's most valuable role was to support the bride no matter what—to vendors, family members, bridal party, etc. They by and large did all that was asked of them, and most were intuitive enough to see what their brides needed and took steps to take care of it for them. One groom actually hired his bride a day-of wedding planner to ensure she could relax no matter what on the wedding day. When asked for one word to describe the groom, most all of the brides said “supporter.”

Pre-planning expectations: Do whatever your bride asks you to do. This typically includes getting the marriage license, arranging entertainment, transportation, and attending menu and cake tastings.

Wedding day expectations: Be of good cheer and support your bride emotionally and physically throughout the day. Make sure you both stay hydrated, eat well and enjoy yourselves just enough that you still have energy to make it back to your room in good spirits that evening! You will be needed all day for photos, so please plan accordingly and advise your gentlemen to do so as well in accordance with the weather. If it’s going to be a hot day, have a handkerchief handy. If it’s a winter wedding, matching scarves are a nice touch.

Grooms are not expected to be intricately involved with every wedding plan such as flowers, invitations, decor, and lighting. A groom's role is that of support.

Make it special: Send your bride flowers or a note the morning of the wedding via your wedding planner or bridal party letting her know how excited you are to see her in a few hours!

The Bride

Pre-planning expectations: The bride is our master planner. She is tasked with the ultimate success of the wedding. The savvy bride will ask for and accept help from professional planners and family. Remember that family may or may not be able or willing to help, so don't let your feelings get hurt. Your goal is to find willing helpers to create a magical day. If you keep looking you might find a planner you did not even know you had. Your future mother-in-law, for example, might love to create guest welcome bags for you. The best man may be happy to pick up a bottle of champagne for the limo. Your planner will take care of your wedding day emergency bag.

You are not expected to be superwoman, nor are you expected to host a presidential reception. Ask for help and take it, and style your event so it is reflective of you within your budget.

Make it special: Personal thank-you notes for absolutely everyone (not just your bridal party) shows you really value all the help you have received. That would include your future husband, mother in law, and the UPS man that delivered all your wedding gifts and carefully tucked them in your door jamb so they wouldn't get wet. Yes, I do mean everyone! You have no idea how far your thoughtful kindness will go in changing someone's day, week or life.

Flower girls & ring bearers

If you have a sister or brother getting married and you already have children, chances are your children will ask to be flower girls or ring bearers. Here is what to expect.

You will be asked to rent or buy the selected attire for your child. The bride will dictate what to wear. It is typically requested your child attend the ceremony rehearsal. It is expected that, most likely, your child will run down the aisle and not behave perfectly. After all, that is the cute part!

You are not supposed to bring the young ones to bridal showers, unless it is specifically requested.

Make it special: A new trend is emerging for the ring bearer or flower girls to carry a fun sign saying something like, "Here comes the bride" or "Uncle Ryan, here comes your girl!"

Special roles for family members

Siblings: Typically, siblings can serve as a member of the bridal party. It is not mandatory. If you do include a married sibling it is traditional to include their spouse. If they are not in the wedding party, there are many other roles that hold a position of honor that they or another could hold, for example: handing out programs, greeting guests at the ceremony and reception, attending to the guestbook, assigning placecards, etc.

Extended family: One bride had this savvy advice to offer: "(we used) aunts/uncles as 'anchors' at the tables. My groom's father has six sisters and a brother so we put the siblings at different tables to help with conversation and make all the guests feel special to be sitting at a 'family table.'"

All in all, a wedding is more personal if you can find ways to include as many special people as possible.

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.