How to avoid disappointment and get the wedding photos you really want…
I know what you’re thinking: “A Wedding Photo Checklist?? Are you serious?” Fear not, we haven’t gone completely control-freak, and we’re not suggesting for one second that you should have a wedding photo-checklist in your pocket for the day (the photographer will have one). We just want to help you avoid a trap that many couples fall into: 6 months after your wedding you don’t want to be thinking “Oh, I wish I had a picture of me and…” To make it easier we’ve even made a free PDF for you to download and print!
In truth, most couples don’t really think about the actual photographs until it comes to reviewing them afterwards. While there is a standard list of images (see below) and every good photographer will capture all the important stuff, there may be a few shots that you would really like. It’s important to know what these are, and make sure you make them a priority by talking to your photographer in advance. Basically you want to make sure to avoid thoughts like… “Oh, I wish we had one of my favourite Auntie Mary and me together, should have thought of that…” or “we’ve none of us in the garden with the thank you signs, forgot to ask the photographer about that”…
So we thought going through the list of headline shots would help you think about what images you are expecting to see after the day is over…
Before the Big Day
- Engagement Shoot/Love Shoot – an opportunity to get comfortable on front of the camera and get to know your photographer, there are lots of reasons why you should definitely consider an engagement shoot
Wedding Day – Pre-Ceremony
If there are two photographers, one can focus on the groom and the other on the bride.
- Shot of wedding invitation
- Bride and Bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done
- Dress hanging, jewellery laid out, shoes etc.
- Bouquets and buttonholes/corsages
- Bride putting on dress/veil with help from Mother of The Bride or Bridesmaids
- Bridal party having fun
- Close up of dress details
- Putting on jewellery
- Putting on shoes
- Close up of bride holding bouquet
- Mother and bride portrait
- Father and bride portrait
- Family shots
- Bride spending moment alone
- Bridal party walking down stairs/leaving the house
- Bride and Father in Wedding Car/ Walking to ceremony
- Groom and Groomsmen getting ready
- Best man adjusting Groom’s tie
- Groom spending moment alone
- Wedding ring shots
Trip to the Ceremony/Venue
- Bride and Father/Mother
- Bride and Bridesmaids/Flowergirls
- Groom and Groomsmen/Pageboys
Wedding Day – Ceremony
- Shots of empty venue/church – altar, flowers, interior & exterior details
- Groom and Groomsmen waiting inside venue/church
- Guests outside and inside church
- Ushers handing out program
- Bride arriving in wedding car
- Bride stepping out of car
- Bride and Bridesmaids at back of church
- Bridal Party entrance
- Bride walking up the aisle
- Groom’s reaction
- Father/Mother giving bride away
- Exchanging of vows
- Ring bearer
- Exchanging of the rings
- Participants such as readers, the officiant, musicians etc.
- The first kiss as husband and wife, and the moment after
- Signing register
- The Recessional/Bride and Groom walking back down the aisle
- Newlywed shot
- Confetti throwing
- Greeting guests outside venue
- Bride & Groom in back seat of wedding car
Wedding Day – Post Ceremony
After the ceremony you have to make time for the wedding portraits – this usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the couple and the list of specific shots you require. Prepare a list of all the people you want in the portraits – family members and friends – and the specific combinations you require e.g. a shot of just you and and your siblings or a shot of all your first cousins together.
Give this list to your photographer well in advance so they can prepare and discuss any issues. Also assign a close friend (not a bridesmaid or groomsman who will be in the images), someone who knows all the people on the list, to work with the photographer on rounding people up.
- Portraits of the couple alone
- Portraits of Bride on her own
- Portraits of Groom on his own
- Bride and Groom with bridesmaids/groomsmen
- Bride and Groom with bridal party
- Bride with bridesmaids/maid of honour
- Groom and groomsmen/bestman
- Entire wedding party
- Bride and Groom with her parents
- Bride and Groom with his parents
- Bride and Groom with both sets of parents
- Bride and Groom with siblings
- Bride and Groom with close family members
- Shots with friends
- Bride showing her new ring to the guests
- Shots of Guests eating, drinking, and chatting
Wedding Day – Reception
- The reception space set up – before room fills up
- Details and room decor shots – table settings, place cards, favours, candy buffet, centrepieces etc.
- Wedding cake detail shots
- Bride & Groom arriving
- Toasts and Speeches
- Cutting the cake
- The first dance
- Bride dancing with father/Groom dancing with mother
- Bride and Groom mingling with guests
- Guests dancing
- Musicians, singers, DJ
Unlike the work of your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren’t things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first—you don’t really know what you’re getting until after the fact. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanor are extra important when choosing your photographer.
Step 1: Settle on a Style
Before you begin researching photographers, you’ll need to first decide what type of photography style you prefer, as that will help determine which kind of photographer you’ll want shooting your wedding. Do any of the following appeal to you?
Documentary: Instead of a series of posed photos, these are candid or spontaneous pictures (read: not styled) of people, décor and the action. Typical shots might include the lavish raw bar before guests start digging in, your motley crew of cousins dancing, or you and your bridesmaids laughing, champagne in hand. With a purely photojournalistic photographer, you’ll very rarely see people staring at the camera—the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened, and together they tell a story.
Portraiture: If you prefer classic portraits (think: your parents’ wedding album), go with a traditional photographer who specializes in portraiture. These are posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops. That’s not to say there isn’t room for creativity in this category. While some photographers will pose subjects in more traditional spots (like at the ceremony altar or out on the lawn of the country club) and in more formal poses (standing as a group together), others take portraiture further into the creative realm with a more dramatic composition (the couple sitting on a lounge chair at their hip hotel reception venue, or holding hands in the middle of a nearby dirt road with the mountains in the background).
Fine Art: Though it’s similar to documentary photography, this style gives the shooter greater artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into your photographs. So while the shots reflect reality, it’s the photographer’s reality. The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are—or look as though they were—shot on film with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance. Usually the object (or couple) is in focus and the background appears to blur. Motion also looks very natural in this style of photography. The few wedding photographers who shoot only on film tend to fall into this category, and typically they shoot in black and white, though some will do a mix of both. That said, a photographer using a digital camera can still capture this style with the right gear and camera lens. And some photographers will alternate between digital and film. Not all photographers who take a fine-art approach shoot portraits, so if it’s really important to your mom to have posed family shots, look for someone who does both, or consider hiring a second shooter for the portrait sessions.
Edgy and Bold: This style of photography, an offshoot of fine art, is marked by outside-the-box, tilted angles (called Dutch angles) and unconventional framing. So instead of a straight-on shot of the couple exchanging vows at the altar, the photo might look tilted, with an object like an altar arrangement or a candle in the foreground. Or the photo of the bride having her makeup done might be shot from above, with an emphasis on the eye shadow brush rather than on her face. Even a single portrait of a bridesmaid might be shot so her face takes over only the bottom right of the photo and the rest of the space is filled with the wall or whatever’s behind her.
Many wedding photographers can do a blend of portraiture and documentary-style shots, and will do a mix of black-and-white and colour images, but if there’s a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialise in it.
Step 2: Do Your Homework
Start your search by reading reviews from recent newlyweds and browsing hundreds of local listings. Carefully review potential photographers’ websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they’ve shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also have clues about the photographer’s personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive? How does the photographer respond?
Step 3: Set Up Interviews
This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they’re available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
Step 4: See a Few Full Wedding Albums
Don’t base your decision solely on what you see in a photographer’s highlights gallery or album. For good reason, photographers show prospective clients a portfolio of their best pictures, all from different weddings, so you’re seeing the best of the best. The problem with that is you won’t get a well-rounded idea of their work. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they’ve shot (not someone else at their company) so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look like after the wedding. If you see that the full gallery photos are just about as good as the ones chosen in the highlight gallery (that is, they’re all so good it’s impossible to choose!), you’re on the right track. And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. For example, if you’re planning an indoor affair with dark lighting, don’t just look at weddings shot outdoors in natural sunlight. And if you’re planning to say “I do” on a beach at sunset, you’ll want to see examples of that.
Step 5: Review Albums With a Critical Eye
When reviewing a photographer’s album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that’s the style you’re after). It’s also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people’s emotions; make sure the photographer’s subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are, of course, important, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
Step 6: Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh
Don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way. Remember: They’ll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don’t want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
Step 7: Confirm Your Shooter(s)
Many larger photo studios have more than one photographer on staff, and unless you specify it in your contract, the lead photographer may not be the one shooting your day. Since every professional has a different style, technique and personality, you need to make sure the one you interview and “click” with will be the same one who works your wedding. Also, include specific stipulations in the contract about who will cover for the photographer should something happen on the actual day. Check whether the photographer will bring any assistants to your wedding, and if so, how many. If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a second shooter. Many top-notch photographers include a second shooter in the contract, but if this isn’t a part of the deal, you may want to ask about the possibility. The main benefit to having two shooters is, of course, you get twice as much coverage. For example, during your formal photo session, one photographer can capture the formal photos, while the second one can get behind-the-scenes, photojournalistic photos, like your guests mingling. If you’re having a larger wedding (250 guests or more), you might even want to ask about having three shooters so your photography team can be sure to capture the event from all angles.
Step 8: Compare Packages
You won’t be able to nail down an exact dollar amount until you’re sure of what you want, how many albums you need and where your photographer is based, and packages range from £500 all the way up to £3,000-plus on the higher end of the spectrum. When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer’s standard “shooting fee” and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you’ll want and the amount of coverage you’re hoping to book them for (day of, full weekend). It’s important to find out what’s included in the standard package, plus the basic range for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage, so you can compare rates. In particular, find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from pre ceremony events (getting ready with your bridesmaids or first-look photos) to the end of the reception. It’s usually better to pay for more coverage if there’s a chance you’ll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). Also consider whether you’ll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend (the guys’ golf outing, the bridesmaid lunch).
Step 9: Ask About Your Rights
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even place them in ads). That also means you can’t just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you’ll have to buy the rights to the images.
Step 10: Get the Postproduction Details
It usually takes at least a month to get all those photo proofs back from your photographer. Why? Your photographer is shooting enormous raw files far bigger than your typical JPG. Shooting raw files gives your photographer greater ability to correct the photo, but it also takes a longer time to upload, process and edit all those files (in order to correct colour levels and so on). It varies, but many photographers say they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can take up to six to eight weeks (or longer, depending on the photographer and how busy they are) to get proofs back. Here’s what to ask: How many images should I expect? Will they be high resolution or low resolution? Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images? Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Speaking of retouching, ask about retouching options and special effects (which can range from simple white balancing to beauty retouching and stylised art effects like super-saturated colours) and the additional cost for both.
The best man is usually a close friend or male relative of the groom, such as a brother or cousin. Typically he’s not involved much in the planning of the wedding, but the best man’s duties include planning a stag do for the groom, giving the best man’s speech and holding on to the rings on the wedding day.
Wedding Planning Duties
Luckily for the best man, he’s not expected to pitch in much with the wedding planning duties – when it comes to wedding crafts and DIY, it’s typically the maid of honour’s role to assist. But that’s not to say you can’t ask the best man to pitch in!
One of the main duties that comes with being best man is the suit shopping. The best man will need to assist the groom in rounding up the ushers and the other important male members of the wedding party to go and try on suits. The best man should discuss with the groom about whether the groomswear is to be bought or hired. Traditionally the couple pay for the wedding suits, but if it’s decided that financial contributions are required, make sure this is discussed openly and up front.
The best man needs to be aware of who all the ushers are and what duty they’ll have on the day so he can make sure everyone is in place before the bride arrives.
The Stag Do
This is the best man’s moment to shine, and probably the moment all best men dream of: the stag do. You’ll take the lead in organising the groom’s last big night out before he gets married. Check with the groom for a list of people he’d like to attend and think carefully about locations.
The best way to plan the stag do is to pick two or three dates and ask the rest of the group who can attend them, before picking the date the majority can do. It might seem ruthless but it’s the easiest way to organise a large group of people without going back and forth too much.
Make sure you consider everyone’s budget when planning the stag do – a big blow out in Vegas sounds amazing but if only two or three of you can afford to go, will it really be as good as a weekend closer to home with all of the boys?
Try and organise the stag do to take place up to three months before the wedding. This gives everyone time to recover – the bruises can fade and the hangovers can finally be forgotten. Think about ways to personalise the stag do, and pranks to play on the groom. Get t-shirts printed, organise masks and set out challenges for everyone to take on.
Give the ushers tasks to help make the planning easier for you. One can scout out the best places to go, the other can print out the challenges.
The Run Up to the Wedding
As the wedding date approaches, you need to make sure the ushers know where they need to be, what they’re doing and at what time. This also includes any last minute suit fittings too. Chat with the maid of honour and see what useful things you can have to hand on the day – such as large umbrellas in case the weather is bad.
Go over your speech to make sure your delivery is confident and clear. Run it past a trusted person who knows the couple to make sure it’s not offensive and the jokes are received how you want them to be.
The Day Before the Wedding
Help the bride and groom by picking up any hired items and delivering them where they need to go – this can include the wedding suits. You might also be asked to help with any set up at the venue so be prepared to pitch in!
The best man may stay with the groom the night before the wedding. Prepare for this with whisky and lots of snacks, but make sure the groom doesn’t drink too much or eat anything that could cause an issue the next day.
If you have some spare time, go over the speech once more to make sure you’re confident in reading it out.
On the Day
This is it – the big day for bride and groom, and for the best man too. The best man needs to help the groom get ready on the morning of the wedding, and take delivery of any buttonholes and hand them out.
Keep the wedding rings safe ahead of the ceremony, and make sure the ushers are in place and the orders of service are out. The best man should also collect any telegrams or messages to be read out during the speeches. You need to make sure the groom is at the venue at least twenty minutes before the ceremony is due to start.
Before the wedding ceremony starts, the groom and the best man should take their places on the front right-hand side of the ceremony room. Make sure you have the rings to hand, ready for when the couple come to exchange rings.
The best man might be asked to give a reading during the service, or to be witness to the signing of the register. Once the ceremony is over, the best man is required to escort the maid of honour out of the room. You will also, alongside the ushers, need to help to round up guests for the wedding photographer’s list of group photos.
If the newlyweds choose to have a receiving line at the wedding reception, you will be expected to stand in it and greet the guests as a key part of the wedding party. If the couple have decided not to have a toastmaster or a master of ceremonies, the best man may be asked to announce key elements like the speeches and the cutting of the cake.
Speeches traditionally take place after the meal, but it’s becoming increasingly popular to have them before so the speech-givers can then relax and enjoy their meal. Make sure you’re aware of the timings the bride and groom have decided – the best man’s speech is traditionally last, after the father of the bride and the groom. If you had any messages to read out, do this at the same time as your speech.
After the first dance has taken place, it’s traditional for the best man to dance with the maid of honour. If the couple are following tradition and going away for their honeymoon that night, the best man should make sure to decorate the going away car, if they have one. Other than that, you’re then free to enjoy the party and celebrate with your best friends!
After the Wedding
The best man could be asked to help out by rounding up and returning any hired items, such as the suits and any decorative details used at the venue. You could also be asked to safely store the wedding gifts if the couple go on honeymoon straight away.
The best man is one of the key figures in the bridal party, and his responsibilities encompass far more than just presenting the wedding rings when prompted. As best man, you need to be an organiser, entertainer, trouble‐shooter and a good friend. Here’s what’s in the job description and how to be the best man for the job.
It is quite an honour to be asked to be best man, as the job traditionally goes to the groom’s closest friend or brother. However, since the role involves public speaking and making sure things run smoothly on one of the most important days in someone’s life, if you don’t feel up to it, it’s far better to say so from the outset.
The best man’s role is to support the groom in the lead up to the wedding, organise the stag do, get him to the ceremony on time, make a best man speech, and generally to be in charge of ensuring everything goes as planned on the big day.
An ideal best man is reliable, with good people skills and a sense of humour, he will also be resourceful and generally unflappable in a crisis. He may even be called on to help settle the mind of a groom with ‘cold feet’ or help to keep the peace between any feuding families on either side.
Organising the Stag Do
The stag do, or ‘last night of freedom’ can be an amazing male bonding experience for all and it’s usually the best man’s job to organise it, unless the groom would rather do so himself. You will need to have an idea of what the groom likes doing and, perhaps more importantly, what he does not like doing. It’s also worth considering the bride and groom’s relationship when it comes to planning the stag do as not every groom will feel comfortable at a lap dancing club and not every bride will thank you for organising it! That said, if a stripper is what everyone wants then it’s your job to find the right place to go, with the right price for all.
There are so many options when it comes to organising a stag do though, it doesn’t just have to be a raucous meal out or drinks at a bar with the groom dressed as a nun… (again, unless that’s what everyone wants!)
You could plan a sailing or golfing trip, a day at the races, a simple pub crawl or a weekend away, the options are almost endless. Liaise with the groom on who he would like invited to his stag do and then either get in touch with the stag do experts or plan it yourself. Just try not to leave the groom tied naked to a lamppost, he and his bride-to-be will thank you for it.
A truly resourceful best man will arrange some keepsakes for the groom and friends to remember the stag do, whether personalised Whiskey glasses, shot glasses or hip flasks. He could also pick up some props for his speech at the same time. Likewise, the groom may want to give the best man a thank you gift to show his appreciation of all his hard work.
The Best Man Speech
If keeping the groom out of trouble on the stag do wasn’t fun enough, telling everyone all about it could be! The best man’s speech is traditionally an entertaining talk the best man gives to all the guests about the groom and the stag do. Another reason to avoid the stripper perhaps and a great opportunity for anyone who loves to make others laugh.
Speech Writing Help
If writing your own comedy script sounds like too much of a tall order, enlist the help of expert speech writers who offer professionally written, personalised and memorably brilliant speeches. If you’d like to have a go at writing your own then check out the Speech Creator, an online tool that can be personalised to generate a winning speech for you. You could also be inspired by the expert speech writer’s top tips for delivering a best man speech to remember.
Traditionally, the speeches come after the wedding breakfast to mark the end of the formalities and the start of the celebration. The bride’s father makes the first speech, followed by the groom and then lastly the best man.
Each speech should last around 10 minutes and end in a toast (a sip of champagne) to the happy couple. If you are having a toastmaster, they will announce each speaker. You don’t have to stick with tradition, and some couples choose to have the speeches before the wedding breakfast so the speakers get to actually enjoy their meals! You don’t have to have a formal toast master to introduce each speech either, it is fine for each speaker to casually just stand up and say a few words.
Writing Your Speech
This is your chance to recount how you first met your new wife and how she has changed your life for the better. It is also an opportunity to thank her and both sets of parents, the best man and bridesmaids, and to give thank you gifts for their help with the wedding planning
It’s really up to you what you say and how you say it, and many grooms find it useful to start with a template speech that they adapt. If you want to make a truly memorable speech then you could enlist the help of an expert speech writer. If you would rather write your own, then just remember to include some heartfelt words about your bride, your families and the wedding day itself.
If you want to stick with tradition, then this is the order your speech should follow:
1. First the groom thanks the father of the bride (or mother or step-father if the father is not present) on behalf of himself and his new wife for the father of the bride speech that has just been made
2. He should then thank the guests for coming, the bride’s parents (particularly if they are hosting the wedding), his parents for raising him and his best man for unchaining him from the lamp post after the stag do…
3. He should also thank anyone else who has helped or been involved with planning the wedding.
4. The groom presents both mothers (if applicable) with bouquets and then says a few words about his ‘beautiful new wife’.
5. The groom finishes his speech with a toast to ‘the bridesmaids’.
You might want to consider Including Children in Your Speech and you may want to say a few things differently if it’s the Groom’s Second Marriage.
Just try to simply make it a positive and uplifting few words of gratitude, from the heart, and you can’t go wrong.
Groom Speech Examples
Here’s an example of a typical short groom’s speech that can be adapted by changing the names and adding in any other relevant personal details:
“Thank you for all coming here today, especially everyone who has travelled from far afield to share this day with us. And thank you for your generous gifts too.
I must also thank Katy’s parents – Carol and Ray – and my parents – Jane and John, for all their help in the organisation of our lovely day. When I met Katy, I thought she was sincere, kind and caring and when I met her parents, I knew exactly where she got it from. It’s clearly genetic, and I hope our children will inherit it. Carol and Ray, we’d like to give you these little tokens of our love and thanks.
My love and thanks today really have to go to Katy most of all though, for being here, for being so beautiful, kind and brilliant in so many ways, and now for being my wife.
You’ve all met James, my best man. I checked with him that he could organise a stag night, make a speech; even get me to church on time. But I forgot to ask the most important thing: could he tie the knot? I’m not talking about marriage here – I’m talking about the horrendous mess he’s made of my bow tie!
Finally, thank you also to the beautiful bridesmaids. I know they have been a great support to Katy during the last few months and ladies and gentlemen, I would like to please ask you to raise your glasses, as I give you… the bridesmaids!”
Delivering Your Speech
Try to keep calm and remember that everyone there wants to hear you speak and cares about you so you have won over your audience before you even stand up. It can help to write down the main points of your speech on handy cue cards you can refer to if your mind should go blank.
Practice what you intend to say, not by reading from a script, but by speaking freely if you can. When you know what you want to say, the words should come naturally. It can help to have a few deep breaths before hand or a glass of wine, but don’t drink too much.
If you will feel more comfortable simply reading a speech you have written that’s fine too. Just try to read slowly so everyone can keep up and speak louder than usual to make sure everyone can hear you. And if you feel anxious about it, don’t do it. Ask your bride if she would like to say a few words on your behalf of both of you instead.
Groom Speech Tips and Checklist
- Thank the father of the bride for his speech
- Thank the guests for coming
- Thank both sets of parents
- Give thank you gifts to both mothers
- Compliment your new wife and say a few words about how much she means to you
- Thank the best man for his help
- End your speech with a toast to the bridesmaids
Bridesmaids play an important role on the day. These are the chosen ones: the girls a bride can count on to be there for her when she needs a helping hand. Here’s your essential guide to a bridesmaids duties on the day of the wedding, from cheerleader to childminder to toilet assistant!
Be a calming influence
As chief bridesmaid, your role on the day is of utmost importance to the bride and the other attendants. It is your job to maintain a calming influence throughout the day and be as organised as possible.
On the morning of the wedding, you should ensure that everyone is where they should be when they should be, that the right clothes and accessories are ready for the right person, and that you are prepared to deal with any emergencies that might arise.
Your other duties on the day will include being on hand to help dress younger attendants and keep them looking perfect until the transport arrives. And being the bride’s general cheer leader so she enjoys the day!
You may also be asked to look after emergency supplies for the bride such as lipstick, tissues, a powder compact, mirror and anything else she might need in a pretty bridal bag.
The chief bridesmaid, bridesmaids and other attendants will probably travel to the ceremony venue with the bride’s mother.
Once all the attendants are assembled, the photographer may want to take some pictures before the bride arrives. The chief bridesmaid will have to organise the other bridesmaids and pageboys, particularly any very young ones.
At the ceremony
When the bride arrives, the chief bridesmaid will need to ensure everyone is assembled and in the right position behind her, ready for her entrance. Calm any excited little bridesmaids and pageboys, using bribery if necessary!
Make any necessary adjustments to the bride’s veil and dress so that she looks absolutely gorgeous for her big entrance as all eyes will be on her and that fabulous dress.
Bridesmaids have very specific duties. You follow the bride into the venue (or you may go first, American style) and usually sit near the front, ready for the procession back out at the end. Make sure that you know where to go and that any very young children have their parents seated close by.
Once the bride has joined the groom, the chief bridesmaid takes her bouquet and gloves, if she is wearing any, and looks after them for the duration of the service. If in a church, when the couple sign the register, the chief bridesmaid goes with them into the vestry or side room, accompanied by the best man, to witness the signing.
On leaving the ceremony venue, the chief bridesmaid and the best man take their positions behind the bride and her new husband for the recessional. Other older bridesmaids will be escorted by the ushers while younger bridesmaids and pageboys will follow behind.
Once you are all outside, the chief bridesmaid may need to organise the couple and attendants for the photographs. It is also quite usual for the chief bridesmaid to have her photo taken with the best man.
Next, the chief bridesmaid gathers together any runaway younger attendants and get them all into the car to take them to the reception.
At the reception
Once at the reception, the bride may want the chief bridesmaid to be a part of the receiving line. The purpose of the line is to allow the guests to meet the bridal party, and to ensure that the bride and groom say at least a few words to each guest.
You may have the responsibility for displaying the bride’s bouquet somewhere safe (and preferably cool), ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during the rest of the day. This is especially important if she is planning to have the flowers preserved as a souvenir.
The chief bridesmaid should also circulate amongst the guests during the reception, ensuring that they are enjoying themselves and using any disposable cameras provided. In this way you act as the bride’s back‐up; she will have only limited time to spend with each guest.
Although the speeches at the reception are generally a male prerogative, it is becoming more usual for either the bride, chief bridesmaid, or even both of you to make a speech.
The first dance is exclusively reserved for the newlyweds, but it is traditional for the chief bridesmaid to take to the floor with the best man and join the happy couple midway through the first dance. The chief bridesmaid can also remind the bride to throw her bouquet into the crowd of female guests for luck. Whoever catches the bride’s bouquet is said to be the next girl who will marry.
Finally, when the couple change into their going‐away outfits, the chief bridesmaid should be on hand to take care of the bride’s wedding dress and ensure that it is returned to her home or, if necessary, to the hire shop. The other attendants’ dresses may need to be returned too and she may well ask you to take responsibility for this.
Oh yes, and you may be asked to pose for funny photos or help hold the bride’s wedding dress out of the way while she goes to the loo… It’s all in a day’s work for a good bridesmaid and a lot of fun.
No matter how excited, or cool, calm and collected the groom may say he is, he’ll undoubtedly be a little nervous and will need the moral support of his nearest and dearest friends. Whether you’re family or lifelong friends, if you’re chosen to be one of your mate’s groomsmen, you’ve been honoured with a big responsibility. We’re here to help you suss your usher duties.
Usher Duties Before the Wedding
Unlike the best man, you won’t have a laundry list of tasks to complete ahead of the big day, but you should be available in any situations where assistance is required. Although, it is traditionally the best man who’ll sort the stag do, you might want to be on hand to help out with securing bookings, putting a deposit down on whatever activity you decide to do and generally making sure the lads have a great time.
General Usher Duties
As an usher, you’ll generally be asked to ensure everyone is getting along both in the run up to the big day and on the wedding day itself. You may find that your skills are especially needed if your fellow ushers don’t know each other. Both the best man and the groom will appreciate any help they can get in getting the group together and ensuring that everyone is comfortable around one another. It’s a good idea to set aside some time to discuss this with the best man and the groom; it’s also a nice idea to plan a get together before the stag do.
Usher Duties During the Wedding & Reception
On the big day, your duties will include anything from directing guests to their seats at the ceremony, to helping wheelchair bound guests find their place in the venue to acting as a back up for storing important phone numbers of suppliers and key wedding party members.
The perfect usher is ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice, putting his friends’ happiness above his own on their wedding day. The perfect usher is a calm and polite helper who enhances the smooth running of the day.
You’ll probably be asked to:
- Escort guests from their cars to the venue; knowing what British weather is like, we suggest you have a brolly to hand.
- Assist with getting guests’s cars parked–no, you won’t be a valet, but you should have a general knowledge of where guests can and cannot park their cars.
- Help direct guests to which side of the venue they should sit, although this is a more traditional role and more modern ceremonies encourage all of the guests to sit together.
- Assist with directing guests to their seats.
- Escorting both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom to her seats.
- Stand at the back of the venue to greet latecomers and help them find a seat without too much disruption.
- Tactfully handle intoxicated guests at the reception so they do not cause unnecessary upset
- Ensure that no guests attempt to drive who are under the influence; have a list of cab companies ready to taxi guests home if need be.
What the Groom Should Know about Ushers
When choosing your ushers, it’s important to be selective. Remember: your ushers will be there to support and assist you so choose friends or family who you know are reliable and willing to get the job done.
1) Your maid of honour will be there to help you with the wedding planning. This may involve aiding your decisions on everything from your colour scheme, venue, and cake, to registering for wedding gifts, organising transport and accommodation, visiting wedding fairs, attending rehearsals, dress shopping, and beyond. Your maid of honour must be honest in her feedback—if a dress or hairstyle doesn’t suit you, or you’re being a tiny bit too excessive in your spending, she should tell you.
2) Similarly, your maid of honour may help you in writing your guest invitations. Then she’ll follow up with any guests who haven’t RSVPd. This is important, because you and your partner will need a final headcount ready for organising guest seating arrangements, catering, and wedding favours.
3) The maid of honour usually plans the hen party—this includes choosing the location and activities, creating the guest list, collecting any gifts, and organising money collection (because, usually, the cost of a hen do is split between the attendees). The maid of honour may also organise the bridal shower.
The Wedding Day
4) On the wedding day, the maid of honour will take care of you and lead the bridesmaids in their tasks. She should make sure you eat something for breakfast, and that you keep your fluids up. She’ll be there to keep you calm and in good spirits, and make sure you don’t have too much celebratory champagne. Of course you can have your celebratory drink while getting ready for the ceremony, perhaps to calm the nerves, but you don’t want to be stumbling down the aisle. Your maid of honour will be there to tell you when enough is enough, and will have lots of water on hand for you to drink. Aiding you in the bathroom might also come into play if you have difficulty with your dress.
5) One of your maid of honour’s largest roles will be helping you to get ready on the day of your wedding. And she should have emergency accessories with her just in case—a sewing kit, safety pins, mints, tissues…a shoulder to cry on. If things start to get a little overwhelming, she’ll make sure you get some quiet alone time if you need it.
6) Your maid of honour will ensure everything is as it should be—if possible, she should visit the ceremony and reception rooms to make sure all is well, and she should really take charge of everything. She’ll answer any questions from family, guests and suppliers (such as the photographer, the caterer, the band, etc); she’ll ferry messages back and forth between people; and she’ll give out any specifications (such as any particular photos the couple wants to have taken). Your maid of honour will then ensure everyone gets to where they’re needed on time and, before the ceremony, may even organise the “first look” between the bride and groom.
7) The maid of honour, as if this all wasn’t enough, has enormous responsibilities in the wedding ceremony too. She’ll sort your dress before you walk down the aisle, and then again when you’ve reached the end. Traditionally, she also takes care of the groom’s ring before the vows and then looks after the bride’s bouquet. Then, as an official witness, she’ll sign the marriage certificate with you.
8) It’s no rest for the weary come the wedding reception. With the bridesmaids, your maid of honour will be a hostess, showing guests to their seats, collecting any wedding gifts, etc, and it’s becoming more and more popular for her to make a toast as well!
9) Nowadays it’s traditional that the maid of honour will dance with the best man, and perhaps with the other groomsmen too.
10) Your maid of honour will help you change out of your dress, and if you’re to leave immediately for your honeymoon she’ll assist you in preparing to leave. Then, it might also be left up to her to arrange dress storage, as well as organise wedding gifts from throughout the day.