This one goes out to all the bridesmaids and groomsmen who just agreed to be in a Catholic wedding. Congratulations! There is clearly something unique and profoundly important about your relationship to the bride and groom that they chose to give you the honor of standing beside them as they enter into the sacrament of marriage.
This role though is so much more than just wearing a nice outfit and standing by them at the altar. It really calls for a spirit of service through the whole process to support them in their mission to become husband and wife! Here’s a list of reminders to help you fulfill your role in a way that ensures everyone has a fun, unforgettable experience.
Pray for the Couple
First and foremost, pray for them! Lifting them up in prayer during this time is the best gift you can offer. If you want a place to start, ask the Holy Spirit to guide them and that they may have: peace throughout the planning process, protection from spiritual attacks, growth in virtue and discipline during this time that builds a foundation for their whole married life together, intentionality to keep Christ at the center of their relationship during this season, and for all the graces necessary to live out their vocation.
Take the Necessary Time Off
Ensure that you have taken the necessary time off work for all rehearsal events and the wedding day. Being present for these moments helps you feel prepared, takes stress off the couple, signals respect for the commitment the couple is making, and makes each event a fun build up to the celebration. You’ll likely need time off for the following:
- The wedding day.
Especially if it is on a Friday!
- The wedding rehearsal and groom’s dinner.
This often takes place at the church one (or two) days prior to the wedding day itself.
- Salon or nail appointments for bridal party.
Arrive into town a day early so that you’re covered for any flight delays or unexpected road trip mishaps.
- Gift openings or brunches.
Usually these events take place the day after the wedding and involve family, but some couples may choose to invite their wedding party to it as well.
Be Part of the Process, Not Just the Day
Check in with the bride and groom in the months leading up to the wedding to be a part of the process, not just the wedding day.
- Attend their bridal showers and the bachelor (or bachelorette) events.
- Offer to help with their to-do list. Brides always appreciate having friends help them do tedious tasks like assembling the wedding invitations into their envelopes or getting them stamped to send. Your involvement will not only lighten their load but also deepen your connection throughout the process.
- Plan an activity around each appointment that you have together. For example, maybe the groomsmen go to a brewery or golfing after their tux fittings and the bridesmaids go for brunch after saying yes to the dress! My favorite part about this is also helping the wedding party members get to know each other too.
Prepare Your Ensembles
Attention to detail with your attire is crucial to make sure you look and feel your best — and that the photos do too! Make sure you’ve purchased your attire well in advance of the wedding day and make the investment to have it tailored for your body if allowed. Having items like a lint roller, sewing kit, safety pins, and more in an emergency kit on hand never hurts either! Once you’ve prepared, then pack everything together to ensure you’re ready to grab it and head out on the big day.
- Tailor your suit (if purchased) or set an appointment to get measured for a rental
- Iron your shirt, pants, and suit the night before to look extra sharp
- Practice tying your tie. Whether it is a bow tie or if the groom is requesting everyone do a special knot, make sure you’ve practiced before the wedding day to minimize timeline delays during the getting ready portion of the day
- Tailor your dress. Be sure to bring the shoes you’re going to wear to your seamstress appointment so they can hem your dress accurately.
- Determine appropriate undergarments for your dress (before the wedding day!)
- Steam your dress the night before so that day-of it only requires touch-ups
- You’ll want a button-up shirt or robe while getting ready so that you don’t mess up your hair and makeup before you put on your dress
Smile While Walking Down the Aisle
This might seem like it goes without saying, but SO many bridesmaids and groomsmen forget to smile while they are walking down the aisle for the processional. It’s likely a whole mix of nerves, trying not to trip in their outfit, trying to see the groom’s reaction, or mistakenly thinking guests are “only” waiting to see the bride. Your procession down the aisle is a cue to the guests that the ceremony has begun. They love seeing the bridesmaid dresses and flowers that the couple chose, as well as seeing if they recognize who each person is in the wedding party. As you make your way forward, remember to smile (because you are going to be in these photos coming down the aisle too!) so that your outward expression matches the inward excitement you feel for the bride and groom getting married.
Remember you’re on camera
While standing at the altar, remember that all eyes (and the camera) are also on you. Try not to mentally zone out, but maintain a soft smile and demeanor that reflects your happiness while the couple exchanges their vows and rings. This goes too for the reception during speeches and in the background of first dance photos. Your active listening and engaging reactions can amplify the warmth of the words being shared and bring these moments to life in their photos.
Help Clean Up the Suites
Since the bride and groom are primarily focused on taking photos and moving through the events of the day, it makes a world of difference for the wedding party to help keep all the prep rooms clean and tidy. This includes the getting ready areas, any rooms used at the church to host lunch or hold personal items during the ceremony, and any areas used by the bridal party at the reception. It’s natural for these spaces to feel like a tornado went through them. Be proactive and help keep these spaces organized to minimize stress on the couple and their families.
Bonus: after the ceremony put someone is in charge of moving any drinks or snacks onto the party bus (or any kind of planned group transportation).
Know the Wedding Day Timeline
The best, most well-thought out timelines only work if everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there. If people are missing when photos were planned, it means there will be delays, rushed moments, and missed photos. Be familiar with the wedding day timeline, particularly when it comes to pictures. Save it on your phone or even carry an extra print out so you know exactly where to be and when!
Drinking Do’s and Don’ts
It’s important to exercise temperance, especially before the ceremony. Wait to celebrate with drinks until the ceremony is done. Drinking prior to the ceremony could lead to serious consequences, including the priest cancelling the wedding if anyone appears intoxicated. Yes, including members of the wedding party! In addition, it is super important that the bride and groom themselves are sober when they say their vows to ensure they’re giving their full consent and entering into a valid marriage!
Be the Hype Person
Put the party in wedding party! Create an atmosphere of excitement by preparing a playlist for the morning getting ready and for the party bus. Maintain a positive attitude. Check in with the couple regularly. Since the couple has a lot on their mind (and agenda) during the wedding day, be proactive to keep them hydrated and offering snacks to keep their energy up. Try to leave your phone away throughout the day so that you don’t get distracted by other things happening on social media and be present to the couple!
Toast with Tact
If you’re giving a toast at the reception, remember that this is your opportunity to honor the couple. Share stories that highlight the best parts of their relationship. This isn’t the time for roasts or embarrassing anecdotes – especially with their coworkers, family, and friends present. Keep it respectful and heartwarming. If you need extra tips for what to say, read our How to Write the Perfect Wedding Speech article.
Dance Floor Duty
As a member of the wedding party, you have an unspoken duty to keep the dance floor lit! Encourage guests to join in, lead by example, and ensure that the energy stays high throughout the night. Your enthusiasm can make a big difference in the overall atmosphere of the reception.
Stay Connected After the Wedding
Remember, your role doesn’t end at the stroke of midnight. The couple chose you to be part of their special day for a reason. In part because of the relationship you’ve had leading up to the wedding, but also for the desire to remain close to you afterwards! Stay in contact with them, checking in routinely. Continue to pray for them and celebrate their milestones, including wedding anniversaries. Your ongoing support will remind them of the love and joy they experienced on their wedding day and help them continue deepening that love knowing they have a strong community surrounding them.
As you can see, being a part of a wedding party is more than just a day with a fancy outfit, an open bar, friends, and a lot of love songs. Embrace this role with joy and a servant’s heart. You’ll help create a smooth, fun, and memorable wedding day for the bride and groom!