Bridal Party Q&As

Guidelines about the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, from maid of honor on down.

Q: I was asked by my niece to be the mistress of ceremonies. I am having a very difficult time finding any information about the responsibilities of this role. I am told that I must attend all functions, even though several of these are more than 500 to 600 miles away. I am further led to believe that after all the time and money it is going to cost me, that I am also to give a shower. I would like to do the job, but no one really knows just what my responsibility is.

A: Although it's a nice gesture on your niece's part to ask you to be her "mistress of ceremonies" I must admit that the particular responsibilites of this role are a new one on me! Of course, on the wedding day itself, there is a master or mistress of ceremonies at the reception whose responsibility includes overseeing all of the details of the day. They make sure the champagne is poured for the toast, introduce the wedding party and announce all of the special dances as well as the cake-cutting and bouquet toss. Essentially, they are there to make sure everything runs smoothly and to handle any special requests the couple may have. But, the master or mistress of ceremonies are pros. They may be affiliated with the reception site but most often, the master/mistress of ceremony is the bandleader or DJ—not a friend or relative!

Also, requesting that you attend all wedding-related functions even though some are 600 miles away is totally out of line. Not only is this outrageous request inconsiderate (think of the time and money you need to travel!) it's simply not true. No one—even if they're in the wedding party—is obligated to attend every pre-wedding affair. So, just say no. Explain that as much as you'd like to attend, the time and financial constraints are too demanding. And, as far as you being the person responsible for the shower, again, not true. The wedding party (maid of honor and bridesmaids) traditionally arrange the bridal shower. But, it can also be given by the bride's mother, other relatives or even co-workers. However, it should be a voluntary group effort and no one person should be told that they must give the shower. Again, I would question this, especially if you live so far from the bride, it will be especially difficult to organize such an event on your own.

You are in a difficult position. But you need to express that as thrilled as you are to assist in some way, you simply cannot take on all of the responsibilities they are requesting. It's unfair and, most of all, unnecessary. I'm sure there are other family members and friends who live closer to the bride who can attend all her functions and help give the bridal shower.

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Wedding etiquette is a popular subject because they are so many horror stories. It's expensive to be in a bridal party, and it's expensive and stressful to have a large one. One budget line item that often gets overlooked by the future Mr. and Mrs. is the THANK YOU gift for each bridal party member. You should plan to spend at least half the amount of the cost of the bridesmaid dress/suit rental for each person. So if the dress they bought is $300, then be prepared to thank each one with ~$150 worth of gratitude. Bridal showers, bachelorette parties, flights/hotels, hair/shoes/makeup/hair styling -- all these things add up, and some bridesmaids spend over $1000 just to be in your wedding party. These are your most important witnesses to your wedding. And chances are they supported you before, during, and after the big day. Thank you gifts are not the area to skimp. Good luck! Lisa |

I've selected my matron of honor (and asked her) who is engaged and was supposed to get married before me but then had to postpone her wedding. Can she still be my matron of honor??