When asked to play a role in the wedding of a friend or family member, most people are honored and willing to do whatever it takes. That willingness to be helpful is often a blessing, as wedding party participants each have their own unique responsibilities.
Maid of honor and best man: The maid of honor and best man are counterparts in the wedding. The bride and groom's right hand woman and man, respectively, the maid of honor and best man are often siblings or very close friends of the bride or groom. Though their responsibilities are similar, the maid of honor and best man don't have completely identical roles.
The maid of honor might have the most responsibilities of anyone aside from the bride and groom. The maid of honor will help the bride shop for her dress and must also plan the bridal shower and the bachelorette party. The maid of honor's duties also extend to the wedding day itself, when she will be expected to help the bride get dressed and toast the new bride at the reception that night.
The best man's role includes organizing the bachelor party and toasting the groom at the reception. The best man also plays a logistical role, organizing the newlyweds' transportation to the airport the morning after the wedding as well as organizing the groomsmen's gift to the couple.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen: The role of the bridesmaids and groomsmen are similar. Bridesmaids and groomsmen are often the siblings or close friends of the bride and groom, and they accompany each other down the aisle during the wedding procession. Typically, the role of bridesmaid and groomsmen is to offer any assistance in making the ceremony go smoothly. Groomsmen may act as ushers, while bridesmaids might help address wedding invitations and choose vendors for the ceremony and reception. How involved the bridesmaids and groomsmen become is often contingent on how close they live to the bride and groom and how much help is needed the day of the ceremony.
Flower girl and ring bearer: The flower girl and the ring bearer are typically very young members of the family, such as very young siblings or a niece or nephew of the bride or groom. The flower girl will carry a basket of flowers during the wedding procession, often tossing flower petals on the ground to signify the bride's entrance. The ring bearer is a boy and carries a pillow with the rings sewn on it during the wedding procession.
Parents: The bride and groom's parents play the role of hosts. The tradition of the bride's parents paying for the wedding entirely by themselves has largely fallen by the wayside thanks to the escalating costs of throwing a wedding. However, if the bride's parents are footing the bill, then they will typically act as hosts of the wedding. In that instance, the groom's parents will host the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.
During the ceremony, the bride is most often walked down the aisle by her father, though some brides choose to have both parents included in the walk down the aisle. The groom's parents will often walk down the aisle ahead of the procession and take their seats.
The parents may also play a role in the months leading up to the wedding. For instance, the mother of the bride might help plan the bridal shower, while the father of the groom might help plan any activities, such as a golf outing, for the groomsmen and additional friends of the groom a day or two before the wedding.