If you’re reading this, you’re probably about to embark on one of the most exciting and memorable things you will ever do – get married. Our blog is packed full of useful information to help you plan your perfect Cheshire church wedding. We’re wedding reception caterers and are experts at providing fantastic and unique menus. We also know a thing or two about weddings and this blog looks at who does what at a church wedding and also explains the origins of the various roles. If you want to know if the best man has to marry the bride if the groom doesn’t turn up, then read on……
When we say traditional we mean….
So, in this blog we talk about tradition but always remember a lot of these traditions come from more formal times so it’s always up to you to decide what you want to do and what’s best for you. Also, some of the responsibilities may be what people used to do but that doesn’t mean you have to. So, for example traditionally the best man would take responsibility for confirming all is in order for the couples travel details for the honeymoon but I haven’t met many couples who would leave something like this to someone else.
Bride & Groom
No surprises that getting married is the number one priority but there are a lot of decisions that need to be made and things to organise before the big day. In theory the bride and groom will work together sharing the organisational workload. The main things to cover off will be:
- Setting a budget for the wedding
- Choosing a church, reception venue, caterers (and a theme if you’re looking for a particular vibe or style for the day)
- Meeting with minister/caterer/venue hosts to confirm details, seating plans, block booking/reserving hotel rooms for guests
- Organise flowers, photographer, videographer, cake
- Organise invites (often with help from the bride’s family)
- Buy wedding rings (traditionally each pays for the other’s)
- Choose hymns, church music, vows, readings
- Create a wedding present list (if required) and write thank you notes for all gifts
Individually the bride and groom (and their families) work on the guest list. The bride chooses her bridesmaids and buys them (and the groom) a gift. The groom chooses his best man and ushers and buys them (and the bride) a gift. All very straight forward – we’ve never heard anyone having difficulties compiling a guest list and who sits where!
You might find these blogs handy for some of these tasks:
In the past, the bride’s parents usually had the dubious privilege of footing the bill for the majority of wedding expenses. Today costs are likely to be distributed among the bride’s parents, groom’s parents and the couple themselves.
Sometimes couples may want some sort of party, soirée or occasion to mark the occasion. If that’s the case, then traditionally this will be hosted by the bride’s parents.
Turning to the wedding they also help the bride with the guest list & offer assistance with wedding details. Invitations for the ceremony and the evening event come addressed from the bride’s parents who also receive the responses.
The bride’s mother chooses her attire. This needs to be shared with the groom’s mother so their outfits can complement the wedding.
The bride’s father gets fitted for formalwear together with all the other male participants. On the day of the wedding itself he will escort his daughter to the ceremony. Traditionally he will accompany her down the aisle.
Giving away the bride is an antiquated tradition when brides were viewed as the property of their fathers until they were given to their husbands. It’s hard to believe such times existed. There is no legal requirement to do this and these days it’s just a wedding tradition and ultimately the bride’s decision if she wants this as part of the ceremony.
In a Church wedding there is some contemporary wording to go along with this part of the service and a couple of options are something like this:
“Do you the parents of x and x entrust them to one another as they come to be married?” “Who brings this woman to be married to this man?”
This role can be undertaken by a sibling, child or anyone of either gender – its symbolising the transition of a life stage and it’s the couple’s decision if they want to include this.
The father of the bride also makes a speech as part of the wedding reception. Needless to say, this should be personal and heart-warming and should sound uplifting about his daughter and son-in-law’s future married life. The speech should begin by thanking the guests for attending and should acknowledge the groom’s parents whilst welcoming his new son-in-law to the family.
Traditionally the bride’s father has also been the last to leave the reception, after saying goodnight to guests and settling outstanding bills or any outstanding details if there are any. Once again, this formality no longer exists but it’s useful having someone assigned to managing these kind of details.
The groom’s parents may also want to host something to mark the engagement but there are no real formal requirements in the wedding. They will provide a list of guests to the couple and may contribute to some wedding expenses and help with some of the arrangements on the day. Wrangling the groom’s side of the family for the group photographs always helps of course! The groom’s mother should also liaise with the bride’s mother about outfits.
Chief bridesmaid/maid of honour
Traditionally, the chief bridesmaid is the bride’s sister or closest friend. A married attendant is technically called a matron of honour and unmarried a maid of honour but this can be seen as a little old fashioned.
The chief bridesmaid is the bride’s main confidante and helps with all aspects of the day. Before the wedding helping to choose the dress, bridal shower & hen party, coordinating dress fittings, sourcing hair and makeup for the day plus lots of other preparatory tasks.
On the wedding day itself, the chief bridesmaid helps the bride dress and accompanies her to the ceremony. She often signs the marriage license as the bride’s witness, arranges her veil and train during the entrance at the ceremony, holds her bouquet at the altar and may deliver one of the readings.
At the reception there is a tradition that after the bride and groom’s first dance the chief bridesmaid dances with the best man. We haven’t seen this done very often to be honest and what’s more usual is the wider wedding party (attendants/parents) get up and dance to get the party started.
You may choose as few or as many bridesmaids as you want and it’s a great way to involve younger members of the family.
The main role of a bridesmaid is to assist the chief bridesmaid with her wedding-planning duties and help the bride as needed. They accompany the bride as she enters the church.
Flower girl/ring bearer/page boy
During the bride’s entrance the flower girl (if you have one) walks ahead of the bride, scattering flower petals in her path or carrying a bouquet or basket.
We don’t see many page boys these days but often that “role” is more likely to be as ring bearer but you can have anyone as a ring bearer.
All of these roles are great ways to get youngsters involved. If the children are very young it would be good to involve them in the rehearsal, so they know what to expect on the day.
In olden days the best man was literally the best swordsman the groom knew and he would be there to fight off other suitors to the bride (and not marry the bride if the groom didn’t turn up!). Thankfully sword fighting is no longer required, and the best man is the groom’s source of support and is usually a sibling or best friend.
Duties include organising the stag party, helping organising the formal wear fittings and collection, perhaps collecting & returning the formal wear afterwards.
On the day he will make sure the groom gets to the ceremony on time, brings the bride’s ring (unless there is a ring bearer) and signs the register as the groom’s witness.
At the reception he will make a heartwarming and often hilarious speech and toast the bridesmaids. He will also tend to be involved in many of the wedding day tasks that crop up – perhaps collecting buttonholes from the florist before the wedding and so on.
Ushers (other than getting formal wear fitted) have few responsibilities on the run up to the wedding. At the day they help guests to their seats at the ceremony. Traditionally the bride stands on the left. Once again this is an old tradition relating to fighting and the groom being able to keep his sword arm free to fend off people wanting to kidnap his bride.
You need to agree beforehand if the wedding is open or there are “sides” for the bride and groom’s family or guests. Some guests may ask so its best everyone is clear and can be seated appropriately.
Ushers are often family members so can be a great help for the photographer organising groups for photos later.
About Cheshire based Benjamin Lauren Event Catering
Lauren Rowlinson created Benjamin Lauren Event Caterers out of a love for events, big and small, and the knowledge that every client is unique. This passion combined with her extensive experience in the hospitality industry has formed the foundation for her business ethos – “edible excellence!”
We pride ourselves on our personal and flexible approach to wedding catering bringing our Cheshire brides their wedding their way. Every couple is different, so every wedding is different and we provide a bespoke service to make their day extra special! And no matter how many couples we have catered for their day is always unique and something new to experience. All these experiences give us something new to take on and potentially share with future families.
We are known for our attentive service and our fresh approach to event catering. A personal service and fine dining experience no matter the guest numbers or budget. We really care and strive for exemplary standards, within the quality of all our ingredients and our service dedication to every client – creating unforgettable events every time.