Duties of Chief Bridesmaid (or Matron of Honor)
Her initial task might be to assist the bride in her choice of wedding dress and perhaps help decide on the bridesmaids' dresses. She will assist the bride as much as possible with the wedding planning and preparations.
On the wedding day she will go to the bride's house in the morning and help her with her preparations: dressing, make-up, hair etc. She can also help any younger bridesmaids to dress and give them some last-minute instructions. The bridesmaids and pages then proceed to the church and wait at the entrance.
When the bride arrives at the church, the chief bridesmaid will arrange the bride's dress, veil and train, then follow her in procession down the aisle. She will probably then be handed the bride's bouquet for the duration of the ceremony.
After the service she will accompany the best man in the procession to the vestry for the signing of the register and may be called upon to sign as a witness. She can then return the bride's bouquet to her and, once again accompanied by the best man, follow the bride and groom from the church.
At the reception she has no specific duties, though she might assist the bride in her going-away preparations, take charge of young attendants and help to display and record gifts received.
Traditionally the bride pays for the bridesmaids' outfits, particularly if they are unlikely to be worn again.
Page boys are usually between five and eight years old and make a beautiful picture with the bride. The bride arranges for their outfits. They follow the chief bridesmaid up the aisle, wait at the chancel steps and follow the chief bridesmaid and best man out of the church. They leave for the reception with the chief bridesmaid and the best man (if he does not remain behind) and hand out slices of cake at the reception.
As for bridesmaids, the bride generally pays for their outfits.
The ushers are the best man's helpers. They are traditionally unmarried and are usually brothers or close relatives of the bride and groom.
The ushers escort the bridesmaids during the course of the day and instruct guests about rules regarding photography and confetti. They should arrive at the church early, three-quarters of an hour before the service is due to start. They are required to distribute buttonholes, greet people at the church entrance, ascertain whether they are guests of the bride or groom, then show them to their seats, handing them order-of-service sheets or prayer books at the same time. Bride's guests are seated on the left of the aisle and the groom's on the right, although if there is an extreme imbalance it is permitted to discreetly even out the numbers.
The front pews are for close family. The groom's parents sit in the second pew from the front. After the ceremony the ushers help the best man to ensure that everyone has transport to the reception. At the reception the ushers help to make the event enjoyable by looking after the guests.
Ushers arrange and usually pay for their own outfits if they can be worn again, but if hired, the groom generally pays.
THE BRIDE'S MOTHER
The bride's mother takes no official part in the ceremony, yet to all intents and purposes she organizes the wedding every step of the way
The whole thing starts for her with the organisation of the guest list and sending out the invitations. Bearing in mind that she and her husband are footing the bill for many of the wedding day costs, she has to compile a guest list which is fairly balanced for both bride and groom. In fact there are often two lists: one for the wedding service followed by the reception and another for guests invited to the reception only.
Booking the hall or hotel for the reception may be done by her or alternatively by the bride and groom. She will also order the wedding cake, or perhaps even make it herself, arrange for the printing of order-of-service sheets and order wedding cars for the bride and her father, the bridesmaids and, of course, herself and any other guests who require transport from her house to the church. Then she must organize the flowers: buttonholes for the guests, bouquets and decorations for the church and reception. Although the bridegroom traditionally pays for the buttonholes and bouquets for the principal players, it is better if they are all ordered together to maintain a theme of colors or varieties. She will also need to book the photographer and make the catering arrangements for the reception if it is being held in a hall rather than a hotel.
These are just the major items; there are a thousand and one other minor problems to solve and she must ensure that not too many of them cause last-minute panics which might upset the arrangements on her daughter's big day.
On the morning of the wedding, she will help her daughter get ready and attend to all the last-minute details as well as getting herself ready. If the reception is to be held at home she will have considerably more to do in preparing for the returning guests.
She travels to the church with the bridesmaids to arrive before the bride. She is the last one of the 'guests' to enter the church and is escorted to her seat by the chief usher. She sits in the front pew on the left of the aisle.
At the close of the service she joins the bridegroom's father as the wedding party proceeds to the vestry for the signing of the register. She comes out of the church, still with the bridegroom's father, then after the photographs outside the church rejoins her husband. They should be the first, after the newlyweds, to leave for the reception, where they will be first in line to greet the guests as they arrive.
She and her husband, together with the best man, are the last to leave the reception. After the reception, she is responsible for sending slices of cake to those unable to attend and organizing the photograph proofs.