Bridal attendants are chosen from your close friends and family members, including any sisters of the groom. You may elect to have both a maid and matron of honor, but you will have to designate which one will attend you at the alter, to hold your bouquet and the groom's ring, and to help your veil and train. However, there are many responsibilities of the bridal party.

If you decide to have a flower girl, the best ages are between four and nine. If any are younger than this, be prepared for the unexpected to happen, because a younger child's actions can be very unpredictable. If you decide to have children in your wedding party who are under four years of age, you may want to have them seated with their parents once the officiant has asked, "Who gives this woman?" They can later follow the bride and groom back up the aisle during the recessional.

What are the responsibilities of the bridal party? Junior bridesmaids' are generally between the ages of ten and sixteen. Bridesmaids are usually sixteen years of age and older. Special others can be included in the house party by having them preside over the guest book and gift tables, distribute rice, serve the cake and punch, entertain the guests, provide housing and transportation, or cover various details for you.

When a remarriage occurs and there are children involved (yours, the groom's, or both), give them all honored positions in the day's activities. It they are willing, you could have the children stand with you at the altar. Teenagers or adult children may serve as your honor attendants. Younger children could serve as flower girls or ring bearers. They could also escort you down the aisle. They can further participate in the ceremony by reading a special poem, Scripture, or prayer.

When you plans involve children from former marriages, you may need to check with the other parents before involving them in your wedding activities. When selecting the bridal attendants dresses and accessories; consider their financial status and if the dress will be useful to them afterward.

If possible, have a couple of your attendants try on two or three different styles of dresses. It is nice to ask them for their opinion, but the final choice is your. Order the dresses at the same time to avoid any variations in color and design. The flower girls dress may be the same style as the bridesmaids or a dress of complementary style and color. It may also be shorter in length for ease of movement.

In some ceremony locations, your attendants may be required to have their heads covered; otherwise, the choice is your. Attendants shoes should be of the same style, but the height of the heels may vary according to the girl's heights and their individual need for comfort. If the attendants shoes are being dyed to match, have them done at the same place and time to ensure color conformity. Also be sure to select a complimentary shade of hosiery and purchase two pairs for each attendant (an extra pair for emergencies).

Any jewelry that is worn should be small and dainty, of the same or similar style. Any gloves that are worn should be of the same style and length. Use fabric swatches to coordinate colors of lipstick and nail polish for the attendants. For dresses other than floor length, it is better to have the hems measured down from the knee of each bridesmaid rather than the same distance up from the floor. Just as the head heights of the girls vary, so should their hem lengths. The overall appearance of each girl in her dress is far more important than all dresses being the same distance from the floor. If possible, have everyone dress at the ceremony site to avoid wrinkling dresses in transit.

Bridal attendants should be invited to all parties given for the bride or the bride and groom, including the rehearsal dinner. The only exceptions may be special group or office parties. The flower girl is not usually invited to the bridal parties, but her mother is. Her parents may be invited to any parties given for both the bride and groom, and her father to any bachelor parties. Invite the flower girl to the rehearsal dinner. If it is the night before the wedding, her parents may decide to have her forgo the dinner so she'll be rested for the wedding day.

Your gifts to the bridesmaids are usually alike, but the honor attendant's gift may vary from the others in style and design. The flower girl may receive a different type of gift than the other attendants. Possible gift choices: for bridesmaids - keepsake boxes, books, compacts, cosmetic bags, crystal, evening bags, engraved pens and pencil sets, jewelry, jewelry cases, perfume, photo albums, picture frames, porcelain, or stationary; for the flower girl - charm bracelet, china doll, jewelry box, piggy bank, or stuffed animal.

Responsibilities of the Maid/Matron of Honor

Before the wedding, she

  • may help you in such ways as addressing invitations and entertaining out-of-town guests.
  • is responsible for making and keeping any alteration appointments.
  • should wear the lingerie and shoes she will be wearing for the wedding when she goes for fittings, to ensure a more perfect fit.
  • must attend the wedding rehearsal.
  • arrives early at a designated place to help you dress.

During the ceremony, she

  • precedes you and your father in the processional
  • arranges your train at the altar.
  • holds the bridal bouquet at the required time.
  • may be in charge of the grooms ring in a double-ring ceremony until it is needed.
  • adjusts your veil and again arranges your train for the recessional.
  • usually walks with the best man in the recessional.
  • signs the marriage license.

At the reception, she

  • stands next to the groom in the receiving line.
  • sits on the grooms left during a sit-down meal.
  • helps you change into your going-away cloths.
  • informs the parents when the bridal couple is ready to leave.

Responsibilities of the Bridesmaids

Before the wedding, they

  • may help you address invitations and assist with any errands.
  • are responsible for individually making and keeping their alteration appointments.
  • should wear the lingerie and shoes they will be wearing for the wedding when they go for fittings, to ensure a more perfect fit.
  • must attend the wedding rehearsal.

During the ceremony, they

  • either walk alone, in pairs, or with an usher in the processional.
  • are usually escorted by the ushers in the recessional. When there are more bridesmaids than ushers, the extras can walk alone or in pairs.

At the reception, they

  • may stand in the receiving line.
  • sit at either the brides table or a special attendants table during a sit-down or buffet dinner, seated in alternating positions with the ushers around the table.
  • mingle with the guests, helping the hosts entertain.

Responsibilities of the Flower Girl

Before the wedding, she

  • is responsible for making and keeping her alteration appointments.
  • should wear the lingerie and shoes she will be wearing for the wedding when she does for fittings, to ensure a more perfect fit.
  • must attend the wedding rehearsal.
  • may attend the rehearsal dinner along with her parents.

During the ceremony, she

  • walks, alone or with the ring bearer, directly in front of you and your father in the processional.
  • may stand with the bridal party at the altar or be seated with her parents during the ceremony.
  • may follow directly behind the bride and groom in the recessional.

At the reception, she

  • does not stand in the receiving line.
  • either remains with her parents or sits at a special table for children under adult supervision.