Whom to choose: Sisters trump friends, but otherwise go for your oldest and most loyal pal―the one who knows when to tell you what you want to hear and when to be brutally honest.
Job description: As chief ringleader, the MOH plans the shower and the bachelorette party and is also responsible for keeping the bridesmaid machine running smoothly by staying on top of fittings and other tasks the bride has delegated. May be asked to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner. Gets bonus points for bringing safety pins to the bridal dressing area.
Caveat: Since organizing and motivating are key duties of the MOH, choose your lovable but scatterbrained best friend only if you’re prepared to do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself.
2 of 6Debra McClinton
Whom to choose: A brother or the best friend who won’t party too hard after the rehearsal dinner―you do want him to make it to the ceremony, after all. In some parts of the country, it’s customary for the groom to choose his father.
Job description: Takes care of all bachelor events and provides support to the groom. Keeps track of wedding rings even if there is a ring bearer (you don’t want to assign that task to a four-year-old). Kicks off the toasts at the rehearsal dinner.
Caveat: Picking someone who gets along with the bride is a plus.
3 of 6Debra McClinton
Whom to choose: Fun friends who will still be in your life long after you’ve thrown out that last chunk of frozen wedding cake. Negative, needy dramatic types need not apply. Once again, sisters and close cousins beat out friends for bridesmaid status. Don’t forget your fiancé’s sister.
Job description: As members of Team Bride, bridesmaids participate in all prewedding events. They are also required to smile while purchasing their dresses, no matter what those dresses look like; dance enthusiastically to “Shout” at the reception; run errands; attend any tastings, site visits, or meetings that the bride asks them to; and stay until the end of the reception.
Caveat: Out-of-town bridesmaids get a pass on most parties, but they still must send a gift for the shower.
4 of 6Debra McClinton
Whom to choose: Old friends, cousins, and both the bride’s and groom’s brothers.
Job description: If necessary, seating guests, helping the best man throw the bachelor party, and dancing with the bridesmaids.
Caveat: If you’re having a large wedding, you can also have ushers, who will help with seating but won’t walk down the aisle.
5 of 6Debra McClinton
Whom to choose: An adorable moppet, such as a cousin, a niece, a godchild, or a stepchild between the ages of three and six. Not to be confused with junior bridesmaids, who are older and wear tween versions of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Job description: Scattering flower petals as she walks down the aisle. May be accompanied by the ring bearer.
Caveat: Prepare to deal with disruptions, such as crying or not making it all the way down the aisle.
6 of 6Debra McClinton
Whom to choose: A boy young enough to wear knickers, saddle shoes, and long kneesocks, but who won’t turn the velvet pillow into a projectile. (Watch out, Grandma!)
Job description: No surprise―bearing the ring. Accompanying the flower girl down the aisle.
Caveat: Be sure to secure the rings to whatever they’re being carried in or on.