There are certain qualities to look for in a maid (or matron) of honor and best man. Are they flexible? Resourceful? Cool under pressure?

No matter how big a role he or she plays in planning the wedding (and the activities surrounding it), these traits in a maid or honor or best man can really take the stress off the bride and groom.

Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert who founded the Swann School of Protocol in Carlsbad, California, said perhaps the most important thing for a couple to consider is how involved they want their lead attendants to be and what responsibilities they should have.

“It’s not just, ‘Can you stand up with me?’ List your expectations when you ask (him or her),” Swann said.

Then, give your candidate time to think about it.

“This way, they don’t feel obligated and they take the time to actually think about if they can deliver on those expectations,” Swann said. “We know our friends — don’t expect them to change because it’s your special day.”

So what are the traditional responsibilities?

Maid/matron of honor

-- Help with guest list for wedding and related events.

-- Assist with stuffing/mailing wedding invitations.

-- Host bachelorette party.

-- Give toast at wedding reception.

Swann added that sometimes the maid/matron of honor will accompany the bride to wedding fairs, cake tastings and to make big decisions such as the venue, the bridal gown and bridesmaids’ dresses.

Traditionally, the best man has gotten away with fewer responsibilities. These include:

-- Hosting bachelor party.

-- Giving a toast at wedding reception.

Signing as witnesses on the marriage certificate is also expected of the bride and groom’s main attendants, according to

Swann said she has seen some best men step up and organize transportation between the wedding and reception or the reception and hotels, for example. She also has been involved in weddings where best men takes the lead in ensuring gifts are safely transported.

Taking into account whether your lead attendant lives nearby also will determine how much he or she will be able to participate in wedding preparations.

In her experience, Swann also has seen maids of honor and best men serve as liaisons between the wedding planner and bride and groom — a stress buffer, especially if something unexpected arises.