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Wedding Etiquette

The Bride and Groom

The bride and groom's big responsibility is to get married, of course, but here are myriad planning decisions to make first. Ideally the bride and groom work together on these decisions, to share the workload and to make sure both are happy with the plans. A small list of basics:

  • Set budget
  • Choose date, style and site for wedding
  • Meet with ceremony officiant to discuss details
  • Coordinate invites, flowers, photographer, cars, etc.
  • Shop for wedding bands (each pays for the other's)
  • Write wedding vows if they choose
  • Send thank-you notes for all gifts.

In addition to their joint responsibilities, the bride and groom each traditionally handle certain details on their own, including each making sure his or her family compiles a guest list.

The bride chooses her bridesmaids and attendants and her wedding dress (oh and of course the Groom!) She arranges the 'Hen Night' and gives her attendants thank-you gifts, and buys a gift for groom.

The groom chooses his groomsmen and best man and picks their attire. He buys thank-you gifts for his attendants and for the bride. He arranges and pays for the marriage license and the officiant's fee, and he reserves a block of hotel rooms for travelling guests.

Its the job of the groom to do most of the official thanking on the day, in particular he should say:

  • Thank you to the bride's father for his kind words, blessings and (where appropriate) his enormous generosity in paying for the wedding.
  • Thank you to anyone else (perhaps his own family) for their financial contribution.
  • Thank you to his own parents for, well, bringing him up to be an upstanding citizen.
  • Thank you to everyone for accepting their invitation to the wedding and for their kind gifts.
  • Thank you to his best man.
  • Thank you to any ushers and other key helpers.
  • A special toast on behalf of the bride and groom to the bridesmaids and pageboys.

As well as thanking everyone, the groom's speech should also have a certain entertainment value, though not to the extent that it becomes a cheap variety act.

In terms of its entertainment value, the groom's speech should fall somewhere between that of the bride's father and the best man. In terms of sensitivities, if you are a regular presenter or speaker as part of your work or perhaps a bit of a natural show-off, you might want to consider not showing off or showing up the bride's father. Wedding speeches are supposed to be sincere but entertaining, but not to the extent that it is a competition to be judged by the guests as to who was best.



The Best Man

Like the Chief Bridesmaid to the bride, the best man is the groom's biggest source of support. Generally, he is the groom's best friend, brother or other close relative of the groom. His duties are quite extensive and crucial to the smooth running of the whole day, so great care and tact may be required when you are choosing who fulfils this role!

He looks after the groom before the wedding and organises the Stag party/weekend which shouldnt take place on the eve of the wedding!

He helps to choose the Ushers and coordinate the groomsmen's formalwear fitting, picks up the groom's attire before the wedding.

He makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony on time. He is the keeper of the rings and during the service his prime function is to produce them at the appropriate moment. He may be called upon to sign the register as a witness.

Afterward, he organizes the groomsmen for formal pictures, dances with the maid of honor, and orchestrates the toasts during the reception and reads out telemessages and cards from well-wishers.

It is the best man's duty to respond to this toast on behalf of the bridesmaids, his speech should be light hearted and fun. It should be the high spot of the reception and it is very often his ability to make this particular speech, with humour and interest, that is the deciding chapter on the selection of the best man (no pressure then!

Afterwards Its usually the Best Man's duty to return any suits that were hired for the big day.


The Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids duties will vary according to how many bridesmaids you have. If you have 3 bridesmaids, you should delegate different tasks to each girl - your wedding planning will run smoothly if you do.

A bridesmaid duty may include some or most of the list provided below, as this is only a guide, you can add or subtract off of the list to suit your wedding requirements. The bridesmaid responsibilities will also differ because each wedding is unique.

The bridesmaid responsibilities

- Help the brides with the planning of the wedding
- They help the bride with errands on the wedding day.
- Helps decorate ceremony if necessary.
- They help with organising or assisting with hair and make-up.
- Helps with or the making of table decorations and or diy wedding crafts.
- Helps with arranging wedding favours.
- Helps maid or matron of honour with Hens night
- Bridesmaids pay for their own wedding attire and accessories.
- They pay for travel expenses and accommodation during the celebration.
- They attend pre-wedding parties.
- Attend ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

The Wedding Ceremony

- Bridesmaids walk behind the bride during the wedding procession
- Stands near her during the ceremony.
- They are photographed as part of the wedding party.
- May receive a shower gift and wedding gift from the bride.
- Share the cost of the bridal shower with the maid or matron of honour.

At the reception

- Is seated at the table of hour with the bride and groom.
- Is photographed as part of the wedding party.
- Have a dance with the groomsmen
- Assists the maid or matron of honour when needed.
- Helps decorate reception if necessary.
- Helps load gifts into car with the help of the groomsmen.



The Ushers

Here’s everything your ushers need to know for the big day, from their job description to guest-seating etiquette. You might want to print this out and give a copy to each of your ushers.

All ushers should be at the location about 45-60 minutes before the ceremony will begin. Upon their arrival, they should put on their boutonnieres if they haven’t already. Boutonnieres can be tricky to put on (especially for nervous fingers) so, it’s a good idea to have someone there to help them.

Ushers should smile, be friendly, and greet the guests as they escort them to their seats.

Traditionally, the usher offers his right arm to the woman (the oldest woman if a group or family is being escorted). Another option: the ushers can walk the guests to their seats rather than offering their arm.

Family and friends of the bride are seated on the left side of the aisle (facing the altar) and the groom’s family and friends on the right. If one side of the church becomes more full than the other, the ushers should begin seating guests on the other side.

Based on the guest list, you should have a good idea of how many to expect on both sides. If you know one side of the family will have more guests, then instruct your ushers ahead of time to "fill in" the more empty side.

After all the guests are seated, the parents of the groom are seated. Sometimes the groom’s mother is escorted by the groom. Next the mother of the bride is escorted in, sometimes by the best man or the head usher.

The first pews are reserved for immediate family of the bride and groom, and the parents sit in the front pew. Be sure to instruct the family and the ushers ahead of time on who should be sitting where, especially when it comes to divorced parents. If the parents are divorced, the father is seated in the row behind, or if the parents get along well they can be seated in the same pew.

Once the groom and best man are in place at the altar the ceremony is ready to begin.

After the ceremony is completed and the wedding party has recessed, two ushers will escort the mothers back down the aisle. Some mothers prefer to walk back with their husband - in this case, the usher will simply lead the couple out.

Then, the ushers will help escort or direct the rest of the guests out of the church beginning with the front pews and working their way back.



The Brides Parents

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, but there are still certain responsibilities the bride's parents hold.

Traditionally they host the first engagement party. They help the bride with the guest list; and offer assistance (and moral support!) with wedding details. The bride's mother chooses her attire, then informs groom's mother of her choice so they can complement each other.

The bride's father gets fitted for formalwear. On the day of the wedding, then he escorts her to the ceremony site and may walk her down the aisle (perhaps with her mother on the bride's other arm). He is the last to leave the reception, after saying goodnight to guests and settling outstanding bills with the caterer, bandleader and coat-check, restroom and parking attendants.



Father of the bride duties

The father of the bride has the very important role of supporting his daughter on her wedding day. Here are some things you should aim to do on your daughters big day.

  • He must try and keep her nerves under control.
  • Help her in and out of the wedding transport without crushing her dress.
  • Get his daughter to the church on time.
  • Ensure other members of the bridal party get their wedding transport on time.
  • Walk her down the aisle.
  • Give his daughter away to her groom.
  • Traditionally pay for the wedding reception, although more and more couples are choosing to pay for all aspects of the wedding themselves.
  • Traditionally welcome the guests in a formal line to the wedding reception, although the bride and groom, the catering manager or the Master of Ceremonies are more commonly taking on this role.
  • Have the honour to make the first of the speeches after the meal at the reception.

What might a speech include?

If you are following traditional wedding etiquette then the Father of the Bride speech should include:

  • A welcome to the groom's parents, relatives of both families and all the other guests
  • How proud he is of his daughter and her achievements
  • An anecdote about the bride's earlier life
  • A story about the events leading up to the wedding
  • Congratulations to the groom
  • Happiness about his daughter marrying into the groom's family
  • A few words of wisdom to help the couple along their way as they start their married life
  • Inviting the guests to join him in a toast to the bride and groom wishing them happiness for their future together.

The Grooms Parents

The groom’s parents can participate in the wedding preparations as much as they want to and are invited to. That may in some cases also depend on the financial support they’re offering.

Traditionally, the groom’s mother’s role is rather limited, but she is still involved and kept updated in most cases.
On the wedding day, the groom's parents traditionally sit in the second row of seats on the right hand side. The mother of the bride is escorted by the groom’s father, while the father of the bride usually escorts the mother of the groom.
The groom's parents will also often be involved as follows: 
• Co-host the wedding; they welcome the wedding guests at the ceremony and at the wedding reception. 
• organize an engagement party for the newly engaged couple after the bride's family has already hosted one. This wouldn't generally be a big event, but can be a simple brunch or BBQ or similar. This is to introduce the newly engagement couple to the groom's parents' family and friends. 
• pay for some of the expenses such, for example, the wedding rings, flowers, the music for the wedding, etc..
• are invited to all of the pre-wedding parties; especially the father of the groom, who in many cases would attend the stag party. 
• attend the wedding rehearsal. 



Wedding Rings

According to some historians, the first recorded marriage rings date back to the days when early man tied plaited circlets around the Bride's wrists and ankles to keep her spirit from running away. Approximately 3,000 BC, Egyptians originated the phrase "without beginning, without end" in describing the significance of the wedding ring. These rings were made of woven hemp which constantly wore out and needed replacement. Although Romans originally used iron, gold is now used as a symbol of all that is pure. Diamonds were first used by Italians, who believed that it was created from the flames of love. In some European cultures, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. In other cultures, an engagement ring is worn on the left hand, and the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.





The Wedding Cake

After the wedding dress and bride's bouquet, maybe nothing is so powerful a wedding symbol as the wedding cake. It's so ubiquitous, many people just assume the wedding cake has always been a part of wedding celebrations everywhere. 

Like all popular beliefs, there's some truth to that idea, though of course the real facts are much more fascinating and a whole lot more colorful. 
The Wedding Cake's Early Days 
During the heady days of the Roman Empire, wedding guests were served not one cake but a sumptuous collection of many small treats and pastries as a kind of wedding party favor. In some parts of the empire, one single cake was dropped over the bride's head at the reception, as a way of wishing the couple good luck in the future. 
Later, during the Middle Ages, many guests would bring small cakes to the wedding celebration. The cakes were all piled atop a single table, creating the beginning of the tiered wedding cake known today. As a tradition, a bride and groom that could still kiss over the pile of cakes were considered to have good luck in the upcoming marriage. 
Modern Times 

Wedding cakes began to change and grow in the 19th Century, when new means of refrigeration could keep their ingredients fresh for much longer periods. 
The modern wedding cake is a kind of homage to St. Bride's Church, a famous English Medieval Chapel. The church's spire includes several spires, much like a tiered cake. 
Many modern couples have adopted the wedding cake design to display their own interests or passions. For example, a couple fascinated by the Renaissance may choose to decorate their cake with decorations specific to that time period. The bride and groom figures atop the cake may also reflect their hobbies and pastimes. 
Because modern wedding cakes have become so elaborate, their preparation time has steadily grown. Wedding planners are encouraged to make arrangements with a pastry chef up to three months in advance of the wedding reception. 
Wedding Cake Traditions 
Some popular wedding cake traditions taken from around the world include: 
- a bride who cuts her own cake will have to work hard all her life. 
- if the groom lays his hands over the bride's hands as the cake is cut, they will share their possessions their whole life. 
- the bride cuts the first piece of cake as a way of hoping for children. 


The First Dance

The epitome of romance and love, your first dance at your wedding reception is meaningful for you and your guests. Being the center of attention may be slightly intimidating to some, but the happy memories that you make will be cherished for a lifetime. From traditional waltzes to tantalizing tangos, this old fashioned ritual has been transformed into something that is both heartwarming and fun.The lights are lowered and the guests surround the dance floor as you take the floor together for your first dance. The music starts and you glide together with the music, a symbol of how you two are now joined as one. While a significant moment for you both, your guests are also moved as they remember their own first dance. The quiet before the storm, these precious few moments may be the only ones you have together without interruption until after the reception is over. A momentous occasion for everyone involved, your first dance is just the beginning of your celebration and should be enjoyed and savored.



The Honeymoon

HONEYMOON: a period of harmony immediately following the marriage celebrations. Legends have claimed that honeymoons existed before the marriage ceremony came into being. The first recorded appearance came in 1546 but the ritual goes back much further.


In the earliest days, the groom simply abducted the woman of his choice to be his bride and took her into hiding, sometimes with his groomsmen there to help him. This is where the term “swept off her feet” comes from – a blanket would often be thrown over the bride and she would be carried off on horseback.   This lasted as long as it took for the lady’s relatives to stop searching for her, which was about a month, as marked by the phases of the moon. Thus, the “moon” in honeymoon. The practice of kidnapping a bride dates back to Attila the Hun, AD 433-453.


When in hiding, the couple would share mead – a wine made of water and old honey. According to Pliny the Elder, it consisted of “one part of old honey” and “three parts of water”. The mixture was then left in the sun for forty days, though it was claimed that some left it to ferment for only nine days. Pliny went on to say “with age, it attains the flavour of wine”. As time passed, it was believed that if the couple drank mead daily during the honeymoon, they would be assured of the birth of sons. Thus, the mead provided the “honey” part of the term honeymoon.