Wedding Etiquette: It’s Really up to the Bride and Groom
Traditional weddings, especially those held in a church, have some very well defined rules of wedding etiquette. But these days weddings, showers, receptions and gift giving are being guided by much more flexible rules. Therefore, the most important point of etiquette is to inform the guests and the wedding party, maid or matron of honor, groomsmen and best man what is considered proper and what is expected of them.
Maid of Honor Duties
Generally, the maid of honor organizes the bridal shower and gift giving protocol, i.e. what gifts are appropriate for the bridal shower and whether there is a registry for wedding gifts. Gifts should not be mentioned by the bride or groom, or in the invitations. She also may take care of much of the planning for the wedding itself and the reception, so pick someone very dependable and competent, and someone who has the time to devote to the success of the grand affair.
Best Man Wedding Duties
The best man often handles organizing the ushers and proper seating for all guests. The left side of the church is the bride’s side and the right is for the groom. A Jewish wedding is just the reverse; bride’s people on the right, groom’s on the left. Should there be a great imbalance, it is perfectly within proper wedding etiquette to seat guests on the opposite side.
The groom and best man need to be in place at the altar when the bride enters. The bride should be on the left arm of her father, or whoever is giving her away, as she walks down the aisle. The bride takes her place to the left of the groom and if she is wearing a veil, the father will turn it up and give a kiss, then sit down. The maid of honor can then help straighten the veil for the ceremony.
If the bride has an engagement ring, she should put it on her right hand before the ceremony, then slip it on the left ring finger after the groom puts on the wedding band. The best man needs to hold the bride’s ring to hand to the groom, and the bridesmaid holds the groom’s ring. Should there be a ring bearer, generally a child with the rings on a pillow or in a basket, the maid of honor takes the rings and gives the bride’s to the best man.
Wedding Ceremony Recessional
After the ceremony comes the recessional. The bride and groom walk up the aisle first, followed by the flower girl and ring bearer, then maid of honor and best man, and finally bridesmaids and groomsmen (ushers) in coupled pairs.
Wedding etiquette need not get any more complex than this simple outline, though there are as many protocols as there are religious, ethnic, family and cultural traditions. Just remember, it’s your day and you can make it happen however it satisfies you.