Wedding Etiquette – Dos, Don’ts, And Whatever You Feels
Weddings. Whether you have one or not, you’ve probably got an opinion on them and what should or shouldn’t be done. They’re historically traditional affairs, with what some might see as generational and cultural requirements. Although weddings are, at the end of the day, a success so long as you’ve met the two basic requirements: 1. marrying the person you want to 2. enjoying the day whilst doing so, we can understand completely that you may want to nod to tradition.
With this in mind we’ve compiled a list of well-versed wedding etiquette for you, and also some more modern takes on them if you feel it wouldn’t suit the style of your day.
Here Comes The Bride
Looking resplendent, alongside her father. Traditionally, they would walk down the aisle first, followed by bridesmaids and pageboys.
However, nowadays it’s a popular choice to have the bridesmaids, flower girls and pageboys walk first, to create an exciting build-up before your guests see you: a wonderful kind of excitable tension! Further, you may not think it suitable that your dad gets the honour of accompanying you down the aisle. Family-situation-dependent, you may want a different relative to walk you down the aisle: someone who has been there to support you, and who’s a deserved representative to give you away.
If bridesmaids now think they’ve got it tough with a full plate of roles, just be content in the knowledge that originally bridesmaids were there to ward off evil spirits. So no pressure there, then…for this very reason, they were all dressed very similarly to the bride.
In today’s wonderfully body-positive and supportive society, however, we’ve come to realise that not everyone feels comfortable and flattered in the same style of dress. It’s perfectly acceptable to have your bridesmaids as just thematically matched, rather than wearing completely matching outfits – and even if that theme is only them looking fabulous! This way you can encompass bridesmaids of all ages, sizes, shapes and aesthetics, and make them all feel welcomed and comfortable. On top of this, you may want to stand apart from your bridesmaids, a sign of you loving your girl gang but you owning your confident time in the spotlight. Wearing entirely different styles to them won’t look out-of-place: it’ll look exceptional.
Limber up and lubricate those hips, folk, because the traditional first dance requirements are extensive. Obviously, the bride and groom should take to the floor for their first dance together. However, the groom is also expected to dance with his now mother-in-law, before dancing with his own mum too. Simultaneously, brides are expected to grace the parquet with their new father-in-law and their own father. The two sets of parents are then expected to swap with each other, with the mother of the bride dancing with the father of the groom and vice versa, before returning to their own partner. Finally, if that wasn’t enough bodies to coordinate on one chequered floor space, the best man is traditionally supposed to dance with the Maid Of Honour too. Exhausted? Me too.
While most couples still opt to do a first dance together (even if it’s really not your style, and all you do is sway three times before dragging some others on the floor with you), there’s less expectation in modern times to dance with essentially every member of your immediate family, old and new. You’ll probably dance with them all at some point in the night anyway – I know I’m going to be hoisted onto the dance floor immediately by my dad at my wedding when Mr Brightside comes on—so there’s less pressure to get it all done at the start, when everyone’s (eagle) eyes are on you and you may feel still a little too awkward.
Everyone talks about the prolific ‘top table’, but who’s on there and what are they doing there? Traditionally, it should go your chief bridesmaid, the groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother, and best man, for some wholesome family fun and integration.
This is ideal if your family all get along and get along with each other, but we can understand if you err on the side of caution on the big day with relations. Sit your family where you want them and where you’ll be the least worried! Alternatively, get rid of the top table completely. Have a few top tables, with each couple heading a table – you, the groom’s parents, and the bride’s parents. Or, go the other way, and have a sweetheart’s table where it’s just you and your partner, to enjoy some quality time together. Set two seats across from you both so that your guests can come up and chat to you, rather than the impetus being the other way round.
Traditionally, speeches follow the order of:
The father of the bride, who toasts the bride and groom
The groom, who should toast the bride’s family and bridesmaids (and probably mention his wonderful new wife)
The best man
But I know I’d be pretty miffed if I didn’t get a chance to speak on my wedding day, and can also appreciate that there are probably plenty of men out there who don’t see that they should have to speak on the big day just because of their sex. Open up the speeches to your family – maybe your mum would prefer to do a speech about your time together, and maybe your Maid Of Honour would give a speech that’s a damn sight funnier than what your stage-frightened Best Man could write on his cue cards. If no-one wants to speak and you’d rather just tuck into your food, don’t be afraid to abolish speeches all together: just take a moment to thank everyone who needs to be thanked, and get into the party feeling.
Written by Ellie Kime