Top tips – wedding etiquette by wedding planners
Here are our top tips for traditional and contemporary wedding etiquette. Enjoy the read…
TOP TABLE WEDDING ETIQUETTE
Traditionally the bride and her bridal attendants are placed to the left of the table in the venue, while the groom and his groomsmen are on the right. Alternatively you may consider the more contemporary arrangement of seating the head table as male – female – male – female. This is far more popular if the bridal attendants and grooms men are in a partnership which is often the case.
It is common practise to seat both sets of parents at the head table. If the bridal party is large, communication between everyone can become quite difficult. In these circumstance you may wish to seat both sets of parents on a separate table, the one closest to the head table. It is becoming popular practise to have a special table for each set of parents, seating them close to friends and family. The MC is usually seated at the bride’s parents’ table.
Alternatively, if the bridal party is large, the main table sometimes consists only of the bridal couple and parents with possibly the best man and the chief bridesmaid or Matron of Honour. With the balance of the attendants seated with the guests in close proximity of the main table.
WEDDING ETIQUETTE IF PARENTS HAVE REMARRIED
This is entirely dependent on the relationship that the parents share. Should the situation be that everyone gets on well, then you may decide to have all at one table, however in most cases, it is more fitting to have them at separate tables with guests they feel comfortable with. It is imperative that in this situation, all should be made to feel as important as the other and where possible tables should be equi-distant from the main table to avoid any ill-feelings!
BEST TIME FOR CUTTING THE CAKE?
The wedding cake can be prominently displayed as the centre piece of the bridal table or set aside on a table of its own where all the guests are able to see it. Another place to position the cake is in the middle of the dance floor where it can be cut and then moved to the side before the dancing starts.
The cake should be cut before the coffee is served and after the speeches. Preferably it should be cut before the dancing starts, as it stops the flow of the evening to get everyone seated again to cut the cake. The MC should announce the moment. Use a special knife decorated with a ribbon or flowers – this can later be kept as a momento.
After the final toast has been given to the bride and groom, take the knife in the bride’s right hand, underneath the groom’s hand and together cut the first wedge of cake. Once it has been shared between the couple, the bottom tier is cut and prepared for the guests.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SPEECHES
Toasts and speeches are a wonderful, traditional and a very important part of the reception and can actually set the tone and atmosphere for the entire evening. A Master of Ceremonies is appointed to control the overall flow of events and ensure that the celebration runs smoothly. The MC can be a close friend, relative or if preferred hired in professionally. Whoever you choose, they should be someone with the confidence to take control and have a contagious sense of humour.
Once the MC has introduced himself and welcomed everyone to the reception, he needs to run through formalities as to what the order of events will be. This should included any special information that the guests need to be made aware of – i.e. cash bar / ordering of drinks / smoking policy etc.
The MC should start off by inviting the Brides Father or an old friend of the family to propose a toast to the bridal couples health and happiness.
The bride’s father can take this opportunity to express his fondness of the bride and also to welcome his new son-in-law to the family. He may want to share some advice to you both and from there will ask guests to charge their glasses to the bride and groom.
The groom then responds with thanking the brides parents for all they have done and, if applicable, for hosting the wedding and reception. He then thanks his own parents for raising him. The groom then has the opportunity to share some anecdotes about his experiences during your courting years. In closing he will toast to his bride.
In some cases, the brides are choosing to also say a speech at the wedding – this is totally optional and if she feels she wants to – it adds a wonderful element, however, is not imperative.
The best man’s speech follows the groom and here he also reads out faxes, e-mails and other special messages for the bridal couple. He also has the opportunity to enlighten the guests as to what the groom is like as a friend and will close with congratulations to the couple and a toast to the bridesmaids.
The MC or another close family friend or relative can propose a toast to the bride’s parents and the brides father responds with a toast to the groom’s parents. Should the groom’s father wish, he can now take the stage for a few words.
CLOSING THE CELEBRATIONS AND TRADITIONS
The choice to wear a “going-away” outfit or to remain in your wedding dress by the end of the reception is entirely a personal decision by the bride. Some ladies prefer to take full advantage of the rare chance of wearing their wedding dress to the threshold of their honeymoon suite. Others prefer to change into a stylish outfit that helps to distinguish the end of the wedding rituals and the beginning of a new life together.
As the reception comes to a close, the MC will announce the throwing of the bouquet. Traditionally all the single women present gather before the bride. At this point, the bride turns her back to them and tosses the bouquet (or a substitute). The myth is that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to marry. Whether taken seriously or not, the act of scrambling for the bouquet provides a fun-filled moment for all.
The groom has the pleasure of removing his brides special garter. How he removes it is sometimes entertaining to guests ! He then tosses it to a gathered group of single men. The nature of this practice heightens the sense of fun as the reception winds down to a close.
The common practise is that when the dancing starts again the lady that caught the bouquet and the man that caught the garter open the dance floor once more.
The final act of saying farewell involves the guests forming a large circle or archway towards the door. The bridal couple make their way around bidding everyone farewell – allowing for personal farewells. This can be a very emotional time for many – good idea to be prepared with some tissues!
The couple then leave the reception in their car for the honeymoon night, in some cases having being decorated by various wedding guests to draw attention to the fact that they have just tied the knot !
The above is the standard practise, however, many couples are now opting to throw bouquets and garters earlier on in the evening and remain to the end of their wedding with their guests to enjoy the celebrations to the full – on many occasions being some of the last to leave !
We trust you enjoyed reading our wedding planners tips on wedding etiquette.