Lessons on the perfect wedding etiquette
On average a bride now spends 18 months planning the most important day of her life. Her planning will include every aspect of her special day from the venue, the outfits, flowers, menus, seating plan and music. Today's modern couples often pay for the entire wedding and therefore tend to plan and make the arrangements together.
Generally the groom will plan and organise the honeymoon.
On the Day
The bridegroom and the best man are expected to arrive at the wedding venue before the bride and her bridesmaids and approximately twenty to thirty minutes before the service is due to start.
After the photographs the next event is the reception. The bride and groom stand at the end of the reception line up (if you are having one) and at this time the groom should introduce the bride to members of his family or his friends who she has not already met.
The meal and speeches are next and the groom's speech follows that of the bride's father. His speech should thank everyone who helped organise and who contributed to the wedding, to thank the bride's parents for giving him their daughter and should always end with a thank you and toast to the bridesmaids.
Following the meal and the speeches comes the cutting of the cake, and then shortly afterwards the first dance.
After this, the bride and groom have no more duties and can spend the rest of the evening mingling, dancing and chatting.
The Best Man
The best man's responsibilities are many and are listed below:
Organise the stag night. (ensuring the groom comes to no harm)
Take care of the rings.
Ensure the groom arrives on time.
Ensure that the ushers, page boys and flower girls know what they have to do, and check that they do it.
Escort the chief bridesmaid down the aisle following the ceremony.
Best Man speech
Toastmaster (if there is no professional toastmaster present)
Ensure security of any wedding presents given on the day and safe delivery of those presents afterwards.
Return the groom's hired clothes (if he has gone on honeymoon.)
Act as host, introducing people to each other, getting conversations started and generally making sure things go smoothly.
Shop Best Man thank you gifts here.
The Chief Bridesmaid tends to be the bride's sister or her closest friend and she undertakes many of the same duties as the best man for the groom, but unlike the bestman is not required to make a speech.
The Chief Bridesmaid responsibilities are listed below:
Help the bride with the choice of her own dress and with the choice of outfits for the other attendants.
Organise the hen night.
Arrive at the bride's home early and go with her to the hairdresser.
Help her dress for the wedding.
Arrange her dress, train, veil and head flowers before the bride enters the church.
Ensure the flower girls are prepared and know what they are doing.
Stand behind and to the side of the bride at the top of the aisle, Take her bouquet and when she is standing beside the groom at the altar, lift her veil.
Work together with the best man at the reception to break ice and introduce people to each other.
Ensure her dress is secure and put away carefully if the bride is changing at the reception venue.
Return any hired dresses or clothing.
Be on hand to help the bride with whatever needs to be done.
The ushers are chosen by the groom and are usually chosen from among the brothers or cousins of the bride or groom. Just as the bride chooses her bridesmaids' dresses, the groom chooses the attire of the usher. In the case of a Scottish wedding this can mean that the groom chooses which tartan is worn.
The main duties of the usher are to show people to their seats and distribute orders of service. Apart from that they should work with the best man to ensure things run smoothly by helping with the organisation of transport from one venue to the other if required and generally being on hand and attentive to the guests.
Mother of the Bride
The Mother of the bride's role has changed considerably, particularly since most couples pay for their own wedding. However she should support her daughter, respect her daughter's decisions and ensure the smooth running of the day where possible.
The Mother of the bride travels to the wedding venue with the bridesmaids and is met at the entrance by the usher, who escorts her to her seat. She should be the last person to take her seat before the bride arrives.
It is usual for the brides' parents and the attendants to witness the signing of the registry. When leaving the venue the bride's mother walks alongside the groom's father behind the best man and chief bridesmaid.
The Father of the Bride
The father of the bride will travel with the bride to the wedding and will escort her down the aisle.
After he has delivered his daughter to the side of the groom he may retire to his seat which is usually at the front of the other guests.
The father of the bride usually delivers the first speech of the day and may cut in on the groom during the couple's first dance.
As the official host of the wedding reception, he is expected to bid farewell to the departing guests and is traditionally the last person to leave the reception.
Parents of the Groom
Once news of the engagement has been broken it is expected that the parents of the groom should contact the bride's parents to offer their congratulations. Welcome their future daughter-in-law into their family and to arrange a time for both sets of parents to meet to discuss arrangements for the wedding.
Both sets of parents should discuss and agree very early on who does what and who pays for what. The mothers, for invariably it is the female who communicate best, should keep in regular contact to keep each other up to date as to the progression of the organisation. To discuss any difficulties that arise, to avoid any misunderstanding or duplication of work and to complain about the selfishness and ingratitude of their respective offspring.
The main financial outlay for the groom's parent was traditionally gifts for the couple and possibly a rehearsal dinner. These days however, the increasing cost of weddings means that the groom's parents are expected to contribute in many other areas, which are best agreed with the bride's family well in advance.
The groom's mother is generally responsible for informing the bride's mother of the number of guests to come from the groom's side of the family.
On the day itself the groom's parents have few duties or responsibilities other than welcoming the guests to the wedding, circulating and chatting at the reception and making sure things go as smoothly as they can.
Flower Girls & Pageboys
Flower girls and Pageboys are usually nieces and nephews or young brothers and sisters. They generally no younger than about 5 nor older than 9 or 10. Children under 5 are unlikely to understand much of what's going on.
Flower girls walk in front of the bride carrying posies of flowers or bunches of thorn-less roses. Which they can pass out to the guests as they go. They can also strew rose or other flower petals before the bride as she walks down the aisle.
Pageboys traditionally carry the bride's train if she is wearing a dress with a long one. They can also be used to carry the rings on a cushion to the couple.