Planning a wedding is already stressful enough, having 1001 things on your mind, it’s easy to forget about some important details that the bride and groom should know before the big day arrives. In addition to you and your fiancé, your wedding will include various other people from family, friends and everyone else in between and for that reason being aware of”wedding etiquette” is extremely important.
The following are top 12 questions couples should ask and answer before the big day arrives so that you are not left guessing and making the wrong move!
1. What side are we supposed to stand/sit during the ceremony?
In a church ceremony, the bride stands on the left side and the groom on the right facing the altar. The guests generally sit on the side they represent (hint: tell mutual friends to sit on the side that has less people to balance out the room), although guests should sit where ever they wish, bringing two sides together!
At a Jewish ceremony, the bride stands on the right, opposite to a church ceremony.
At a Sikh Gurdawara, the bride sits on the left side facing the Sir Guru Granth Sahib covered by a new rumala which is a bright silk covering.
At a Hindu ceremony, the bride sits on the right facing towards the holy fire, and once they exchange vows and make their rounds “Pharas”, the bride and groom then switch sides, bride now sits on the left side of her groom.
2. What is the best way to greet guests if you prefer not to have a receiving line?
Some couples choose to not stand around and not have a receiving line, which is okay; the alternative solution is for you to greet your guests when the 1st course is served during your reception. Plan your time accordingly to make sure that you have enough time to eat, but also when you go from table to table you shouldn’t rush when saying thank yous’ to everyone and letting them know how much they mean to you!
3. What is the most appropriate way to kiss at the ceremony?
When it’s time to seal the deal with a kiss, it’s important to keep in mind that at your ceremony you also have the company of friends and relatives, so kissing has to be flavorful and appropriate. That does not mean that your “first kiss” as husband and wife has to be a boring peck, but keep it simple and natural and doesn’t involve tongue or last longer than 10 seconds.
In history, Indian weddings frowns on public display of affection (holding hands or kissing), even after marriage. You will never, ever see brides and grooms kiss at their wedding.
4. When is the best time to take off my veil?
This generally is based on the bride’s preference. Some brides prefer to take their veil off for the reception. If that’s the case, the best time to ditch it is right after the ceremony. Another alternative is to keep the veil for the photos and for the reception entrance and take it off during dinner when guests are busy and won’t notice!
In today’s trends, it’s now more of a preference where many brides choose not to wear the traditional veil over their face but have it flipped back for the entire ceremony or not wear one at all. However, there are still a few brides who still wear the veil over her face. For a classic look, here are two ways to wear a veil: 1. your dad lifts the veil when he gives you away, “revealing” you to the groom or 2. The groom lifts the veil just before the kiss to seal the deal!
For Indian brides, the “chunni” aka veil is worn at all times during the ceremony. Brides do keep the chunni throughout the formal photo-shoot and generally when the bride transitions into the reception attire, the chunni is usually draped over the shoulder and wrapped around the hips. There have been scenarios where the chunni can be worn on the head for both the ceremony and reception; it all depends on traditions and personal preference.
5. What do the bride and groom do during the cake cutting ceremony?
In different cultures cutting a cake happens at various times during the receptions. Generally, the cake cutting happens after dinner, when the DJ or MC officially invites the bride and groom to cut the cake. Some couples cut the cake right after they enter into the hall and before going up to their seats or before their first dance.
In the Persian culture, cake cutting is the last activity of the night, the later the better! During a Persian reception, the bride and groom cut their cake after dinner, speeches, and everything else including the “Knife Dance” which is performed by the groom’s sisters. The groom must buy the knife at a price that satisfies the sister(s) and only then can the bride & groom proceed with the cake cutting ceremony.
Regardless of when the cake is cut, it’s important for the first cut; your groom’s hands are placed over yours as you cut into the bottom layer of the cake. The groom makes the second cut solo and feeds the bride, and then it’s the brides turn to feed her groom.
6. When is it appropriate for me to take my high heels off?
It’s been a long day in those heels, and now it’s time for the reception and you would love nothing more than to ditch those really high heels. As a guest, it doesn’t really matter when you lose the heels, but it’s different if you’re a bride – especially if you’re wearing a gorgeous formal dress.
Don’t stress brides, we not saying you can’t be comfortable at your reception, instead arrange for a pair of flats that match your outfit and are already at the hall for when you are ready to hit the dance floor. Another suggestion, regardless of when you’re wedding is but especially in the hot summer months, you and your guest will appreciate a basket of flip-flops in your wedding colours to slip into before breaking the dance floor. The only place where going shoeless would be appropriate and aloud is if you’re getting married on a beach (hint: destination weddings are on the rise and a fantastic option!)
7. Who is expected to give a toast?
For Western weddings, traditionally at the reception the best man proposes the first toast to the bride and groom usually before the first meal is served! He asks everyone but you two to stand and the toast he gives should be personal; the sentiment should always be for the couple’s future happiness. After his speech, the best man raises his glass and invites the rest of the guests to join him in honour of the couple. Other members may also provide toasts, depends on the couple’s preference, but just keep in mind that all toasts are kept to a minimum and the right amount of time to keep with the reception program.
In many Indian receptions, toasts are generally lead by siblings or close relatives and followed by parent speeches. Many Indian weddings generally do have a bridal party however specifically no”best-man” or “maid-of-honour”, therefore, close family members lead the toast.
8. How do we let guests know, tactfully, that their children aren’t invited?
When you are writing/ordering your invitation, it’s important to assure that the inside the outer envelope with only invited guests’ names is on it. You can enclose a handwritten note to relatives and friends explaining that as much as you would love to invite their children, you simply cannot because of space or cost limitations. If you wish, mention that children will be most welcome to attend the wedding ceremony. It can sometimes be a hard and sensitive topic, but it’s best to make certain, before your wedding day, that all of your guests understand and comply with your wishes. Don’t make exceptions – it’s not fair to other guests who respect your wishes. You can invite the flower girl and ring bearer without being hypocritical.
9. Do we really need to feed the vendors (e.g. Band, photographers, etc.)
Many bands, photographers, videographers and other wedding vendors who will be at the reception for the duration of the event will stipulate in their contracts that they must be fed. You do not have to provide them with alcoholic beverages, however, nor should you – they are working, after all. And even if they don’t demand it, serving them a meal is a nice gesture – such thoughtfulness may guarantee you better service.
Before you panic about the extra cost, ask you caterer – many will feed “the help” for half price. You can choose to arrange sandwiches or something less expensive than the main entrée that the rest of your guests are being served.
10. Is it okay to use your mobile device to upload pictures during the wedding?
This depends solely on the couple! It would be best to get the couple’s permission before posting photos to social media especially during the ceremony. This can cause distraction and as well takes away from actually being there at the wedding and experiencing the moment. Another issues may arise or cause unwanted conflict when posting photos or “checking in” at a venue of the wedding which tells details of the event to people who may not have been invited.
11. If someone asks me to be in their wedding; do I have to ask them to be in mine?
You are not obligated to include someone in your wedding if they had asked you to be in their wedding. If you do not feel comfortable for them to be in your bridal party, you can have them included in other areas of the wedding.
Just a side note and optional, it would be a nice gesture to include your finance’s siblings in the wedding party, but you are not required to do that either if you don’t feel comfortable.
12. If I know someone can’t attend, do I need to send an invitation anyway?
If someone lets you know that they have a conflict and will not be able to attend your wedding, you do not need to follow up with an invitation, because an invitation comes with the expectation of a gift, and you do not want people to think they have to give a gift even though they cannot attend. In the case of a very close friend and/or family, you may want to send an invitation out of courtesy and with a note that explains you are sending it as a keepsake.