Wedding Etiquette

Invitations:

Invitations should be worded from the hosts of the wedding:

  • Bride and Groom Hosting: Miss (First Name/Surname) and Mr (First Name/Surname) request the pleasure of (name of guest) at their wedding
  • Bride’s Parents Hosting: Mr and Mrs (Fathers First Name/Surname) request the pleasure of (name of guest) at the marriage of their daughter (First Name of Bride) to Mr (First Name/Surname of Groom)
  • Divorced Parents Hosting: Mr (First Name/Surname) and Mrs (First Name/Surname) request the pleasure of (name of guest) at the marriage of their daughter (First Name of Bride) to Mr (First Name/Surname of Groom)
  • Evening Reception Invitation Only: (Hosts names as per above) request the pleasure of (name of guest) at an after dinner evening reception, following the marriage of their daughter (First Name of Bride) to Mr (First Name/Surname of Groom)

RSVP details should be printed in the bottom left hand corner or include an RSVP card. Guest should also be asked to provide notice of any special requirements e.g. dietary requirements, disabled parking access etc.

Include details of the Wedding Gift List, Maps/directions to the venue, a list of accommodation to suit a range of budgets and local taxi numbers.

Running Order:

The Ceremony:

  • Processional entrance of the bride, introduction, a hymn (if religious ceremony), the marriage, prayers (if religious ceremony) and optional readings or blessings followed by the signing of the register. The service ends with the recessional exit of the couple
  • It is customary to provide Order of Service sheets or booklets with the words to hymns and songs to be sung
  • The order of the ceremony is similar for non-religious ceremonies although there can be no religious references made at a civil ceremony, so thoroughly check the lyrics and words of any chosen songs, music or readings before submitting them to your registrar for approval

The Reception:

  • On arrival your ushers should ensure guests are directed to the appropriate car parking area
  • Allow half an hour for guests to arrive and welcome them with a traditional receiving line or by circulating the room
  • Canapes and aperitifs may be served and relevant guests rounded up for photographs
  • The guests then sit down to dinner followed by the toasts and speeches (although this is not strictly essential as some people prefer to have the speeches before the wedding breakfast
  • The speeches / end of dinner is followed by the cutting of the cake and the couple’s first dance
  • It is traditional for everyone to stay until the bride and groom leave so if you plan on staying until the early hours it would be polite to inform your guests so they can make their apologies in advance if they need to leave early

Who Does What:

The Best Man: His main role is to support the Groom – planning his stag night, ensuring he gets to church, looking after and handing over the wedding rings during the ceremony and making a speech. He will also be responsible for all the ushers, making announcements throughout the reception, directing guests, ensuring the bride and grooms transport is in place and ensuring all hire suits are returned on time following the event.

The Chief Bridesmaid: Her main role is looking after the bride – helping plan the hen night, get the bride ready on the morning, look after the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony and soothe any last minute nerves. She is also responsible for looking after any other bridesmaids.

Ushers: Their role is to help the Best Man, hand out Order of Service sheets and guide them to their seats

The Seating Plan:

  • It is traditional for the Bride and Groom to sit at a top table, with their parents, the chief bridesmaid and best man. However nowadays there are a range of choices other than the long table, some people prefer the a more social round table seating arrangement and some couples prefer a ‘sweethearts’ table just for the bride and groom
  • To avoid any awkwardness with divorced parents, sit them close to their new partners or ask them to host their own tables
  • If is advisable to keep an equal mix of ladies and gentlemen to each table
  • As a general rule couples should sit on the same table but not necessarily next to each other
  • Children may be seated with their parents or you may wish to provide a separate children’s area/table –this could be decorated accordingly with crayons and goody bags to keep them amused during the meal

Speeches:

Father of the Bride:

  • Welcome
  • Toast’s the Groom’s parents
  • Offers advice to newlyweds
  • Welcomes Son in Law to the family
  • Tells a few tales about his daughter
  • Toasts the happy couple

The Groom:

  • Compliments his wife
  • Thanks everyone for coming
  • Thanks both sets of parents
  • Toasts the bridesmaids

The Bride:

  • Nowadays the Bride may wish to say a few words and thank everyone personally

The Best Man:

  • Thanks the bridesmaids
  • Reads any messages/telegrams
  • Tells a few light-hearted anecdotes about the groom
  • Toasts the hosts of the ceremony and the happy couple
  • Announces the cutting of the cake

Children:

  • If you decide not to invite children it is preferable to tell people in advance of the invitations being sent out to avoid any confusion and unwanted reactions for example: “Unfortunately, due to numbers we are unable to invite children to the wedding; however babies that cannot leave their mothers are welcome”
  • If you are worried about disturbances during the ceremony brief your ushers to direct anyone with young children to seats close to an exit with the hint “in case you need to leave during the service”
  • If children are invited make sure you provide entertainment/goody bags to keep them amused during the reception (or you can hire a specific crèche service)
  • Ask that any special requirements e.g. high chairs are included on the RSVP