Wedding Day Etiquette

Wedding Day - Room AngelzWelcome to our wedding day guide. It is quite often assumed that the bride’s father picks up the bill for the whole event. Whilst this may have been the case a few years ago, it is not necessarily so today and costs are often shared between both sets of parents.

The bride’s father does, however, actually have the responsibility for the most enviable task of giving the bride away. He also receives the guests at the reception. In return he pays for the venue and catering, the wedding dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the cars (except the bridegroom’s), the photographer, the flowers for the church and reception, wedding stationery and press announcements.Traditionally, it is the bride’s mother who is in charge of all proceedings and catering arrangements.

The remaining costs are the responsibility of the bridegroom. These include the ring(s), the church fees, presents for the bridesmaids, the best man and the ushers and flowers for the bride, the bride’s mother, his own mother and the bridesmaids. He also pays for buttonholes for himself and the best man and arranges and pays for transport for him and the best man before the wedding and for himself and his bride afterwards.

Once it has been decided who pays for what, it is well worth drawing up a timetable for the big wedding day. This can form the basic check-list for all activities and helps to ensure that all events go according to plan. Within this timetable, all events from the service to the last record on the dance floor should be considered. As a guide, about 40 minutes should be allowed for the service with another 60 minutes for the photographer. To this must be added the time it will take to travel from the church to the reception venue. Further photographs and reception drinks at the wedding day venue will add almost another hour and following this is the line-up which can take anything from 15 minutes depending on the number of guests attending. The wedding banquet itself traditionally follows and 2 hours should be allowed for the meal, the cutting of the cake and speeches. Once these have finished, the wedding party has the option to retire which will allow proceedings to quieten down until the evening reception starts, usually about 7.30 pm.

On arriving at the reception, guests are generally offered an aperitif such as champagne, Pimms or the very popular Bucks Fizz. This is followed by the line-up. At the head will be the bride’s parents followed by the bride and groom, the groom’s parents, the bridesmaids and best man. The line-up ensures that both families have the opportunity to speak to all the guests, though conversation should be kept brief to avoid unnecessary queuing.

After the meal, the cake is cut by the bride and bridegroom and the speeches then follow. These begin with a toast to the bride and bridegroom. This is generally proposed by the bride’s father, but can be by a close relative or friend of the family. The bridegroom then responds with a toast to the bridesmaids before the speeches are brought to a close by the best man, who also reads any cards and emails.

An alternative, which is becoming more popular, is to have the speeches and toasts before the meal. This, at least, allows the more nervous speakers to enjoy the meal. If this is your option, then do let the caterers know in advance.

The top table usually consists of 10 people. Seated right to left facing the guests they are the best man, the chief bridesmaid, the groom’s father, the bride’s mother, the groom, the bride, the bride’s father, the groom’s mother and the remaining bridesmaids.

Obviously exact arrangements for each wedding day will vary from couple to couple. This is where the help from a wedding day consultant will prove invaluable. She will guide you gently through all aspects of your wedding so that you can relax and enjoy your big day.

Who Pays For What?

Traditionally, the bride’s parents organise and pay for the wedding. However, nowadays it is not unusual for the groom’s parents to contribute, or even the bride and groom. In some instances, the bride and groom may, if their financial position permits, pay for the whole wedding.

The Bride’s Family Pays/Is Responsible For:

• Engagement/wedding announcements
• Bride’s outfit
• Venue/marquee
• Catering and wine
• Flowers for church/register office and reception
• Wedding cake
• Invitations/stationery
• Photographers
• Videographers
• Bridal cars

The Groom’s Family Pays/Is Responsible For:

• Ceremony/legal expenses
• Engagement and wedding rings
• Bouquets, corsages and buttonholes
• Gift for the best man
• Gifts for the bridesmaids
• Music/entertainment
• Car to the church for the groom and best man
• Car to the reception for the bride and groom
• First-night hotel
• Honeymoon

Selecting the Essential Services

Wedding Day Photography - Room Angelz

You only get one chance to get your wedding day right, so be careful when choosing your photographer. Prices and styles vary enormously and, as with everything, you should visit a variety of photographers to discuss your requirements. It is also advisable to ask to see their portfolio and some wedding albums.

Often the best photographer will be a local one who knows the venues well and will, therefore, obtain the best shots. Should you decide on someone from outside the area, it is a good idea to take them along to the church and reception venue to discuss your requirements. However, do take notice of their ideas – after all, they are the professionals!

You should also discuss your plans with the minister to see if photographs are permitted in church and, if so, whether a flash is allowed. Civil ceremonies are usually more relaxed, although certain restrictions apply to them.

The registrar will be happy to tell you about these. Good photographers are likely to get booked up early. Once you have made your choice, confirm your booking in writing enclosing all the relevant information such as times, dates, addresses and deposit if applicable.

Wedding Day Etiquette - Room AngelzA video of your wedding day allows you to re-visit the day time and time again. It should not be considered as a replacement for a wedding album, but an essential integral part of your day.

You should choose your video company in the same way as your photographer. Some photographic studios have a video team also, but the local company is more likely to have worked with the photographer before and they, therefore, understand each other.

Prices vary depending on the time of year and the amount of time they will be needed, so always discuss your requirements in advance.

Also, the minister will have to be consulted to see if videoing is allowed inside the church. If this is permitted, there is usually a fee to pay to the church.

Wedding day Transport - Room AngelzThe choice of wedding day transport is very personal and, to some extent, will depend on the style of wedding itself.

You may choose a modern Rolls Royce or a vintage car or even a horse-drawn carriage.

Hiring a chauffeur-driven vehicle to take you to the church adds an element of luxury as well as being practical. The added space prevents the bride’s veil and dress from getting too crumpled and it makes an ideal backdrop for photographs.

When making enquiries, ask about the whole package as some companies will include flowers in the car and champagne for the journey.

Wedding Day Flowers - Room AngelzFlowers are a very important part of your wedding day and it will be one of the few times when you will choose the flowers for yourself.

You will need to think carefully about your colour scheme and style of dress when deciding on the bouquet.

The present trend is towards hand-tied bouquets rather than the large wired types. Make sure that your chosen floral arrangements are co-ordinated; bouquets for yourself and your attendants, buttonholes, corsages for the two mothers, and church and table arrangements.

Consider also the colour and design of the wedding cake and whether you intend to have fresh flowers on top. Prices will depend on the time of year. It is, therefore, advisable to obtain a rough price guide before placing the order.

Wedding Day Cake - Room AngelzWhilst it is still traditional to have a tiered wedding cake, do not feel obliged to have the standard 3-tiered fruit cake with icing.

Wedding day cakes range from a single tier with the minimum of decoration to a highly decorated 4-tier affair created to your exact requirements and you do not have to have every tier as a fruit cake; a sponge for one tier could be considered for people who do not particularly like the fruit variety and this will reduce the cost.

Prices will, naturally, vary according to your final choice.

You will need to bear in mind your colour co-ordination when deciding on colour and design; the more intricate the design, the longer it will take to complete.

It is, therefore, wise to book the cake at least three months in advance of the wedding day. You will need to arrange for the cake to be delivered to the reception venue on the morning of the wedding.

Always check that the venue has a suitable cake stand and knife for you too!

Wedding Day Music - Room AngelzMusic is the soundtrack of your wedding day – from your entrance into the church to the last note at the reception.

The range of entertainment can be from the local DJ to a string quartet to a full size band.

Although most musicians have a wide repertoire, some will specialise and a visit to an entertainment agency may well be the answer, especially if you want something different, but not really knowing what.

Wedding Stationary - Room AngelzThe type of stationery you will have will depend very much on your budget. High street shops have a good range of standard designs to suit all tastes and budgets, but for a little extra, you can obtain much more personalised stationery. The choice of design and wording is up to you, but the traditional formal invitation printed in black in the third person is still the most popular.

The invitations may take 3-6 weeks to be printed, so order them 5-6 months in advance. They should be posted about three months before the wedding day.
You will need one invitation per family, one for the groom’s parents and one for the minister and his wife. You will also need to send them to any close family or friends who you already know will be unable to attend. It is a good idea to order around 20 extra. This allows for last minute guests and any mistakes if you are writing out the invitations by hand.

Carefully check the details before giving the printer a copy of the exact wording you would like on the invitations. Ideally, ask to see a proof before they go ahead as printing errors are not uncommon.

Once you know how the ceremony will proceed, you may want to have Orders of Service sheets printed. You will need, generally, one between two plus one each for yourselves, one for the minister and one for the organist. If you are having a civil ceremony, the Order of Service will not be necessary, although you could have an order of day which covers the service and your reception details, including your menu, as well as the evening entertainment.

You may also choose to order personalised wedding stationery such as thank-you cards, reply cards, evening reception invitations, menus, place cards, napkins, favours and cake boxes.

Choosing the Perfect Venue

The ‘Perfect Venue’ is very much decided by the type of wedding day you intend to have and how much your budget will allow you to spend. It can be anything from an elegant ballroom in an exclusive hotel or a marquee in the grounds of a stately home to a small intimate party in your favourite restaurant.

Venues such as hotels and restaurants often provide you with the complete package giving you everything you need to host your reception. If, however, you prefer to have your wedding reception in a marquee or your local hall, you may wish to engage the services of a wedding consultant to help you plan and organise all the services you will need to make your special day complete.

No matter what venue you decide upon, you will need to visit the various places and companies who cater for your requirements. When arranging these visits you should take note of the contact name, the telephone number and the address. You will also need to tell them the wedding date, the price range and number of expected guests. When you get home, make notes to remind you about the visit.

Wedding Day Guide - Room Angelz

Questions to Ask:

  • The venue’s hire fee and what is included in the price.
  • The venue’s capacity (including chair and table availability).
  • Are there overtime fees?
  • What time can set-up begin?
  • Who is responsible for cleaning up?
  • How far in advance must reservations be made?
  • How far in advance must menu and drink selections be made?
  • How much notice is needed for the final guest count?
  • What parking facilities are available?
  • Is the dance floor large enough?
  • Is it necessary to use the in-house caterer?
  • How much is the deposit and when is it due?
  • When is the balance payable?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • Is a security (damage) deposit needed, how much is it, when is it needed and when will it be refunded?
  • Are there any special rules and regulations?

Wedding Party Responsibilities

The best man’s main role is to look after the groom and ensure that the whole wedding day runs smoothly.

Wedding Day Duties - Room AngelzThe best man will:

  • Liaise with the bride’s family regularly to keep himself up-to-date with all arrangements.
  • Organise the stag night and make sure that the groom gets home safely.
  • Ensure that the groom’s away clothes are at the reception venue.
  • Supervise the ushers and ensure that the Order of Service sheets are handed out.
  • Get the groom to the church on time.
  • Pay fees on groom’s behalf to the minister, band and so on.
  • Hold the ring(s) during the ceremony.
  • Arrange transport to the reception.
  • Make a speech in reply to the groom’s toast.
  • Read any messages, cards or emails.
  • Announce the speeches and the cutting of the cake (unless there is a toastmaster).
  • Arrange transport for the bride and groom from the reception.
  • Look after the groom’s wedding clothes after the reception.

The chief bridesmaid is there to help the bride as much as possible in the lead up to the wedding day and assist her throughout the actual day.Wedding Day Guide - Bridesmaids Duties - Room Angelz

The chief bridesmaid will:

  • Help the bride address the invitations.
  • Arrange a girl’s night out and/or a surprise wedding shower.
  • Make sure the bouquet and flowers are ready for the bride and bridesmaids.
  • Help the bride to dress on her wedding day.
  • Look after the other bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys.
  • Take the bride’s bouquet during the service.
  • Check that the bride’s going away clothes and luggage are ready and help the bride change at the end of the reception.

Wedding Day Guide - UshersThe role of the ushers is to assist the wedding day guests whilst at church.

The ushers will:

  • Hand out the Order of Service sheets and show guests to their seats in church.
  • Ensure that the guests have transport from the church to the reception.
  • One usher should be responsible for looking after the mother of the bride and the groom’s parents and escort them to their seats.

Wedding Day Guide

The months of planning are now over and one of the most important days of your life is about to begin. We have already covered the roles that the various people play and the following is a guide as to how they will fit in and how the wedding day should go.

A Church Wedding Day

Wedding Day Guide - Room AngelzThe ushers will need to arrive at the church about 30 minutes before the wedding is due to start so that they are there when the first guests arrive. They should hand out the Order of Service sheets and show the guests to their seats bearing in mind that the bride’s family and friends sit on the left side of the church and the groom’s family and friends on the right. About 20 minutes before the start of the ceremony, the groom and best man should arrive. This will give the best man time to pay the fees to the minister. They both sit in the front pew on the right hand side of the church.

The bride’s mother travels to the church with the bridesmaids and remains with them in the porch until the bride arrives with her father, usually about 5 minutes before the start, although tradition has it that it is the bride’s prerogative to be late. However, do bear in mind the fact that the photographer will want to take photographs before the bride enters the church and there may be a service shortly after if it is a busy and popular church.

One of the ushers will show the bride’s mother to her seat and this is a signal to the congregation and the organist that the service is about to begin. The bride takes up her position at the entrance of the church and proceeds to walk down the aisle on the right arm of her father with the bridesmaids following. Once her father has safely delivered her to her future husband, he takes up his seat next to his wife. It is then that the service begins.

After the vows are taken, the best man hands the ring(s) to the minister before returning to his seat. They are then pronounced Husband and Wife and they traditionally have their first kiss as a married couple. As the minister proceeds to the altar, the couple join him for prayers which are then followed by a hymn and the final blessing before the couple go to the vestry for the signing of the register in the presence of two witnesses.
After leaving the vestry, they proceed down the aisle with the bride on the husband’s left arm. They are followed by the bridesmaids and page boys, the chief bridesmaid and the best man, the bride’s mother with the groom’s father and the groom’s mother with the bride’s father.
It is usual to have a photo session before driving off to the reception.


The Reception

Wedding Day Etiquette - Room AngelzWhere to hold the reception is, perhaps, one of the most difficult decisions to make. Depending on your personal choice and your budget, you can choose from a wide range of wedding day venues such as a grand ballroom in a prestigious hotel, a marquee in the grounds of a stately home, a boat moored on your favourite river or an intimate restaurant which may well bring back memories.

Easiest to organise is probably the hotel as most of the facilities will be available as a matter of course. However, it is a good idea to have a meal there before booking and do have a good look around. The hotel manager or wedding day co-ordinator will be pleased to show you not only the venue, but also the accommodation should you or any of your guests decide to stay overnight.
Outside catering is a little more difficult. You will need to employ a reputable catering company and do check what you are getting for your money. Ideally, you will need a company which supplies the crockery, cutlery, table linen, cake stand and knife, chefs, waitresses/waiters and tastefully made decorations. This will ensure that you do not have to pay for those ‘add-ons’.

Decoration is an important part of the reception. The hotel will often recommend local companies who are able to add a little extra to the proceedings such as balloons. The actual style of the meal depends on what you feel comfortable with. It can range from a very elegant stand up affair with champagne and canapés, a formal silver-service sit-down meal or a beautifully presented buffet.

A seating plan is essential for a sit-down meal, but a reasonable amount of thought will be required to ensure that the guests are comfortable with each other. Remember, they have put themselves out to look smart for the occasion and some will have traveled considerable distances in order to help you celebrate your big day. A little consideration, therefore, with the plan goes a long way. In addition, you will need place cards and, as a gesture, it is customary to reward your guests with a small gift or favour. Do remember to give a copy of the seating plan together with the place cards to the organiser. That person will then ensure that the place cards are put in the order you would like people to sit.



Music may be played before and after the ceremony if you wish. Your choice may include an orchestra, a piano recital, a singer, a band, quartets and so on, to enhance your wedding day ceremony.
Religious content is not permitted at Civil Marriage Ceremonies.
The bride may come down the aisle to the traditional Wedding March. Alternatively, the Register Office may design you a unique wedding ceremony and arrange all the choreography.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of your readings or choice of music, please consult the Superintendent Registrar in advance.

The Speeches

Tradition has it that at the end of the meal, but before the cutting of the cake, come the speeches.
The toastmaster or best man will ask for silence and the bride’s father will then propose the main toast to the bride and groom. This is followed by the groom’s speech in which he proposes a toast to the bridesmaids.
The best man then replies and reads any emails and cards sent by absent relatives or friends. Following on from this, the toastmaster or best man will announce that the bride and groom are about to cut the cake.
However, you may find it less boring for your guests if the cake is cut after the main course but before the dessert. The caterers can then slice the cake and have it ready to eat with the champagne when the speeches are being made. This prevents long pauses where your guests have to amuse themselves.

Going Away

It is normal for the bride and groom to be the first to leave the reception.
If the bride has not already thrown her bouquet away, she can do so now.
Their departure is announced by the best man.

wedding day guide - just married image

A Guide To Civil Ceremonies

A Civil Ceremony

The civil ceremony in the register office is much shorter and takes 10-15 minutes. Licensed venues offer more opportunity to have readings and music. You are also already at the venue for the reception and they can provide accommodation for your wedding day party.

Once you have secured your booking at your chosen venue, you MUST contact the Register Office to ensure that the Superintendent Registrar is available on the day and time of your marriage.
You will then need to contact the Register Office where you both reside to arrange to give your legal notice of marriage. Generally, you can book the date with the Registrar up to 12 months before the date of your wedding day.

The groom and his best man should arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the ceremony. This gives the Registrar time to check the information given on the notice of marriage and to enable the marriage ceremony to proceed.
The bride will arrive at the time of the wedding.

For more information concerning fees and so on, please contact the Register Office.

You are required to provide two witnesses. They can be male or female, friends or relatives, but must be at least 16 years of age. However, you do not have to provide a best man.

You may have one ring, two rings or no rings at all. You will be asked to put the ring(s) on a cushion in front of you before the ceremony.
You will be told when to put them on during the ceremony.
You will sign in Registration Ink with your usual signature.
Brides may wear anything from a full bridal gown to a simple dress or suit.
The Registrar only asks that you treat the ceremony as a serious occasion and dress accordingly.
You may, with permission of the Superintendent Registrar or the Deputy, use a video camera during the ceremony, but not during the signing of the register.
A mock signing is arranged afterwards for photographs.
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