It is widely known that cultural customs vary by country, but something that might not be considered are the etiquette and customs that differ with weddings. These customs and etiquette can span all the way from the engagement to the wedding reception. Keep these things in mind when planning to attend or be part of a traditional British wedding.
Generally, the bride and her parents will put together the list of who to invite, including close family and friends. If choosing to not invite children, only the names of the adult guests will be on the invitation, and on a separate card it is explained that there is a seating plan that cannot accommodate children. If funds allow, a separate area of the facility may be arranged for the children.
Traditionally, the bride’s family would pay for the wedding because it was seen that the family would be gaining a son from the marriage. In more recent times, the cost of having a wedding has skyrocketed, so it is near impossible for just one family to pay for the entire thing. Though the affluence of each family will play a part in who pays for what, this is how the wedding parts are generally divided out following typical British wedding traditions.
The groom (and/or his family) will pay for the engagement and wedding ring, marriage license, venue/church fees, formal wear for the attendants, flowers, gifts for attendants, transportation to and from the venue, the honeymoon, and the photographer.
The bride and her family will pay for the wedding reception, including decorations, the bride’s dress and accessories, the bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories, stationary, announcements, the bride’s transportation to the venue, and the wedding cake.
As guests arrive, the ushers should hand out the correct books and flowers, while making sure that the guests are sitting on the correct side. They will escort the grandparents of the bride and groom in as well. The groomsmen will escort the bridesmaids in and the maid of honor may enter by herself or with the best man. The ring bearer and flower girl will enter, followed by the bride and her father. In some ceremonies, the bridal party will remain standing and will not take a seat during the ceremony.
The bride’s side is generally on the left, while the groom’s side is on the right. The first few rows of each side are reserved for the parents and close family of the bride and groom, the second row for the wedding party, and then everyone else is free to sit where they please.
Though it is fun for wedding guests to sit with their friends or family, the wedding allows for the opportunity to meet new people. One table should be for the bride and groom and their wedding party, along with any significant others.
Normally, there are three people that are expected to make speeches at the wedding. In speaking order, they are the bride’s father to welcome guests and toast to health and happiness, the groom to thank his parents and guests and to acknowledge any absent family members, and the best man to make a humorous and lighthearted speech. There is nobody else that is required to make a speech, but it is not uncommon for the groom’s father, bride, or maid of honor to make one as well.
This is very important. The groom will generally announce the thank you’s and will give out presents to the parents and bridesmaids. In general, a short “thank you for coming” is included in all speeches done by those listed previously.
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