Wedding Jargon and Etiquette

When it comes to planning your wedding there is a world of decisions, details and rules to consider. For many brides and grooms this can be daunting especially when there is jargon used that may be confusing to those outside the wedding industry. While there is a host of traditions when it comes to all aspects of the wedding ceremony and celebration, today’s bride and groom are open to customize their day so that every moment of their special day is truly them. If you are one of them, let’s talk about some of these wedding basics and wedding jargon and what might be done traditionally to help take some confusion out of the whole thing while keeping in mind that anything is possible.

Who exactly is the “Bridal Party”

  • Maid of honor (matron of honor) – The MOH serves as the bride’s right hand and confidant during the wedding planning process. In some cases there may be a maid of honor and a matron of honor where typically the matron is married and the other not. A guy friend can also server as the MOH as a man of honor or honor attendant.
  • Bridesmaids – The traditional formula is one bridesmaid for every 35 to 50 guests.
  • Best man
  • Groomsmen – the number of groomsmen matches traditionally the number of bridesmaids
  • Flower girl(s)
  • Ring bearer
  • Ushers

How to organize your guest list

When putting together the guest list it can be helpful to organize the important people in your life in A, B and C lists, the A list being your closest friends and family. Begin adding people from the B and C list until you have reached your guest limit. A couple things to consider when creating your guest limit are desired venue and budget.

When to send what? Save-the-date and invitations

Many experts suggest that you send save-the-date postcards out 6 to 8 months before the wedding and the invitations 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. If it is a destination wedding you might want to consider sending the invitations out 3 months before your wedding date to give your guest more time to prepare. Request that your guest confirm the RSVP’s 2 to 3 weeks before the wedding.

Who walks, sits and stands where?

There are quite a variety of options and traditions to choose from depending on cultural traditions and religious background. Who walks first, who stands where? There are many variations and the following is an example:

Processional – ushers, if you have them, greet your guests, hand out programs and guide your guests to their seats filling the earlier rows first while saving the first row/seats for immediate family. For a traditional Catholic Wedding, the bride’s guests sit on the Left, for a Jewish Wedding, the bride’s guests sit on the Right and Non-Denominational weddings allow for general seating. Once all guests are seated the grandmothers of the bride and groom are escorted down the aisle followed by the groom’s mother and then the bride’s mother by the ushers or groomsmen.

The officiate may walk down the aisle or go around and take his/her place followed by the groom who takes his place. The groomsmen and bridesmaids follow in perspective groups, pairs, groups of three or perhaps one at a time, groomsmen taking their place next to the groom and the bridesmaids standing opposite next to where the bride will be. The maid of honor and best man follow last and take their places directly next to the bride and groom. Flower girls and ring bearer follow suit and either stand with the bridal party or take seats with their parents. When the entire bridal party has taken their place the music changes and all guest rise as the father escorts the bride down the aisle to take her place by her groom. The ceremony then begins.

Recessional – At the close of the ceremony the new husband and wife walk down the aisle followed by the flower girl/s and ring bearer. The maid of honor and best man walk down the aisle next followed by the groomsmen and bridesmaid each one about 5 paces behind the next. The mother and father of the bride are next, then the mother and father of the groom followed by the grandparents. The rest of the guests are then excused, front rows leaving first and then the back rows.

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