So you are ready to tie the knot, and you want to have a church wedding. In order to make this day truly special, you should know a few guidelines when it comes to church wedding etiquette. Follow and share them with the people in your wedding so that everybody is on the same page and there are not any unpleasant surprises.
In Christian weddings, family and friends of the bride sit on the left side of the church, while the right side is reserved for the groom's guests. Your ushers will seat your guests. Advise them to be at the church early so they can seat everybody comfortably as guests arrive. In Jewish weddings, the sides are switched. If one side is much more crowded than the other, it is acceptable to seat guests in the less crowded pews. Parents of the bride and groom should sit in their respective first rows Special guests and close family members are also expected to occupy the front rows.
There are different variations for the processional. The groom and best man usually wait at the altar and watch the groomsmen and the bridesmaids walk down the aisle. They are followed by the maid of honour, who is in turn followed by the flower girl and ring bearer. The bride comes down the aisle last, traditionally on her father's left arm or on the arm of a close male relative. She can also walk to the front by herself. If you have many groomsmen and bridesmaids it is best to pair them up.
Best Man and Maid of Honor
Put your best man and maid of honour to work. While the best man is supposed to hold the rings until the groom and bride exchange them, the maid of honour should check on the bride's dress and/or train, flowers and veil to be sure that everything sits neatly.
Engagement Ring -- Where Does It Go?
The bride should be sure her engagement ring is on her right hand before the ceremony. Later she should shift it to her left hand above the wedding band. The wedding band is worn first, so it can be closer to your heart.
The bride and groom leave the church first, followed by flower girl and ring bearer or the best man and maid of honour. Then it is the bridesmaids' and groomsmen's turn. Behind them come the mother of the bride with the groom's father and then the father of the bride with the groom's mother. Expect the first round of congratulations outside the church. However, do not spend too much time there after the service so your guests have a shorter waiting period at the reception.
Usually, there will be a dress rehearsal at the church the evening before the big day. This helps to go over the ceremony with everyone involved. But don't worry about perfecting every step. There is always the opportunity to improvise. Besides, there will be plenty of helpers around you on your wedding day.
Important to Know
Some churches do not like brides to expose their shoulders. It is best to check on what is expected with the official who will be conducting the ceremony. Have him answer any additional questions you may have about the wedding. Remember: these people have lots of experience with weddings so do not feel shy about asking anything that comes to your mind.