Wedding & Function
Wedding & Function

Etiquette: Ceremony & Reception

What time should the bride and groom get to the ceremony?

The groom and best man should arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the bride. It’s the bride’s privilege to be the last to arrive – just don’t overdo the lateness or your groom may be a bundle of nerves by the time you make it up the aisle!

Can I have someone besides my father walk me down the aisle?

Traditionally, the bride’s father has the honour of walking her down the aisle, but you can have anyone who is important - mom or stepdad, brother or sister. You can even walk alone or with more than one person. Just don’t let it be a last-minute decision. Maintain an open and honest dialogue with anyone affected by your choice.

Do we need a receiving line?

In an ideal world you’d speak to all the wedding guests individually, but this is time-consuming and you won’t be able to say much more than a hello to each person. A good compromise is to go round with your groom to every table and chat to the table collectively.

Complex families and the head table

The seating plan at a wedding can be a logistical nightmare. For the traditional wedding where the parents of the bride are married and are the hosts, and groom's parents are together, then the head table doesn’t generally pose a problem. If parents are divorced and remarried, it can seem impossible to keep everyone happy.
One simple solution is to go for a non-traditional seating plan and ignore the whole idea of a ‘head’ table. Each of the parents/side of the family can be allocated their own table with their closest friends or relatives, leaving the bride and groom to sit with their wedding party and friends.

Can my pet dog be part of my wedding?

The presence of pets at a wedding ceremony does not affect its legality. You just need permission from the owner of the building where the wedding is taking place and you need to consult the registrar for a civil ceremony or the relevant celebrant for a religious ceremony.
If you want your pooch to be present, bring it to rehearsals. Let it sniff around the venue. If there’ll be loud organ music, get a tape recording to play at home, gradually increasing the volume so that your pet gets used to it.

When are the speeches and what order should they go?

Traditionally, the speeches are made as coffee is served and the bride’s father speaks first, followed by the groom and best man. However, you could have the speeches before the meal so that the speakers can relax and enjoy their food, or hold them later on when your evening guests are also present.
It’s not traditional, but it’s now common for brides to say a few words. Read more about wedding speeches here.

Can I skip the cake cutting?

There are certain traditions, like cutting the cake, that are okay to omit. Instead of cake, you may opt for something that provides more variety such as a candy bar or a selection of pies -it’s really up to you. If you do skip the cake, be aware that the cake cutting ceremony and the serving of dessert is typically the signal to guests that it is okay to leave without being rude.

Do we have to have wedding favours?

No, you don’t, especially if you’re on a tight wedding budget. However, you may be surprised at some of the inexpensive favours out there. You can have lots of little cupcakes instead of a wedding cake, and these could double up as favours.

How much should I tip my wedding vendors?

You do not have to tip wedding vendors with whom you have a contract. Depending on service and relationship, a small gift or a cash tip is at your discretion. You should, however, distribute tips to non-contracted staff like musicians and servers.
Meals for vendors are typically included in your contract, but you should plan to pay for their dinner regardless. Discuss meal options with your venue or caterer to find something that works with your budget.

How long do I wait before sending a Thank-You Note?

Best to send a thank-you note as soon as possible; but you have approximately three months to express your gratitude. If the three-month timeframe has elapsed, send any lingering thank-you notes as soon as possible. Sending an email or putting a generic thanks on social media, your wedding website, or anywhere else does not replace a handwritten note.
To save time, the bride and groom can both write thank-you notes and simply sign each one. In a serious time crunch, it’s acceptable to send an email that acts as a digital placeholder to say you received the gift and a thank-you a note will follow.


YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO WEDDING ETIQUETTE