Wedding Etiquette

Our handy hints for what happens when, in what order and all those other wedding traditions – optional of course!

The Ceremony
This is where everything starts! Church services are generally up to 45 minutes and civil ceremonies up to 30 minutes. This can be longer depending on readings and music. If you are getting married in church remember to add in time for photographs to be taken after the ceremony and your travelling time to your chosen venue.

Ceremony to Wedding Breakfast
You usually need to allow an hour between your civil ceremony or your arrival from church before you have your wedding breakfast, this allows time for photographs and arrival drinks. If you have a smaller wedding reception you can reduce this, but it really does take this long!

The Receiving or Bridal Line
This is a formal greeting to your guests which takes place just before your wedding breakfast. Traditionally it would include both sets of Parents, Chief Bridesmaid, Best Man, Bride and Groom, though you can limit it to just bride and groom if you have a lot of guests. It’s a good idea if you want to make sure you’ve seen everyone on the day, but it is optional.

Wedding Breakfast - (called this as it’s the first meal you have as a married couple – you don’t have to have bacon and eggs!).

Seating Plan
Traditionally you have a top table with your immediate wedding party facing into the room on a long rectangular table, with your remaining guests on round tables of up to 10 guests depending on the layout of your function suite.
A traditional top table would be as follows:

Chief Bridesmaid - Groom’s Father -  Bride’s Mother -  Groom - Bride - Bride’s Father - Groom’s Mother - Best Man

You can switch the order of guests, put more or less people on the table, though more than twelve is a bit long, or you can opt for a round table instead if you want a more informal set-up for your day.

Toasts and Speeches
Traditionally these take place at the end of wedding breakfast and are in the following order – Father of the Bride, Groom and then Best Man. If your main speakers won’t get that far we can do them before the meal, we just need to allow the appropriate time before your meal is served and ensure you have a drink to toast at that time.

Speeches – what do they talk about?

  • Father of the Bride – Welcomes all guests, says a few words about his Daughter, welcomes the Groom into his family and makes the first toast to the Bride and Groom.
  • Groom – responds to the Father of the Brides speech on behalf of himself and his Bride, thanks his Parents for their love and support, toasts the Bridesmaids for a job well done, and gives out any gifts from the Bride and Groom to those who have helped with the planning of the big day.
  • Best Man – this is usually the high point of the speeches with the Best Man usually chosen for his humour and integrity. He responds to the Grooms speech on behalf of the Bridesmaids and reads any cards from those who cannot attend.

Cutting the Cake
This is usually announced by the Best Man or Toastmaster in between the main course and dessert during the wedding breakfast. It’s a perfect photo opportunity for all your guests so if you would prefer to keep your cake complete for your evening guests to see, we can ‘fake cut’ it at this time, or move this whole formal cutting to the evening reception.

Wedding Breakfast to Evening Reception
Some couples prefer to run seamlessly into their evening reception, others prefer a natural break for guests to refresh themselves before your evening reception begins. We can advise on timings to ensure you get your preferred option.

First Dance
Unfortunately no one will dance until you do, so time this is about 30/45 minutes into your evening party so you can ensure most people have arrived. You can then break for your evening buffet or carry on with the music and break later.

Evening Buffet
Usually served mid way into your evening reception, though this may be later if the majority of your guests attended your day reception too.

For do's and don'ts regarding invitations, pre-parties and the all important thank you notes - we found a great article via