Common Wedding "rules"?

I just attended my second wedding of all time and I still don’t quite understand how it all works.

Within the next 6-ish months, I’m getting married (thank you, thank you). Now, I need some help.

What the hell are the “rules”?

I admit I don’t know anything about your standard wedding. My last wedding was a cross of Iranian (they’re both Iranian) and a “movie” wedding. My friend’s critique of their wedding was that they had mixed up a few parts.

So, what kind of “wedding template” should I use?

Does the groom/brides maids get “introduced” at the door? How many can I have? How many should I have?

Should I feed my guests first? In the middle? Last? My friend said that “buffet” style was somewhat strange at a wedding but I’ve heard of people having buffet type weddings before. Should dinner be served? Or is buffet good enough?

Who makes speeches (mandatory) and who doesn’t have to unless they ask?

I never heard of this one, but apparently when guests start tapping their glasses that tells the married couple to kiss? How many other rules like that exist?

Of course my first priority is to have fun. And I doubt many of my friends are going to look down on me for having a strange wedding. I just want to know the general rules before they try something on me :smiley:

The wedding we’re planning is going to be small (35 people) and we’re going to try to have the reception and the marriage itself in the same place (we’re bother Atheists). Funds are limited so we’re going for the low key approach. Our wedding is going to be a mix of our cultures (Japanese and Bulgarian) so regardless of the rules, it’s going to be a rather strange event :smiley:

Thanks for any help!

This is going to be of no use to you at all… but… there are no rules. Seriously, you can do pretty much what you want and SHOULD do that… it’s your day, have fun! And if you are worried about people ‘critique-ing’ your wedding, you shouldn’t be.

My wife and I thought ‘the heck with it’ and just went to the Registry office and did it… no family, no fuss. Then we had a Blessing service a few months later when we had allll the family invited, big party the works. The thing is, it was so much more relaxed, we were already married, what did we care!

I’m hardly the expert, but it seems like a lot of the things you listed are more “traditions” than “rules”. (And for the record, I hate the glass-tapping thing–here the bride and groom think enough of you to invite you to their Wondrous Event, and you treat them like damn marionettes who are supposed to kiss on demand! So if you start banging your plate on the table, do you expect them to drop to the floor and start screwing? Grrrrrrrrrrr . . . but that’s just my pet peeve. I’ve only seen it happen at one wedding, and frankly, the bride and groom seemed a bit peeved by it as well.)

So I propose my own set of rules:

Rule 1: Have fun
Rule 2: Try not to give anybody the finger while taking your vows
Rule 3: Unless you’ve specifically stated that it’s a nudist wedding, wear clothes
Rule 4: Eat cake afterwards
Rule 5: Be happy!

That said, if you don’t end up getting the answers you’re looking for here, you might try checking your nearest bookstore for wedding books. They abound! Good luck!

What’s a movie wedding?

Generally three or four groomsmen and bridesmaids should be sufficient for all but the most extravegant affairs. However, there should be the same number of doods and ladies. Whether you want them introduced at the door is up to you, there are no hard-and-fast rules in this area. The food and drinks should definitely take place after the ceremony, however, hors d’ouvres and cocktails can be served while everyone is still showing up.

Mandatory speeches:
Best Man,
Maid of Honor,
Bride’s and groom’s parents

At mt brother’s wedding, we saved the toasts until after the entre, when we had some champaigne served, but that’s up to you. You should also ask any other relatives/friends if they want to make a toast, and make sure the MC knows how you want things done beforehand. (It’s the Best Man’s job to help arrange all this; make sure you pick someone who you know will be able to tell the staff what to do on the day of the wedding.)

Yeah this is what my Iranian lady friend did. They were married last year and only had the wedding last week.

I understand the point is, of course, to have fun and relaxed. I’m going to see if I can place a rule at my wedding - no ties! - for the guys :smiley: (I bloody hate those things!).

And of course the mix of cultures is going to make everything interesting and hopefully new to the whole wedding scene.

But I’m sure there are some common wedding conventions in place. I’d like to know what those are so that I can either incorporate them into my wedding or reject them. For instance, that glass tapping thing would probably just make me run around questioning why people were trying to break the tableware :smiley:

Also, anyone have any fun wedding games they’d like to let me in on?

Never heard of introducing people. How many do you want? How many do you want? (Seriously, probably the norm is 2-4 on each side).

First as in, before the wedding? Or first as in, before the bride and groom? No to the former; probably not in the latter. Buffet or no? It’s probably more common in some cultures than others, but really, it’s not a big deal. Buffet’s cheaper, so if you’re on a budget, that may be the way to go.

I don’t know the specific etiquette rules, but probably the best man and maid (matron) of honor are the “mandatory” ones. No one made a speech at my wedding.

Never heard of this one.

Just do whatever you want, so long as it’s not something that would warrant an entry in Really, so long as everyone is having fun, who cares?

And congratulations, by the way.

A movie wedding (to me) is whatever you see on TV at a wedding. It seems to follow some general rules (like wearing uncomfortable looking tuxedos) and having the whole raised front table thing (the hall we went to last week had the typical set up including the raised floor for the main table and a dance floor with lights etc).

Our parents will probably not be making speeches (but it’s nice to know they should!). They can barely speak English and of course I get to avoid having embarrassing things said in front of my friends :smiley:

Wait, clothing can be optional? (Makes a note)
My best man should be able to get things done.

So just to understand it, there’s one best man and maid of honour and then there’s groomsmen and maids of something? Or are there multiple bestmen and maids of honour?

There are an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. One of each is appointed Best Man and Maid of Honor. The Best Man stands next to the groom and holds the rings, the Maid of Honor stands next to the bride, and the remaining groomsmen and bridesmaids stand next to them.

This is the traditional format, of course, and there’s no reason you can’t modify it if you want to. Have two Best Men if you want, whatever. It’s your wedding.

The rules are largely determined by your preferences, how much you intend to spend, and of course common sense.

#1. Don’t be a control freak.
#2. You can’t please everybody.
#3. Even though you can’t please everybody take into consideration how your parents and in-laws feel. The day is important to them as well.

We went with a traditional template because it’s simple and everyone knew what to do.

We had a total of 3 which included the best man and the maid of honor. She had two of her friends and my sister and I had two of my friends plus her brother. I don’t think you should have any more then 4 or 5 but that’s just a matter of personal taste. I’ve never been to a wedding where the everyone was introduced at the door. Even at the reception the only people who got announced were the newly married couple as they entered.

I’d go with the ceremony first and then feed them at your reception. You can either serve dinner or if you prefer perhaps just snacks. A buffet is fine if you’re serving a meal.

As far as I’m concerned the only mandatory speech is made by the best man and the groom. The best man makes a little speech and at some point the groom gets up and says something. The groom should make sure to thank everyone.

I never heard of this either.


I’m getting married on St Georges Day (23/4/5) and the format will be

wedding at 4pm (civil service at our reception venue)

Carvery/Buffet type meal


Karaoke / Disco

And if anyone doesn’t like it … well im not planning on getting married again so it’s not like i need repeat attendees :wink:

See, my problem is that I don’t even know what a common wedding is. I don’t have enough friends who have had weddings and my parents had a Japanese Buddist wedding and my GF’s mom had your typical Bulgarian wedding (probably just drinking and partying and some more drinking, plus extra drinks and some wacky table dancing).

So as I understand it, typical wedding is:

Marriage ceremony.

Pictures of everyone at some outdoor place.

Then the Receiption that includes (but not limited to):

Entrance of the couple (and grooms and maids etc).

A few speeches, talking, some entertainment (slide show, movie of the couple, etc with some snacks served).


More entertainment including the first dance, partying, drinking (I don’t drink so I’ll be making fun of the drunks) more dancing, Karaoke (Thanks for the idea One And Only Wanderers) and cake.

Last words, more partying, contests? Prizes? More snacks etc?

Any other general ideas that I’m missing?

And thanks for all your help folks!

Althea and I got married 2 years this Halloween.

There were four people in attendance besides us:

my sister (dressed as the Statue of Liberty)
her fiance, whom we had gotten ordained to perform the ceremony, as a wizard
Althea’s best friend, dressed as a wood sprite,
and her husband, dressed as a member of the Bundeswehr.

Althea was dressed as a Tolkein elf, complete with real knives and recurve bow.
I was Elwood Blues.

We made up our own vows, and the ceremony. It took five minutes. After that everybody went to our local hangout where we met up with the rest of our friends.

Rules? You don’t need no stinking rules!

I’m getting married next September, it’s going to be a traditional affair, which is what we both wanted. What we thought we wanted was a small wedding, but we’ve added up the people we want there and got to about 150…so it’s going to be quite big.

The major rule I’ve found out so far is “wedding dress saleswomen are witches”.
Which is why I’m having my dress made. is a pretty good wedding site, especially if you’re American. I’m not, but it still helped.

There are some traditional things, that aren’t even really necessary, like the receiving line. You can just mingle with your guests during the pre-dinner cocktails, if you don’t want to have a proper line-up.

You can have the speeches before dinner or after. We’re having them after, as people will respond better if they’re not hungry, and have had a few drinks. That’s the theory, anyway.

Our reception plan goes like this, bearing in mind we’re getting married at 3pm:

4-6pm- cocktail/juice reception for guests while photos are taken
6pm- receiving line
6:30pm- dinner
8:30pm- speeches
9pm-1:30am- drinking and dancing

But it all depends on you.

My family is VERY proper about things, so we’re doing the whole thing black tie, because I hate the look of morning suits. Which is why we’re getting married in the afternoon, rather than the morning, as dinner jackets “shouldn’t” be worn before lunch. Now, it doesn’t bother me, as I think most people have one nice cocktail or formal dress, and most men have a dinner jacket (tux) somewhere, but I imagine some people would hate the idea of a formal wedding.

But if you don’t have etiquette freak relatives to appease, bend the rules as much as you need to, as long as you have exactly the wedding you want. Good luck!

That’s just awesome!

Although I have several friends who probably would allow me to do this, I doubt our parents will be pleased :smiley:

We’re going for a cross modern wedding with traditional overtones. We have no other family members in this country so we’re having 7 family members, and ~25 friends. Nice and cozy!

Thanks for the link irishgirl!

See, my problem is I lack general wedding experience, having only been to 2 of them (both not standard weddings like in the movies). I’ve heard of some of my coworkers having weddings in the 600-800 guest range with all sorts of special ceremonies that I’ve never heard of.
My personal pefect (wacky) wedding would be a LAN party with late night paintball but I doubt my GF/fiance/parents would want that! :smiley:

Oh, I forgot, the “traditional” speeches, are supposed to be made by the father of the bride, the best man and the groom.

But you can have the bride, the maid of honour, the groom’s father, the mothers of the bride and groom, or anyone else you want.

As long as they’re short, funny, and don’t push the envelope so far that the marriage is anulled the next day!


burundi and I got married last May, and had a great time of it. Some thoughts:

  • Figure out who’s going to administer your vows. We got a woman who’s the president of the nonprofit I work for to do ours: I knew her and like her, and she’s a Unity minister (basically nondenominational). She was totally fine with us writing our own vows, and met with us as much as we needed, and helped us figure our way through the process.
  • Work together on your vows, but be wary of going cheeseball unless you like cheeseball. We just took some fairly traditional wedding ceremony and excised all mentions of God or religion from it, and made a few minor word changes to it. The traditional ceremony has got lots of poetry and powerful emotional cues in it; unless you’re a spectacular writer, it’s probably going to be better than something you make up out of whole cloth. And trust me: it’s really cringeworthy to be at a wedding where people’s own vows are in desperate need of a writing tutor.
  • Early on, someone pointed out to us that people are only going to remember, at most, three things about your wedding. Choose which three things you want them to remember and work on making them rock; do just enough on the other stuff that people won’t remember them as disasters. We chose food and drink, location, and music, and spent a lot of energy getting those all to be good. Nobody gives a shit about whether your napkins match your tablecloth, or whether the flower arrangements and the bridesmaid dresses are the same color, or whether they get wedding favors. So we ignored all that.
  • Remember, as I didn’t until the night before, that you’ll be expected to give a speech yourself; have some notes, and practice. Short and sweet is good: thank the folks who helped y’all out, say some sweet words about your bride, and toast.


So who CAN do the administering? It won’t be a priest or anything like that. I don’t even know where to look for that! Maybe it’s in the phone book :smiley:

The speeches and vows aren’t a big problem. I’m a good public speaker and I’m good at speeches. I tend to wing it a lot though with good results. My wife-to-be on the other hand isn’t good on both counts. Heh, I could really make lots of fun about her in my speech…hmmmm…I wonder how comfortable the couch is in our hotel room…

I’m only glad I don’t have to impress anyone. Everyone invited is really a good friend with only a sprinkle of coworkers from her side. All my friends are her friends as well except for 1 or 2 so I’m not too worried about showing off. I am worried about having a boring wedding!

I highly recommend Miss Manners on Weddings

No. The groom’s attendants should be close personal friends of the groom whom he really wants up there when he gets married. The bride’s attendants should be close personal friends of the bride whom she really wants up there when she gets married. There do not have to be an equal number of attendants on each side, it’s not a mass wedding.

If the wedding & reception cover mealtimes, you have to feed your guests. It should be something that you can afford. Buffet is fine.

Generally, the father of the bride and the Best Man make speeches. But if they don’t like speaking, please don’t make them. And really, no one has to speak. It’ll be a lovely wedding with or without planned speeches.

badmana I don’t know how far along you are in your planning, and I’m only assuming that you haven’t finalised dates and venues because you said “6 months ish”. If none of this applies, feel free to ignore.

Venues for receptions fill up months, and sometimes years in advance. With little chance of a cancellation, you need to start looking NOW. Our first choice of venue was taking bookings for 2006…be warned!

You also need to start thinking (if you haven’t already) about dates. You might not get the day you want, especially if it’s a weekend. Think about whether you’d rather have the Friday or the weekend before or after.

irishfella and I got the last Friday of 2005 that our venue had free, it just happened to be the Friday we wanted, so we were incredibly lucky. I’m really pleased we got it, as it’s a Georgian mansion house in acres of parkland, and will be much nicer than the hotel we thought of first.

These things do work themselves out, so don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan A, the back-up plan might end up being much better.

Also, bridal dresses can take up to 6 months to order, so your honey needs to start looking (and those women realy are witches, tell her to take care).

The only wedding rule I know of is “It’s the bride’s day and no one who values their life should interfere with that. This includes the groom”.

When I got married I had 4 jobs:

  1. Say “That sounds lovely, dear!” to all her ideas. Even if I had heard the same idea 1,000,000 times or it had changed every minute of every day for 6 weeks. And sound sincere when saying it.
  2. Decide the groomsmen. Not how many, for the bride wanted matching numbers of bride’s maids and groomsmen. My job, once she announced the number of bride’s maids, was to find an equal number of guys willing to overdress and be horribly sweaty and uncomfortable for an entire June afternoon in Georgia.
  3. Show up for all functions (couple’s shower, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, pictures, wedding, reception, etc.) on time, appropriately dressed and in a good mood.
  4. Don’t do anything stupid during any function up to and including the wedding ceremony itself. This, as anyone who knows me will attest, was the toughest job of all.

99 percent of males should not be given any more jobs than those listed above. It just ain’t wise.