Monday, June 8, 2009

Wedding Etiquette: Bride, Bridegroom, Best Man, Bridesmaides and Pages, Ushers Duties (Part III)

Although traditionally the bride's mother organizes the wedding, no doubt she will be assisted in many ways by her husband, since there is a considerable amount of preparation involved and decisions to be made. Many couples may share the organization.

On the subject of dress the bride's father complies with the bridegroom. If the groom decides that the order of dress will be morning suits, then all the male attendants are required to dress in the same way, including the bride's father and the bridegroom's father.

The main duty of the bride's father is to give his daughter away on her wedding day. When she is ready to leave the house, he accompanies her to the church, then escorts her down the aisle. At the appropriate time in the service, when the minister asks who is giving the bride away, he will take his daughter's right hand and place it in the hand of the minister.

When the service is over he will join the bridegroom's mother as the wedding party proceeds to the vestry for the signing of the register. He also accompanies her out of church, then rejoins his wife.

Once the newlyweds have departed, the bride's parents need to be the next to leave the church to be ready to greet the guests at the reception.

The next duty of the bride's father is to say grace if there is no minister present. He makes a short speech after the meal. Some information on speechmaking appears towards the end of this post. The bride's father and mother are the last to leave the reception.

When it comes to wedding costs, it might be easier to list the items that the bride's father (or in reality, these days, the bride's parents) does not pay for, as traditionally he pays for almost everything on the occasion of his daughter's wedding. Very often nowadays, however, the groom or the groom's father will offer to contribute some part of the cost. The bride's father's main expense will probably be the reception and this is often the area where the bridegroom's father offers to share the cost.

The first bill for the bride's father may be for the engagement party. Then he will have the cost of printing invitations and order-of-service sheets, followed by the bride's dress and attendants' outfits, wedding cake, flowers for the church and reception, cars and photographer.

He will probably buy a new suit or hire morning dress, his wife will have a new outfit, and there will be many other small incidental expenses.

Older couples and those who have lived together generally pay for the wedding themselves. It would be inappropriate to expect retired parents to take on the financial responsibility.

Something which many dread and renders others totally dumb is speechmaking. The thought of standing up and 'saying a few words' fills many hearts with fear. If you feel that 'the speech' is a major obstacle, a copy of Wedding Speeches and Toasts by Barbara Jeffery, Wedding Speeches by Lee Jarvis or Mitch Murray's One-Liners for Weddings will prove to be a great help. Apart from guidance on writing and presenting speeches, there are specimens that you can use or adapt as your own.

Order and Content of Speeches
Toasts and speeches are generally made at the end of the wedding breakfast and it may well fall to the best man to act as toastmaster.

1. The bride's father will be called upon first. It is traditional for the . bride's father to propose the toast to the bride and groom, but if the bride's mother is a widow the toast should be made by a relative of mature years (an uncle, for example, or an old family friend). Specific content of the speech obviously depends on the relationship of the speaker to the bride, but a speech made by the bride's father will normally include the following main points:

a. how proud he and his wife are of their daughter;
b. a welcome to his new son-in-law, with perhaps the old saw about gaining a son not losing a daughter;
c. a welcome to the bridegroom's parents;
d. words of wisdom and good wishes to the newlyweds;
e. how confident he and his wife are that the couple's future together will be happy;
f. a toast to the bride and bridegroom.
2. The bridegroom will reply on behalf of his bride and himself along the following lines:
a. thanking his father-in-law for his comments;
b. thanking the bride's parents for giving him their daughter in marriage and for the wedding;
c. thanking his own parents for what they have done;
d. thanking the guests for coming and for their gifts;
e. saying how wonderful his bride is, and how fortunate he is;
f. acknowledging the invaluable help given by his best man;
g. thanking all helpers who have made the day a success;
h. expressing regret if a close family member or a close friend is unavoidably absent;
i. proposing a toast to the bridesmaids.
He may make presentations of the gifts to the attendants if he has not already done so.

3. The best man replies on behalf of the bridesmaids, expressing:
a. the thanks of the bridesmaids for the toast, adding a few complimentary remarks of his own;
b. the thanks of the bridesmaids for their presents;
c. how lucky the groom is to have won such a bride;
d. what a good chap he is anyway and it is what he deserves;
e. congratulatory wishes from a selection of telemessages and cards received;
f. the programme for the rest of the reception.

It is acceptable to group together those telemessages and cards which bear the same or similar good wishes and read the sentiment once only, adding the names of the senders.

The points given are very general ones. It is advisable for speechmakers to find out early on what aspects they will be expected to cover in their speeches, and if there are any awkward areas (e.g. family feuds, divorce or separation in the family etc.) that should be avoided.

Jokes are acceptable provided they are not 'blue' or likely to offend any guests. Aim to speak for a maximum of five minutes; you will be surprised how long five minutes can be when you are standing in front of an audience!

After the three traditional speeches other guests may wish to say a few words; perhaps the bridegroom's father and sometimes the bride. It is essential that the best man or toastmaster ascertains beforehand whether there are likely to be any other speakers so that he can call upon them before the guests relax, thinking that the speeches have finished.

The toast to the bride and groom at a bride's second marriage may still be proposed by the bride's father, but this is unusual; he is not after all giving his daughter away in marriage this time. It would more likely be proposed by a male friend. There are normally only two speeches - this one and the groom's response.

How to Say It
Once you have a draft of your speech prepared to approximately the right length, keep it with you so you can look at it from time to time, and update it as you gain any new information that you wish to include. Do not try to learn it by heart. Instead, get thoroughly familiar with it, so that you can speak it naturally, glancing at your 'script' from time to time to refresh your memory. You will need to speak a little more slowly and distinctly than normal, but never shout and, if you have a regional accent, do not try to change it.

Rehearsing in front of a mirror, taping your voice as you speak, can be very useful in boosting your self-confidence. A video of your speech will be helpful in assessing your performance and will highlight any irritating habits you are unaware of, which might annoy the guests.

Points to Remember:
  • Prepare your speech well beforehand. Compile it in large writing, in dark ink, or print clearly. It is useful to highlight pauses and paragraph starts in colour so you can see these at a glance.
  • Keep it short. Five minutes is maximum.
  • Do not include 'blue' jokes.
  • Do not refer to the honeymoon, any previous marriage or liaisons, future family or sex.
  • Try not to repeat yourself or over-use the same words or phrases.
  • Make sure you have your speech with you when you arrive at the reception.
  • Do not drink too much before you present your speech.
  • Go to the lavatory in good time before making your speech.
  • Speak a little more slowly and clearly than normal, and do not forget to breathe!
  • Do not deviate from your prepared speech. You could end up saying something you regret.

Preparations (*with the bridegroom; * *with the bride's mother)
Discuss with minister*
Church decorations
Order of service
Photographs in church
Video in church
Choose chief bridesmaid/matron of honor
Choose bridesmaids
Choose pages
Draw up guest list**
Arrange for wedding dress and accessories

Arrange for outfits for bridesmaids and pages
Book hairdressing appointment
Order wedding cake and arrange for delivery**
Order bouquets for self and bridesmaids and arrange for delivery**
Order sprays for bride's and groom's mothers, and buttonholes for bridegroom, bride's and groom's fathers, best man and ushers, and arrange for delivery**
Select and book photographer**
Order wedding cars for wedding party to church and to reception**
Write wedding present list
Choose wedding breakfast menu**
Choose wines**
Arrange press announcement**
Choose going-away outfit and luggage
Write thank-you letters for presents as they arrive
Pack for honeymoon
Attend rehearsal

On the day
Give gifts to bridesmaids
Take luggage and going-away outfit to reception

At the church
Arrive last on father's right arm and proceed up the aisle followed by bridesmaids
At chancel steps give bouquet and gloves to chief bridesmaid
Allow chief bridesmaid to lift veil
After service, with bridegroom follow minister to sign register
Leave church with bridegroom
After photographs, leave first with bridegroom for reception
At the reception
Greet guests with bridegroom after parents
With groom, cut cake
After reception, change into going-away outfit
Save flower from bouquet, and toss bouquet on leaving

Preparations (*with bride)
Arrange for registrar or clergy*
Choose best man
Choose ushers
Buy wedding ring*
Arrange and pay for wedding outfit
Plan, book and pay for honeymoon
Organize and pay for stag party
Arrange and pay for car from reception
Buy bridesmaids' gifts
Buy best man's gift
Write speech for reception

Pay for:
Flowers of bride and attendants
Buttonholes and sprays
Car for self and best man to church
Car for bride and self to reception
Choose going-away outfit and luggage
Pack for honeymoon
Attend rehearsal

On the day
Give gift to best man
Give money to best man for church fees
Take luggage and going-away outfit to reception
Take going-away car to reception

At the church
Arrive with best man at..............o'clock
Step up to altar when bride arrives
After service, with bride follow minister to sign register
Leave church with bride
After photographs, leave first with bride for reception

At the reception
Greet guests with bride after parents
Respond to toast 'The bride and groom'
give speech and propose toast to 'The bridesmaids'
With bride, cut cake
After reception, change into going-away outfit
Collect documents etc. from best man

Send formally written reply to invitation within three days of its receipt
Discuss wedding plans with bride, groom and chief bridesmaid
Help to choose ushers
Arrange for own outfit
Check that groom and ushers have organized their outfits
Explain duties to ushers
Write speech for reception and check with bride about specific people to be mentioned
Help to organize stag party
Check parking facilities at church and reception
Purchase wedding present and car decorations
Check groom has all necessary documents for wedding and honeymoon
Arrange for car to take groom and self to church
Note details of emergency taxi firms
Check routes to groom's home, to church and to the reception venue
Attend rehearsal

On the day
Check that bridegroom's luggage is ready
Check that bridegroom's change of clothes is ready
Arrange for going-away car to be parked at reception and keep keys
Have tickets and documents for honeymoon
Have cash for church fees
Keep wedding rings safe
Have documents for wedding
Collect buttonholes from bride's mother and take to church
Collect telemessages, cards and order-of-service sheets from bride's mother
Collect bridegroom at........o'clock and take to church

At the church
Ensure that ushers know duties
Hand order-of-service sheets to ushers
Make sure bridegroom, groom's father, self and ushers have buttonholes, and bride's and groom's mothers have sprays
Pay fees to minister
Wait on right of groom and hand over ring or rings at appropriate time
After service, with chief bridesmaid follow bride and groom to sign register
Take charge of groom's hat and gloves in church
Leave church with chief bridesmaid
Usher couple and principal parties to places for photographs
Make sure ushers have arranged transport for guests to reception
After photographs, see couple to car to take them to reception
Leave for reception with bridesmaids after bride and groom, or wait till last

At the reception
Join the end of the receiving line or take charge of guests' coats
Offer drinks to guests
Take charge of any late wedding presents
Collect and vet telemessages and cards
Guide guests to seating plan
Request silence for grace
Call on speakers if there is no toastmaster
Respond to toast of 'The bridesmaids', give speech, read telemessages and cards, give programme for rest of reception
Place luggage in car for honeymoon
Oversee decoration of the going-away car
Hand over documents, keys etc. for the honeymoon
See couple to car after reception
Take charge of groom's wedding outfit

After the wedding
Return wedding outfits of groom and self if hired

Arrange for own outfits
Hire At the church
Arrive at the church at.................o' clock
Collect order-of-service sheets from g best man
Conduct guests to their pews and hand out order-of-service sheets
Ensure guests have transport to reception

At the reception
Offer drinks to guests

After the wedding
Return outfits if hired

Arrange for own outfit
Attend rehearsal

On the day
Help to dress the bride for the ceremony
Make sure bouquets are ready for bride and bridesmaids
Look after bridesmaids and pages

At the church
Assemble with bridesmaids and pages in church porch
Arrange bride's dress, veil and train for procession up the aisle
Take bride's bouquet and gloves at chancel steps
Lift bride's veil
After service, with best man follow bride and groom to sign register
Return bouquet and gloves to bride in vestry
Leave church with best man after bride and groom
After photographs, leave for reception with best man and other bridesmaids, after bride and groom

At the reception
Offer drinks to guests
Check that bride's going-away outfit is ready
Check that bride's luggage is ready
Help bride change into going-away clothes
See bride to car

After the wedding
Return bride's and own outfit if hired

Preparations (**with bride)
Draw up guest list**
Arrange printing of invitations
Arrange printing of order-of-service cards
Send invitations
List acceptances received
Draw up final guest list
Prepare seating plan
Arrange wedding outfit
Order bouquets for bride and bridesmaids and arrange for delivery* *
Order sprays for self and groom's mother, and buttonholes for bridegroom, bride's and groom's fathers, best man and ushers, and arrange for delivery* *
Arrange church decorations
Select and book photographer* *
Make arrangements for reception at.....................
Private hall

Make catering arrangements
Professional caterers
Choose wedding breakfast menu* *
Choose wines**
Arrange for table decorations
Arrange accommodation for guests
Arrange for printed napkins
Arrange for printed place setting cards
Arrange for musicians/entertainment
Order wedding cars for wedding party to church and to reception
Order wedding cake and arrange for delivery* *
Buy wedding cake boxes
Arrange for neighbour to lock house after bride and father have left
Attend rehearsal

At the church
Arrive before the bride at........o' clock
After service, with groom's father follow bride's father and groom's mother to sign register
Leave church with groom's father
After photographs, leave for reception with husband after bridesmaids

At the reception
With bride's father, greet guests
When all guests have arrived, give signal for wedding breakfast to begin
Arrange display of gifts
Arrange changing room for bride
Arrange display of proof photographs
Take orders for photographs from family and guests

After the wedding
Send pieces of cake to relatives/friends who could not attend wedding
Give order to photographer
Collect and distribute photographs

Arrange for wedding outfit Buy Hire
Write speech for reception Pay for (usually shared with wife):
Flowers to decorate church and reception
Wedding dress
Wedding cake
Wedding cars
Press announcement.
Invitations and order-of-service printing
Keep buttonhole at home when other sprays/ buttonholes taken to church
Attend rehearsal

At the church
Arrive last with bride on right arm and proceed up aisle
At appropriate moment, give bride's right hand to minister
After service, with groom's mother follow best man and chief bridesmaid to sign register
Leave church with groom's mother
After photographs, leave for reception with
wife after bridesmaids

At the reception
With bride's mother greet guests
Say grace if there is no minister present
When called by best man, give speech and propose toast to bride and groom
Wait until all guests have departed before leaving the reception

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