The maid or the matron of honor keeps the groom's ring until the appropriate time in the ceremony, when she exchanges it for the bride's bouquet.
The best man delivers the officiant's fee--either before or after the ceremony.
The ratio of guests to ushers is 1 usher for every 50 guests.
The ushers or groomsmen seat the bride's guests, usually on the left, and seat the groom's on the right, except for Orthodox Jewish weddings, when the sides are reversed.
In anticipation of the exchange of rings, the bride should remove her engagement ring and place it on her right hand prior to the processional.
The proper sequence for the processional is: ushers, groomsmen, junior ushers, junior bridesmaids, bridesmaids, matron of honor, maid of honor, pages, flower girl, ring bearer, and bride and her father.
For a home wedding, the order for those in the processional is the same as in a church.
The mother of the bride is the official hostess at the wedding reception. She is the last person to be seated at the ceremony and the first to greet the guests in the receiving line. The father of the bride may stand in the receiving line or mingle with guests as the host of the reception.
The bride, who is normally escorted by her father, walks down the aisle on his right. If, however, her father is deceased, a brother, uncle, godfather--or close family friend-- would take his place. In rare cases, the bride might ask the bridegroom's father to assume the role. If the substitute escort is not a close relative, he should not "give away" the bride; her mother should do that. In this case, the substitute acts only as an escort.
Upon arriving at the front of the church, the bride lets go of her escort's arm and moves her flowers to her left hand. She, then, gives her right hand to the bridegroom. The groom, then, places the bride's right hand through his left, and she rests her hand near his elbow.
The bride's escort remains at her left side--or a step behind--until the clergyman asks, "Who gives this woman to be married?" The escort then reaches in front of her and places her right hand in the clergyman's right hand, symbolizing the "giving" of the bride.
It is here that the many variations in the wedding ceremony become noticeable. · The bride's father can say "I do." · Or, her father can say, "Her mother and I do." · Both parents can say "I do," with the mother speaking from her place in the pew. · If the father is deceased, and the bride is escorted by another man, the mother would respond "I do," from her place.
In a church with two aisles, the processional goes up the right aisle, the bride's family sits on the left side of the right aisle, and guests are seated according to the aisle and not the church as a whole.
Recessional and Receiving Line
For the recessional, the ushers and bridesmaids pair off, symbolizing the marriage.
The proper sequence for the receiving line is: bride's mother (or in the absence of the mother, whoever is hosting/paying for the reception), bride's father*, bridegroom's mother, bridegroom's father*, bride, bridegroom, honor attendant, bridesmaid(s). *Participation is optional.
Both mothers usually wear gloves in the reception line. The bride's mother makes the decision of whether to wear gloves or not, and the bridegroom's mother follows her lead. The bride generally does not wear gloves.
At a formal wedding, the toasts are offered when all the guests have been seated and served the champagne. At a less formal wedding, where there is no bridal table, the toast may take place immediately after the receiving line has broken up, or just before the wedding cake is cut.
The best man traditionally offers the first toast, which is offered to the couple. He waits until all are seated and have their champagne. At the bridal table, the bride's glass is filled first, then the bridegroom's and the honor attendants, followed by the rest of the bridal party.
The bride and groom remain seated for the best man's toast. Also, the bride should be seated when her bridegroom toasts her. The bride, however, should rise when her parents or her bridegroom's parents are toasted.
If a reception includes a full meal, dancing is delayed until after dessert. For a less formal wedding, dancing may begin when the couple wishes to start, and it is the bridal couple who must start it.
The bride and bridegroom dance the first dance together, usually to a song that has special meaning for them. While they are dancing, the guests often form a circle around them and applaud.
Usually for the second dance, the bride's father begins the dance with his daughter, and her father-in-law later cuts in. At the same time, the bridegroom dances first with his mother-in-law and then with his mother. Usually during this second dance, the best man cuts in on the bride's father-in-law. Each member of the bridal party should understand the sequence to avoid confusion.
The Cutting of the Cake
Using a knife decorated with ribbon, the bride cuts the first two slices, symbolizing the traditional role of wife as "food preparer." The bridegroom feeds the first bite to his wife, symbolizing the traditional male role of provider.
In a double wedding reception each couple has their own wedding cake, which they cut in sequence (the elder bride cuts first), so each can watch the other.
If a clergyman travels to the wedding, the travel and lodging expenses should be paid for by the family making the request.
During Eastern Orthodox wedding services, the bridal couple holds candles.
The only thing that makes a "military" wedding "military" is the arch of swords, sabers or rifles after the ceremony.
In a double wedding, the older bride goes first.
Aunts and uncles are normally not seated at the parents' table.