Keeping (Or Breaking) Tradition

Some brides and grooms prefer to keep things traditional at their wedding – church ceremonies, white dress, formal dinner receptions. Others like to buck tradition and do their own thing like saying ‘I Do’ on the waterfront or having heavily themed receptions. Check out these great questions about wedding traditions and the advice we gave these soon-to-be-wed couples:


No longer confined to the front of a church, ceremonies have evolved into a personalized celebration of the couple’s commitment to one another. Learn more tips for planning your ceremony:

Cellphone Etiquette

Q: I’m getting married next Saturday, and one thing I do not want is cell phones ringing during the ceremony.
How can I make sure that does not happen?

A: Having signs at the ceremony site to remind guests to silence their cellphones is helpful. You may also ask your officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony begins. Some couples also opt to have unplugged ceremonies where they ask their guests to keep their cellphones, cameras, and other electronics put away so they can 1) enjoy the ceremony and 2) not block the photographer/videographer as they capture the moment.


Q: I am picking my ceremony music, what is traditionally played during the ceremony?

A: The music you select should reflect your style as a couple, formality of your wedding and religious beliefs. Don’t be afraid to forget the “Wedding March Here Comes the Bride from Lohengrin” and walk down to “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston. Below we have given you some traditional music selections for each section of your wedding.

“Air from Water” Music by Handel
“Serenade” by Schubert

“Here Comes the Bride” by Wagner
“Canon in D” by Pachelbel

“The Lord’s Prayer” by Malotte
“Now Thank We All Our God” by Johnson

“Bridal March” by Parry
“Pomp and Circumstance No. 4” by Elgar

Couples have also started using acoustic versions of everything from pop hits to heavy metal during their ceremonies for a more personal touch.

Officiants Vs Pastors Vs JPs, Oh My!

Q: What is the duty of an Officiant/Celebrant?

A: The duty of an Officiant is to legally perform the wedding. While they are ordained to wed couples just like most religious officials, the terms Celebrant and Officiant typically point to those who perform secular ceremonies. On a broader level, officiants are anyone who can legally wed couples including rabbis, pastors, priests, justices of the peace, and others who are recognized as ordained by the state the wedding takes place in. For their services, they usually receive some type of monetary compensation, and are invited to stay for the reception.

Ring Bearers

Q: At most weddings a ring bearer carries the ring on a pillow. Is that traditional, or can I use something else?

A: Although it is traditional for the ring bearer to carry the ring on a pillow, the ring bearer could carry a silver hope chest, decorative plate, or other decorative vessel. If the ring bearer is older, he can carry the rings in his inside jacket pocket.

Walking The Aisle By Myself

Q: My Father is alive but not present in my life. I have several other male relatives who can fulfill his role but, due to personal reasons I prefer to walk down the alone. Will my decision be inappropriate and insulting to my male relatives?

A:It is not inappropriate for a bride to walk down the aisle alone. There are many brides who choose to do so whether their parents are present or absent in their lives. It does not matter how the bride is presented to her groom; the most important part of this moment is seeing the groom’s face as the bride walks closer down the aisle to become one with the most important male figures in her life.

Receiving Lines

Q: How can the receiving line run smoothly if you invite a lot of guests to your wedding?

A: A good idea would be to leave the wedding party members out ofthe line to save time. You could also serve refreshments to your guests while they wait to congratulate you. And keep all conversations brief but pleasant.

Wedding Parties

You want people you love by your side as you say ‘I Do’, but there’s more to it than selecting who will stand with you. Learn how to navigate wedding pary decisions:

Too Many Bridesmaids

Q: I have chosen too many bridesmaids for my wedding, how can I use one of my bridesmaids somewhere else in the ceremony?

A: There is no etiquette law that states how many bridesmaids you can have, nor does it have the be the same number of groomsmen or even all women. With this being said if you feel you have too many bridesmaids in your wedding for what ever reason, then ask some of them if they would mind being hostesses or performing readings. Make sure to explain why to ease the disappointment of being unasked.

Wedding Party Gifts

Q: Should my fiancé give gifts to the groomsmen on our wedding day?

A: On your wedding day, it is traditionally correct to give something special to your groomsmen. What you give to them can be the same thing; i.e. wallets with their engraved initials, money clips, belts, key rings, name plates, letter openers, or sneakers.

However, if you want to give something extra special to your best man that is acceptable as well.

Attendant Expenses

Q: What are the traditional expenses for my attendants?

A: Your attendants should pay for their attire, travel expenses and a wedding gift.

Other Tradition-Related Questions

These questions didn’t quite fit into the other categories but are still answered with great advice!

No Reception

Q: I was wondering if it is proper etiquette (or have you ever heard of anyone) to have a wedding without a reception?

A: Some couples do have their wedding without a reception. However, it is customary for a reception to follow a wedding ceremony. If you decide not to have a reception, it is polite to indicate this on the invitation. Some couple even put “no gifts” on the invitation since they are not providing food. Consider having a “cake & punch” reception and serving light hors d’oeuvres and wedding cake to your guests especially if they are traveling from out-of-town.

You can also consider having a party (with food) before or after your honeymoon for your guests to attend. This gives your guests an opportunity to visit with you and bring gifts if they desire.

Throwing A Bridal Shower

Q: Who puts on the bridal shower for the bride-to-be?

A: The Maid of Honor hosts the bridal shower. Bridesmaids can also put on the event. It is not a task that the mother, sister, or daughter hosts.


Q: Is an elopement always a secret or can we tell people we plan on having a small ceremony with just the two of us?

A: Traditionally elopement was defined as a couple running away to get married and this was usually secret. Now a days an elopement can be a small ceremony performed at the justice of the peace or a wedding away from home that only includes close friends and family. Deciding to tell people that you are eloping depends on the reason you are eloping. If you both are trying to escape feuding families, or the stress of planning a huge wedding, than telling people might defeat the purpose and cause more bad feelings. If your reason is to have an intimate ceremony, telling people would be okay but you might hurt many people’s feelings and maybe even have some wedding crashers. This is especially possible when the people you tell want to attend or try to persuade you otherwise.

I recommend, if you are going to elope, plan a party/reception afterwards for all your friends and family to attend. You can send out party invitations and announce at your party that you are married. Some people’s feelings might be hurt but at least they know you love them enough to include them in the celebration.

Getting Married Older

Q: I’m 45 years old, and I’m getting married for the first time. What would be proper wedding etiquette for my age?

A: Try to go with a small-to-medium size wedding inviting only close friends and family. You should wear a white or ivory dress/pant suit that is sophisticated and functional. Unless you desire to have bridesmaids and groomsmen you can eliminate this tradition. However, if you have children this would be a good way to include them. For your reception, replace a disc jockey with a live band and pick a honeymoon destination based on a place both of you always wanted to go.

Honeymoon After Vow Renewal

Q: Is it proper etiquette to take another honeymoon after a vow renewal?

A: It wouldn’t be a honeymoon per say, however, there’s no rule that you can’t have one. As a future rule of thumb, vow renewals are in “benchmarks,” like 10, 20, 25 year anniversary. Have a great vow renewal and vacation getaway.