| Wedding Ceremony |
Which side is correct in a wedding
depends on what we are talking about - flowers,
rings, or seating. Having said that, let me
reassure you that there are no laws, and no actual
rules, though a lot of people will lead you to
believe that there are! Which side, left or right,
for flowers, rings, or where people sit comes down
to just practice and local custom, in Australia,
based on what Queen Victoria did in her wedding, or
the way the English aristocracy did it in the 19th
century, so you feel free to make a different
decision. It is the 21st century after all.
Left or Right? Who sits on
Traditionally who sits on which side of the church
aligned with where the bride and groom were required
to stand. Being regarded as the lesser in the
marriage, the bride stood on the groom's left side,
the right side being reserved as a position of
honour. As they were required to stand facing the
altar, they were standing with their backs to the
guests in the body of the church. So the bride's
family and friends were directed to sit behind her
(the left side when facing the front) and the
groom's family , on the right. The
architecture of churches meant, generally, that
there was some distance between where the couple
were standing and the front row of the pews, so
no-one's view was impeded. Not that there was a
great deal to see!
Contemporary ceremonies are different. There is
usually much less space between the couple and the
front row of chairs. The couple faces the guests and
they turn to face one another for their vows. Which
means that anyone sitting in the front row or two is
not going to see both their faces. So I always
suggest that the parents swap sides - the groom's
family sitting on the bride's side and vice versa.
That way they at least get to see the face of their
own child during the exchange of vows.
As for everyone else. Free seating is the go. It is
much more important to have the seats equally filled
on both sides that to differentiate who belongs to
who. It is also much better for the photos.
Left or Right? Which side
do you pin the flowers?
Have you ever wondered why men's suits have a
buttonhole on the left lapel? In modern off-the-peg
suits they tend only to be ornamental, but in
bespoke tailored suits they are still handmade and
cut open, to allow the stem of a single flower to be
inserted. Hence the term "buttonhole" for a flower
on the lapel. So, the flower (boutonniere
goes on the left side for the groom, groomsmen, and
fathers. An added benefit is that the groom's
boutonniere will still be visible when he turns to
face the bride. That's the logic. When it is
two grooms marrying you can stick with tradition or
go mirror image, one left, one right so both
boutonnieres will be in the vow photos. Personal
For corsages, usually provided for the mothers and
grandmothers, they go on the right shoulder.
In addition to left and right, there is up and
down. Men's flowers have the stem pointing
down, a tradition inherited from the days when the
stem was inserted into the buttonhole. Women's
flowers have the stem pointing up. There is a
practical reason for this. While the boutonniere is
traditionally one flower, perhaps with a bit of
foliage added, a corsage is either a very large
flower or several flowers, with the addition of
foliage and perhaps ribbon. So a corsage is much
heavier that a boutonniere. It would flop if pinned
Left or right? Which hand
do the rings go on?
And the answer is. It depends on custom and practice
in your particular culture or community. In
English-speaking countries we tend to say left hand.
And there is some twaddle about belief in a vein
that runs from the left ring finger to the heart.
Trust me. The blood vessels in your hands are mirror
images of one another. So anything that runs from
the left ring finger to the heart has its mirror
duplicate in your right hand!
But other countries and cultures regard the right
hand as the correct one. But here's the thing. Rings
are not a legal requirement, either for your
marriage ceremony or to designate your marital
status to the world. So whether you choose to wear
your ring on the left or right hand, whether you
decide to wear your ring on your ring finger or a
different finger, or indeed whether you even
exchange rings at all, is up to you.
I've had couples who chose a different finger -
middle finger, or little finger (pinky) are not
uncommon choices. And quite a few couples choose to
go with their cultural heritage and place the rings
on their right hands. When it comes to intercultural
weddings, it is not uncommon to see one right hand,
one left hand.
As with any decisions, it is important to
communicate those decisions.
- For the flowers, make the decision and
then make sure that everyone who needs to know
is informed well ahead of time. This starts with
your florist. As foliage backing boutonnieres is
often slightly angled to what will be the
outside edge, and florists always assume that
they will be pinned on the left lapel.
- For the couple. While generally the
bride stands on the left, if some detail of your
dress or hairpiece is on your left side, so it
would be hidden when you turn to face one
another for your vows, of course you can swap
sides with your groom. Just don't forget to tell
your celebrant and your photographer!
- For the seating, let
your venue and stylist know that you are
swapping the parents from the traditional side
so that reserved signs can be correctly placed.
While we tend no longer to hear "bride's side or
groom's" side asked at the door as people enter,
assuring people that they can sit anywhere is a
good idea. You can use a sign, or just have a
couple of helpful greeters.
- For the rings, make the decision early
and have your rings sized accordingly. And make
sure you tell your celebrant about your decision
to avoid whispered directions on the day being