We dove into the ins and outs of pre-wedding etiquette in a previous post, including who to invite, how to handle extra expenses, choosing vendors and receiving gifts. But there’s so much more to be aware of before you tie the knot.

Don’t worry, we don’t plan to bore you with age-old traditions and etiquette standard. In fact, what’s considered appropriate in a modern wedding is completely different from what was expected of our parents and grandparents.

That being said, weddings are a time when expectations run high. So before you get started, consider these basic wedding etiquette rules.

Ceremony Seating

It wasn’t so long ago that the bride’s family was expected to sit/stand on the left side of the aisle for the ceremony, while the groom’s family and friends were on the right. Today, it’s perfectly acceptable to everyone to sit wherever they’d like to.

However, the front row should still be reserved for the parents and grandparents of the happy couple. If you believe this general rule-of-thumb won’t be followed by your crowds, put up a small sign.

The “Standard” Procession

Again, there’s no “standard” in a modern wedding.

However, here’s a general procession that many couples follow that you can alter any way you see fit:

  • Mother of Bride
  • Mother and Father of Groom
  • Groom
  • Grandparents of Bride
  • Grandparents of Groom
  • Groomsmen
  • Bridesmaids
  • Best Man
  • Maid of Honor
  • Officiant
  • Ring Bearers and Flower Girls
  • Bride and Father of the Bride

Discuss Social Media Protocol

We’re all connected 24/7 through our mobile devices, which means your guests will have their phones on them and take pictures throughout the event.

If you don’t want guests to post pictures of you from your wedding, make sure that’s known up front.

Another way to control what’s out there on social media is to create a wedding hashtag so you can keep up with all the pictures posted by guests.

Dancing & Other Frivolity

Unless you mention it to your band/DJ, it’s customary for the bride and groom to perform their first dance before the dance floor opens up to guests.

If you don’t care for this rule, we completely understand. Simply tell whoever’s in charge of the music to invite everyone to the floor the minute the energy in the room starts to rise.

Receiving Your Guests

It’s important to make an effort to talk with and thank your guests for attending your wedding. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, especially if you’re expecting a particularly large crowd. To make it easier on you and your spouse, consider a receiving line after the wedding ceremony. That way, you won’t be going table-to-table during the reception.


It’s customary for the father of the bride and/or happy couple to make a quick speech to thank guests for attending the event. A perfect time for this to occur is directly before the best man and maid of honor speeches.

Calling it a Night

To give your guests ample time to wind down before the end of the event, consider ending the bar an hour or so before the band is set to stop.

In addition, ask the band to play a final song so that guests are aware it’s time to start packing up. Even the most friendly of venues need time to close up shop before the next wedding and you may get hit with fines and overages if your guests overstay their welcome.

Sure, there are a few rules to follow, but if you do, you’re guaranteed a smoother experience.

Is there an etiquette rule you would like to change? Tell us more in the comments below.