Toastmaster Bob’s helpful hints for your wedding
Having officiated at many weddings over the past years I have noticed that a number of traditions and small details are often forgotten or overlooked. Sometimes couples are not even aware of the best way to do things. I have put together these helpful hints to help you in your planning and preparation so that you can fully enjoy your very special day. If you would like more help and advice please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your wedding ceremony is being held in a venue other than a church, the bride must arrive 10-15 minutes early as she has to meet with the Registrars prior to the ceremony, and allow time for photo’s getting out of the car. Don’t be late as the Registrar’s may have another wedding to travel to later that day! Your toastmaster will ensure your guests are all seated in the ceremony room before you arrive. Have some music e.g. a pianist or harpist to keep them entertained while they await your entrance.
Bride, swap your engagement ring to the ring finger of your right hand before the ceremony. You can put it back on your left hand after the ceremony.
It may be helpful to appoint someone to make sure each principal guest is wearing their button hole or corsage and they may require help to pin them on. A good florist who is in attendance should help with this but your toastmaster will also be on hand to assist. A man’s buttonhole should be worn on the outside of the buttonhole of the left lapel. Corsages are worn just below the lady’s right shoulder with the stem pointing up.
The Bride’s family should be seated on the left and Bridegroom’s on the right (facing the front) & Ushers should remember to leave enough seats on the Bride’s side for the Father of the Bride and Bridesmaids to be seated.
The seating of family at the top table can often be awkward if parents have divorced and remarried, so do ask your toastmaster for advice on this matter. You can arrange the seating plan however you wish but a conventional top table arrangement, when viewed from the front left to right is:
Chief Bridesmaid / BG father / Bride’s mother / Bridegroom / Bride / Bride’s father / BG’s Mother / Best Man
Walking down the aisle
The Bridal party should take their time entering, allowing the music to play a little before starting the walk down the aisle. If it is a short aisle try taking one step at a time in sync with your father (left, together, right, together etc.). This will avoid walking out of step and help you savour the moment by making it last longer. At ceremonies held in the same venue as the wedding breakfast your toastmaster can announce you into the ceremony – “Ladies and Gentlemen would you please stand. Accompanied by her Father and attended by her bridesmaids – your Bride”. Cue music and away you go!
Remember that the Bridegroom is the Bride’s ‘right hand man’. In other words, for the ceremony, photos and seating on the top table, the Bridegroom is on the right hand side of his Bride. When walking down the aisle, Dad is on his daughter’s left side. Best remembered by saying ‘the Bride has left her Father for her right hand man’.
Allow plenty of time for your photographs, as you want to mingle with your guests and not be rushing from photo’s to meal. Consult with your photographer but try not to have too many group shots as this can take up more time than you think. A good toastmaster will assist the photographer in gathering groups of guests for the photographs. Most photographers will take the Bride & Bridegroom off on their own for half an hour so I suggest a minimum of 2 hours from the end of your ceremony (or arrival at the venue in the case of church wedding) to the start of your meal. Perhaps a singer, musician or magician can help to keep guests entertained during this time before the meal.
You will also need to allow time for the receiving line when you greet everyone as they enter for the meal. The receiving line can comprise of just the Bride & Bridegroom or can include parents, bridesmaids and best man. A hundred guests can take between 30/40 minutes to pass through depending on how long you chat to each one. It is the role of your toastmaster to advise on all these timings and keep proceedings on schedule. Don’t forget you have a meal being prepared and you don’t want it to be overcooked.
These can be before or after the meal but try not to make them longer than 10mins each. If you have three people speaking that’s half an hour, and if the speeches are before the meal your guests may be hungry.
It is the duty of the Bridegroom to thank parents, bridesmaids, best man, ushers etc. and to give out gifts (bouquets for mothers) too them during his speech. Your toastmaster will make sure the gifts are to hand.
Try to use prompt cards with bullet points for your speech rather than written in full on sheaves of A4! You could lose your place and have your head down reading all the time. You may be nervous but try to speak clearly and not too fast, especially if you’re telling a joke – you want everyone to hear the punch-line.
If a microphone is available please use it. You may think you have a loud voice but some elderly guests may have difficulty hearing. Your speech is to everyone in the room and when addressing top table guests you may turn your head and tend to drop your voice so it may not carry to the furthest table. Marquees especially tend to absorb sound.
Traditionally the Father of the Bride toasts the Bride & Bridegroom and the Bridegroom toasts the Bridesmaids. The Best Man may also toast the newlyweds if he chooses. It may also be appropriate for the Bridegroom or Father of the Bride to raise a toast during his speech to ‘absent friends’.
If your guests have a choice menu, it may be helpful to have their choice printed on the reverse of their place name card. Once they are seated they can turn the card over to assist the waiting staff in serving the correct choice.
If you have a guest book or photo frame to be signed don’t forget to provide a nice pen! Your toastmaster can remind guests to sign it.
Bride, do you want to throw your bouquet to all the unmarried ladies? If you want to keep it, how about having a small replica made to throw. There is also the tradition (not often done) of the Bridegroom throwing the Bride’s garter to all the single men!
Many venues only allow bio-degradable confetti so check and make sure that’s what your guests bring.
Here are a couple of tips I picked up last year at two separate weddings. First, make sure you can sit down comfortably! One of my Brides had to ask her Bridesmaid to unlace the back of the dress as it was so tight she could not sit down at the top table. Secondly, make sure you can dance in your dress. On another occasion the Bride & Bridegroom had rehearsed a special routine for their first dance together. Of course they hadn’t been able to practice in ‘the dress’, and when they had a final rehearsal privately just before they took to the floor, the Bride found she couldn’t do the dance properly as the dress kept getting caught. Half an hour was spent with the Bridesmaids helping her to pin the dress up so she didn’t trip over!
Talking of the first dance, you don’t have to do the whole dance, especially if you feel uncomfortable being on the dance floor together. Your toastmaster or DJ can invite guests to join you halfway through and get the party started. As the Bride, you may also want to have special dance with your Father.
Cutting the cake
When cutting your wedding cake the easiest way is for the Bridegroom to hold the knife in his right hand and the Bride to place her left hand on top with her rings visible. This avoids the Bridegroom pressing down on the Bride’s rings which can be painful for both. They can also place their arms around each other. When you have cut the cake hold the pose and look at the cake, each other and the many cameras that will no doubt be focused upon you – as they will have been the whole day! Enjoy