After months of planning, your wedding day has finally arrived. Here’s a guide to your schedule on the big day and what to expect so you can plan your routine in advance, calm any nerves and enjoy the preparation for the happiest day of your life.
The photographer will have already agreed what kind of photos to take and where and most brides will want some pictures of them getting ready and then several with their bridesmaids and parents shortly before the ceremony.
Make sure that your going‐away outfit and honeymoon luggage is packed and that someone is taking it to the reception venue. You and your father (usually) should travel to the ceremony together, while everyone else arrives in advance. Leave enough time to arrive promptly for the ceremony ‐‐ then if you choose, you can observe the tradition of being a little late, without the panic of actually being so!
Entrance of the bride
If you are getting married in church, you enter on your father’s right arm (or on the arm of whoever is giving you away) and walk up the aisle followed by your attendants. Tradition has your face covered with a veil, but it’s up to you if you wear the veil over your face, back off your hair or choose not to wear one at all.
As you arrive at the front of the pews, the groom will move to your right side and your father will drop back very slightly behind you. You should then hand your bouquet to your chief bridesmaid, who will lift your veil if necessary.
If you’re getting married in church then you will need to repeat the vows that the minister asks you to say. Civil weddings are very different as you can with follow the registrar’s vows or write your own. Then follows any readings and the signing of the register. If you want to have music at this time it is an ideal interval to entertain your guests.
Exit of the bride and groom
Once you’ve been proclaimed husband and wife, you both lead the attendants and parents into the vestry for the signing of the register, followed by a triumphant procession out of the church. Much the same procedure is followed in a register office, but usually with far less ceremony. However, civil weddings can involve just as much or as little ceremony and grandeur as you like.
You should welcome your guests and receive everyone’s best wishes and congratulations. If you have a formal receiving line, you are the third couple in line after the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents.
If there is a formal top table, your place is on the left of your groom. There is no reason why you shouldn’t make a short speech if you want to, adding your thanks to your husband’s, parents, family and friends.
After the toasts, speeches and cutting of the cake, you and your husband should lead the dancing if there is any. This is known as the ‘first dance’ and couples tend to choose their favourite song. Some couples like to learn to waltz (or jive or tango!) specially for this moment.
If you are formally ‘going away’ from your reception, it is customary to change into a going‐away outfit ‐‐ helped by your chief bridesmaid. Parents usually say their private good‐byes at this time.
If you intend to party until the bitter end, do let your guests know, as some of the older ones may well be wilting as they wait politely for you to leave. You and your husband then rejoin your guests for a traditional send‐off. This is another opportunity for the confetti to come out, if the venue allows.
Your final farewell gesture might be to toss your bouquet into the crowd and whoever catches the flowers is said to be the next to get married. Point them in the direction of confetti.co.uk.
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.