Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

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This blog is structured as a series of questions and under each posting, I've provided what I hope will be helpful advice for you in planning your humanist wedding. All of the posts are on one page, but each one has been condensed in size, so to read the full details, just click on the post title or 'read more'. When you get to the end of the post, just click on 'home' to get back to the full page of posts (or on older/newer posts). If you're interested in a particular subject, you can also click on the list to the left or you can do your own search by using the box below.

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How do we enter and how do we stand?



I often get asked questions about wedding etiquette and in particular, things like which side of her dad should the bride be on when they enter at the start of the ceremony? Just in case you're wondering too, it is traditional for the bride to take her dad's right arm, so that he walks down the aisle on the left, which is traditionally 'the bride's side'. Someone other than dad may of course be 'giving the bride away', such as in the case of Michelle above, whose Gran had the honour of escorting her on her wedding day. As you can see, in this case the bride decided to walk on her Gran's left rather than the right. 

You could of course decide to move completely away from tradition and walk in together as bride and groom! And by the way, I often refer to the 'giving away' tradition during the ceremony and say that in reality there isn't any giving away because the two of you have already given your hearts to each other. It's a nice way of saying that you have a relationship of equals and that there is no relinquishing of ownership on the part of the father of the bride - and indeed, no claiming of ownership by the groom! At the same time, I always like to make a big fuss of dads for their role on the big day!


After the ceremony has finished, the bride will then take the groom's left arm for them to make their grand exit back down the aisle. And that, according to traditional etiquette, is so that he has his sword arm (presumed to be his right) free to protect his bride! Of course, you may decide to throw tradition out of the window for your big day and do your own thing!

It is important to think about how and where to stand during the ceremony itself. I often stand in the middle, with the bride on my right and the groom on my left, with both of you facing outwards, but angled towards each other - as in this lovely pic of Jonas and Lisa-Ann at their 2005 wedding in the grounds of the Dunkeld Hilton House Hotel.  By the way, this fabulous wedding was photographed by Neil Fordyce and  it was featured in the Scottish Wedding Directory magazine Real Life Weddings The Humanist Society also chose this wedding to feature on the front of it's leaflet about humanist weddings, 'Sharing the Future'

When you exchange your vows, you can then turn so that you are side-on to your guests and facing each other. And by the way, remember to look at each other rather than at your Celebrant! I often remind couples that although I'm marrying them, they are marrying each other and not me! This is Jill and Michael getting married in the lovely garden they created together. 

You are then facing each other for the exchange of your wedding rings as in this picture of Claire and David at Gean House in Alloa:

(Photo by Tom Collins at Stylish Images)

When it comes to the 'ta-da' moment, where I pronounce you husband and wife (or wife and husband?!), I'll invite you to kiss and quickly get out of the way so that your photographer can capture that special moment without me lurking in the background:


(oops, didn't quite get out of the way quick enough when Aoife and Phil got married at the Surgeons Hall in Edinburgh! Photo by Mike Biagi)


After the signing of the Marriage Schedule, I always make sure that the couple stand together for the final part of the ceremony. I don't believe in coming in between a married couple, especially not a couple I've just married! This is Carol and Thomas at the Roman Camp Hotel in Callander:

 (photo by Paul Walker Images)

You can choose to stand together throughout the whole ceremony if you'd prefer to. If you think you might be nervous or emotional on your big day, you might feel more comfortable standing with your partner throughout. This is Andrea and Andy during their ceremony at Castle Campbell.

If you wanted to, you could also be seated for some of the ceremony. Jean and Alex here (getting married in Alex's son's back garden) felt more comfortable sitting down (and it has to be said with a glass of bubbly in front of them!) At 78 and 82 respectively, they just go to show that it's never too late for love! This was my very first legal wedding in June 2005 and it was a wonderfully relaxed family occasion. I have since married Alex's son, John and his partner Heather and his granddaughter Sarah and Chris!

Laura and Alan were also a very special couple and no one who was at their Glenskirlie Castle wedding will ever forget that day or the lovely Laura......


By the way, one thing I try never to do is to have you with your backs to your guests at any point. For me, an important principle about having a humanist wedding is about sharing your happy day with your friends and family and they are likely to feel much more involved in the ceremony if they can see your faces rather than the backs of your heads!

It's a nice idea to have your attendants standing to your side during the ceremony and I often suggest that your bridesmaids (and any flower girls and page boys) enter first, so that they get their 'moment'. Then we can have a wee gap (keep him waiting a bit longer girls!) before the grand entrance of the bride. By the way, when they enter, I'd advise against your bridesmaids doing that silly walk where they step forward and pause before they take another step. It never fails to look awkward and unnatural. Much better to walk at a natural pace with a big beaming smile! Incidentally, I always introduce your attendants (not everyone will know who they are) and thank them for helping to make your big day even more special....


At the end of the ceremony, I'll present you to your guests as a married couple (this is where I get to call you Mr and Mrs, if that's how you want to be known after your marriage of course!). It's a lovely moment, one that everyone has been waiting for and I guarantee that there will be a huge round of applause for you (and possibly some cheering and whooping too, but that might just  be me!)


(photo by Alan Hutchison)

 (photo by Jill Porter)

So that's about it for how you might enter and stand during the ceremony - how you exit to start your journey as a married  couple is up to you!


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