Wedding Etiquette: Marriage Ceremony Do’s and Don’ts

wedding etiquette marriage ceremony dos and donts

When it comes to weddings, most people get more excited for the reception and party afterward. However, the marriage ceremony is equally important. Many couples may overlook planning the ceremony in favor of other, more exciting details of their wedding day. 

But the ceremony sets the tone for the rest of the celebration, so you want to nail it. With that in mind, we present some helpful wedding etiquette tips about the do’s and don’ts for your marriage ceremony. 

Feel free to read our blog at City Hall Wedding if you want to know more about Los Angeles wedding venues! 

Wedding Etiquette Do’s… 

Have an inclusive venue

It makes a lot of sense from a logistical and financial standpoint to have the ceremony and reception at the same place. Most guests will appreciate being able to go right to the reception without having to travel. 

Plan early 

We recommend figuring out your wedding venue and schedule at least nine months in advance, preferably a year. You can hire a wedding planner to help you out with technical details if you feel overwhelmed. Remember that planning involves choosing a venue, catering, photographer, etc. 

Schedule extra time 

While we certainly hope your wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch, but odds are you will run into some snag when the big day comes. We recommend scheduling extra time for the big day, just in case you have to deal with a last-minute emergency. You want to schedule extra time, so you don’t have to start late and eat into reservation times for the ceremony and reception. 

Find comfy chairs 

Even if you plan on having a short ceremony, make sure to choose soft and comfortable furniture. Your guests will be able to focus on the ceremony more if they have comfortable seating. Comfy seating includes soft, padded chairs and ample legroom between seating assignments. A good rule of thumb to follow when scoping out venue size is ten square feet per guest. 

Make arrangements for weather 

If you plan to hold your ceremony outside, you need a Plan B in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. For rain, you can reserve a tent or a separate indoor venue. If the temperature turns hot, try to provide wedding guests with extra shade. If it’s cold, consider renting some heating lamps. Part of wedding etiquette includes making sure your guests feel comfortable.  

Meet your officiant beforehand 

Your officiant is the one leading you through the pre-wedding and wedding ceremony. So you need to get to know them beforehand and make sure you are compatible. Getting to know your officiant will also make your ceremony feel more intimate and personable. Meeting up doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy. A cup of coffee or light lunch should do just fine! 

Wedding Etiquette Don’ts… 

Make guests wait after the ceremony 

Nobody likes waiting hours after the ceremony to get to the reception. Try to schedule things with a short transition between the two. If you can’t go directly from one to another, find a space where wedding guests can have drinks and snacks while the staff prepares the reception spot. 

Forget about alternative food choices 

You might have someone on your guest list who can’t eat gluten or is vegan. So it helps to have alternative food options. Fortunately, most venues have options to accommodate alternative diets with a little bit of extra planning. Your guests will appreciate you going the extra mile to accommodate them. On the same note, don’t forget to feed your caterers, vendors, and their staff. They work hard to make your big day perfect, so they deserve a hot meal too! 

Make guests pay for drinks 

Bar bills typically emerge as one of the biggest wedding expenses. However, if you can’t afford a 100% anything-goes open bar, there are several ways to save on drink costs without making guests pay for their own booze. For example, you could have a signature menu with curated drinks or stick to wine, beer, and champagne instead of hard liquor. 

Seat guests randomly 

It makes sense to sit family members with one another, but watch out for potential tensions. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to sit divorced parents next to one another. You know your guests, so make sure to consider where they might be the most comfortable sitting. 

Sit singles all together 

Pop culture tells us that weddings make the perfect place for singles to meet one another, but the reality is less clear. Whatever the truth, we do not recommend sitting all your single friends at the same table. It can feel like a forced date and make guests uncomfortable. Instead, seat your single friends as you would any other guest—with people they know and get along with. 

Ask for gifts in invitations 

Introducing your wedding registry in invitations represents a big wedding etiquette faux pas. Invitations need to show your guests you care about them and want them to be present for your big day, not simply a way to ask for presents. Politely notify guests about wedding gift ideas or registries through word of mouth or through your wedding website. 

Invite someone to bridal shower/bachelor party and not the wedding 

Pre-wedding events like bachelor parties and bridal showers should be among family and intimate friends, so make sure everyone there has an invitation to the wedding. It’s fairly rude to invite someone to a pre-wedding party but not the actual ceremony. After all, it’s your big day, and you have final control over the master guest list. 

Make out at the altar 

We get it—the big kiss is one of the most iconic moments of a marriage ceremony, and you want it to mean something. But there is a world’s difference between “awww” and “ewww.” So keep the kiss simple and tasteful—long enough for good pictures but not so long people start feeling embarrassed. As much as you might want to, nobody wants to see you and your spouse tongue wrestling. 

City Hall Wedding is here for all your wedding and marriage questions. Want to learn some more tips about wedding etiquette or Los Angeles city hall marriages? Feel free to read our blog or contact us if you have any suggestions or contributions!