Q. Who should stand next to whom in the receiving line at my reception?
A. The bride's mother stands at the head of the line to greet the guests. The groom's mother stands next. If the two fathers are part of the receiving line, which is optional, the father of the bride is second in the line and the father of the groom stands after his wife. Next is the bride, followed by the groom and then the maid of honor. The bridesmaids would be next in line. Their presence is quite correct but is optional and at the discretion of the bride.
At a very large formal wedding there is occasionally an announcer standing next to the bride's mother. He asks the guests their names as they approach and repeats the names to the mother of the bride.
Q. My parents are divorced. Do they both stand in the receiving line?
A. The traditional receiving line does not include the fathers. Regardless of the marital status of the parents, only the mothers of the bride and groom stand in the receiving line.
Q. Who sits at the parents' table during the reception?
A. The mother and father of both the bride and the groom, the grandparents," the clergyman who performs the ceremony and his or her spouse are included. If there is room, godparents, relatives and close family friends are also seated at this table. At large receptions there are sometimes separate parents' tables for the groom's parents and the bride's parents. This is perfectly correct, but not as much in keeping with the symbolism of "joining" that a wedding represents.
Q. How should my parents, who are divorced, be seated at the reception?
A. Divorced parents of the bride or groom are never seated together at the parents' table. If they are reasonably friendly, the parent giving the reception will invite the other, but will seat him or her at a separate table. Stepparents are included at the parents' tables, assuming that he or she gets along with the stepchild —-the bride or groom, if there has been great bitterness, it is best that the parent who is not giving the wedding, and his spouse, not attend the reception at all even though they go to the marriage ceremony. If the bride or groom insists, the father or mother might come for a short time, but to avoid possible unpleasantness his or her spouse should tactfully stay away.
Q. Who sits at the table with the bride and groom?
A. When there is a bride's table, the bride and groom sit at the center with the maid of honor on the groom's left and the best man on the bride's right. The other attendants sit on either side. Insofar as possible, men and women alternate. Attendants' husbands, wives and fiancé(é)s should also be seated at the table, and live-in companions are included if there is room."
It is also correct for the bride and groom to circulate among their guests rather than be seated at a bridal table. There should, however, be one reserved table, large enough to seat the attendants, too, so that the bride and groom may always have a place to sit down to eat. In this case, married attendants may be seated at other tables with their spouses, but should be "on call" to gather for the best man's toast and the cutting of the cake as well as to check frequently with the bride and groom to see if there is anything they can do for them.
Q. Who makes toasts at the reception and when are they made?
A. After the receiving line has disbanded, the bridal party seated and all champagne glasses filled, the best man rises and makes the first toast to the bride and groom. Other members of the bridal party may propose toasts, and the groom generally toasts his bride and his new in-laws
If there is no bridal table, the attendants form a group when the receiving line finishes and the best man, asking for silence, offers his toast.
Q. What sort of toasts are appropriate?
A. A best man's toast to the bridal couple may be something like: "To Jessica and Michael—may they always be as happy as they look today." The prime ingredient in an appropriate toast is simply that the sentiment be from the heart.
After the best man has made his toast, the groom may propose a toast to his new bride.
Q. Are congratulatory telegrams read aloud?
A. If telegrams have been received they are read aloud by the best man following the toasts. He then gives the telegrams to the bride's parents for safekeeping ,until the bride and groom return from their honeymoon and are able to acknowledge them.
Q. After we dance the first dance,- what is the order for dancing at the reception?
A. The groom's father usually cuts in on the bride and groom and the groom asks the bride's mother to dance. The bride's father dances with the bride next, the groom's father cuts in on the bride's mother and the groom asks.his own mother to dance. The best man usually is fourth to dance with the bride. The precise order is not important so long as each of the principal men dances with the bride and the mothers first. The dancing, after that, becomes general.
Q. When is the wedding cake cut, and what is the procedure?
A. At a sit-down reception the cake is cut just before dessert is served. When the reception is a buffet, the cake is cut later, usually shortly before the bride and groom leave.
The bride cuts the first two slices, with the groom helping by placing his hand over hers. He feeds her the first bite and she feeds him the second—but neatly, with no squishing of cake and icing into each other's faces! When,the ceremony is completed, a waiter cuts the rest of the cake and others pass it to the guests.
Q. When does the bride throw the bouquet?
A. After the cake is cut and before the bride leaves to change her clothes.
Q. Do I give favors to my wedding guests? A. Among many ethnic groups favors are given to all guests at the reception. Whether or not you choose to give them will depend upon tradition within your family. Favors vary from a small, wrapped piece of wedding cake to gold charms!