11 Church Wedding Ceremony Etiquette

Church Wedding Ceremony Etiquette
Dressing appropriately, arrive on time and sit in the correct place. Silent your cell phone and don't take photos/videos during the ceremony. Respect religious traditions and participate in them as well.

1. Dress Accordingly

When celebrating a friend or family member’s big day, it is very important to keep your attire in mind. The dress code will likely be more conservative if the wedding venue is a church. Think Sunday best and avoid anything too formal, as the ceremony will likely not be black tie.

You also want to be sure to dress respectfully and never reveal too much. You should wear something comfortable during a church service, such as a nice dress or a pantsuit. Never wear anything too revealing or too flashy to a church wedding.

2. Don’t Be Late

On the wedding day, arrive on time to avoid making a scene upon entering. You do not want to take any attention away from the bride and groom. It is always a good idea to arrive early, so be sure to consider traffic or other delays when leaving for the wedding.

If you are running late for reasons beyond your control, tell someone. If the processional has already begun when you arrive, try to hold off on entering until the nuptials have started and sneak in as quietly as possible. This also may mean taking a seat on a pew in the back.

3. Behave Accordingly

A church wedding is typically a religious ceremony; you may be expected to participate in certain religious practices and should do so respectfully.

Even if you are not an active member of a Catholic church or any church, respect the customs and wedding traditions of the church you attend. Also, be aware of any additional rules the church may have.

4. Participate In The Ceremony

women participating in church wedding
Women participating in a church wedding

Participation is expected whether you are at the wedding party, the wedding planner, or even a wedding guest. During a church wedding ceremony, there may be times when the officiant says a prayer, and you are expected to bow your head and close your eyes.

You should also sit and stand at the appropriate times. If you are unsure of what to do, a good rule of thumb is to look at what your neighbors are doing and do the same.

5. No Paparazzi

don't record church wedding
Don’t record church wedding

When it comes to a church ceremony, knowing when and where to take photographs and videos is important. Generally speaking, don’t have your phone out during the ceremony and certainly avoid flash photography.

Most couples will hire a professional photographer to capture the moment, so if you really want pictures, you can contact the bride and groom a few weeks after the wedding to see if they can share the special memories with you.

Usually, a time is set aside for photos after the ceremony and before the wedding reception. You may request a few pictures with the bride and groom then, but make sure to take your photos and move on, as they need to get photos with their immediate family, the groomsmen, the bridesmaids, and any other photos they may want to capture.

6. Hold All Calls

Put your phone on silent during a church or any type of wedding. If your phone goes off during the wedding vows, everyone will look at you, and the attention will be taken from the bride and groom.

If there is an emergency that you need to handle, leave the chapel or sanctuary to take the call in private, where you won’t be heard or distract anyone else. Be sure to leave quietly and quickly.

7. Where To Sit

When attending a church wedding, you will choose your seat based on who invited you. Generally speaking, friends and family of the bride will sit on the left side of the church, and those of the groom on the right.

The bride’s parents sit in the first pew on the left side, and elderly guests and family members should also be sat close to the front. The rest of the guests should sit behind the first couple of pews. If it is your first time attending a church wedding, or you are just unsure, there will usually be ushers to help you find your seat.

Finding your seat at the reception should be easy, as most seating arrangements were made during the wedding planning, and usually, there are place cards on the tables. The bridal party and groomsman sit at a table with the bride and groom, and the family sits nearby.

8. Religious Traditions

You may be asked to pray. If it is a Catholic wedding ceremony, you may be asked to participate in the eucharist or holy communion.

Even if your religious beliefs differ, you should always participate respectfully. Remember, you don’t have to have the same religious beliefs to celebrate the bride and groom’s union.

9. Music And Singing

In some religious wedding ceremonies, you may be asked to sing hymns along with the choir. This should be done standing up, and you should always participate or at least look as if you are.

If you don’t know the words, hymn books are usually in each pew. If you do not feel comfortable singing aloud, then try mouthing the words. Never remain seated or stand there looking bored while everyone else sings.

10. Gift Giving

If you did not send your gift after receiving the wedding invitation, then you should wait until the wedding reception to give the couple their gift. Never give it to them before the ceremony, as they won’t have anything to do with it, and don’t give it to them directly after, as they usually go to take photos after.

Traditional gifts include household items such as kitchenware, glassware, or linens. However, don’t just guess. Refer to the registry if there is one to ensure you give them something they want and need and that no one else has already bought for them. Of course, if they are having a no-gift wedding, purchasing a gift is unnecessary.

11. Leaving The Ceremony

Once the ceremony is finished, the recessional will begin. The bride and groom will exit first, followed by the wedding party. Then, the parents of the bride and groom will be escorted out by the ushers.

Then the immediate family members will leave, followed by elderly guests. Guests should exit by rows after the couple, wedding party, and couple’s families have exited.

After the wedding ceremony, there may be some time before the reception. This is a time in which you can mingle with other guests or head to the reception venue to wait for the bride and groom to finish taking photos.

What is the difference between a church wedding and a civil ceremony?

Church Wedding CeremonyCivil Wedding Ceremony
It’s about being wed in the eyes of GodIt’s about being wed in the eyes of the law
More rules/religious traditionsFewer restrictions and rules

What is the tradition for the bride and groom’s parents at a church wedding?

The mothers of the bride and groom are seated last before the wedding party begins to walk down the aisle. The bride’s father typically walks her down the aisle, and the groom’s father is seated before the groom’s mother.

The mother-of-the-bride dress should be appropriate for the church and follows the couple’s color theme, though she should avoid ivy, cream, or white colors. The mother of the groom is also expected to dress accordingly to the wedding venue and the color theme of the ceremony.

Who walks down the aisle and in what order?

In a typical wedding, the bride’s mother goes first, followed by the groom’s mother. Then the grandparents of the bride and then the grandparents of the groom follow. After that, the groom walks down, followed by the officiant.

Then comes the wedding party, followed by the best man and maid of honor. Then the ring bearer walks down the aisle, and next comes the flower girl. Finally, the bride walks down the aisle, usually escorted by her father, and the ceremony begins.

Margaret Dunn

Margaret is a passionate writer based in Costa Rica, though she was raised in the southeastern US. Being from the South, good manners and proper etiquette were ingrained in her from a young age and she has always been fascinated with etiquette in different settings and places. When she is not writing, you can find her exercising, reading, or spending time with her family at the beach.

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