So you think you know the rules of weddings? You know what has to be done at wedding, what traditions are mandatory and how ceremonies always go down. But what if some of your truths are just wedding ceremony myths?
Centuries of tradition and countless movies and TV shows depict wedding ceremonies one way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Below we’re busting 16 wedding ceremony myths to separate fact from fiction and help you plan a ceremony that best represents your love story!
Myth: Wedding ceremonies always start late.
Truth: Wedding ceremonies do start on time!
It’s a common myth that all wedding ceremonies start late. And while it does happen, it’s not something you should count on! Many couples have their wedding day planned down to the minute, so starting 5, 15 or 30 minutes late means less time spent taking photos, enjoying cocktail hour or dancing. Plus many vendors operate on tight schedules and may have multiple weddings on the same day.
Guests are often told to arrive early to wedding ceremonies so a late start doesn’t happen. If an invitation tells you to arrive at 4:30pm for a 5:00pm ceremony, aim for 4:30pm. You don’t want to show up so early that the venue is still setting up but you also don’t want to be late and arrive after the ceremony has already started.
Myth: The couple can’t see each other before the ceremony.
Truth: Many couples prefer to see each other before the ceremony.
Back in the day, couples didn’t see each other until their ceremony or else it was bad luck. This stems from a time when couples didn’t even meet until their wedding day and a veil prevented the groom from seeing the bride’s face and taking off if he thought she was ugly.
Luckily, those days are behind us! Many couples choose to see each other before their wedding ceremony. They may do a first look, revealing their wedding outfits to one another, and then take portraits and wedding party photos before the ceremony. Or, they may just want to spend the day together. If you’re not seeing each other until the ceremony and your ceremony isn’t until 6pm, it can be odd spending the majority of your wedding day without your partner.
Myth: The officiant will ask if anyone objects to the marriage.
Truth: Only in the movies!
We’ve all watched a wedding take place on TV and heard the officiant say, “If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.” Then a discarded ex stands up from the back row, declares their love for their former partner, and we wonder who the person getting married will pick.
But at real weddings, that’s not quite how it happens. It is not a legal requirement to ask if anyone objects to the marriage and this phrase is not often seen in modern wedding ceremony scripts. It may still be included in some traditional or religious scripts, which is another reason why we say it’s so important to see your ceremony script before your wedding day!
Myth: You don’t want to cry on your wedding day and mess up your photos.
Truth: Let those emotions out!
Some of the best wedding ceremony photos are the ones where the couple is laughing, crying or showing off their real emotions. Those are the meaningful moments you’re going to want your photographer to capture so you can look back on them in the years to come.
If you’re worried that a few emotional tears are going to turn into a full-on sob fest, you can take some precautions. Read your ceremony script ahead of time so you know what to expect, pack tissues or ask someone in your wedding party to hold some for you, and consider reading your vows first before you get too weepy.
Myth: The bride walks down the aisle with her father who gives her away.
Truth: Any member of the couple can enter the ceremony however they want with whomever they want.
A bride, groom or person getting married can enter their wedding ceremony however they want with whomever they want! It’s not a rule that brides must enter accompanied by their fathers. Many modern couples are doing away with this tradition and mixing up the traditional processional.
Looking for an alternative to the father of the bride giving her away? Consider having both partners enter with both of their parents, enter solo or enter together. There are lots of unique processional ideas that can work for any wedding ceremony.
Myth: You have to repeat the standard wedding vows about “sickness and health” etc.
Truth: You can say whatever wedding vows you want!
We’ve all heard the traditional wedding vows about loving each other in sickness and health, good times and bad, etc. And while those promises are lovely, they’re not very original. And they’re also not mandatory. You don’t have to repeat the traditional wedding vows you’ve heard at countless past weddings.
Myth: Anyone can go online and get ordained to be your wedding officiant.
Truth: Not everywhere! And you may not want anyone to officiate your wedding.
In the movies we always see couples getting married by a friend who just goes online and gets ordained in a few minutes. But this isn’t always possible in real life. For example, in Canada it’s not possible to get ordained online. You can only be legally married by a licensed wedding officiant or marriage commissioner.
Even if you live in an area where a friend or family member could get ordained online, that’s not always the best choice for your wedding. There’s value in hiring a professional with experience in weddings to lead the most important ceremony of your lives. Not only will a professional officiant offer a reliable service, but you won’t have to depend on your wannabe-stand-up-comedian brother who swears he’ll get a draft of the ceremony to you “real soon.” Say no to friendors (friend+vendor) and yes to professionals!
Myth: You have to exchange rings and kiss to be legally married.
Truth: The rings and kiss have nothing to do with being legally married.
Exchanging rings and having a first kiss are fun extras of a wedding ceremony, but they have nothing to do with being legally married. Many couples include these traditional aspects and enjoy them. Who doesn’t love new jewelry and smooching their partner? But if you don’t want to exchange rings or a first kiss, you can absolutely skip it.
The only things you need for a legal wedding are two unmarried consenting adults, a licensed officiant, two witnesses and a marriage licence. The couple must declare their intent to marry, which all of the parties will attest to when they sign the marriage licence.
Myth: The bride takes the groom’s last name after the wedding.
Truth: Either member of the couple can take, keep or combine their last names.
Hopefully you know that this one is just a myth! Back in the day, there was no question that a wedding would only happen between a bride and a groom and that afterwards, the bride would take the groom’s last name as her own. And while this is still a common practice, it’s not a requirement. Either partner can choose to change their last name or not following their wedding.
If you are interested in changing your last name – whether that means hyphenating, adding or taking your partner’s last name – check out our guides for changing your last name in BC, Ontario and Oregon. And remember: It’s not just brides who can change their last names!
Myth: Brides must wear white.
Truth: Wear whatever you want!
Here’s another wedding ceremony myth we hope you know is completely false. While brides traditionally wear white, there’s no reason why they have to. Whether you’re a bride, groom or other awesome person getting married, you can wear whatever colour, outfit and style makes you feel your most fabulous on your wedding day!
We’ve seen incredible jumpsuits, matching overalls, embroidered jackets, bright pink frocks and so many other kick-ass come down the aisle. We love when a couple embraces their own unique style and has the best time rocking their look on their wedding day!
Myth: You have to have a wedding party to stand next to you during the ceremony.
Truth: Wedding parties are optional and don’t have to stand with you.
Did you know that you don’t have to have a wedding party? It’s true! You can say “no thanks” to organizing a wedding party, coordinating outfits and schedules, buying flowers and gifts, and managing an endless text chain. You can still have pre-wedding events and hang out with your besties on the morning of without having an official wedding party.
But if you do want to have a wedding party (check out our tips to ensure it’s a stress-free wedding party experience!), they don’t have to stand up with you at the ceremony. You can have your party walk down the aisle and take a seat in the front row. That way, they get to watch your ceremony (and not just your back) and your guests can focus on you two.
Myth: Your wedding must take place on a Saturday.
Truth: Not anymore!
It used to be that weddings only took place on Saturdays. But as venues filled up and budgets got tighter, couples began holding their weddings on less busy and less expensive Fridays and Sundays. Now, after covid threw out the wedding rule book, weddings are happening every day of the week!
While people are more open to brunch weddings on Sunday or Wednesday afternoon weddings, keep in mind the reality of a weekday wedding. Pros: You might be able to save money with weekday pricing and hire vendors and venues with more weekday availability. Cons: Some guests may not be able to make it or may not be able to party the night away with you if they have to be in the office the next morning.
Myth: The witnesses who sign your marriage licence must be 18+.
Truth: There is no minimum age for witnesses.
As you may know, you need two witnesses to sign your marriage licence in order to be legally married. But a popular wedding ceremony myth is that these witnesses must be over 18 or even over 19, 21 or 25. Not true! There is no minimum age to sign a marriage licence as a witness in BC.
In order to sign, witnesses must be able to comprehend what they are signing and attest that the couple wants to be married. So no, your infant child can’t doodle a signature onto your licence. But this may be a perfect role for your teenage children in your wedding.
Myth: The bride must stand on the left and her family must sit on the left, while the groom and his family are on the right.
Truth: Sit and stand wherever you want!
In traditional Christian weddings, the bride stands on the left (to the officiant’s right) and her family and friends sit on the left side of the ceremony space while the groom stands on the right (to the officiant’s left) and his family and friends sit on the right side. But if you’re not having a traditional or religious wedding, go ahead and mix it up!
As the couple getting married, you can choose to stand on whichever side you prefer. And you can encourage your guests to sit wherever they’d like too. Many couples like to put up a wedding sign with a cute phrase (e.g. “Choose a seat, not a side, we’re one big family once the knot is tied!”) to let guests know they’re free to sit anywhere.
In fact, it’s actually a better idea for the couple’s families to sit on the opposite side of where their loved one is standing. For example, if Alex and Charlie are getting married and Alex stands on the right while Charlie is on the left, it’s best for Alex’s family to sit on the left and Charlie’s family to sit on the right. That way, instead of staring at their loved one’s back, they can see their face!
Myth: You need wedding ceremony programs.
Truth: Probably not!
Wedding programs, or wedding ceremony programs, are pieces of paper handed out at wedding ceremonies to let people know what’s going to happen, who is involved, etc. They may list the order of ceremony events, the names of everyone in the wedding party, and a welcome message from the couple.
While programs can be a nice touch, they’re not mandatory. If your ceremony is following a typical structure, most people don’t need a program to guide them through it. Your guests won’t be left confused when you start saying your vows, exchanging rings or inviting someone up for a reading. Programs are a good idea, however, if your ceremony requires guest participation or will be a new experience for most guests.
Myth: You need flower girls and ring boys to walk down the aisle.
Truth: You don’t have to have kids in your wedding party if you don’t want to.
It’s true, you don’t have to have kids in your wedding party! You can have only adults in your wedding party or not have a wedding party at all. If you’re not close to any children, it’s completely fine to have a wedding ceremony without them. In fact, you could even have a kid-free wedding!
But if you do have children in your life that you’re close to and want to have kids in your wedding party, you still don’t have to send them down the aisle in the traditional way. For starters, you can do away with the gendered terms “flower girl” and “ring boy” – check out this post for some modern and inclusive alternatives to flower girl and ring boy. You could also choose to have them skip the aisle walk, walk all together, walk but sit in the front row instead of standing up front, or walk but let an adult hold the rings.
The best way to avoid wedding ceremony myths and ensure your wedding ceremony is only filled with the traditions you want is to plan a ceremony that is completely personalized to you. Check out our Custom & Creative Ceremony and get in touch to book your wedding officiant today!