You and your partner sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! We all know the song, but even years after singing it on the playground, we have some questions about kissing at a wedding.

Even if you’ve had thousands of kisses in your lifetime, you may be a little unsure about what is involved in the first kiss on your wedding day. Below we’re answering all of your questions and giving you the best smoochy solutions – no lipstick stains here.

Let’s learn all about kissing at a wedding!

first kiss at a wedding ceremony, bride and groom in close embrace
by Toby Cowley

What does the kiss at a wedding mean?

Kissing at a wedding symbolizes love and commitment. The first kiss usually happens at the end of the ceremony, after the vows and rings. Now that the couple has exchanged vows and rings, they solidify their commitment with their first kiss as newlyweds.

Did people always kiss at weddings?

While the history of kissing at a wedding is a little muddled, it appears that the tradition began in Ancient Rome. Back then, marriage was seen as a contract and instead of signing your name, you would confirm your commitment with a kiss. That’s why we say, “to seal with a kiss!”

In other accounts, kissing at a wedding is a Christian tradition. In the Bible, a kiss may symbolize the wedded couple “becoming one flesh.” Catholic priests also used to give grooms the “kiss of peace” which grooms would then pass onto their brides. This is perhaps how we got the phrase, “You may now kiss the bride.”

kissing at a wedding in forest elopement with young hip and married, couple's first kiss while guests blow bubbles
by Dylaina Gollub Photography

How do couples kiss at a wedding? How do you have your first kiss at a wedding?

For most couples, their first kiss as newlyweds is not their first kiss together. You’ve likely kissed hundreds or thousands of times before! But now that there’s an audience for your most important kiss, it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous.

The key to kissing at a wedding is to find the perfect balance. A quick peck may come off as insincere but a full on make-out session will make your guests uncomfortable. Aim for a kiss that is affectionate, sweet and sincere – but remember that grandma is watching!

You want to kiss for long enough that your photographer has a chance to snap a photo – and your wedding officiant has a chance to get out of the way! But you don’t want the kiss to go on forever. Remember, you’ve got the rest of your married lives to smooch.

While you may be tempted to choreograph the perfect first kiss, a practiced kiss can come off stiff and inauthentic. Instead, talk with your partner about what you both want the kiss to look like. Plan to skip any dramatics, like a dip, and trust that the emotion of the moment will make your first kiss perfect for you!

same sex queer couple embracing during their vancouver elopement lgbtq
by Erica Miller Photography

What kind of kiss is appropriate for a wedding?

We won’t go into specifics here, but an appropriate wedding kiss is usually G rated. If you have to come up for air or find your hands roaming, you might want to save that for the honeymoon!

Remember that your guests are watching. They want to cheer you on and celebrate your commitment, but they don’t want a preview of your bedroom activities. If you kiss lasts longer than a few seconds, you may find your guests start to look away.

PS: Anyone remember that scene from The Wedding Singer when Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler discuss “church tongue” as appropriate for a wedding kiss? Give that scene a re-watch!

When does the first kiss happen? What happens after the wedding kiss?

The kiss usually symbolizes the end of your wedding ceremony. Depending on your exact ceremony script, the kiss will come after any readings, vows and your ring exchange. Your wedding officiant will pronounce you as a married couple and then invite you to share your first kiss.

After the kiss, you may go off to the side to sign your marriage licence, thought some couples choose to do this after their ceremony instead. Once the licence is signed, your officiant will announce you as a married couple for the first time. Your guests will go wild as you process back up the aisle!

Check out a sample wedding ceremony here! 

helicopter elopement first kiss with bride and groom on a rock beach
This & feature image by Emily Nicole Photos

Modernize your wedding ceremony: What to say instead of, “You may now kiss the bride.”

Why do we say you may now kiss the bride? As discussed above, this likely comes from the Catholic tradition of the priest giving the groom a “kiss of peace” and then asking him to pass it onto the bride by saying, “You may now kiss the bride.” It also speaks to the patriarchal tradition of weddings where men were the decision makers.

Of course, many couples find this line to be dated, sexist and even inapplicable in weddings where there is no bride. Luckily, “you may now kiss the bride” is NOT a mandatory part of the wedding ceremony. You can change this line to whatever you want!

Here are some of our favourite alternatives:

  • You may seal your promise with a kiss
  • And now for your first kiss as a married couple
  • You may now kiss each other
  • Let’s begin the adventure of marriage with a kiss
  • Now might be a good time to kiss

For more ways to change up the pronouncement at the end of your ceremony, check out this blog post! 

first kiss with baby boy at family wedding, bride and groom kissing their son on his cheeks
by Amber Leigh Photography

Do couples have to have their first kiss in public? Is kissing at a wedding mandatory?

Does all this talk of kissing give you the ick? If so, you’re not alone. Many couples are not fans of PDA and prefer to save their first kiss for private.

Because the first kiss during a wedding is traditional, your guests will likely expect to see a smooch at your ceremony. But if you’re not comfortable with that, you can change it up or ditch the kiss entirely.

Here are a few options:

  • Have your ceremony in private or with a smaller group, such as an elopement ceremony, so there are fewer people to witness your first kiss. You can still celebrate with more loved ones at a larger reception!
  • Exchange a shorter kiss that you’re more comfortable with.
  • Exchange hugs during your ceremony instead of a kiss.
  • Invite all of your guests who are coupled up to kiss at the same time, so not all eyes are on you.
  • Invite your children up and give them smooches on the cheek to symbolize your family coming together.
  • Or you may skip the kissing moment altogether!

If you are planning to skip or alter the first kiss, make sure your wedding officiant is aware of your choice. Your officiant can help you edit your ceremony script so that the moment isn’t missed by any of your guests and so you two feel comfortable with what will happen on the big day.

Now that you know everything there is to know about kissing at a wedding, you’re ready to get your smooch on! But before you do, don’t forget to book your wedding officiant for the big ceremony!