There is a lot that goes into a wedding, from the big decisions to the little details. It can be hard to know what traditions are important, and which can be forgotten. No one wants to change things about before the big day, only to find out they’ve made a major faux pas. That’s why even small details such as where the bride stands can seem intimidating.
When glancing at photos from other people’s weddings, you may notice the couples tend to be arranged the same way. Having made her way down the aisle, the bride will generally stand to the left of the groom. This is rooted in a practice from the Middle Ages, and it has become the most common positioning.
For your own wedding, you may choose to keep things traditional. However, the reasons behind it are no longer relevant, so you may prefer to go a different way. This guide explains why the bride stands where she does, and how to make the best choice for your own wedding.
What Side Does The Bride Stand On?
Traditionally, the bride will stand on the left at a wedding, with the groom on the right. This is a common practice across Christian and non-denominational weddings. However, it isn’t an unbreakable rule.
Rooted in a fairly awful bride-snatching history, standing on the left isn’t the bride’s only choice. The venue, the outfit, and what you feel comfortable doing should all be considered when deciding where to stand.
The bride standing on the left is common, but it isn’t a necessity. Standing on the left isn’t rooted in heartfelt reasoning, nor is it a religious practice. While most weddings tend to keep the bride to the left, standing on the other side isn’t exactly uncommon.
And although you will often see church weddings position the bride on the left, this isn’t the norm for all wedding traditions. Christian and non-denominational weddings tend to stick to this layout, but it’s quite different in other faiths. In a Jewish wedding ceremony, for example, the bride is expected to stand on the right.
The bride on the left and the groom on the right is also influenced by the seating arrangements. Guests of the bride will often be directed to the left of the venue, while the groom’s guests head to the right.
However, it’s becoming more and more common for the two families to mix. With families and friends spread across the venue, keeping to structured sides doesn’t seem hugely important.
Why Does The Bride Stand On the Left?
There is a reason why the bride stands on the left, but it’s not particularly pleasant. Back in the Middle Ages, weddings weren’t always the happy coming together of families that we mostly see them as today. Instead, we used to have “marriage by capture”. Yes, this is just as bad as it sounds.
When a man had found a woman he wanted for a bride, it wasn’t always a slow courting dance followed by a proposal. Instead, the man would simply take the woman he had his eye on, and marry her by force. The family, as you can imagine, might not be very happy with this. So the groom had to be prepared for a potential rebuke.
For this, he’d carry his sword. In case the bride’s family came rushing in, he needed a hand free to grab his weapon. The easiest way to do it was to have his bride clutched in his left hand, leaving the right free to grab his sword.
This arrangement has stuck around long past the need for a sword. Hopefully, your wedding is happening with the approval of both families (and absolutely no kidnappings). So while many couples choose to keep up the arrangement, it’s unlikely to be a choice you make to honor the tradition.
How Important Is It That The Bride Stands On The Left?
Unless your fiancé is planning on bringing (and using) a sword, which side the bride stands on isn’t hugely important in modern weddings. Most people stick with the left because it’s traditional, and it saves a long conversation.
For a church wedding, you may be expected to use this arrangement. Discuss it with the officiant ahead of the rehearsal. They may be happy for you to mix things up, but traditional venues may prefer to keep things standard.
However, if you have the room to decide, it’s worth thinking the choice over – especially if you’re mixing families in the seating. Although you may prefer to keep the bride on the left for the sake of ease, you should consider the unique aspects of your wedding.
First, the venue itself can make a difference. Consider what the backdrop will be, where the sun might hit, and what the surrounding area looks like. Especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding, the background can intrude.
If you can, head to the venue in advance of the day to get some photos in. You can see exactly how the backdrop will interact with you and your fiancé.
As well as the venue, every bride should consider herself. The special day may live forever in our memories, but it’s mostly immortalized in photos. And while we’re sure you don’t have a bad side, you may have a side that’s slightly better. If your left side happens to be that tiny bit more gorgeous, then consider standing on the right.
Don’t forget to think about the dress and hairstyle as well. It may be that your hair is styled in a way that’s best viewed from one angle over the other, or there’s an embellishment that will be hidden standing on the left. Doing this just ensures that when you look back on your special day, every photo is as perfect as it can be.
For all the big decisions that have to be made before a wedding, where the bride stands only needs to be a small consideration. Decide what’s best for you, so you can look and feel as incredible as possible.