Wedding Info Pages Click for:


Wedding Flower Trends 

Wedding Etiquette

Wedding Formality

Wedding Customs

Seating Procedures

Wedding Flowers

Division of Wedding Expenses


The contemporary bride has more options than ever when planning the wedding of her dreams.  Individuality is of key importance to the bride as she strives to create an overall wedding mood which reflects her own personality.  Currently, many weddings are planned around themes, such as a nautical wedding or an old fashioned garden party.

 As a general rule, most couples are older and better educated when they decide to “tie the knot.”  Often these couples have established careers which provide dual incomes with which to plan their weddings.  Brides and grooms typically know precisely what they want and will insist on following their own ceremony and reception ideas.

 In order to coordinate every detail of their special day, the busy couple often engages the services of a wedding consultant.  The consultant assists the couple in arranging for music, invitations, caterers, etc.  Often, the knowledgeable florist is also able to provide many of these services to the couple for modest fee.

 Wedding formality runs the gamut from lavish and luxurious cathedral weddings to simple, yet sophisticated, civil ceremonies.  While many brides choose to have multiple bridesmaids, flower girls, and trainbearers, other prefer the quiet elegance of a single honor attendant.  This is also true for “encore weddings,” in which the bridal party often consists largely of the couple’s children.

Wedding fashions continue to favor elegant, feminine styles.  Traditional ball gowns with rich embellishments and lengthy trains are perennial favorites.  Although white and ivory have long been the standard bridal gown colors, brides are now choosing gowns in pastel shades or with colored accents.  Tea length and floor length gowns are popular for bridesmaids and flower girls.  Texture and detailing are evident in gowns of printed cotton, metallic lace, and sequined taffeta.  Men’s tuxedos are more fashionable than ever with a wider variety of colors, patterns, and styles available.



The trend in wedding flowers has followed the changes in wedding styles.  Today’s opulent weddings require a lavish use of flowers, while smaller, more discreet weddings call for simpler, yet distinctive, floral decorations.  The weekend wedding, consisting of two or three days of wedding activities, provides additional needs for floral decorations.

Bouquets continue to favor romantic styles.  The classical look of roses, baby’s breath, and ivy is timeless.  Abundant, gathered garden bouquets are natural choices for many brides.  Stylized bouquets with an emphasis on a few select botanical specimens are preferred by brides who want something “different.”

Ceremony and reception decorations are also receiving more attention than ever.  Floral decorations of all types are used to create a wedding atmosphere and to continue the wedding style and theme.

As wedding styles and trends change, so must the wedding designer and the florist.  A good florist and wedding designer must strive to create new and unique floral decorations for the very specific needs of each wedding bride.  Whatever style or mood the bride selects for her wedding day, the florist should provide the highest quality product possible in order to enhance the wedding atmosphere.  The true floral artist is able to translate the bride’s wedding dreams into a vision of floral excellence.


Brides are overwhelmed by the multitude of wedding choices and situations.  Along with the florist, other retailers and service companies compete for the bride’s business, thus the florist must be a wedding professional who is able to offer guidance to bridal customers. 

Wedding etiquette involves five C’s:  change, constancy, combination, courtesy, and common sense.  Change indicates the evolution of new attitudes and social trends that challenge traditional rules and regulations.  There are new ideas of equality and individuality and newly expanded family structures as a result of multiple marriages, all of which affect wedding etiquette.  At the same time, there is constancy, a sense of continuity that stems from a bride’s desire to maintain the beauty and dignity of tradition.  Brides also may choose whether to maintain certain elements of, or completely adhere to, tradition.  These changes and choices have resulted in combination – a mixture of traditional and contemporary choices.  Personal touches are added to existing liturgy and scripture.  Joint ceremonies for interfaith marriages interlace important parts from two different religions.  The possibilities are almost limitless.  In a sense, there is no standard way to be married anymore!  There are no hard and fast rules of etiquette as once was the case.  This is why wedding etiquette involves courtesy and common sense.  It means using the established rules of etiquette as guidelines.  These guidelines are combined with courtesy and common sense to help make decisions about style, seating, and other wedding procedures for the challenging situations and creative ceremonies of many brides.


Weddings consist of two key elements:  style and form.  Style refers to traditional customs and rules developed over a period of time, such as rituals, ceremonial events, or symbolic acts.  This is part of what we refer to as “the rules of etiquette.”  Style also includes the formality, mood, and tone of the ceremony, such as ornate-ness or lavishness.  Form refers to the way in which vows are exchanged.  For example, the type of ceremony that is chosen might be civil, religious, or self-written.

The illustrations and tables included in this chapter summarize some of the stylistic elements of weddings, including symbolism and traditional procedures.  Wedding customs and beliefs have been maintained throughout generations.  These traditions can add beautiful touches to a wedding that all will enjoy.  Understanding the origins of these traditions can make a wedding more meaningful and can influence a bride’s decision about following such traditions.  Some brides may choose to print the meanings of certain traditions which they utilize in the wedding program or a separate booklet.

Bridal Kiss

At the conclusion of the ceremony, tradition dictates that the groom must be the first person to kiss the bride.  This symbolizes the couple’s faith and love, and seals the confidence that they privately share.  For centuries, a kiss has signified respect and obedience to mutual beliefs.

Bridal Party

The roles of various members of the bridal party have origins in ancient customs.  Bridesmaids likely developed from the need to have witnesses.  Their original purpose for wearing festive attire was to deceive the demons in the identification of the bride.  Flower girls originated from a custom that two little girls, identically dressed, walked ahead of the bride carrying garlands of wheat to symbolize the wish for a fruitful union.  In the 1600s, it became popular for flower girls to carry baskets.

In the Middle Ages, the groomsmen were known as “Bride Knights” because they served the bride by taking her to the church and to the altar, and then relinquishing her to the groom.  Today these “duties” are completed by the bridesmaids.  The duty of the best man dates back to the era of marriage by capture.  Hundreds of years ago, when a man intended to capture a bride, he was accompanied by a strong-armed friend, thus simplifying the capture.

Bridal Shower

It is believed that “bridal showers” originated in Holland.  A Dutch father did not approve of the poor miller whom his daughter wished to marry.  Her friends “showered” her with gifts so that she would have the necessary dowry to gain her father’s permission to marry the man of her choice.  Years later, an English woman heard of a good friend who was to be married and wanted to give her a gift to express her congratulations, but the gift seemed too small.  She remembered the story of the Dutch girl and the miller and began calling the bride’s friends suggesting they present their gifts at the same time.  The party was successful, others tried it, and “bridal showers” became popular!

Bridal Wear

Bridal gowns are traditionally white because the ancient Greeks and Romans believed white was a symbol of purity, innocence, and joy.  Recently, the white or ivory bridal dress has evolved as a symbol of the celebration of the ceremony itself.  Lace, considered a work of art in Europe, was often used for festive celebrations and important occasions and has remained a popular gown ornamentation.

Wearing a veil is another tradition from hundreds of years ago.  It originally symbolized youth and virginity.  Additionally, women from Far Eastern countries wore veils to protect themselves from evil spirits.  In eleventh and twelfth century Europe, the bride stood covered by a veil while her father bargained her away.  The bride never revealed her face until the wedding ceremony was over.

Carried over the Threshold

Centuries ago the bride was not always willing to leave her family home; therefore, the groom needed to forcibly carry her over the threshold into her new home.  It was also thought that demons dwelled on the newlyweds’ doorstep; as a result, the groom carried his bride over the threshold to protect her.

Engagement Ring

The gift of a ring is a very old tradition which was used to seal any important or sacred agreement.  Engagement rings were given in the days of “marriage by purchase,” both as a partial payment and as a symbol of the groom’s good intentions.  Diamonds have been the most popular gems for engagement rings because they are the most durable stones.  The first diamond engagement rings were worn in medieval Italy.  Superstition maintains that a diamond’s sparkle comes from the fires of love.

Wedding Flowers

Flowers have been a part of wedding celebrations for centuries.  In ancient Rome, the bride would carry herbs under her veil.  This custom evolved into the carrying of orange blossoms as a symbol of fertility.  Also, it was a Roman custom to light the first fire of the couple’s house with a torch, which was then tossed out to be caught by one of the wedding party.  In the fourteenth century, the French substituted the bouquet for the torch and thus began the legend that whoever among the bride’s attendants caught the blossoms would be the next to marry.  Over the years, certain flowers have been selected as flowers of the month, as shown in Table 1.  A bride may wish to have these included in her wedding designs.


Flowers have a language of their own.  The symbolism associated with many flowers is steeped in two thousand years of tradition and was especially popular in the Victorian period.  This romantic language is especially appropriate for love, courtship, and weddings.  Sharing this symbolism with brides can help them convey personal sentiments through flowers, creating a lasting memory and making the day more special.  Table 2 provides traditional meanings for specific flowers.



Historically, marriage was often brought about by capture and was often not agreed upon by either the bride or the groom.  The groom would take his wife to a place where she could not be found.  They stayed away approximately 30 days and drank a brew made of honey while the moon when through all of its phases.  The term “honeymoon” originated with this practice.  Today, newlyweds also go away to celebrate their new lives together.

Something Old, Something New

The popular wedding phrase, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a lucky sixpence for your shoe,” has several different meanings.  Each of these items is worn or carried by the bride to symbolize something special.  “Something old” and “something borrowed” are items which represent security and friendship and are given to the bride by a loved one to bring happiness to the new marriage.  “Something new” (often the wedding gown) represents the bride’s acceptance of a new life. The origin of something blue can be traced to the rhyme, “Those who dress in blue have lovers true.”  A “lucky sixpence” (usually a penny today) worn in the shoe or carried by the bride is a very old tradition thought to ensure future wealth and good fortune for the newly wedding couple.


Showering the wedding couple with rice after the ceremony or reception was originally meant to assure the couple prosperity and express the hope that they would have many children.  This “showering” tradition continues as many couples choose birdseed because of the ill effects of uncooked rice on the bird population.

Wedding Cake

Cake and bread have always been a vital part of wedding celebrations.  In ancient Rome, bread was considered a symbol of fertility.  Thus, to ensure fertility, a loaf of bread would be broken over the bride’s head and the crumbs shared with all the guests.  Also, the couple was not considered married until they ate together.

In contemporary wedding receptions, this practice is continued as the bride and groom cut the first slice of wedding cake together and feed each other.  Guests eat from the cake, both as a sign of unity and as a way of wishing luck to the newly wedded couple.  The tradition of having a second “groom’s” cake at the reception has evolved over the years.  Originally, the groom’s cake was a dark, rich fruitcake and was said to also provide the couple with the blessings of fertility.  Today, the cake may be of any type and is often chocolate or fruit-flavored.

Wedding Ring

Tradition maintains that the wedding ring evolved from the engagement ring.  The ancient Egyptians believed an unbroken circular band symbolized unending love and commitment to a permanent relationship.  The ring, which replaced the crown of thorns worn in certain cultures, signified the eternal circle which had no beginning and no end and thus should be the love between a husband and a wife.

Levels of Wedding Formality

Weddings are categorized as formal, semiformal, or informal. 


The seating Procedure Web Page above provides a description of each wedding category.


There are standard procedures for a formal wedding as conducted in all major Christian ceremonies.  Exceptions to these procedures are noted throughout this chapter.  Rules and customs within each faith are changing, and different procedures are permitted in different divisions of the same faith.  Also, some clergymen are willing to break tradition within reasonable limits.  Others feel that the strict observance of established traditions or procedures is important.  The minister, priest, or rabbi who will officiate at the wedding has the final word on the possibility of changes in established procedures.  The following illustrations and tables provide guidelines for ceremonial procedures including the processional, recessional, seating, and altar positions. 




Formal Wedding

Semiformal Wedding

Informal Wedding






Engraved invitations and often announcements, at-home cards, and reception cards.

Engraved or informal.

Informal, often hand-written.






Usually in a house of worship, but occasionally in a garden, a club, or a hotel ballroom.

Small church, chapel, or home

Anywhere, including City Hall.






Lavish decorations, may include pew ribbons, aisle runner(s), candela-bras, and an abundance of flowers.

Similar types of decorations as for formal weddings, but less extravagant.

Very simple or none.





Number of Guests

100-500 or more.

50 to 100.

A few relatives and friends numbering 50-75 people.





Size of Bridal Party

Large bridal party; should have at least one usher for each 50 guests; may have two honor attendants for the bride, along with flower girl(s) and ring bearer.

Smaller wedding party; usually one or two bridal attendants, a best man, two ushers or none, often flower girl or ring bearer.

One attendant for the bride and a best man; guests usually seat themselves.





Bride’s Attire

Opulent wedding gown and bridal wear; gown usually floor or waltz length, often with a train; bridal bouquet.

Long or short dress (short veil optional) or even a dressy suit; smaller bridal bouquet or corsage.

Street, afternoon, or dinner dress; flowers vary-usually simple. Bride may wear flowers in her hair, but will not carry a full bouquet.





Groom’s Attire

Before six, often a cutaway or dinner coat. After six, white or black tie.

Dark street suit.

Street suit.






Elaborate decorations; elaborate buffet or a fully served meal; receiving line and customary activities of first dance, toasting, and cake cutting. Often overseen by master of ceremonies.

Less elaborate decorations, simple flower arrangements; champagne may be served, hors d’oeuvres rather than full sit-down meal; may be held at bride’s or groom’s home.

Sometimes dinner at a restaurant, often at home.  May be a sizable outdoor party or buffet supper for any number of guests.

Division on Wedding Expenses

Traditionally, specific wedding costs have been divided among the bride’s family, the groom, and the groom’s family.  It is becoming increasingly common, however, for wedding costs to be evenly shared by each side.  Furthermore, many couples are paying the complete cost of their wedding celebrations themselves.

The following lists show the traditional division of wedding costs.  This list is most often used as a guide rather than a rule.  However, it is helpful to be familiar with what is customary in order to be of greatest assistance to the bride.  If a wedding client requests a complicated division of the wedding flower bill, it may be wise for the florist to send one bill to the bride and allow her to work out the details with the parties involves.


Customary Expenses of the Bride and/or Her Family

·        Flowers for the church and reception; bouquets for the honor attendants, bridesmaids, and flower girls.

·        Engagement party and photograph.

·        Fee for professional wedding consultant.

·        Printing – Bride’s personal stationery, wedding invitations, announcements, enclosure cards.

·        The bride’s clothing and accessories.

·        Gifts for the attendants.

·        Groom’s wedding ring and wedding gift.

·        Church expenses – Rental fee, aisle carpet, canopy, tent, and sexton’s fee.

·        Music – Organist’s and soloist’s fees at the ceremony and music at the reception.

·        All photography.

·        Hotel accommodations, if needed, for the bridesmaids.  (They may absorb this expense themselves.)

·        Transportation to the church and reception for the bride and her attendants.

·        Reception – All costs including food, beverages, and room rental.

Customary Expenses of the Groom and/or His Family

·        Flowers – Bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for the men in the wedding party, flowers for the mothers and grandmothers.

·        Bride’s engagement ring and wedding ring.

·        Marriage license fee.

·        Fee for clergyman or civil official who conducts the marriage ceremony.

·        Tuxedo rental for the groom.

·        Gloves, ties or ascots, and accessories for the men in the wedding party.

·        Groom’s gift to the bride.

·        Groom’s gifts to the groomsmen.

·        Hotel accommodations, if needed, for the groomsmen.  (They may absorb this expense themselves.)

·        Transportation for the groom and best man to the church and reception.

·        Rehearsal dinner.

·        All honeymoon expenses.

Optional Expenses

Local customs and personal preference dictate who will pay for these items.

·        Flowers – The bride’s bouquet may be included in the cost of her ensemble and paid for by her family, but it is traditionally a gift from the groom.  The flowers for the bride’s mother and grandmother may be paid for by the bride rather than the groom.  Often the bride and her family pay for all of the flowers.

·        Bridesmaids’ dresses are usually paid for by each attendant, but may be paid for by the bride.

·        Groomsmen’s and usher’s tuxedo rental charges are usually paid for by each individual, but may be paid for by the groom.

·        Bridesmaid’s party or luncheon is usually given by the bride, but may be given by the groom’s or bride’s mother.

·        Rehearsal dinner is usually given by the groom’s parents, but may be given by the bride’s relatives or friends.

A florist must be familiar with proper wedding etiquette.  Customs and traditions have evolved which affect every wedding from a simple civil ceremony to a lavish royal wedding.  A florist’s ideas can be of great help to every bride, particularly when these ideas are presented with the proper knowledge of form and style.  A professional florist should help guide the bride through a ceremony which incorporates her individuality with proper etiquette.  Armed with the necessary information, courtesy, and common sense, this task will be no more formidable than designing a beautiful arrangement.


This Wedding Website is the sole production of the Zebra Web Company and is fully sponsored by the A Goode Florist company of the Treasure Coast, Florida.  All Content is copyright owned by the Couture Enterprises Inc corporation and rights are reserved.