Wedding Ceremony: Why does the bride always stand to the left of the groom.
It is customary for the bride to stand to the left of the groom during the wedding ceremony, but why is this the case? The tradition actually stems from Anglo-Saxon times, the old days of “marriage by capture”, when the groom needed to leave his right hand, his sword hand, free in the event that he should need to protect his bride from competitors or others who may try to whisk her away at the last minute. Back then it was common for brides to have been ‘stolen’ from their families, meaning it was often her own relatives who were ‘invading’ the wedding to take her back.
The Best Man, who traditionally stands to the right of the groom, would also keep his hand on his sword ready to fend off trouble and protect the couple. Often during these times, the best Swordsman in the area was chosen as the Best Man. See my previous post, ‘Why do weddings have a best man?’
Most couples today still choose to stand with the groom on the right and bride to his left this is most probably because ‘it’s just how it is ‘and they haven’t really given it much thought. If you wanted to change things though then I’m sure you would be free to stand on whichever side you like, whichever side makes you feel most comfortable. Though if you were having a religious ceremony you would need to consider that changing your positions at the altar didn’t go against the beliefs of your church in any way.
One of the other reasons given for the groom to always be on the right is a little more controversial and is seated in religious beliefs. The right hand side is considered a position of privilege and power. (i.e. Jesus is “seated” at the right side of God”.) Indeed at one time In churches, women were also separated from men in seating arrangement, left pews for women and right for men for the same reason. Though I have to say that in all churches I have been in this no longer seems to be the case and both men and women sit in pews on either side.
Finally one of the more humours reasons I discovered (perhaps a little tongue in cheek) was this ‘most people are right foot dominate. The reason why the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right, is so it is easier for her to trip him up if he tries to makes a run for it.’
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Tony is the owner of Tony Sale Photography a much sought after wedding and portrait photographer based in Essex. He is known for his particular style of putting couples at ease and of mixing traditional, documentary and artistic genres to ensure the perfect capture of your special day.
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