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Which Side Should the Bride Stand on During the Wedding Ceremony?

Despite long-held tradition, the bride doesn't actually need to stand on the left.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Heather Payne Photography

After walking down the aisle, the bride usually takes her place on the left side of the altar. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, when grooms kept their sword-fighting right hand open for combat with those trying to rescue the bride, who was often kidnapped before the wedding. While "marriage by capture" is (thankfully) no longer practiced, brides still often choose to stand on the left side at the ceremony—a widely recognized, but not entirely necessary, custom. If you're wondering about positioning for your own ceremony, heed this advice for looking and feeling your best at the altar.

 

Related: Who Traditionally Says Their Wedding Vows First?

 

Follow tradition.

While brides usually stand on the left for Christian ceremonies, the opposite actually rings true for Jewish ones. The bride may also be positioned on the right for military and police weddings. Ask your officiant about the guidelines for your specific ceremony so there's no confusion on the big day.

 

Choose a shady side.

Imagine this: You're standing in front of your handsome groom at your outdoor wedding, but the sun is so bright that you can barely open your eyes. Try visiting your venue ahead of time to determine where the sun will shine during the ceremony, then pick the perfect spot (for both of you) away from blinding rays.

 

Ask your stylist for input.

Believe it or not, your bridal hairstyle should play a part in your ceremony positioning. You don't want to stand on the left of the altar if your hair will cascade down your right-hand side; otherwise, guests won't be able to properly see you during the nuptials. Talk to your stylist in advance to make sure your hair won't block anyone's view.

 

Think about personal preference.

Do you have a "good side" while taking pictures? Then stand so it faces the audience, while the "bad side" is turned toward the officiant. You can rest assured knowing that guests—and the photographer!—will see your preferred angle.

 

Consider your audience.

Think about your seating arrangement for guests, and use that knowledge to plan where to stand. If, for example, your family is sitting on the left and you want them as close as possible, you should also stand on the left.