So the excitement of the engagement is done with and now you are confronted with planning the biggest day of your life. We do not want to sugarcoat anything; it is going to be a challenging journey (your wedding is most likely the biggest party you have thrown, after all) and as a curious bride-to-be, you will probably have a gazillion questions swirling your mind at any given time. One of those questions is presumably going to be “what side of the altar do I stand on?” That is a fair question but we really dislike it, only because it implies that there is a “correct” side for a bride to stand on in a wedding ceremony. We believe that there is no “correct” side, in spite of the tradition of the groom standing to the right of the bride during the ceremony being centuries old. Allow us to explain.
A little history lesson
The groom actually stands on the right at the altar and the bride on the left for a very, very specific (and unromantic) reason, though you may never have been so keen to know just why. This standing order comes from the Medieval Era, the forgotten days of “marriage by capture” which, yes, is just as bleak as it sounds.
According to the wedding lore, the groom needed to leave his right hand (his fighting hand) which he used to hold his sword free in the event that he should need to defend his kidnapped bride from her disapproving family members – but mostly from other suitors who may make an attempt to whisk her off at the last minute. Evidently back in the day, people were a little less apprehensive to stand up and raise objections to a marriage. And we thought present-day weddings had drama! Now, the wedding lore does not reveal the fate of left-handed grooms, so we can only wonder.
The tradition of the bride standing on the left may also have its origins in the ancient belief of the left side being looked on as a position of weakness. This looks back to the Biblical times when men would sit on the right side of the church, while their wives sat in the church benches to their left. Yeah, we hate this one too.
The modern interpretation
Clearly, these antiquated traditions and beliefs are silly and sexist. Today, there is no real reason for there to be a correct side for a bride or groom to be on, except if the wedding theme is the Renaissance. For that reason, we think it should always be a personal decision where you want to stand. Maybe you want to stand on a particular side at the altar so that you can look at your parents for encouragement or you want to stand on the side your family is sitting on, or perhaps you have a “better” side for hair and makeup or a more beautiful design on one side of your A line wedding dress? Now those are excellent reasons to have a side.
All things said and done, the tradition still prevails and brides still tend to keep to the left side of their husbands. After all, it is symbolic of how your groom will support you and fight for your marriage, even if it is more metaphorical than literal.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with just sticking to the way things have always been and we are not against all wedding traditions either. There are many beautiful customs that we think add to the magic and charm of a wedding. But “a bride always has to stay on the left” is something that we think we could live without. Besides, if the meaning behind the tradition means nothing to you, then why would you want to do it anyway? And hey, it is 2018 – just choose any side you want for any reason that does not have the word tradition in it, unless of course, you are looking forward to a sword fight then that groom best be on the right.