Last time we looked at marriage, weddings, and related subjects. Today we'll take a closer look at the wedding itself. Remember, the wedding can refer to the religious or civil ceremony, or to the party or reception, or both.
Usually both the bride and the groom choose some of their friends or relatives to be part of the ceremony. The bride's friends are called bridesmaids, while the groom's friends are called groomsmen. In both of these groups, there is usually one person who has a special position. For the groom, this is the best man. For the bride: the maid of honour. But because maid traditionally meant unmarried woman, if the woman that the bride chooses is married, she is called the matron of honour.
The bride, the groom, the bridesmaids and groomsmen all together are called the wedding party. Here, party does not mean a celebration, but a group of people (similar to political party). Very often, the wedding party meets a day or two before the wedding for a wedding rehearsal, in which everybody learns what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to go during the wedding ceremony. This is often followed by a rehearsal supper, so that everyone can have something to eat and, if some members of the wedding party are strangers to each other, they can get acquainted.*
In small weddings, the wedding party may also be very small, with only a best man and a maid or matron of honour.
One custom is that the bridesmaids often wear identical dresses--identical, that is, except for size!
Traditionally, the best man proposes the first toast at the reception. That is, he lifts up his glass and makes a short speech about the bride and groom. Then, everybody drinks.
After the reception, the bride and groom, who are now called newlyweds, usually leave for a short trip known as a honeymoon. The honeymoon used to last a whole month (there is a connection between month and moon), but these days it's more likely to be a week to ten days.
*get acquainted--this and connected expressions will be the focus of the next entry.