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Wedding Ceremony: Must the Bride Stand on the Left?

Q.

Why does the bride always seem to stand to the groom's left at the altar? I have never seen a wedding where the positions were reversed. I think my "best side" is my left side, and I would rather stand to my groom's right. Is there any reason why this wouldn't be acceptable?

A.

It is customary for the bride to stand to the left at the altar, though you may not be so keen on the reasons why. The tradition actually stems from the old days of "marriage by capture", when 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 bride from other suitors who may try to wisk her off at the last minute. Pretty dramatic, huh? Today, most couples still choose to stand with the gent on the right -- probably because they haven't really given it much thought. If you would like to mix things up, feel free to stand on whichever side makes you feel most comfortable. One thing to consider -- if you are having a religious ceremony, check with your officiant and make sure that changing your positions at the altar won't go against the beliefs of your church in any way.

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