A Catholic wedding is a beautiful and sacred ceremony that reflects the traditions and customs of the Catholic faith. It is a significant moment in the lives of the bride and groom, as well as their families and loved ones, as they come together to celebrate the union of two individuals in the eyes of God.

However, for those attending a Catholic wedding for the first time, it can be confusing to navigate the various customs and protocols that are involved in the ceremony.

One such protocol that may cause confusion is the placement of the bride during the wedding ceremony. Many guests may wonder, which side is the bride on for a Catholic wedding? This seemingly simple question has a deeper significance and reflects the rich history and traditions of the Catholic Church.

In this article, we will explore the significance of the bride’s position, as well as other customs and traditions that are involved in a Catholic wedding. By understanding these customs, guests can feel more connected and engaged in the ceremony, and fully appreciate the significance of this special occasion.

The Significance of the Bride’s Position

The positioning of the bride in a Catholic wedding holds significant symbolic value, as it reflects the traditional gender roles and highlights the importance of the bride’s role in the sacrament of marriage.

In the cultural significance of the bride’s position, the bride traditionally stands on the left-hand side of the altar, with the groom on the right.

This positioning has its roots in historical context, where the bride was considered to be the property of the groom and needed to be protected by his sword arm.

Additionally, the bride’s position also signifies her submission to her husband and her willingness to follow him in their journey together as a married couple.

While this may seem outdated to modern sensibilities, it is important to recognize the historical and cultural significance of the bride’s position in a Catholic wedding, as it has played a significant role in shaping the institution of marriage throughout history.

Other Traditions and Customs in Catholic Weddings

Catholic weddings are steeped in tradition and customs that make the ceremony truly unique. The order of the ceremony, religious requirements, attire, and decor are among the most significant aspects of Catholic weddings.

These elements are carefully considered and planned to ensure that the ceremony is meaningful, respectful, and reflective of the couple’s faith and values.

Ceremony Order

Traditionally, wedding ceremonies follow a specific order, with the ceremony beginning with the procession of the wedding party. The processional order typically begins with the officiant, followed by the groom and his best man, and then the groomsmen.

Next in line are the bridesmaids, followed by the maid or matron of honor. Finally, the bride and her father walk down the aisle last. As for the placement of the bridal party, the groom and his party typically stand to the right of the altar, while the bride and her party stand to the left.

However, in some Catholic weddings, the bride and groom may choose to stand together at the center of the altar. The order of the ceremony is important to ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to plan, and following these traditions can provide a sense of comfort and belonging for those participating in the ceremony.

Religious Requirements

One important aspect to consider when planning a wedding ceremony is the religious requirements that need to be met, especially for Catholic weddings. Traditional Catholic wedding practices include a mass, exchange of vows, and the giving of rings. The couple must be baptized, confirmed, and attend pre-marriage counseling.

The Catholic Church also requires that the ceremony takes place in a church, and that a priest officiates the wedding. Additionally, there are certain guidelines for music, readings, and prayers that must be followed.

It is important for couples to consult with their local parish and priest to ensure that all Catholic wedding requirements are met.

Attire and Decor

Attire and decor can greatly influence the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of a wedding ceremony.

For a Catholic wedding, the bride’s wedding dress should be modest and appropriate for a church setting. It is recommended that the dress cover the shoulders and be at least knee-length.

The groom and groomsmen should wear suits or tuxedos, while the bridesmaids should wear modest dresses that are not too revealing.

Floral arrangements and decorations should be tasteful and appropriate for the religious setting. It is important to consult with the church or wedding coordinator to ensure that the decorations abide by any rules or restrictions.

Overall, the attire and decor for a Catholic wedding should reflect the solemnity and significance of the sacrament of marriage.

What to Expect as a Guest

As a guest attending a Catholic wedding, there are certain customs and traditions to be aware of in terms of seating arrangements, proper etiquette, and participating in the ceremony.

Seating arrangements may differ depending on the couple’s preference or the church’s rules, so it is important to follow directions from ushers or attendants.

Proper etiquette involves dressing appropriately, arriving on time, and respecting the sanctity of the ceremony.

Guests may also have the opportunity to participate in certain parts of the ceremony, such as singing hymns or offering prayers.

Seating Arrangements

The seating arrangement for a Catholic wedding follows a traditional and formal protocol that is typically organized by the wedding planner or the couple’s families.

The bride’s family and friends are usually seated on the left side of the church, while the groom’s family and friends sit on the right. This placement dates back to ancient times when weddings were held in the bride’s village and the groom’s family traveled to attend the ceremony.

The seating arrangement not only reflects tradition but also helps to ensure that the respective families are able to witness the wedding ceremony from the best possible vantage point. However, in modern times, many couples have chosen to break with tradition and have their guests sit wherever they prefer.

Ultimately, the seating arrangement is a personal decision and should reflect the couple’s wishes.

Proper Etiquette

Observing proper etiquette during a wedding ceremony is essential to ensure that all guests are comfortable and the event runs smoothly.

When it comes to a Catholic wedding, it is important to know which side the bride and groom’s relatives should sit on. Traditionally, the bride’s family and friends sit on the left side of the church, while the groom’s family and friends sit on the right. However, in modern times, this tradition may not always be followed strictly.

It is important to check with the couple or the wedding planner to ensure that you are seated on the correct side. Regardless of which side you sit on, it is important to remember to be respectful and mindful of others during the ceremony.

Participating in the Ceremony

Active involvement in the ceremony is crucial to ensure a memorable experience for all attendees, particularly when it comes to the bridal party roles in a Catholic wedding processional.

The bride traditionally stands on the left side of the altar, with the groom on the right, but in Catholic ceremonies, there may be additional members of the bridal party, such as the maid of honor and best man, who stand on opposite sides of the altar.

It is important for the bridal party to know their roles and responsibilities, such as holding the rings or presenting the gifts, to ensure a smooth and seamless ceremony.

By participating fully in the ceremony, the bridal party can contribute to the overall beauty and significance of the occasion, creating a memorable experience for all in attendance.


In conclusion, the position of the bride in a Catholic wedding holds a significant meaning. The bride stands to the left of the groom, facing the altar, to signify her submission to God and her husband. It also represents the role of the man as the protector of the woman.

Other traditions and customs in Catholic weddings include the exchange of rings, the lighting of the unity candle, and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

As a guest at a Catholic wedding, one can expect to participate in these traditions and customs, and witness the sacrament of marriage between two individuals. It is important to respect and honor the religious beliefs and practices of the couple and their families, as well as dress appropriately and arrive on time.

Overall, a Catholic wedding is a beautiful and sacred event that symbolizes the union of two individuals in the eyes of God and the church.