By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
"You may kiss the bride."
We have all heard that phrase hundreds of times. In fact, I have probably spoken it hundreds of times, or something close, such as: "Please share your first kiss as a married couple" or "seal it with a kiss."
But a kiss is not just a kiss in every culture.
For example, while it is common in the west for the Father of the Bride to kiss his daughter the day of the wedding as he escorts her down the aisle, that gesture would be awkward or unheard of to Chinese or Korean dad and with parents from any culture where public affection is not common. On the other hand, I've seen Jewish fathers kiss their new son-in-laws on the lips, British family double kiss on the check, and Slavian people kiss three times on alternating cheeks.
I have also seen every kiss and act of affection imaginable between bride and groom at the altar: A peck on the cheek, a hug, a fist bump, a long kiss on the lips, a series if kisses on the mouth, a full open-mouth tongue kiss, kissing through tears of joy, and kissing so passionately that friends and loved one scream, "get a room."
As much as we like to think of kissing as spontaneous, you would be surprised how much thought some brides put into the kiss. Having to contend with make-up, big dresses with trains, shyness, performance anxiety, and possibly conservative relatives, there is often talk in our consultations of how they will kiss and for how long.
Every culture has its feelings about kissing, and individuals have their preferences about public smooching as well, so it is something to be aware of on your wedding day. With that in mind, come up with a comfortable way to kiss at the wedding altar. Please make sure you have fun practicing!
1. Consider you own level of comfort with public affection. If this is not something you or your mate are used to, you can do a very small, brief kiss just to seal your ceremony. I have married more than one bride who kissed her beloved on the cheek at the end of the ceremony, and that was just about as much that either one of them could handle.
2. Think about your family traditions. Are mom and dad affectionate with one another in public? Will seeing a big, wet wedding kiss make your grandmother faint? Does your family clank wine glasses with spoons or ring bells demanding that you kiss? What is the typical wedding kiss like in the culture you both hail from? Some couples adapt their kiss to the comfort level of the family.
3. Is one of you a bigger kisser than the other. Some couples don't see eye to eye about kissing at the wedding. She wants a big smooch, he thinks it is disrespectful, and so on. It is good to get a sense of which way things will go on the big day, before the big day. Hell hath no furry like a woman whose lipstick has been kissed off before the photos are taken of the couple walking back up the aisle.
4. Go For It. When everything is said and done, it is your wedding and you can kiss any way you choose. Some couples go full out tongue kissing, to the point of people screaming, "get a room."
There is no right or wrong way to kiss on your wedding day. Like anything else in the ceremony, having a sense of how you would like to kiss and be kissed can relieve any "performance" pressure.
In truth, the kiss is the big moment when you can sigh and say, "The ceremony is over... and, yay, we are married."