When Prince William gave his new bride, Kate, a brief kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace last spring, the crowd of thousands wasn't satisfied.
"Kiss again!" they chanted. When the two shared a slightly longer kiss, onlookers erupted in cheers.
Few other wedding kisses will ever be subjected to so much scrutiny. But there's a lesson here: People love the wedding kiss, and they have definite opinions about how a couple should seal the deal. Some want passion; some don't. Some like staged moments; others want to keep things natural. Everyone wants the kiss to be heartfelt.
"There are extreme thoughts about the kiss," said Kristin Koch, a senior editor at the wedding website theknot.com. "Some people think it's too public and they don't want to do too much. Others think, 'This is your big declaration of love!' "
Here are some tips to make the kiss cheerworthy instead of cringeworthy:
Talk about it. You talk through everything else about the wedding, from the guest list to the bridesmaids' dresses. You and your partner should talk about what kind of kiss you want to share, or even whether you want to share one at all. Chatting beforehand can help things go more smoothly on the big day.
Chelsea Kopperud, 26, who is planning a June wedding in her hometown of Rushford, Minn., said her parents weren't comfortable kissing in front of everyone when they got married, so they waited and kissed at the back of the church. But Kopperud and her fiance, Jeffrey O'Donnell, do plan to kiss at the end of the ceremony, and they've already agreed on what the kiss should look like: classy and loving.
"We agree that it shouldn't be just a quick peck; we want it to be more intimate than that. It is our first kiss as Mr. and Mrs.," said Kopperud, who coordinates accounts for an industrial supply company. "I would guess it will probably be about five seconds long."
Practice. It sounds silly. After all, most couples have a lot of practice kissing. But you might want to put in a little practice time, especially if you're doing something you're not used to, like having the groom dip the bride.
Hope Bourgeault, 21, a social work student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, says she and her fiance, Jeff Betterman, are planning to do a dip at their wedding in August. They're already practicing so it won't look awkward.
"I could imagine without some practice he'd either drop me from being nervous or else I'd bend a certain way to dip and he'd think I was leaning the other way and it would just be a mess," she said.
Or don't practice. Some people insist that the kiss should be natural, and that you should do whatever you feel is right at that moment. Andrea Fassacesia, a New Yorker who's getting married in April, said she and her fiance have decided to "wing it."
"A rehearsed kiss looks rehearsed," she said. "It should be natural, intimate and romantic. And, while it's in front of hundreds of people, it should just feel like the two of you."
An informal poll of members of the Knot found that just a third of the 71 respondents planned to practice the kiss. Most — 61 percent — said they'll go with whatever they're feeling at the moment.
Do something you're both comfortable with. Don't plan a dip or any other acrobatics if you're not sure you want to go through with it. Koch said grooms often feel more pressure than brides about the kiss, since tradition dictates that it's something the groom initiates. Koch says you should remember that you may already be nervous when you're at the altar, and you don't need the added pressure of a fantastic kiss.
Don't be gross. Just about everyone agrees that extralong, over-the-top displays of affection are a no-no. They can look forced and make guests squirm. Remember Al Gore's long, sloppy kiss with Tipper at the 2000 Democratic National Convention?
"Have fun with it, be true to you, but a huge makeout or a tongue kiss is just not appropriate, especially if Grandma and Grandpa are watching," Koch said.