Proper Wedding Etiquette
"Don't reserve your best behavior for special occasions. You can't have two sets of manners, two social codes-one for those you admire and want to impress, another for those who you consider unimportant. You must be the same to all people."
~Lillian Eichler Watson
There are so many things to consider during the wedding planning that sometimes you just feel like you are going around in circles like a "Whirling Dervish". Often times we just aren't sure if we are getting it quite right. Unfortunately, gone are the days of Emily Post and the rules of wedding etiquette. In today's much different society it seems that almost anything goes, right? Well, believe it or not, wedding etiquette has gone through a slight adjustment and tweaking to reflect our modern world but proper etiquette is still vitally important.
In this article we will take a brief look at some points of wedding etiquette. Hopefully, it will help you in making the right decisions to ensure that your wedding day goes off without a hitch and that you don't end up offending anyone.
The Wedding Guest List
-It is important to determine how much you are willing to spend per guest for food and beverages at the reception. Once you have calculated the budget for the reception, you will use that amount to figure out how many guests you will be able to invite. Remember that the reception will require the majority of the total wedding budget so be mindful of this when compiling your guest list.
-Before producing a master guest list, it is essential that you and your future spouse, your parents and your spouse-to-be’s parents create individual lists. Once each party has done so, work together, cooperatively, to prepare a final master list. This process will help everyone involved to reach the desired number of guests that fit into the budget.
-When preparing your master list, it is important to prioritize the list by, a) those that must be invited; b) those you should invite and c) those you might invite. You need to first establish if your budget will cover those in category (a) before you move on to categories (b) and (c). By following these steps, it will ensure that the most important people to both you, your future spouse and all the parents, will be invited.
-Generally, family always gets invited first. After all, you should ensure that family and close friends you care about are there to witness your marriage because they will remain in your lives for many years to come.
-If you are inviting any single family members or friends and they are in a long-term relationship, invite that person and his or her significant other by name even though they aren’t married. Also, if it is within your budget, you can give the single members of the wedding party the option of bringing a guest. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, which is usually the case, DO NOT include “and guest” in your invitation in hopes that they won’t bring a guest because more than likely they will.
-You are not obligated to invite co-workers. If your budget allows it, you can follow the unwritten rule that any co-workers and business acquaintances you socialize with outside of work may be invited to the wedding. DO NOT invite everyone on your team except for one individual because it is not appropriate. You will have to invite them all or don't invite any of them.
-When compiling your guest list, one of the toughest decisions you will have to make is whether or not to invite children. As a rule of thumb, consider what type of wedding you are having. If your reception is an evening, black tie affair, it may be too late for the little darlings, as a result they may get tired and tantrums may ensue. If your reception is an early afternoon affair, perhaps a garden wedding, then you may want to invite children. At the end of the day it is up to you, however, it may also be customary in some families to invite children whether or not it is a daytime or evening affair.
-You must count children as part of the final guest list numbers. Unfortunately, if the space at your reception is limited, it may persuade you to exclude children from the list. Your flower girl and ring bearer are part of your wedding party, so naturally, they should be included in the reception. Other children that must be invited are your future spouse's or your kids, (if any), or any children that are part of your immediate families such as brothers and sisters.
-You may send out "Save The Date" cards more than a year in advance of the wedding. Also, ensure that you mention that an invitation will be following.
-All professional titles, such as Doctor and Reverend, and all military titles such as General and Major must always be spelled out in full on the invitation. It is acceptable for nonprofessional titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms. to be abbreviated. it is not recommended to include academic titles like "PhD" on the invitation. it is acceptable to include an academic title if the individual is a minister with a theological degree. Under no circumstance should you ever use nicknames! Use full names only (such as Thomas not Tom). If you are including middle names on the invitation, they must be spelled out in full as well.
-All street names, such as Avenue, Boulevard, and Street, must be spelled out in full on all invitations. This also goes for days of the week, dates, months,times, and numbers in addresses for invitations, to black tie and formal weddings. For invitations to semiformal and informal weddings, you may include numbers as you wish.
-For a ceremony being held in a House of Worship, you must use the word "honour" to show reverence to God, as in “request the honour of your presence.” For locations other than a House of Worship, even if the ceremony is religious, you may use “request the pleasure of your company.”
-The hosts of your wedding must be given top recognition on the invitation.
-It is absolutely NOT recommended to include gift registry information or gift suggestions on your invitations. Also, NEVER handwrite anything on the invitation.
-You should indicate any lodging information for guests on a separate enclosure card that includes a map with directions to your ceremony and reception. You may also include this information with your save-the-date cards and/or on your wedding Web site.
-Address the inside envelope exactly with whom you’re inviting. If you indicate “Mr. and Mrs. Jones”, you are essentially advising your guests that just they are invited and not their children.
-If you plan on not having children at the wedding, here are a few useful suggestions: 1) Exclude children's names from the invitation; 2) Word of mouth can play an integral role if you ask family and close friends to get the message out; 3) Indicate on card that it is an "adults only" affair; 4) You might consider writing, "(# of) seats have been reserved in your names".
-If a guest has not responded to your invitation one week past the "Reply by" date, you must call them and confirm over the telephone.
-Children between the ages of 16 and 18 should get their own invitations.
-Your officiant and their spouse or guest should receive an invitation.
-You should send an invitation to your parents as well as your wedding party members as a keepsake. They do not need to reply.
-It is ALWAYS recommended that you include return postage on your RSVP's.
Canceling Or Postponing A Wedding.
Canceling or Postponing a Wedding
-Unfortunately, if you have to postpone or cancel your wedding, every guest must be contacted. It is recommended that another invitation must be sent out with the new date.
-Although many women would vehemently disagree......the bride-to-be should return the engagement ring and vice versa for the gentleman if he also has an engagement ring.
-Etiquette suggests that if the couple received any gifts that are personalized or engraved, they do not have to be returned.
-Make certain that every out-of-town guest is notified first so that they can change or cancel their travel and lodging arrangements.
Bride's Second Marriage
-It is acceptable for a bride-to-be to wear white, regardless of whether she's been married before or has children.
-You should not wear a veil, have a train attached to your dress or carry orange blossoms if you've been married before or have children.
-The parents of the bride are NOT obligated to pay for the wedding if it is the bride's second marriage.
-Over the years so many things have changed that the rules for head table seating is definitely not written in stone. You may choose to have the attendants and parents sit with you or not. There are so many various configurations that in the end it really is up to you and your better half to decide.
-It is best to not seat any relatives together that do not get along.
-Let everyone enjoy their evening so seat teens together, aunts and uncles together, and so on.
-Make certain that you use numbers at your tables and avoid trying to be different, (in this situation), by using uncommon things like photos or some other type of theme to identify tables.
You want to avoid guests wandering around aimlessly to locate their table which may ultimately result in complaints.
-Reserved tables are all you need, so don't create extra work for yourself by reserving a chair for each guest.
-The only individuals that require preferred seating are the parents. You should place a "Reserved" card at their seats only.
-Seat the wedding officiant with the parents of the bride. If the parents are divorced, seat the officiant with the mother of the bride.
-Do not seat single friends or guests at the same table in hopes of playing the matchmaker. It could end up being a very awkward evening for your guests and you may create hard feelings.
-Do not put divorced parents at the same table unless they are on good terms and agree to it.
-Do not seat divorced guests at the same table unless you are certain that they and their partners are on good terms.
-You should extend the courtesy of letting your guests know what type of dress code would be appropriate for your wedding day. Indicate on the invitation whether it is a white tie, black tie, black tie optional, creative black tie, semiformal or casual affair.
-Traditionally, the mother of the bride chooses her dress first, followed by the groom's mother. Their dresses should complement one another's as well as those of the Bridesmaids', (i.e. colour scheme).
-The style and color of the fathers' clothes should match that of the other male attendants. They can be differentiated with their accessories. For example, if the groomsmen are wearing long ties instead of bow ties, the fathers can wear bow ties. Alternately, if the groomsmen are wearing colored accessories to match the bridesmaids, the fathers can opt for simple black accessories.
-It is acceptable for the bride to wear whatever colour and style that best suits her age and figure.
-If the bride wishes to wear gloves, she can take them off before she puts the wedding band on and hand them to her Maid of Honour. The Maid of Honour can give them back at an appropriate time. A bride may wear her gloves during the receiving line and her first dance, however, she should remove them for eating and partying.
-For a traditional and formal daytime ceremony grooms should wear a dark gray cutaway, an ascot, vest and striped trousers.
-For a semi-formal daytime ceremony the groom should wear a regular length gray or black stroller coat with a necktie, vest and striped trousers. However, oftentimes men today opt for a dark tuxedo.
-For an ultra formal evening ceremony the groom should wear a white tie with a black tailcoat and white pique accessories.
-For a formal evening wedding the groom should wear a black tuxedo with appropriate accessories.
-For a semi-formal evening ceremony the groom can wear a black or dark color tuxedo or a dinner jacket with black formal trousers. He may accessorize with either a tie and cummerbund or a vest and a tie in a color that coordinates with the bridesmaids' attire.
-Formal shoes should always be worn with a tuxedo. Also, black dress socks and shoes should be worn with black or dark-colored tuxedos. White and ivory shoes should be worn with white and ivory tuxedos. If a shoe requires laces, they should be strung in a horizontal fashion.
-You should wear a full back vest if you plan on removing your jacket. Also, you may wear suspenders with a cummerbund but not with a vest. Cuff links and studs should match.
-A boutonnière should be worn on the left lapel and should tilt slightly outward.
-Do not wear white to a wedding, you don't want to compete with the bride. It is best to choose another colour. Nowadays people assume that anything goes but in this case, stick to proper etiquette.
-Guests should use discretion for affairs that are deemed casual. This does NOT mean you may wear jeans or shorts. Remember that this is still a wedding you are attending. Opt for a skirt and blouse or a pair of dress slacks and dress shirt, possibly with a blazer depending on the time of year.
-Guests should avoid wearing black clothing or anything with sequins during the daytime as you will appear overdressed.
-A guest should not wear a tuxedo during the day time, no matter how formal the affair is. You are safe wearing a dark suit with a modest tie.
How To Make Your Own Wedding Veil
Who pays For What
The Bride's family is responsible for the following:
-Music For Ceremony
-Flowers For Church, Bridesmaids And Reception
-All Reception Costs
-Transportation For Bridal Party
-Gifts For Bridal Party
-Lodging For Bridesmaids (If Necessary)
The Groom's family is responsible for the following:
-Bride's Bouquet, Corsages And Boutonnieres
-Transportation For Groomsmen
-Gifts For Groomsmen-Bride's Gift
-Lodging For Groomsmen (If Necessary)
The Bridesmaid's are responsible for the following:
-Transportation to the Brides Hometown If They're From Out Of Town
-Gift For The Couple
The Groomsmen are responsible for the following:
-Transportation To The Groom's Hometown If They're From Out Of Town
-Gift For The Couple
-Guests must send a response back before the "Reply By " date. Most couples are not, contrary to popular belief, psychic and they will not know whether a guest will be attending their wedding or not!
-If a guest has opted to not attend the wedding, they do not have to send a gift.
-Never enter a church if you arrive during the procession. You may enter once the bride has gone down the aisle.
-If you are late for the ceremony, you should walk down an outside aisle and find a seat discreetly.
-You are not required to participate in rituals during the ceremony if you are of a different faith, if you would like to you can.
-Guests must buy the couple a gift and it should be something they can both use.
-If you have mailed or shipped a wedding gift prior to the wedding day, then you don't have to bring another one to the reception.
-A monetary gift is recommended for couples that have lived together because more than likely they will not register for anything and already have everything they need.
-Guests should pay for their own transportation and lodgings.
As you can see, it may have changed a bit from yesteryear, but etiquette is still very much alive and a very important factor when planning a wedding. If you think about it, etiquette is really about using common sense and being considerate of others.