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Wedding Etiquette

Updated on December 4, 2012

Proper Wedding Etiquette and Protocols for Traditional and Non-Traditional Weddings

Wedding etiquette is one of the most important parts of planning a wedding. The first step is to determine if you want to have a standard wedding following traditional wedding etiquette or something different with your own rules in mind.

Wedding etiquette is a simple, standard set of 'wedding rules' that can be used to plan a wedding but are not required to be followed. It simply traditional standards and what is considered to be the 'proper' way. Keep in mind that things have changed over the years, so you can plan your own wedding exactly how you want it to be- after all it's your day!

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Save the Date Etiquette

Wedding Etiquette for Save the Date Cards

Now that you're engaged, it's time to send out the Save the Date Cards! Send them out up to a year early so that your guests can prepare ahead of time and insure a bigger turn out. There are a few things you will need to plan prior to sending out the Save the Date cards.

Save the Date cards should include more than just your wedding date. Here are a few things to put on your cards:

Your Names

Wedding Date

Wedding Location

A Nice Note Saying "Wedding Invitations Will Follow"

Engagement Photos are Optional

Important: Be sure to keep a complete list of everyone who receives a Save the Date card. You can always send wedding invitations to someone who didn't get a card but you don't want to leave anyone out.

Save the Date cards do not have to match your invitations or theme, but can be matched if you already know your theme.

Wedding Planner Books

Plan and keep up with all your wedding details, checklists, and ideas with these hand wedding planner books. They also includes wedding tips and ideas for your big day!

Gift Registry Etiquette

Wedding Etiquette for Gift Registry

Gift registry etiquette has pretty much stayed the same through the years. While it's great register at various stores for bridal registries, it's not appropriate to ask your guests to buy from there, nor expect them to.

Do not put your registrations on your invitations, reservations or envelopes. Gift registry etiquette implies that it is okay to add an insert to your invitations with the registries listed. If you do not wish to add an insert then make sure your family and bridal party is aware of where you are registered. They are usually able to spread the word and answer questions for guests who ask.

Keep in mind that some guests from out of the area or that may not be able to attend your wedding may still order from your registry and have it shipped. Consider using a website such as Amazon Bridal Registry to choose gift ideas for those who are out of town.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

Wedding Etiquette for the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is a private dinner set aside for the couple, wedding party and family to enjoy a nice dinner, go over each other's roles and practice at the location in which the wedding will be held. Rehearsal dinners are not a requirement but very customary. There is usually a toast by the bride and groom and bridal party as well.

When is the Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal etiquette implies that the rehearsal dinner should take place the night before. While this is not written in stone it is the proper time. After the dinner, the groom-to-be should bid his bride-to-be goodnight and they should then part to their separate locations for the evening.

Who Pays for the Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the grooms mother (or family) pays for the rehearsal dinner. Make arrangement ahead of time and see if she will be paying, prefers to pay and has the ability to pay. By all means, never refuse the mother of the groom to pay. Not only is it proper wedding etiquette but it is one thing that she gets to do for her part of the wedding.

Who Goes to the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is reserved for the couple, immediate family (parents, siblings), the wedding party, and officiant and officiant's spouse.

Do not feel obligated to invite anyone else. You can but it is not required. This is a special dinner provided for the bridal party and everyone immediately involved in the wedding to rehearse everyone's role and enjoy a great dinner together. This can occur at a local restaurant, someone's home, or at the location.

Reception Seating Etiquette

Wedding Etiquette for Seating at the Reception

Believe it or not, there is a proper wedding reception seating etiquette in which you should consider when making seating arrangements for your wedding.

The first and foremost thing to remember is that the bride and groom. They are set at a rectangle table with the bride on the left and the groom on the right, followed by the groomsmen. The best man sits to her left and the maid of honor sets to the grooms right, followed by the bridesmaids. If you have a large bridal party the bridesmaids and the groomsmen can be seated at their own table(s).

Next are the parents of the bride and groom. They would traditionally set at a large table across from each other followed by the grandparents and officiant. If there is not enough room for such a large table they can be separated to their own tables. Divorced parents may also choose to set at separate tables and this is completely fine and will not break and wedding laws of tradition.

Seat the rest of your guests according to family and friends. Keep families together and friends of the same group together. Be sure not to group any family rivals or seat their tables near each other. The last thing you want is two mad aunts hashing it out at your reception!

Keep in mind; you are not required to create a seating chart. It simply makes it easier to insure space and everyone in a location you desire. Small weddings with less than fifty guests do not require a seating chart but can be used if you prefer.

Wedding Ceremony Etiquette

Wedding Ceremony Order of Service Etiquette

Wedding ceremonies vary by tradition, religion, culture and location therefor there is no set rules for the wedding ceremony that you must abide by. However, there is an expected wedding ceremony etiquette which should be followed for the order of a wedding ceremony.

Wedding Invitation Wording Ideas for Divorced Parents

Religious Ceremony Order



Bridal March



Scripture Reading


Exchange Vows

Exchange Rings

Lighting of the Unity Candle




Basic Order of Service


Bridal March


Exchange Vows

Exchange Rings



Optional Ceremony Services

Scripture Readings

Reading a Poem

Moment of Silence for Lost Loved Ones

Speech for Honoring Parents

Sand Ceremony

Rose Ceremony

Music at Various Times

Unity Candle

...Anything else you would like to include!

Do You Think Wedding Etiquette Is Important?

Do You Think Wedding Etiquette Is Important?

Wedding Flower Etiquette

Who Pays for the Flowers?

Wedding flower etiquette is quite simple:

Large bouquet for the bride

Small bouquets for the bridesmaids

Corsages for the mothers and grandmothers

Boutonnières for the fathers, grandfathers and groomsmen,

Flower arrangements can be used at desired for pew bows, centerpieces, and anywhere else you would like to use them.

Who Pays for the Wedding Flowers

According to wedding etiquette, the bride's family will pay for all flowers and flower arrangements, corsages, and bridesmaid bows.

The groom pays for the bride's bouquet and the boutonnières for the groomsmen. This is not always followed. The majority of the time the bride's family will pay for all the flowers since they are usually purchased or made at the same place.

More Tips and Ideas From for Your Wedding From Stephanie

Black and White Wedding Cakes
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Pink Wedding Cake Ideas
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Wedding Invitation Etiquette - Etiquette for Wedding Invitations

Wedding invitations are one of the most asked wedding questions. Surprisingly they are one of the most simple. Once you have chosen your style and your theme, there are a few things you need to remember in order to follow wedding invitation etiquette if you plan on having a very proper wedding.

When creating your invitations that announcement have a very specific way of being written. You could write a whole book on what the correct wedding invitation etiquette. For that reason I will let you choose your preference.

Here are several links to various forms of wedding invitations, ideas and designs to help your choose the wording for your wedding invitations. These sites will help you with wedding announcement etiquette, wedding envelope etiquette, wedding invitation wording and proper ways to address your guests.

What Not to Do at Your Wedding

Things You Should Never Do At Your Own Wedding

While it is your day, your wedding, and your choice to do whatever you like, there are a few things you should never do at your own wedding.

~ Never ask/expect money from your guests. This includes requesting cash instead of gifts.

~ Never use name tags! It's tacky and everyone can introduce themselves as they wish.

~ Never say 'no kids'. Instead, use something like "adults only" near the bottom of your invitation or mention that you are 'reserving 2 spots' for couples. This will make it obvious that there are not spots for the children and that they not expected to attend. If someone brings a child do not address it. It may have been their only option for attending your beautiful day.

~ Do not rehash family drama at your wedding. Uncle Bob, who you despise, may have shown up uninvited but if possible, find him a place and allow him to stay. If someone you absolutely do not want attending shows up, or if someone begins to cause problems, try not to address the person yourself. Have a friend or family member quietly ask them to leave or call security.

Wilton Wedding Cakes , A Romantic Portfolio

Wilton Tiered Cakes

Roman Wedding Cake Topper Figurine 9 inch Embrace 63600

First Dance Wedding Cake Topper Language of Love Roman 63455

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