Wedding Etiquette: What You Need to Know

In this rule defying age, weddings today are playing on an entirely different field. As couples are now waiting until their late-20s to tie the knot, the dynamic of the typical wedding has shifted. And with this shift, comes confusion on expectations. Etiquette is still very much in the picture, they just look a lot different than they used to.

Etiquette should not be a stuffy set of outdated rules, but rather a living set of guidelines that allow us communicate with each other with kindness. While couples nowadays no longer have any hard-and-fast rules, there are a few unanswered questions that leave many brides fishing for the “proper” answer.

  1. Who hosts the wedding shower?

From the bridesmaids to the mother of the bride or groom, anyone can host the wedding shower! In any case, the hostess should refer with the bride about her preferred guest list.

  1. Who pays for what?

Gone are the days of the archaic rule that one side must pay for it all. Your parents shouldn’t need to take out a mortgage to pay for the wedding, and frankly, many couples today are either footing the bill themselves or covering a good chunk of the expenses. The best advice we can give is to sit down with your fiancé, grab a pen and paper, and figure out what you can afford based off what you really want. Don’t be afraid to converse with both sides of your families to see who can, and is willing, to chip in.

  1. How do we word our wedding invitations?

Traditionally, if the bride’s parents are solely hosting, their names should be listed up top. If the groom’s parents are also chipping in, you should consider adding an “and” after line 1, then a line with his parents’ names. If you are paying for the wedding as a couple, simply include your full names. If you are paying for it yourself but still want to include your parents, add “together with their families” above your names.

  1. Do I send invites to people I know can’t attend?

Invitations typically come with the expectation of a gift, therefore you don’t want people to think they need to give a gift even though they cannot attend. If someone personally lets you know that they are unable to make your wedding, you do not need to follow up with an invitation. In the occasion that this person is a very close friend or family, you could still send an invitation with a note that explains this is merely sent as a keepsake.

  1. Who gets a plus one?

Determining guidelines on who gets a plus one can be tricky. Who gets to bring a date, who doesn’t and how do you know where to draw the line? A good rule of thumb is to invite all spouses, fiancés and live-in partners. As for long-term relationships, it’s basically up to you, but it’s a wise decision to go all or none – to keep things fair across the board. As an exception, members of your bridal party should all receive a plus one, regardless of their relationship status.

  1. What if we don’t want kids at the wedding?

The decision to invite children is a hotly debated topic with no right or wrong answer. The decision lies solely in the couple’s hands. If you choose to have an adult-only celebration, addressing the wedding invitation to the adults is the simplest way. You can further cement this by including the names or number of those invited on the RSVP card.

  1. How long after the wedding should we send thank you notes?

As a general rule of thumb, thank-you notes for shower gifts should be sent within two or three weeks so you can get these out of the way and not have them pile up. All remaining thank-you notes for your wedding gifts are typically sent within 3 months of returning from your honeymoon, while you still have that glow of receiving the gift.

  1. Can I skip the cake?

Of course! There are certain traditions today at that are okay to omit, one being cutting the cake. If you choose to forgo the standard tier cake, opt for something that provides more variety, such as a candy bar, selection of pies or cupcakes.

  1. Am I obligated to invite a guest’s date to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Rehearsal dinners are traditionally a close-knit event for wedding participants and family, therefore it is not necessary to extend an invitation to an attendee’s guest.


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