Posts tagged Wedding Etiquette
Posts tagged Wedding Etiquette
Wedding etiquette is a tricky subject. Even if you think you’re following all of the “rules,” it’s easy to overlook these less discussed — but still important — guidelines.
1. You’re not including the wedding location on your save-the-date card.
Even if you and your fiancé are from the same hometown and still live there now, there’s no guarantee that the wedding will take place in that same location. Avoid having 100 people asking you, “Where’s the wedding?” by including the city and state on your save-the-date (no need to put the actual venue at this stage). Many of your guests will still have to travel and possibly book overnight accommodations so give them a heads as a courtesy.
2. You’re choosing a less convenient date or time.
As weddings have grown more expensive, it’s not surprising that more couples are opting to get married on a Friday or Sunday rather than the high-priced Saturday night. But there’s a reason Saturday is the most popular day for weddings to take place — with Friday weddings, your guests either need to take the day off work, leave work early, or skip your ceremony altogether and just attend the reception. With Sunday weddings, unless it’s a holiday weekend, guests won’t be able to let loose as much as they’d like, and many will leave early to get a good night’s sleep before the work week begins again.
If you choose Friday, start your ceremony later — perhaps 7 or 8 p.m. And if you opt for Sunday, consider an afternoon ceremony with the reception ending by 9 or 10 p.m. (you can have an informal after-party back at the hotel for guests who do want to party all night).
3. You’re not making clear-cut lines on who’s invited and who’s not.
There are certain groups you generally can’t break; even if you see some of your aunts and uncles a few times a month and others a few times a decade, you really should include all (or none) out of fairness.
Regarding “plus ones,” the general rule is that couples who are married, engaged, or living together must be invited together, even if you haven’t met your friend’s significant other. After that, it gets a little less clear-cut. Some couples give a plus one to singles over 18. Others decide to include dates for anyone in a relationship, while others draw the line at just couples who have been together for a year or more. Whatever you decide, consistency is key. The exception is your bridal party members — if you can swing it, allow your single bridesmaids and groomsmen to invite dates if they choose to do so.
4. You’re putting a false start time on the invitation.
If you’re planning to walk down the aisle at 7 p.m., the time on your invitation should be 7 p.m. Don’t leave your guests waiting just because you want to make sure no one misses your grand entrance. Most guests know better than to show up right at the invite time anyway, so if you put 6:30 for a 7 o’clock ceremony, some of your guests could be waiting around for as long as an hour before you begin.
5. You’re using pre-printed labels on the invitation.
Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding — and that starts with the envelope. Now, we’re not saying you need to hire a calligrapher, but it adds such a personal touch to handwrite the addresses. Perhaps ask a friend or relative with nice handwriting to help out. Or, try this calligraphy cheat: Using a fancy font in a very light gray, run each envelope through your printer, and then trace over the printed address using a calligraphy pen. Your guests will never know your secret!
6. You’re sending an invitation to someone who already told you she can’t attend.
After receiving your save-the-date, your friend tells you that she’ll be out of town and can’t make it to your wedding. When it’s time to send your invitations, skip mailing one to this person — sending when you know she can’t attend gives off a “gift-grabbing” vibe.
This rule confuses a lot of brides because you’re also not supposed to invite anyone to the engagement party or bridal shower who won’t be invited to the wedding. However, since you did extend the invite — even though you didn’t send a physical invitation — it’s acceptable in this scenario for your friend to be included in pre-wedding events.
7. You’re having a cash bar.
In a perfect world, your guests won’t have to open their wallets at your wedding. But you don’t need to shell out for a top-shelf open bar if that’s beyond your budget. It’s perfectly acceptable to offer just beer and wine, and it’s a nice touch to add a signature cocktail or two. If you must have a cash bar (which I highly advise against), see if you can negotiate some drink specials with your venue to lessen the burden on your guests.
8. You’re not feeding the band.
Vendors who will be sticking around through your reception — band/DJ, photographer, and videographer — need to be fed. Most even state this in their contracts. Check if your venue offers a “vendor meal,” which typically cost about half as much as a guest’s dinner (the vendor meal usually includes just the main course, which lowers the cost). Or, you can sometimes provide subs, pizza, or another quick meal for your vendors (ask them!). Also, encourage them to grab some food during the cocktail hour.
9. You do not greet each guest personally.
As receiving lines have gone out of fashion, more and more couples plan to visit each table during the reception instead. What you don’t know is that most couples never make it around to every table — you’ll get sidetracked when your favorite song comes on or when your cousin drags you off to the bar for celebratory drinks, and before you know it, it’s time to cut the cake and say goodbye. Our advice: Have a receiving line, even if it feels outdated and takes away from photo time. Think about it this way: Would you rather spend 15 minutes having a receiving line after the ceremony or spend an hour (or more!) going around to every table? Whatever you do, do not make an announcement that guests who want to see you can come join you on the dance floor — yes, we’ve heard this happen many times.
10. You have expectations for your gifts.
We all secretly hope that we’ll get those carefully-selected items on our registries or that we’ll receive enough money to make a down payment on a house. But, contrary to popular belief, wedding guests aren’t even required to give a gift — and there certainly is no minimum amount that your guests have to spend.
Also: This means that you should not include registry information with your wedding invitation. You can, however, include it with your bridal shower invite, since the primary purpose of the event is to shower the bride with gifts!
11. You’re skimping on bridal party gifts.
Considering that the average bridesmaid spends almost $600 between the dress, the bridal shower, the bachelorette, and attending the actual wedding, this isn’t a place where you should trim your budget. No, you definitely don’t have to match what they’re spending on you, but plan on about $50-150 per bridesmaid if your budget allows. Also, don’t forget thank-you gifts for your parents!
12. You’re using thank-you cards with pre-printed messages.
Believe it or not, back in the 1950s — often heralded as a time when great care was taken toward having proper manners and etiquette — pre-printed thank-you cards were the norm. How and why did this change? Over the years, weddings have grown in size and cost; no longer do most of your guests live within walking distance to your venue. Guests are flying in from all over the world and spending more than $500 to attend a wedding. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that guests deserve a more personal “thanks” for their time and effort spent on your behalf.
Also: You don’t have a year to send out thank-you cards. You have three months, tops. And for gifts sent before the wedding, try to get your thank-yous out within two weeks of receiving the gift.
What are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should be one of the first tasks you tackle when you get engaged. Friends and relatives will be looking to buy wedding gifts as soon as he pops the question. Really! Take the guesswork out of gift buying by making sure they know what you want. You don’t need to complete your list just yet, but at least have a selection for guests to browse
Hitting the stores together is essential. After all, the gifts are for both of you. To decide what you need, take inventory of the things you already have and see where the gaps are. Talk about the style of home you’d both like, and split up the final say (you could alternate items) to make it fair. (Maybe he gets to make final decisions on electronics, while you get to choose the kitchen stuff since you’re the chef.)
Don’t feel like you just need to register for china and flatware. Many stores have wedding registries now, so feel free to include whatever it is that will make your new house a home, be it electronics, appliances, or even camping equipment.
Try to avoid filling your list with things you’re never going to use. If you two aren’t the formal party types, then you probably won’t need a crystal punch bowl, as compelling as it may seem when you walk by with that registry scanner. Also, be extra-sure before you register for anything that’s monogrammed. Once your name is on it, you probably won’t be able to return it.
It’s always a good idea to inquire about a store’s exchange/return policies. The great thing is many wedding registry retailers have amazing customer service to accommodate to-be-weds’ needs (for example, you might suddenly realize that you don’t really have room for 24 chargers and want to return, say, eight of them). That said, being aware of the store’s return and exchange timelines will help you better plan and manage your registry.
As much as you may be hankering for that gorgeous $350-a-place-setting silver, be sure to register for items in a wide range of price points: under $50, under $75, under $100, under $200, and beyond, so all of your guests can choose gifts they can afford. You don’t want your college friend feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he can’t find a single gift; and on the opposite side, you don’t want your parents’ closest friends to have to buy you a multitude of smaller items to give you a generous gift.
At least one (and preferably all) of your registries should be available online. Guests should also be able to place their orders in person, over the phone, or by fax. If you’ve registered at a boutique retailer that doesn’t offer online services, you should be okay, as long as that’s not the only place you’ve registered. We live in a hectic world and you want to let guests be able to order you a gift — even if it’s 2 a.m.!
When a guest buys a gift for you, your registry should automatically update, allowing other guests to see what’s been purchased (and allowing you to see what’s on its way!). Make sure to revisit your registry often (trust us, you’ll be visiting several times a day once the wedding day nears), and update it with additional selections as products are purchased so that guests always have a variety of things to choose from. Aim to have at least twice as many items on your list as guests at your wedding.
Sure, some couples love receiving cash, but asking for it is not exactly Future Mr. and Mrs. Manners-approved. A more etiquette-friendly option? Try gift cards. Many stores allow you to register for them and you can use them to buy the things you want and need…later. If you are anxious for cash gifts, ask one or two close friends and immediate family members to politely spread the word.
Be gracious — let your guests know their gifts have arrived — promptly. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month of your return from the honeymoon. In all notes, be sure to mention the gift by name.
Q. I am planning a destination wedding on the beach in the Caribbean and I am not sure what type of dress to wear. I want to go barefoot but also want to have a sophisticated look…any ideas how I can pull this off?
There’s nothing sexier than hosting a wedding barefoot in the sand, and a destination wedding dress should follow suit. Skip the heavy, overly bejeweled ballgown in favor of comfortable, lightweight silks that graze your skin, a loose, flowy silhouette, and perhaps just a hint of beading to mirror the sparkling ocean.
Here are some of my favorite breezy, lightweight gowns from Island Bridal which would be great for a casual to semi-formal wedding in the sand.
An elegant V-neck chiffon, with delicate shoulder bows covers you wherever life takes you. From the Calypso Collection
With it’s strategically placed lace appliques, this sheer dress offers a bride a seductive allure. From the Angel Collection
Runway meets the aisle, in this fun, yet sophisticated satin gown, that twirls with your every movement. From the Angel Collection
A golden touch of delicate appliques exudes a heavenly sense of luxury. From the Angel Collection
Q. I am getting married on the beach in San Diego next year. Since this will be a destination wedding for myself and most of my bridal party I want to keep things simple. I am planning to wear a short colorful knee length sundress but my future mom-in-law says I can’t as it isn’t dressy enough? This is my second marriage so I think a long white gown is too much. What do you think?
A. I think a knee length dress would be lovely for a casual beach wedding. How about something along the lines of this dress…..
This figure flattering dress has a swingy silhouette which makes it perfect for a wedding (even for your bridesmaids). This is the style dress you want to wear long after your wedding. From the Socialite Collection
Q. I am getting married in Hawaii. At first I planned to have four wedding attendants on each side. I agreed to pay the bridesmaids’ airfare if they paid for the hotel, but now I’m considering costs, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to. Should I just tell them we’ve decided to only have our maid of honor and best man, or should I ask them to pay for their trips?
A. Instead of telling them you’ve decided to exclude them without offering a reason — which is bound to hurt some feelings — honesty is the best policy. Sure, the added cost of getting to Hawaii may mean some or all of them won’t be able to make the trip, but it should be their decision. If you simply explain that you overestimated how much you were going to be able to contribute, that’s something they can understand and appreciate. If they’re doubtful of the cost but still really want to try to make it, help them look into discounted fares through a travel agent or an online broker. They may be able to get a good fare if they travel during off-hours, for example. It can be done, if you’re willing to do the research.
Q. I am getting married in Aruba next year and want to invite close friends and family. Are we obligated to pay for our guests or subsidize any portion of their trip?
A. If you are able to pay any portion of your guests’ way, it is a nice gesture and they will certainly appreciate it. Couples usually go this route when there aren’t many affordable lodging options near their site. In general, though, it is not required that you cover any of your guests’ expenses. But aim for harmony regardless and choose a location that offers accommodation options in all price points. You know your guests best, so keep in mind what you think they’ll be willing and able to spend when you select your location.
Q. My fiance and I want to have a ceremony in the Caribbean with just our parents as guests. We would like to have a big reception for our friends and family when we return home. How can we do this without hurting feelings?
A. Well, first you have to face the fact that you very well might hurt feelings regardless of your tact: Some friends and relatives will surprised that they were not included in the ceremony. But you should also remember that it’s your wedding, and if you want an intimate ceremony on a beach, who can blame you? Explain to those who ask that this is your wedding dream, and that you’re looking forward to a big, celebratory bash with all your nearest and dearest when you get home.
If your heart is set on an intimate ceremony, follow your plans and don’t worry too much. Then when you get home, send out invitations to a party “celebrating your marriage” where you can show slides or photos of your ceremony. It will be as if they had all been there with you after all
A. This situation isn’t too tough, believe it or not, but it’s still important that you handle it without hurting anyone’s feelings — after all, no one wants to know they’re on your B-list. The easiest way? Before you lick even one stamp, touch base with all the key players to see what their availability is on your wedding date. You can do this by talking to people in concentric circles of importance, if you will: immediate family members first, then the friends or family you plan on asking to be your attendants, then other family, then other friends, and so on. Barring unforeseen circumstances, you’ll be able to get a good idea of your attendance figures right away, which will allow you to better map out your guest list. You can still send invitations to those you would want to be there but whom you know can’t attend just so that they know how you feel. You can also extend invitations to your replacements right away, without them having to know that they weren’t part of your initial 50. If you find later that your response cards are pouring in with regrets, go ahead and invite some new folks — just don’t wait too long, since they’ll need time to make travel arrangements.
* Photo Credits: Island Bridal
Q. Without getting into extreme detail: My sister is 13 years older than I am, and we are not close. She is, let’s just say, the black sheep of the family. Should I feel obligated to invite her to my wedding just because she is my sister?
A. Family matters are the toughest ones. But the bottom line is this: If inviting her is going to cause you a lot of grief on your wedding day, then don’t. On the other hand, if her presence isn’t going to aversely affect you, and her not getting invited might create even more of a problem, then extend an invitation. Remember, just because you invite her doesn’t mean she’ll come.
Though you shouldn’t feel obligated, you should definitely give it some serious thought. Talk to your parents and other siblings (if any) about it and see what they think. Chances are, if you’re wondering whether to invite her, you probably should. But only you can really answer that question!
Q. As the best man, it’s my responsibility to deliver the ceremony fees. What is the proper way to make these payments?
A. Fees for the officiant, the organist, the soloist, and the use of the church or other house of worship are not tips but should be delivered as you would tips, in sealed envelopes, addressed to each person, with the couple’s “thanks” included. The groom will supply you with the money to cover the fees. Some grooms prefer to make the payments directly themselves, but most rely on the best man to distribute the envelopes.