When planning your wedding, it’s hard to know what etiquette still needs to be followed, and what things you could and even should skip. When you have your mother, grandmother, and friends offering advice from the varying generations, you can’t help but wonder what’s old, tired, tradition; what’s trending; and what’s timeless.
Here are 4 rules you absolutely should break, and 4 you should keep.
Rules you can Break:
- Putting Registry Information on Invitations. Don’t put your registry information on the invitation. Just don’t.
Giving a wedding gift is generous, but it’s OPTIONAL. There are more “Dear Abby” columns on this topic than I could ever share. A wedding guest who may be spending hundreds of dollars just to come to your big day is being told that they SHOULD bring a gift, how much they SHOULD spend, and where they SHOULD buy it from. And Abby always calls it like she sees it. The bride should just be grateful that guests can make it to her big day. And bride, that’s true. Your guests are coming to celebrate the biggest day of your life with you. That’s a huge gift in and of itself.
Do, however, feel free to share that information on your shower invites and on your website. Bridesmaids can also distribute this information via Facebook, word of mouth, or other platforms. Guests who want to bring a gift will willingly seek this out and find the perfect thing for you and your mister.
- Inviting Everyone You Know
Your parents want you to invite your whole church, every second cousin, and everyone in the neighborhood they have lived in for 20 years. Your soon to be spouse wants to do an open office invite. Future mother in law thinks that everyone over 18 should get the “plus one” perk.
Truth is, no.
Between you and the almost-husband, you get to decide who attends the big day. Invite only those who you really want to come. Besides, when your second and third cousins start getting invitations to the long lost family members’ wedding, they might think you are only looking for gifts (refer to rule one).
As far as “plus ones,” go the general rule is that couples who are married, engaged, or living together should get a personal invitation with both parties names on it. After that, you decide what you think is best. Friends from the office may not get a “plus one” because they will come with a group. An out of town friend may not know anyone other than the bride and groom, so a “plus one” may be the best for them.
- Bride’s Family Foots the Wedding Bill
So when most modern brides understand the tradition behind this practice, opting out may not seem like such a bad thing. The tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding comes from the old world concept of dowry payments. In other words, the bride’s father essentially paid a man to take his daughter off of his hands.
Yeah. Not cool.
These days, especially with couples getting married later in life, a couple may choose to pay for their own celebration. This gives them more control over their day, and can really help filter out unwanted feedback and opinions. It may also free up any financial obligation that parents may feel that they may not be able to meet.
Sometimes both sets of parents want to help, or completely split the cost between them. There are times when the groom’s family picks up the tab. And yes bride, if mom and dad still want to completely cover your wedding, great! Always remember to be grateful and gracious (refer to rule one again!) and follow the budget they have set for you. Unless you want to contribute to bump that budget up, be thankful for what they offer.
- Not seeing the bride before the ceremony. This rule is strictly superstition.
The folklore dates back to the days of arranged marriages. Families were nervous that if the groom glimpsed the bride’s face, he may decide it better not to marry her. Whoa.
Modern times definitely says different. Courtships, dating, and long engagements to your partner ensure that you both are picking the one you really want. But like paying for the wedding, this is totally up to you! Maybe you want that first look to happen when you are walking down the aisle, but maybe you want to have a more personal experience before the ceremony commences. It’s going to be no less special no matter how you choose.
As far as practicality goes, getting pictures together before the wedding can save lots of time for relaxing, enjoying, and partying later. When you wait to do pictures until after the vows, you generally have a reception full of guests who really just want to see you, watch your first dance, share a toast, and cut the cake. You’ve paid a lot of money for today and you’ve waited long enough! Get the work out of the way early so you can play!
Rules you should Keep:
- Thank You Cards
This is one rule to never ever break. You have about three months to get these ever important cards to your guests. And for anyone who sends a gift prior to or after the ceremony, you have a two week window to reply with your thanks.
There was a time when it was fashionable to send a wedding photo with your thank you cards, so the time frame was expanded to a year! In the days of digital photos, however, your photog can easily have a batch of pictures for you to choose from within a few weeks to a month, making that 3 month deadline very doable.
And yes...they must be real mailable cards.
And yes...you must write and sign them by hand. Both of you.
Remember, a grateful and gracious couple is what we are aiming for.
- Greet Each Guest Personally
This will never go out of style. Your guests have sometimes traveled hours and spent hundreds of dollars to come see you on your wedding day. And they all should get to see you individually, even if just for a few minutes. The idea of a receiving line is dated, but shouldn’t deter you from having one. In 15 -30 minutes, every guest can be greeted, hugged, and thanked with a smile. Guests also have a sense of obligation to offer kind words and move through the line as not to hold it up, keeping long conversations at bay.
In recent years, the bride and groom would visit each table in the reception, taking an hour or more to visit with guests. Not only does this delay your much needed meal and all of the other reception events to follow, it can encourage talkative guests to keep your attention for longer than you may be able to afford.
- Dress Code On Invite
No one wants to arrive under-dressed. No one wants to arrive over-dressed. A rumor circulated for a time that it was taboo to inform guests of any dress code on the invitation, but that is not so. You certainly don’t want a handful of guest showing up in casual pants and sundresses when your event is a formal. Or spending a pretty penny for a new gown or suit when casual cocktail attire would have sufficed.
A simple notification on the invitation saves embarrassment (and sometimes money) for your guests. A note of “Black Tie”, “Cocktail”, or “Casual” clears up most questions.
- Giving Gifts to Wedding Attendants
A bridesmaid or groomsman has been asked by you to attend the wedding, purchase or rent a special outfit, and dedicate time and energy to seeing you have a successful event. The average attendant spends around $500 just to do so!
This is one area where you really shouldn’t skimp in the budget. Get your guys and gals great gifts as thank yous for all of their support during the months leading up to your nuptials. It will speak volumes to them and help insure they will feel appreciated for all they have done.
Overall, the best etiquette is being a grateful and gracious bride that makes the day wonderful with a radiant attitude! Having fun and enjoying every minute of the day is really what you’ve worked so long to enjoy -so just do it- and that will make your friends and family the happiest of all.