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Wedding Etiquette - Avoid BIG Mistakes

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Wedding Etiquette - Resolving the Top Six Difficulties



What do you do when a guest requests a plus one, or when your father's new girlfriend arrives? Who sits at the head of the table? Can you request money in lieu of gifts? These and numerous other questions are addressed in this complimentary wedding etiquette guide.


As one of the most significant and potentially stressful events of your life, becoming engaged and then planning a wedding raises a flood of questions. As times change and weddings evolve, traditional rules of etiquette have evolved in lockstep, further complicating matters.

To gain perspective, it's necessary to first recognize that "etiquette" is fundamentally about treating people with respect and making them feel at ease. Consider the feelings of those who will be impacted when an etiquette issue arises. Allow us to guide you through the fog of questions with this concise examination of the most frequently encountered wedding etiquette dilemmas:

Etiquette in the Family


Presenting Your Parents If the bride and groom's parents have not met prior to the engagement, tradition dictates that the groom's family contacts the bride's family and introduces themselves, arranging a meeting. If the groom's parents are unavailable, the bride's parents should make the initial introduction. Nowadays, it is irrelevant who makes the first call; what matters is that the parents meet. If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, a letter or telephone call will suffice.

Introduce Yourself to Divorced Parents - If the groom's parents are divorced, the parent with the groom's closest relationship should initiate contact with the bride's parents. If both sets are divorced, the closest parent to the groom should contact the bride's suggested parent first. If no one initiates the process, the couple should step in and ensure that everyone meets, while avoiding awkward situations.

In-Laws - Frequently, the groom's parents feel excluded from the planning process. Invite your future in-laws into the initial discussion to avoid this. You should immediately notify them of your plans for the wedding's location, date, size, and style. Take their desired level of involvement into account and include them appropriately. Allow them to submit offers to assist with finances or planning. Above all, maintain communication with them throughout your engagement.

Etiquette for Invitations


Inviting partners and guests - If an invited guest is married, engaged, or cohabits with another person, the invitation must include that person. To spouses or couples who live together, a single invitation addressed to both individuals should be sent, while separate invitations should be sent to each member of an engaged or long-term couple who does not live together.


While inviting single guests with a date is a considerate gesture, it is not required. If you're inviting a single guest with a date, make an effort to learn the name of your friend's prospective date and include it on the invitation. Otherwise, inner envelopes may include the phrase "And Guest," indicating that the recipient may bring any escort or friend of his or her choosing.

Children's Invitations - To invite or not to invite the small children - this is a situation that can quickly devolve into an argument. Decide and stick to your decision - then inform your guests via carefully addressed invitations: Children over the age of 18 who are invited to the wedding should receive separate invitations - regardless of whether they live with their parents or not. If you do not invite them, it is obvious that they are not invited.

The names of children under the age of 18 who are invited to the wedding should be included on the invitation. If you're inviting Joe and Mary Smith without their two small children, the invitation should simply say "Joe and Mary Smith." If you're still concerned that some guests will include write-ins on their reply cards, print the names of those invited as well.

Guests Who Inquire About Bringing a Guest - plus1



Your guests should be more aware! It is never acceptable for a guest to request to bring a date, and you are perfectly entitled to politely decline. However, if you learn that a guest is engaged or lives with a significant other, you should extend an invitation, either written or verbal.



Invitations to guests from outside the city 


Many brides debate whether it is appropriate to invite guests from afar who may be unable to attend. Make the best judgment possible. Is this individual a true close friend who wishes to attend your celebration? If this is the case, failing to extend an invitation may be considered insulting.

Bear in mind that friends and family are frequently spread across the country these days, and people are accustomed to traveling. If, on the other hand, you haven't spoken in years, an invitation may appear to be nothing more than a gift request. In those instances, send a wedding announcement, which is not gift-giving-related.

Gift-giving Etiquette


Yes, everyone enjoys receiving gifts, and weddings are an ideal time to do so. Friends and family members traditionally honor the newlyweds' commitment by showering them with gifts. Simply remember to always feel privileged—not entitled—as the happy couple. Here is some useful advice on wedding gift etiquette:
No registry information should be printed on the invitation.
Publicize your registry information solely through word of mouth.
Make no explicit requests for cash gifts; if guests inquire, your close friends or family members can inform them of your preferences.
Return all gifts, including shower and engagement gifts, if the wedding is postponed (so avoid using any gifts until after the wedding!)
Within two weeks of receiving each gift, send a personal hand-written thank you note (or within 2 weeks of returning from your honeymoon)
There is no special formula for determining the proper amount to spend on a gift by a guest. The notion that each gift should cost the same as one reception plate is an impractical one.

Etiquette for Clothes


While the rules governing modern wedding attire have evolved with the times, traditional standards for fabrics, lengths, and styles remain. Here are some pointers:

Your bridesmaids' dresses should match the formality of your wedding gown. Although the dresses were traditionally the same length as the wedding gown, the popularity of tea- and knee-length bridesmaids' gowns has loosened that rule.

Shorter bridesmaids' dresses are perfectly acceptable as long as the fabric and overall style match the formality of your floor-length gown. Guests attending evening weddings should dress appropriately for a formal dinner or event, which includes suits (or black tie) for men and dresses or skirts in sophisticated colors and fabrics for women. Lengths can vary according to the style and location of the event. Female guests are now permitted to wear black, but not white.

The Cash Bar Dilemma

Weddings are, indeed, costly. Couples should, indeed, be on the lookout for money-saving tips. Yes, we are aware that weddings are costly. However, you should never - under any circumstances - consider hosting a cash bar at your reception. Consider this: you would never charge someone for a cocktail in your own home. Even if the reception is not held in your home, the attendees are still considered your guests.

Having said that, if a full bar is out of your budget, consider the following alternatives:

1. Establish a soft bar where guests can purchase champagne, beer, and wine.
2. Look for a reception site that allows you to bring your own alcohol; you'll save a lot of money, and anything that remains unopened can be returned for a full refund.
3. Reduce the size of your guest list - this is the only significant cost-cutting measure in the first place.

Is It Appropriate to Ask for Money; Are Money Showers Appropriate?


What is the proper etiquette when it comes to financial gifts? Is it ever acceptable to request them? Is it considered impolite to refer to "money trees" and "money showers" as "money trees" and "money showers"? How do I respond if I receive an invitation requesting a monetary contribution?

Requesting Financial Contributions - You're hosting a bridal shower, and let's face it, the bride and groom have been living together for three years and have amassed at least two blenders and a toaster oven. What they really need is some additional funds (they've been dying to remodel their bathroom for years.)

However, soliciting explicit gifts - monetary or otherwise - is impolite. Consider the following invitation: "I'm in desperate need of new shoes; please send me some strappy sandals." (The mere fact that Carrie Bradshaw got away with it does not make it acceptable!) What you can do is inform guests that the bride prefers cash gifts if they so request.

Send shower invitations without mentioning the couple's registry; inquiring guests will inquire about the couple's registration, providing an ideal opportunity to respond with the bride's preference. Because some guests may still prefer to give a physical gift, the couple should register for a few items. Avoid attracting attention to the cash with a "money tree" or other cash-display gimmick, so that guests bringing tangible gifts do not feel uncomfortable.

Simply arrange all of the bride's cards and gifts together for her to open and acknowledge.

What is the bottom line? The delighted bride-to-be should constantly remind herself that she is privileged, not entitled.

Giving Monetary Gifts - You're sorting through your mail and discover a cutesy rhyme on a shower invitation, such as...

...To make it easier for you and avoid a shopping spree, we decided to have a small money tree instead...

While this clearly violates etiquette, it does not warrant an uprising of the etiquette police. Noticing another's blunder is just as impolite as the original blunder. The following are your options:

Bring a monetary gift - If you choose to participate with a cash donation, make it as large as you feel comfortable. 

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