Wedding Etiquette: 5 Rules to Keep and 5 to Toss

Wedding Etiquette: 5 Rules to Keep and 5 to Toss

Andie Powers
Jun 11, 2013
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Weddings in today's society are rapidly changing. There really are no hard-and-fast rules for engaged couples nowadays, and in most regards, this makes planning and the day-of much more fun and relaxing. However, before you toss that Emily Post etiquette book out with the trash, consider holding onto a few of those rules. Here are 5 to keep, and 5 to toss.

Rules to Keep

  1. The actual wedding invitations shouldn't include any registry information. In the past (pre-2000), gift preferences were spread by word of mouth, originating from the Bride's mother or maid-of-honor. Guests would ask where the couple was registered (usually a local shop or department store) and necessities for the home were mailed or brought to the wedding. Nowadays, gift registries are a whole different ballgame. Couples are using registries to start a house fund, pay for a honeymoon or furnish a library. Regardless of what type of registry the couple would like to use (if at all), it should not be printed directly on the invitation — this can read as a "gift grab." Put your registry information on your wedding website or blog, or use the old-fashioned word of mouth method. Guests will want to find out where you are registered so that they can get you something that is useful. (Shower invitations can contain registry information).
  2. After you get all of those beautiful gifts, send out hand-written thank you notes. Nothing is worse for a wedding guest than not even knowing if the couple has received the gift, let alone if they enjoyed it. Thank you notes should be mailed within three months after the wedding — or, in my opinion, right away. The guests have taken the time to send a gift, and the couple should take the time to thank them properly. Oh, and don't mention that you exchanged or returned it!
  3. Comments here and there about your upcoming wedding are fine, but don't go on about it at work or on social media if there are people who won't be invited. This is just common courtesy. Even though most people know that weddings are expensive and private events that are usually reserved for close friends, it can still sting to hear about an event that you are not going to be a part of. Be sensitive.
  4. If you're a guest, don't wear white, unless specifically told that it is fine. I know that this is a modern rule that lots of people think is fine to break. And it is — if the couple getting married says it's fine. I was even instructed to wear white as a maid-of-honor last year! However, not every person knows or believes in this rule. You might offend the older generation — or worse, the bride.
  5. Invite guests' significant others or offer a plus-one to out-of-town guests. It's hard to travel alone, and even if the out-of-town guest isn't attached, it's nice to have a friend with you. Offer them that choice as a courtesy. As for couples, it's a MUST to invite your friends' significant others, even if you don't like them.

Rules to Toss

  1. The bride's family pays. Nowadays, anything goes for footing the bill for the big day. Sometimes it's the couple themselves, other times it's the groom's parents, or the bride's parents, and sometimes there isn't even a bride! Only one thing to remember when deciding who pays — whoever pays gets a say in who is invited.
  2. Traditional wedding "activities." You know what I'm talking about — the bouquet toss, the garter toss, the money dance. You are under no obligation to perform these wedding hijinks. Also, don't force anyone to participate if you do decide to keep these events in your itinerary.
  3. Family members can't host the showers. Lots of couples getting married have members of their wedding party living all across the globe or can't afford to throw a shower, so sometimes it's necessary for family members who want their loved one to have a proper shower to throw one themselves! This goes for baby showers, too.
  4. The couple can't see each other before the wedding. Lots of couples live together before getting married, so unless they rent a hotel for the night before, most will inevitably bump into each other at some point the day of. Also, couples are taking advantage of the "first look" photo opportunity to get pictures out of the way before the ceremony. That way, they can enjoy the day with their guests instead of running off to take pictures.
  5. A wedding invitation consists of an inner and outer envelope, invitation, and response card. Wedding invitations are an artful expression of the engaged couple. We've seen invitations that range from interactive maps, to pressed vinyl, to silk-screened flyers. There are no rules anymore, as long as the guests have a way to find out information about the wedding and how to respond with a clear RSVP date, the more creative the better.

Do you have any traditional etiquette rules you want to take or leave? Let us know in the comments!

- Re-edited from a post originally published June 11, 2013 - DF

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