Wedding Planning Etiquette
A wedding is a joyous event and planning it can be both very exciting and a little stressful for the happy couple when trying to accommodate their needs and preferences, as well as those of key family members and friends. Ideally, the wedding focuses primarily on the wishes of the bride and groom while making some accommodations for the wishes of the extended family. There are many etiquette issues to consider when starting on the enjoyable journey of planning the upcoming dream day. Considering these can help avoid hurt feelings and awkward exchanges between the bride and groom and the important people in their lives.
Who is included on the invitation list?
You’ll need to consider the size of your budget and venue when planning your guest list. The guest list should first include family and close friends. If budget and venue size allow, more people, like family friends and co-workers, can be added to the guest list after the key people are included in the planning.
Do the bride's side and the groom's side each get to invite the same number of people?
If you’re planning on inviting 150 people to the wedding, then in theory, each side of the family would be able to invite 75 people. However, it makes sense to have some flexibility in this area if one side of the family has significantly more members. You’ll also want to include in the count guests that are friends of both the bride and the groom.
Can we make the reception “Adults Only"?
Yes, a wedding and a reception can be “Adults Only". You’ll just want to make this clear on the Save the Date card, if you’re sending one, as well as when addressing the invitation envelope. This way, parents can make babysitting accommodations early so they can attend your event. Children who are in the bridal party would, however, be invited to attend the reception.
Do we need to include a “Plus One" for the single adults invited?
When inviting single adults, the suggested “Plus One" advice is to include an invitation for a guest when the person is engaged or living with his or her significant other. Otherwise, budget and venue space should dictate if you include a “Plus One" for guests. Be sure to keep things uniform. For example, if you allow one friend a guest then you should allow another friend the same option.
If I’ve been in someone's wedding party, do I need to include them in my wedding party?
Your bridal party should be made of those people closest to you. Friendships have ebb and flow. Perhaps at the time of her wedding, you were very close to the bride, but now you have drifted slightly or are in different seasons of life. You are under no obligation to ask her to be your bridesmaid. When possible, it's nice include siblings of the bride and groom, but this is also not required. You can always ask significant people in your life to play other roles in the wedding, like perhaps reciting a reading at the church or handing out wedding programs before the ceremony begins.
Who pays for the bridal party dresses and tuxedos?
The bridesmaids and groomsmen are responsible for paying for the cost of the dresses and tuxedos. The bride and groom generally give a gift as a token of thanks to the bridal party at the rehearsal dinner for playing a special role in the wedding.
Our parents are divorced. How do we word the invitation?
When creating your invitation, it's customary to list the bride's family first followed by the groom's family. With the case of a divorced or blended family, list the mother of the bride and her spouse on one line follow by father of the bride and his spouse on another line -- and likewise for the groom's family, if applicable.
Do we to need to send a Save the Date card?
Save the Date cards are helpful to those traveling from out-of-state to attend the wedding and should be sent four to six months before the wedding. Also, if your wedding is on a holiday weekend, you might want to send a Save the Date card so guests can plan accordingly. You don’t need to indicate a venue or hotel accommodations, but be sure to indicate the city where the wedding will be held so guests can watch for best plane ticket pricing.
When should we mail out our invitations?
Invitations should be mailed six to eight weeks before the wedding.
Do I send invitations to guests who have already indicated they will not be able to attend?
If you know for sure a guest will not be able to attend, there is no need to send an invitation. If you would like, as a nice gesture you can send an invite as a keepsake with a handwritten note to family members who cannot attend.
How do we handle guests who haven’t RSVP’d?
When sending RSVP cards, be sure to pre-address them and include postage stamps for guests to return easily. Include an RSVP by date, which is generally 2 weeks before the wedding. If you do not receive an RSVP by that date, it is acceptable to phone to find out if guests plan on attending.
Who plans for the rehearsal dinner?
Historically, the bride's family planned and paid for the wedding and the groom's family planned and paid for the rehearsal dinner. Today, often the bride and groom contribute to the wedding's cost or both families share the costs. If the bride's family is paying for the wedding, then the groom or his family may want to plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner. Whoever is paying for the dinner should be able to select the budget and venue.
Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner is for the members of the bridal party and the family members of the bride and groom. Extended family members and close friends who have traveled from out of town may also be included.
Who walks the bride down the aisle?
Traditionally, the father of the bride walks the bride down the aisle. However, in the case of death or divorce or just preference, many brides opt for a different walk down the aisle. She may have her mother and father, just her mother, a special uncle, or perhaps a father and step-father walk the aisle with her. Every family situation is unique and the bride needs to consider her own family dynamics when making this very personal decision. The person who walks her down the aisle should be a person who has played a significant role in her life.
How do we handle the ceremony if our families do not share the same religion?
If it isn’t possible to have your ceremony at a location acceptable to both families, try to incorporate some traditions and customs from both families into the ceremony.
Do we need to have a bride's side and a groom's side for seating?
Traditionally, the guests sit on the side of the family with whom they are acquainted. However, if there is large discrepancy in the number of guests invited by one side or the other, then the ushers should be instructed to seat guests on both sides.
Who needs to stand up in the Receiving Line after the ceremony?
A receiving line after the ceremony should include the bride, groom, their parents, and grandparents, if in attendance. You can include the wedding party attendants in the receiving line if you prefer, but it is not necessary.
Is it ok to have cash bar at the reception?
When hosting a reception, consider your budget when making a determination on a cash bar. Bar tabs can be a large part of wedding expenses. Soda, tea, and coffee should be served free of charge. If serving alcohol, generally a house wine and beer from a keg are also included free of charge. Mixed drinks and higher-end wines would be a cash purchase for guests wanting something other than the free offerings.
Can we have assigned seating at a buffet-style reception?
Yes, assigned seating gives your guests some direction when they arrive at your reception. Many favors can also double as seating card holders.
Can guests post to social media during the wedding?
Before your ceremony and reception, you’ll want to decide if you're comfortable with your guests posting pictures to social media. If you really feel strongly that you would prefer that guests hold off on posting, you could add a small request at the bottom of your wedding program, but guests may still post. It's important to keep in mind that they are celebrating with you and are excited to share your special day. Some churches do not allow photography during the ceremony and this can also be indicated on your wedding program.
What is the time frame for sending thank you cards?
Thanking your guests is an important last step in your wedding journey. Be sure to keep a very up-to-date list of gifts you have received throughout the whole time leading up to the wedding. Engagement gifts and shower gifts are received before the wedding and the thank you notes should be written at the time those gifts are received. It's important to thank guests, and if you wait the list of thank you notes will continue to grow. Handwritten thank you notes should be written by the bride and groom within three months of the ceremony.