One of the many hats that I wear as a wedding coordinator is bridal advisor. And by far, I do the most advising on issues of etiquette. Brides are bombarded by family members and friends telling them what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it. Etiquette will never go out of style but the rules for weddings are not those of your mother or grandmother’s era. What follows is the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of wedding etiquette.
The rules of wedding etiquette have changed as society and bridal demographics have. Couples are older, more educated and more sophisticated than in generations past. The results of these changes have never been more evident than in the last ten years, as brides have moved away from old fashioned cookie cutter weddings to a custom, personalized event. Individuality has become the standard. Brides want their wedding to stand out and reflect their personalities.
So what are the 2010 rules of wedding etiquette? There are many schools of thought and numerous books on the topic. But relax, wedding etiquette is not nearly as complicated or as stringent as it once was. Questions like: who pays for what; who makes the money decisions; what type of attire is appropriate; is it okay to have a cash bar; can I send e-invites; etc. can all be answered by one simple rule. And, the best part is that we all know it already. It’s the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do onto you. Think of it this way — if you were the guest, bridesmaid, parent, vendor, whomever — what would you think/feel about (fill in the blank.)
Some issues are black and white commonly expected etiquette (although who knows, these may change in the future.) e.g. invitations – it’s never okay to send wedding invitations or thank you notes via email, text or otherwise. You may use email & websites for save the dates, parties and to share information. Just remember, the invite is the first impression your guests have about the wedding and it should reflect the formality/importance of the event. That brings me to another definitive etiquette rule. RSVP means “please respond” in French. And, all that the wedding host asks of you as a guest is that you let them know whether or not you will attend. You may RSVP via email if that is given as an option on the invitation. Please do so and in a timely manner. Bridal couples please remember when deciding about the bar for your reception that it is never okay to make your guests pay for anything. You, as host, are responsible for the expenses. How would you feel if you attended a wedding and had to pay for drinks at the reception? If cost is an issue, consider alternatives like having alcoholic beverages available during the cocktail hour only.
While these answers are clear cut, many are much more subjective. Some wedding issues depend on the situation and the people involved so the answer starts with ‘It depends …” A good example of this is who is supposed to pay for what. That depends on who wants and is able to contribute. Don’t worry about who traditionally paid for what. Whatever works for you and your family is just fine. The same applies to the wedding duties of the bridal party and family members.
When others are filling your ears with rules this and rules that just smile and remember — how you do your wedding is up to you. When in doubt, keep in mind that one simple rule and everything will be golden. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)