In our non-traditional era of wedding planning where all bets are off and pretty much anything goes, does etiquette still matter? YES! In certain areas, anyways. There are certain "no-no's" that you should avoid when planning your event; most of which are to safeguard against hurting someone you care about. And since I'm guessing you haven't planned many weddings before (unless you are a professional or just that kick butt friend with a great eye that always ends up throwing killer events for your friends) then you probably have no idea what wedding etiquette is. And even if you do, with the advent of our technological age, there are new things to take into consideration. Or maybe you aren't planning to walk down that aisle any time soon, but you have 18 weddings to attend over the next year and you aren't sure what is okay/not okay. Today, I am here to help. Read below to get answers to five of the most common wedding etiquette questions for couples and guests alike.
The day has passed when one of the first things a couple would do after getting engaged was submit their announcement to the local newspaper (although paper announcements are still fun!). Now, couples take to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share the happy news with their family and friends. Social media is a great way to share a fun photo, update your status in real time, and tell everyone all at once. However, there are some things you should avoid to honor those relationships closest to you. Make sure to share the news with your closest family and friends FIRST before posting anything to social media (this includes that ring bling shot or him down on one knee).
Etiquette tip: Those closest to you will vary from couple to couple but as a rule of thumb share the news either in person (if possible) or via skype/phone with: parents, children (if applicable), siblings, close extended family, godparents, and your closest friends.
The question often comes up about when to send save-the-dates and invitations. The rule of thumb for save-the-dates is 6 months prior to your wedding date (8 months if it is a destination wedding) and 3 months prior for the formal invitation. How long you should give guests to RSVP? Make the RSVP date no later than 2-3 weeks before your wedding; this may vary depending on how many guests are traveling, how formal/informal your event is, your catering company, etc. Typically caterers need a final guest count at least one week prior to the wedding. Also, make sure to allow enough time between sending the invitations and the deadline for guests to make arrangements (but not too much time that it slips off of their radar).
Etiquette Tip: Send pre-stamped envelopes or RSVP return cards. Even if you give the guests the option to RSVP via email or on your wedding website, consider including an RSVP response card for older guests and those who prefer to do things more traditionally. Even though the wedding is for you and your spouse-to-be, you want to be as accommodating to guests as possible.
Photo by: Tiffany Heidenthal Photography | Invitation by: English Tea Paperie
Can anyone host a bridal shower? YES! This is often a good way for your friends, the mother-of-the groom, or your bridesmaids to be more involved with the wedding.
Etiquette Tip: If you are hosting a shower, make sure you okay the guest list with the bride beforehand. You typically want to avoid inviting people who are not also invited to the wedding, otherwise they may think you just want a gift (unless of course, they can't make the wedding but would like to attend the shower).
Photo found on: Catch My Party
If you have read any of my past posts, you may have noticed I talk about unplugged ceremonies a lot. I have found that there are few things more inconsiderate at a wedding than taking photos on your smart phone during a couple's ceremony, but most guests are simply unaware that this is an issue of etiquette. Remember that this is a very special moment for the couple (and one they wanted to share with you) and not only can your phone be distracting, it can end up making an appearance in those expensive wedding photos the couple paid for. Further, being on your phone inhibits your ability to be fully present in the wonder of the moment.
Etiquette Tip: Honor the wishes of the couple. Some couples may fully embrace smart phones during the ceremony and others may have opted for an "unplugged" ceremony. Look for signs at the entrance to the ceremony location or in your program. If you can't find anything concrete, err on the side of caution. Also, if you are unsure, ask the couple before posting any photos to social media, especially if it is a private event. Then enjoy the moment and shake that tail feather! To read more on this topic, visit our blog post: Five Ways To Have a Better Wedding Ceremony
You are not expected to invite everyone you work with. Most of your wedding budget will get eaten up at the rehearsal, the majority of which will go to food and alcohol. Most weddings are based on a cost "per head". If you work in a large office, inviting everyone is most likely just not feasible. However, give thought to who you would like to invite and do it in private. Send them an invitation as you would any other guest.
Etiquette Tip: If there are certain coworkers you are unable to invite to the wedding, avoid talking plans in front of them. A few details are okay, but sharing every detail of the day in the company of people who were uninvited can be hurtful and is considered poor form.
Well there you have it! I hope these tips will help you as you think through planning your wedding, or as you prepare to be a guest. The list is certainly not comprehensive but it should give you a good start. For more advice and tips, sign up for our newsletter!