navigating weddng etiquette

Hi 2023 (and beyond) Brides! Below is a simple outline I have put together about wedding etiquette for the couple getting married and their guests. Enjoy!

Manners and Etiquette as a bride/couple and a guest:

  • Do not share your wedding website on Facebook or Social Media.
  • Try making a private Facebook Group for those who are being invited to your wedding and post information there.  This can be helpful for collecting addresses, guests who are not in relationships and know one another to get in touch amongst themselves to buddy up for hotel and travel if necessary, and for you to be able to communicate details and your excitement on that platform.  Posting details like this on your overall profile can be hurtful to those excluded or just plain annoying if it is in abundance. 
  • Send a physical invitation. Don’t make your grandparents figure out a wedding website and social media.  

  • Registries!
  • Link your registry or registries on your wedding website. 
  • Posting your registry to your PRIVATE wedding website or Facebook group can happen after the save the dates are sent in the mail.  Registry reminders and your wedding website information should be sent as a separate insert within your invitation. Never include honeymoon registry information (or any registry information, for that matter) on the wedding invitation
  • Include gift ideas for all budgets. 

  • Honeymoon Registries!  
  • Be descriptive and honest, and outline your exciting itinerary. Paint a crystal clear picture for everyone of what you will be doing, seeing, experiencing, eating, etc. The more details the better! This space is also where we recommend acknowledging why you've chosen a honeymoon registry over traditional registries, and how much your guests' gifts can impact your experience.
  • One of the great things about a honeymoon fund is that you can break it down into specific items and experiences to make your guests' gifting experience a little more personal. 
  • Provide a traditional registry alongside your honeymoon registry.  While you really may not want anything else to clutter your already existing shelves, countertops, and linen closets, understand that some guests would rather give you something tangible that you can have in your home for quite some time. Because of this, we recommend still registering for some items.

  • DO NOT SOLICIT YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR MONEY or gifts.  Guests will bring cards with cash or check gifts should they not opt for your registry options.  They do not need to be asked in any way shape or form to give you money.  

Pre-Wedding Events:

  • All those who are invited to pre-wedding events should be on the wedding guest list. The only, rare, exceptions are if you’re having a very small destination wedding with just immediate family and everyone is aware of that already. But in most cases, your shower invitation list should reflect your wedding guest list to avoid confusion and hurt feelings.

  • Thank You Notes:
  • THANK YOU NOTES ARE NOT OPTIONAL, I REPEAT, THANK YOU NOTES ARE NOT OPTIONAL.  Your guests have given you a gift of their attendance and giving up a day of their lives, possibly flown or driven quite a distance and most likely have also paid for a hotel and other l expenses to look put together and be present on your wedding day.  Sometimes this is the gift and deserves a thank you.   If they give you a gift on top of this, that is the icing on the cake and typically customary, regardless of travel.  THANK THEM and thank them as soon as possible or within three months of your wedding.   
  • Insight on the cost of attending a wedding:
  • On average, a wedding guest will spend $430 to attend a wedding, including the gift.  Guests living locally will only spend an average total of $180, while attendees flying in to make the wedding will shell out an average of $1,440 due to plane and hotel fares.  

For The Guests!

  • RSVP:  Respect the couple and RSVP yes or no as soon as possible.  Do not assume the couple knows your rsvp status based on a verbal conversation or because you are relatives.  If you receive a Save The Date and know you cannot attend based on date and location alone, respond to the couple to congratulate them and let them know before their invites go out that you would love to be included in other parts of their wedding year, but cannot attend.  If you do not attend, you do not have to give a gift, but you can if you would like.   Getting your RSVP in, even, if it is a “no”, your response will allow the couple to invite people they really wanted to include but might not have been able to afford to include.  

  • Gifts:
  • What is the timeframe of sending a wedding gift?  
  • From the time the registry is listed or invitation is received to 3 months after the wedding.
  • Which Wedding Events should I bring a gift for?
  • Gifts are not required at an engagement party.  Bringing a bottle of champagne and a congratulatory card is thoughtful and generous.  Other small tokens could be a wedding planning organization or inspiration book, a ring dish, personalized stamp, etc.  Something thoughtful and budget-conscious. 

  • Bridal Showers are a built-in event for a bride to be SHOWERED with gifts.  This gift can be from the registry or not.  Pick a gift that you know the bride will love that is in your budget.  There is no budget expectation here.  If you want to go in on a bigger gift with friends, that is okay too!  You should bring your gift with you to this event, as most brides will open the gifts publicly. 

  • Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties.  Gifts are not required.  Guests are usually responsible for their own tab and their share of splitting the bride's or groom's for the evening's activities, so additional gifts are not necessary.

  • Wedding Gifts are customary and expected if you are attending the wedding.  If you would like to send the couple a gift and you cannot attend that is very generous but not required, at the very least send a card offering well wishes.  Gifts should be within your means. 

  • Other Occasions:  Any other special occasion, such as a farewell brunch or a special luncheon to honor the bride, does not require the attendee to bring a gift.  However, if a family member or friend of the couple is hosting the event in their home it is a kindness and token of appreciation to bring a hostess gift

  • Etiquette At The Wedding:
  • Do not be late!  Pay attention to the invitation time as your guide.  Most couples will include an invitation time and a ceremony time on their invitations.  

  • Dress appropriately.  Follow the invitation instructions.  If you want to make sure you don’t match the bridal party, check the wedding website to see if the couple has listed their color palette.  There isn’t really ever a reason to wear a mini-anything as a wedding guest unless the bride is asking for nightclub attire.  Knee-length to tea-length is my rule of thumb if asked for cocktail attire.  Tea-length to floor-length for Formal. Floor-length or an asymmetrical length for Black Tie.  Follow the season and dress for the weather.   The invitation or wedding website will disclose if the event is indoors or outdoors.

  • DO NOT WEAR WHITE!  Traditional brides usually wear white or ivory.  Modern Brides are diving into pastels like powder blue and blush.  Only wear white if a Bride asks you to on the invitation.  You can wear a pattern with hints of white.  Black is allowed.  You can wear bold colors but try to stay away from neon.  

  • Don't bring a date unless your invitation specifically says that person's name or "+ Guest."

  • Respect the table assignments!  So much care goes into this, you are only eating with the people at your table, you can dance and mingle the rest of the night with anyone else. 

  • Photos and Smartphones
  • Respect the decisions made by the couple getting married.  
  •  If there is a request for no photos or videos, do not take them.  Most weddings have a photo booth.  If you are dying for a keepsake, snap a shot of your photo booth pic or a selfie of your and your date before the wedding. 
  • On the other hand, some couples have a wedding #hashtag and encourage posting and phone photography. 
  • To err on the side of caution, don’t post a photo with the couple in it or the wedding itself before the Bride does.  She should have the right to share her day first.
  • There will most likely be a professional photographer and videographer.  Don’t get in their way.  Let them have the priority to capture special moments throughout the wedding.  Make it easy for them to get a great group photo of guests you are mingling with.  No need to bring your own DSLR camera. 

  • Don’t complain or judge the wedding out loud while at the wedding or to the Bride EVER!  Keep it to yourself and your date and discuss it in the car on the way home.  

  • Do not miss the ceremony (even if it is long and religious) and then show up to the reception.  That is rude AF in my opinion. However you can ask to attend the ceremony only and skip the reception. During these Covid-19 times, some folks may not feel comfortable hitting the dance floor and being seated with strangers, or be immunocompromised.

  • GOOD VIBES ONLY!  Bring your best self to the wedding.  Be happy for the couple, smile, dance, and participate.  You can be a salty introvert in your sweatpants tomorrow.  The couple will remember how you made them feel.