Your Abbreviated Wedding Etiquette Guide by GetMarried.com
Rules are made to be broken -- just not when it comes to wedding etiquette.
Have you found yourself stuck when it comes to managing your guest list, making your bridal party selection or navigating the proper invitation wording? We've compiled an easy etiquette primer that includes all the biggies (and then some!) to help you address the big questions that come before your "I do's."
Who Do You Tell First? Close friends and family rank top on the list, followed by casual acquaintances, co-workers and various others like church members. classmates, etc. Do NOT give in to the temptation to post your news on Facebook or Twitter before both of you speak to your parents, siblings, ex spouses (if there children involved), etc.
Who Should I Include in Our Engagement Party? There is no hard-fast rule as to who should attend, but traditionally people you plan on inviting to your wedding should be the only ones in attendance.
Do I Have to Ask My Sister/Brother/Cousin/Spouse of One of My Siblings to Be in the Wedding? This can be tricky. If parents are helping you pay for the wedding we say yes. If you stood up for one of the above at THEIR wedding, then most likely. If neither the above applies and you and your partner are footing the bill, then do what you want but be prepared to deal with damage control if someone takes offense.
What Am I Expected to Pay For? Grooms get off lucky on this one -- brides are expected to pay for hair/make-up/nails on the day of the wedding, while groomsmen are pretty much on their own. It's also customary for the bride and groom to present their bridal party with gifts the night of the rehearsal dinner.
Do I Have to Have a Traditional Shower/Bachelor/Bachelorette Party? No - you call the shots on this one. Just let your bridal party know ahead of time if you have any specific preferences.
Who Do I Have to Invite? Whoever you want to -- it's YOUR wedding! Obviously your parents will want to have input if they're chipping in (which is only fair), but your decisions should be more personal and less tactical. Just because someone invited you to their wedding doesn't mean you're obligated to invite them to yours if you're no longer close. Just remember, it's called a guest list - not a guilty one.
What's the "Plus One" Rule? - If a friend or family member is married, living with someone or dating, then a "plus one" is probably a good idea. If your friend or family member is single and knows the majority of people attending (and is close with them), then not including a "plus one" is acceptable.
Can I Invite Someone to My Wedding and Not My Reception? Absolutely not! This is considered rude and suggests you're hoping for a gift without providing your guest with any hospitality. Every person you invite to your wedding should be considered a valuable asset and worthy of your time and attention. If you absolutely HAVE to get married now and don't have enough money to throw a proper reception, consider having a small ceremony (with a casual luncheon to follow) and plan a larger party later when you can include everyone.
Do I have to Have Kids at My Reception? Often a touchy subject, you have several options: You can choose not to have any at all and note it on your invitations (and then face the wrath of your friends and family once they receive it), you can set a firm "family reception" time slot and then an "adults-only" one (which gives your guests the option of staying or leaving depending on if they have kids), or you can hire a nanny/have a separate children's reception/set an age limit to ensure that babies and toddlers won't disrupt the festivities.
Is It Absolutely Necessary to Include Our Parents on the Invites? Only if they're paying/co-hosting the event. Again, if you're older, preparing to take a second trip down the aisle or financing your wedding on your own, it's totally fine to just put the bride and groom's names on the invitations.
Do I Need to Send an Invitation to Someone I Know Can't Attend? Absolutely. If you have an elderly relative who can't travel, this is a perfect way for them to share in your happiness.
Who Follows Up On RSVPs? Not the bride and groom. Usually that would be the Maid-of-Honor of Mother of the Bride's responsibility.
Can I Invite Someone Else if a Friend/Family Member Can't Attend? Sure! Just keep your final guest list to yourself to alleviate any hurt feelings. Generally this is the time to include your co-workers/workout pal/volunteer buddy.
Do I Have to Wear White? Depends on the where the wedding is being held. If you're having a traditional wedding ceremony in a place of worship, generally a white dress with sleeves (strapless is considered a no-no) or a jacket is expected.
Is It OK if I Ask a Friend or Family Member to Help Out? Of course! Your friends and family are there to support you. If you need someone to walk your dog on the big day or hold on to your purse until the reception, don't be afraid to ask. (Just make sure you do it at least a week in advance so you're not left pinch.)
Does My Dad Have to Give Me Away? Nope - but it is customary if you want someone to walk you down the aisle. Otherwise you're free to strut your stuff all on your own.
What Kind of Kiss is Acceptable? Forget a quick peck or a sloppy exchange of spit - the perfect kiss falls somewhere in the middle. A gentle press of the lips that lasts no more than ten seconds.
Do I Have to Have an Open Bar? Nope -- just be smart about your selections. Beer, wine, 3-4 liquors, champagne and a signature cocktail is a great mix that works for most people.
Do I Have to Have a Sit-Down Meal? No to that as well. More and more people are opting for cocktail receptions to save money.
I Hate the Idea of Tossing My Bouquet/Pulling off My Garter/Getting Cake Shoved in My Face! So don't do it. It's your day and you call the shots.
Should I Tell Everyone Where I'm Registered? No way! That can come off as being very tacky. If you want to spread the word, post it on your wedding web page and ask that your mother and your bridesmaids communicate this with your wedding guests.
Do I Have to Have a Traditional Registry? Yes - moreso for older guests than yourself. They may not understand your desire to explore a Mayan temple or go on a shark dive, but they do get that everyone needs a food processor at some point in their lives.
When Should I Send Thank-You Cards? As soon you receive a gift - no exceptions. Separate cards should go out for both bridal shower and wedding presents. While etiquette dictates you have up to six months to SEND a gift to the bride and groom, the happy couple should probably make it a point to drop a thank-you card in a mail within a month of tying the knot.
For more great wedding tips and vendors in your area check out GetMarried.com.