This week’s topic is a complicated one. It is subjective and always changing, but necessary if you don’t want to appear insensitive or clueless. Now we will never be royals, but weddings by tradition are a formal gathering where two people unite in the presence of loved ones to profess their love, commit their lives, and celebrate together. With this formal gathering come certain rules and expectations from the wedding party, the couple and the guests.
Wedding Etiquette is important and can be stressful if there’s uncertainty about what to do. Below we touch on some of the most common questions asked when it comes to etiquette:
Bridal Party - Who hosts and who pays?
Typically the bridal party is hosted and paid for by the bride’s MOH (Maid of Honor), family or friend but it can really be paid for whomever is hosting.
Invitation for one guest - Should you request a plus one?
When it comes to your invitation, there are options. Certain requests like “adults only” or number of invitees must be respected. Keep in mind the bride and groom must account for every guest and are most likely paying per plate. Take this opportunity to meet and engage with new people. Step outside your comfort. Who knows who you’ll meet, and if your single you might meet your future husband or wife.
RSVP - How soon should I respond?
Traditionally the invitation will have and RSVP date to respond. But if it does not, as soon as you receive the invitation and can confirm who’ll be in attendance, you should send the response card. Anything beyond 2 weeks should be followed up with a phone call.
Plus one invitation - Would it be okay for you to substitute by bringing someone else if your original plus one can’t make it?
If your expected partner is unable to attend, the right thing to do is call the wedding couple and ask if it’s okay to substitute. They’ve more than likely already accounted for the person but in the interest of respect and consideration, it wouldn’t hurt to consult with them first.
You’ve been asked to be the Maid of Honor or Best Man but can’t afford it?
Be honest with yourself and the bride and groom. Do your research and make sure you understand what’s required to be the maid of honor. If you communicate your concerns early on, you can avoid a lot of future tension and unnecessary conflict. It’s best to contribute what you can and be in their good graces than go through the process with anxiety and resentment.
Expecting your parents to pay for your wedding?
Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the wedding but that expectation is a lot less common than it use to be. More and more couples are paying for most of the wedding with their parents (both bride and groom) contributing by paying for specific items like the honeymoon, the venue, the flowers, cake etc… There’s no harm in asking your parents if or what they would consider contributing to before you begin to finalize any plans.
Cash bar - Is it ok to have a cash bar at your wedding?
This can also be specific to the bride and grooms wishes and beliefs on alcohol consumption. But traditionally the last thing your guests expect at a wedding is a cash bar. At the very least you should offer complimentary beer and wine. If you’re budget does not permit for a full bar, you may want to limit the bar menu and offer 2-4 specific drinks they can choose from.
Wedding present - How much should you spend?
In short, there’s no exact go-to dollar amount when it comes to giving money as a wedding gift. You might give a little more at your sister or cousins wedding they say your friends wedding. If the wedding requires travel and a hotel you can probably skip the cash and buy a less expensive gift. If you want to keep tradition you should at the very least pay for your cost to attend the wedding, how much you spend on a gift is up to you and your finances. If you are on a tight budget, a simple gift from the heart may in the end mean more. A kind bride and groom will most likely say that your presence is enough.
Wedding gift giving - Should you send a gift if you’re unable to attend?
Weather or not your able to attend a wedding, it’s proper etiquette to send a gift. The general rule is to divide your wedding gift budget into 3 parts, 20 percent for the engagement gift, 20 percent for the shower gift and 60 percent for the wedding gift.
Wedding social media - Is posting during the ceremony or wedding party ok?
Everyone has a camera in their hands nowadays, so understanding the bride and grooms wishes if they require privacy is important. It’s okay to take pictures at a wedding. Who doesn’t; but unless you have permission to post during the wedding I would suggest staying off social media or being discreet about where you are while posting. Be present in the moment and wait until after the couple has posted before you take your liberties.
Every wedding is unique. Every couple is diverse in their likes, wants and needs but you can never go wrong if you communicate, set clear expectations, plan ahead and be honest with yourself and others. Last but not least, have FUN!