Wedding Etiquette 101

wedding etiquette

When the excitement of your engagement starts to wear off, and the reality of planning a wedding sets in, you're bound to be hit with tons of questions about the unclear wedding etiquette rules. What should the attire for your wedding be? Do you need to have a ring bearer? Wait, do you even need to invite kids to the wedding?

Wedding etiquette has changed over the years, and it's leaving couples and their families with many questions like those. We don't mean to brag, but we've been around for a while now...and we like to think we know a thing or two about weddings. You might even say we're wedding etiquette experts 😉  In this blog we're diving into the most frequently asked wedding etiquette questions, and sharing all of our knowledge with you!

wedding etiquette

Who should be the first to know about our engagement?

You're engaged, and SO excited about it (as you should be)! But before you post anything on social media, be sure to tell your close family and friends. Think parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, godparents - basically anybody you're close with. After they've all been informed of the big news, feel free to share anywhere else!

wedding etiquette

Do I have to ask someone to be in the wedding if I was in theirs?

The short answer is no. There is no requirement to reciprocate being in the wedding. That being said, if you feel uncomfortable not including them, there are other ways to do so! Consider asking them to be a personal attendant on the big day, or read something during the ceremony.  

wedding etiquette

Can I have someone besides my father walk me down the aisle?

While it is tradition for the bride's father to walk her down the aisle, it's definitely not the only person who can. Anyone of significance to you (mother, stepdad, sibling, etc.) can walk you down the aisle, or you could have multiple people walk with you (both mom and dad). If none of those options feel right for you, you can even walk alone! Our one piece of advice about this topic is to be open and honest about your decision. Don't wait until the last minute to make your decision about who will walk you down the aisle, because that might lead to some last minute drama - which is no fun for anyone!

wedding etiquette

If I know someone can't attend, do I still need to send them an invitation? 

This is a tricky one! But the answer is no. It's generally implied that with an invitation comes the expectation of a gift, and if someone lets you know ahead of time that they have a conflict it may come off the wrong way to send an invitation. However, in the case of close family and friends it is still appropriate to send an invitation, with a note explaining that you are sending it as a keepsake.

wedding etiquette

How do I get my guests to RSVP?

Ah, the problem that never fails to arise! While it might seem nearly impossible to get some guests to RSVP, we've got some tricks up our sleeves! Be sure to give your guests ample time to figure out logistics, and send their RSVP back. Enclose pre-stamped RSVP cards for a ultra convenience for your guests, and if you have a wedding website it's a good idea to allow guests to RSVP on there. For any guests who have yet to RSVP about a week prior to your due date for vendors, it's okay to give them a call to follow-up.

wedding etiquette

Can I skip the cake?

Absolutely! Some traditions, like cutting the cake, are totally okay to leave out of your wedding day. Couples will often opt for an array of cupcakes, bundt cakes, a dessert bar, or even ice cream. Whatever your heart desires, is what you should have!

wedding etiquette

Who plans the bridal shower? 

Typically the maid/matron of honor, mother of the bride, mother of the groom, or bridesmaids would host a bridal shower. It is possible that you could have several bridal showers, just depending on your group. Regardless of who's hosting, they should always consult with the bride about the guest list. If someone is invited to the shower, they should also be invited to the wedding.

wedding etiquette

How do I decide who can bring a date?

This answer is kind of dependent on your budget, but the typical rule is that you should extend a plus one invitation to anyone in a committed relationship. For example, anyone married, engaged, or living with their partner should have a plus one, even if you've never met their other half. Something important to keep in mind here is to be consistent with whatever you decide to do. If you want to give your friends all a plus one, then it would be expected that you give everyone, even people not in the wedding party, a plus one.

wedding etiquette

How do we ask our parents if they can contribute to the wedding?

This conversation can be a little uncomfortable for some, but don't worry - we've got some tips to make it a little easier! 

Tip #1 is the most important: have this conversation before you start any actual wedding planning. It's important to fully understand your budget before you book any vendors, even your dream venue. 

Tip #2: first start by researching the cost of a wedding in your area, then talk to your fiancé about your ideal wedding, the cost of your ideal wedding, and how much you can contribute. After you have all of those details sorted out, prepare your parents for the conversation ahead of time and agree on a time to discuss it. When the time comes for the conversation, try to avoid making expectations and be gracious.

wedding etiquette

If we're paying for the wedding ourselves, can I tell my parents I don't want to invite certain people?

While this is your day, your parents want to be able to celebrate with certain people as well. One idea is to give your parents an allotted amount of guests they can invite, and let them figure it out from there. However, if you find them wanting to invite more people than you're hoping for, have an honest conversation with them where you state your wishes and set more clear expectations.

wedding etiquettewedding etiquette

How do I build a registry? 

Creating your wedding registry is SO much fun! But there are some things to keep in mind to maintain good etiquette. One of the most important things is to ensure that there is a healthy price range of items on your registry. Your wedding guests will be in different stages of life, and have different financial situations. Having a price range will make it possible for everyone to shower you in the best way they can.

wedding etiquette

This is my second marriage, can I register for gifts?

Of course! No matter what, there will be guests who want to give you a gift, including those who have attended a prior wedding. If you feel uncomfortable receiving gifts, there are other options. You can get creative and register for a honeymoon fund, or donate to charity. If you'd rather, you can also request for guests to not bring gifts. 

wedding etiquette

Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally the grooms' parents/family would host the rehearsal dinner (groom's dinner). They would plan with the bride's parents/family to arrange a guest list, but plan the rest on their own. This is not always the norm with modern weddings. Some families will split the cost of everything, or let the couple host their own rehearsal dinner. Before making any decisions, talk to the groom's family first to see whether or not they'd like to host the event.

wedding etiquette

How much should I tip my wedding vendors?

While it is not expected that you tip your wedding vendors, it is always much appreciated. The actual tip itself is dependent on the wedding service cost, and your relationship with said vendor. Something semi-related to tips to keep in mind is vendor meals. While vendor meals are usually included in your catering contract, expect to pay for your vendor's meals. To show your vendors how much you appreciate them, be sure to ask about any food allergies and pass that along to your caterer.

wedding etiquette

How long do I have to send a thank-you note?

You should try to send thank-you notes as soon as possible, but life also happens! If you're going on your honeymoon right away, making a big move, or whatever it may be - your guests will absolutely give you grace. Ideally, you will have all of your thank-you cards sent out around 3 months after the wedding. That is definitely the sweet spot!