January 2014

Wedding Etiquette

Author: Mary Frances Lowrey

et•i•quette
[ etikit,- ket/ ]
noun: The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
synonyms: protocol, manners, accepted behavior, rules of conduct, decorum, good form

Etiquette is really about using polite behavior to make people feel comfortable. Weddings, in particular, should have a sense of decorum and protocol, because marriage is the deepest covenant made between two people. It is not a joke. Here are 11 up-to-date etiquette tips for brides and grooms and their guests:

1.Toasting. When you stand and ask everyone to raise their glasses to toast the couple on their wedding day or at their rehearsal dinner, keep it clean and keep it short. Grandma is in the audience. No colorful stories that might be painful or embarrassing to hear. It’s a toast, not a roast.

2.Asking for gift cards or cash. Today, 70 percent of couples live together before they get married. They have already set up house and have all the home appliances and household supplies that they require. According to Lizzie Post, spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute, “It’s a great way to make it convenient for the guests and easy on them. I don’t think it’s tacky,” Post said. Whereas you can ask for gift cards on your registry, as far as cash, just be polite about it. “You usually want to spread it by word of mouth. You definitely don’t want to put ‘cash only’ on your website, and you never put it on your invitation,” Post added.

3.Addressing invitations. Formal invitations should be written correctly. Spell out professional titles, such as Doctor and Reverend, and all military titles (General, Major, and so on.) for names on your invitations. No nicknames! Use full names instead (such as Michael rather than Mike).

4.Sending a reply. If your mother didn’t teach you to RSVP when requested on an invitation, then this is for you. Do it. Fill out the enclosed card in the wedding invitation and put it in the mail! Approximately one week before the numbers are due to vendors, bride and groom can make follow-up calls to guests who have yet to reply.

5.Bringing an extra guest. If you received an invitation that was addressed to Miss Mary Mack and Guest, then yes you may bring a date. If the invitation was addressed to Miss Mary Mack, then no guest is to be included in your attendance. Do not call the bride or groom and ask if you can bring someone. That puts them on the spot and is rude. If you do not want to go alone, then ask your host who else you may know who was invited as a single, and perhaps you can go together.

6.Sending wedding gifts. New etiquette dictates that a gift be sent to the happy couple within the first three months of the marriage. However, the couple is unlikely to refuse a late present—better late than never!

7.Writing notes of thanks. Brides and grooms, you have three months to express your gratitude for wedding gifts. If the three-month time frame has passed, send your thank-you notes as soon as possible. Again, better late than never.

8.Attending multiple showers. No guest should be invited to more than one shower, other than bridesmaids; and when they are, they are not expected to bring a gift to each shower or party.

9.Dressing the part. Ladies, it is not your day, so refrain from wearing clothing that is too skimpy or provocative. The attention should be on the bride and groom, not you. No sunglasses worn indoors (except for a legitimate medical reason). And be considerate of the religious ceremony, e.g. wear a head covering when it is required; avoid sleeveless dresses in a conservative religious environment. Your attire should reflect the tone of the event—it is all about being appropriate.

10.Taking your place at the table. If seating arrangements have been made, then sit where you were assigned. Someone went to a lot of effort placing people at certain tables. As a guest, you might be placed at a table filled with people you do not know, and it might be awkward for a moment; but sit down, introduce yourself to your tablemates, and remember it is only for a short amount of time. You can handle it! Never rearrange the seat assignments.

11.Consuming adult beverages. An open bar doesn’t mean it is time to drink till you drop.

Weddings are fun and special. Etiquette is not intended to make anyone feel chastised or out of place. It is meant to make everyone feel welcome.

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