WEDDINGS ARE WRAPPED IN TRADITION, MANY OF WHICH HAVE BEEN REPLACED OR FORGOTTEN OVER TIME. KNOWING WHAT THE PROPER ETIQUETTE IS THIS DAY & AGE CAN GET A LITTLE MUCKY.
Most wedding traditions & etiquette are entirely dependent on that of your family.
So what’s the right way & what’s the wrong way? Excellent question!
WHOSE NAME GOES FIRST ON THE INVITATION?
The side that was hosting, which was usually the bride’s family. And, even then, it was the parents’ names that went before the bride and groom’s.
Who comes first is at the discretion of the couple, especially when it comes to same-sex marriage where there may be two brides or two grooms.
WHO THROWS THE BRIDAL SHOWER?
In the past, it was the Maid of Honor that would throw the bridal shower, not a family member, unless, your Maid of Honor was your sister!
These days, holding a wedding shower still tends to fall to the Maid of Honor or all of the bridesmaids, but any of your loved ones can do it!
WHO PAYS FOR WHAT?
It was always the bride’s family who paid for the majority of the wedding - as a way to thank the groom’s family for accepting their daughter! Ehem… rolls eyes... The groom’s family would then be responsible for the cost of the honeymoon. In other times and places, however, it was whichever could afford to throw the most opulent celebration.
Cooler heads have prevailed and, in the event the couple isn’t paying for the wedding themselves, it’s become a 50/50 split, provided both families can afford it.
Here’s a more realistic breakdown of who pays for what:
47.6% of couples are share the wedding costs with their parents
42.5% of couples are paying for the wedding themselves
The remaining percent said their wedding was being paid for by either one set of parents or the bride/groom separately.
WEDDING REGISTRY: ARE WE BEGGING FOR GIFTS?
This has been around for a few decades but, until recently, many couples felt awkward about specifying items they’d like to receive as gifts rather than thankfully accepting whatever a guest wanted to gift couples.
There’s no shame in letting your guests know what you’d like to receive as a wedding gift. Because many couples now live together and already own common home items such as bedding & kitchen mainstays, it has been on trend to request gift cards from their store of choice. There’s no harm in wanting to update all those dishes you two have sporadically gathered from family members since college.
HOW DO I ASK MY FRIENDS TO LEAVE THEIR SWEET BABY ANGELS AT HOME?
An invitation to a couple with kids was assumed to include all family members, no matter how small (or big).
Weddings tend to be charged on a per-head basis, & because of this many couples prefer to have adult only wedding receptions. So it’s best to avoid confusion by stating clearly that a wedding invitation is for the guests listed only.
With that said, as a guest, it is best to assume the obvious when you receive an invitation addressed to you and your partner. If the bride or groom are a close relative or friend and you’re unsure, just ask. Better to know than to assume!
WHO WALKS THE BRIDE?
The bride’s father or the eldest male in the bride’s family always walked the bride down the aisle.
Generally tradition rings true, but not everyone has a father or, necessarily, has a good relationship with them, so a bride can have whomever they would prefer to walk them, male or female.
Current trend: many brides have both parents walk her down the aisle!
WHAT DO GUESTS WEAR?
Back in the day, it was unheard of for guests to wear black, in some cases red, too. Without question, females never wore a white dress to a wedding! And were always expected to be dressed in your best.
Things have become a bit less formal these days, depending on the wedding’s location, you may even find guests in shorts, or even their fabulous red dress! One rule that hasn’t changed, depending upon the bride’s preference, is wearing white and shades of off-white, cream, and ivory. Best to leave that to the bride. But remember it's better to be over dressed than under dressed!
IS IT OFFENSIVE TO GIVE CASH?
In the past, gifts were always physical presents, usually aimed at helping the newlyweds set up their first home. Requesting money was seen as gauche and highly frowned upon.
With so many couples living together before they marry, many of them already have their homes set up, so the traditional wedding gifts have become to an extent, redundant. Many couples now politely request cash, that can be put towards something they truly need, such as a honeymoon – or, even, a house deposit.
A couple of ways to ask without feeling awkward is to have a money dance during your wedding reception or setup up a “wishing well” near the gift table or entrance. Including some thoughtful words nearby is a polite way to make the request and a great way for a guest who forgot about a gift, or left it at home, to give to the happy couple.