wedding etiquette

Wedding Etiquette: Old School Guidelines Vs Modern Day Protocol

Wedding etiquette is very important; there are many rules, traditions and general “suggestions” we are required to follow when it comes to the tradition of marriage, but keeping up with the modern etiquette is both a blessing and a curse. Everyone seems to have an opinion.

Wedding etiquette is a combination of respectful decision making, mixed with tradition, mixed with common courtesy that ensures the bride and groom have a wonderful wedding.

Wedding etiquette is a complex topic for both the couple getting married, and that of their guests. For the couple, it’s about wanting to be polite and respecting tradition and their guest. For guests, it’s about maximising the joy of the happy couple and getting some fundamentals right around what to wear and gifts to give.

Here we will unveil the five old-school wedding etiquette suggestions, alongside their modern day equivalent and suggested protocol. In saying this, remember; it’s your wedding and at the end of the day, you get to decide what is right for your special day.

1. Guest attire at your wedding; what is the etiquette?

Back in day, guests wearing black or white was frowned upon. Black was strictly reserved for funerals, whilst white was left solely for the bride. Today, black has become an acceptable colour to wear, however white is still out of bounds.

Unless the couple asks you to wear white, don’t. If it’s a dress with a print, with lashings of white, this is probably OK. Though as a general rule of thumb, it’s probably safer to steer clear of ivory, cream and white as colour choices.

It was Anne of Brittany in 1499, marrying Louis XII of France that first dressed in white, setting forth a tradition that becomes very popular thereafter. It’s lucky old Anne didn’t opt for a Fluro green number.

2. The gift registry; have one? Stick to one? Digress from one?

Old-school wedding etiquette says that gift registry details should be passed on through word-of-mouth. Whilst this seems rather antiquated in the 21st century, our ancestors considered the inclusion of registry details on the invite to be a complete taboo as it was deemed as a solicitation of gifts.

Whilst many will now include details on their wedding website, if they have one, or with the bridal shower invites, a lot of modern day couples are choosing to ignore this rule and include it on, or as an insert with, their wedding invitations.

So, ;ets not beat around the bush. Guests expect this information and from a practicality point of view, it’s just easy to include it along with invite, the one thing that all guests will refer to for information about the big day!

Don’t be afraid to be clear, open and decisive about how to best handle wedding gifts.

3. The ‘plus ones’; how do you handle this?

Are you confused about the ‘plus one rule’? You’re not the only one. Generally, as a rule of thumb, couples that are married, engaged, or cohabitate must be invited as a pair (even if you have never met the other half). This is all fine and dandy but what if you don’t have the budget to stretch? You might, as a result, prefer just to invite the half of the couple you do know (and have met at least once!).

If you plan to allow guests, be sure to take a consistent approach e.g. including plus ones for anyone in a relationship (possibly be specific with an age threshold e.g. 18 and over and/or consider longevity of relationship as a deciding factor e.g. 1 year plus).

If you are the recipient of an invite, assume it’s just you unless it says +1. If you’re unsure, ask the soon-to-be couple for clarity. Never assume.

4. The receiving line or welcome committee?

A receiving line was the post-ceremonial custom and considered proper etiquette not so long ago yet it is often forgone in favour of visiting each reception table,  greeting your guests and thanking them for being with you on your special day. However, circulating guest tables can take up a fair chunk of time so if you think you’re going to be pushed for time, restore the receiving line but ensure that things move on swiftly. Whatever you choose, don’t forgo the task of greeting and thanking all of your guests individually.

In summary; the couple should make an effort to speak to everyone at least once. It is a chance to thank them, and the attendees of your wedding are also very excited to congratulate you.

5. The question of ‘who pays?’

Whilst western tradition calls upon the bride’s parents to cough up the cost of the wedding (in many Asian cultures, it’s the groom’s parents that fork out for the celebration), many couples now offer to split the costs between the families and/or themselves. With the average wedding costing anywhere between $36,000- $65,000, its not cheap so to expect the bride’s family to pay for all of it seems rather unfair not to mention sexist and rather archaic.

Be open and honest and have a conversation between families and yourselves. No emotion or preconceived expectations should be present.

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