Etiquette Essentials

Hunter Leigh Photography 


A well-established etiquette expert once told me manners were simply the “happy” way of doing things. Think about it! It’s as simple as being kind, courteous and compassionate, with a few tried-and-true traditions thrown in for good measure.

For sure, times change, rules change and opinions vary, but a few old-fashioned “niceties” are still the way to go when you’re planning a wedding. We’ve gathered some food for thought as you navigate the choices and sticky situations you may encounter in the next few months!

  • Your wedding is not a first-grade party; No, you don’t have to “invite the entire class.” (Hint: If you can’t invite all your co-workers, have a separate party with them later on!)
  • Don’t post your engagement ring on social media until your families know the big news! (If you’re planning a second wedding, your children should be the first to know!)
  • Make creating a budget your first order of business. “Who pays for what?” can vary a lot these days. Where traditionally the bride’s family covered most costs as the official hosts of the wedding, costs can also be equally split between families, giving them both an equal share of the guest list.
  • Don’t be too over-zealous when you get engaged and begin asking friends to be in the wedding – take your time – you can’t take back that invitation!
  • Following true wedding tradition, it’s nice if the groom’s family pays for the bride’s bouquet, the boutonnieres and flowers for the mothers and grandmothers.
  • The groom’s family typically hosts and pays for the rehearsal dinner, and the groom pays for his groomsmen’s gifts and any monetary payment for the officiant.
  • Save your registry information for your wedding website – not your formal invitations. Word of mouth is also an effective way to spread the word about your tastes and style.
  • If a potential wedding guest is in a long-term relationship, make sure you have the full name of their date for the invitation.
  • With the exception of a shower or pre-wedding party at your workplace, anyone invited to a shower – and expected to bring a gift – should also be invited to the wedding.
  • Remember to choose special gifts for your wedding party, and make them feel as comfortable as possible, especially if they live out of town and don’t know many people. Also, consider their financial situations when selecting attire and accommodations.
  • What’s the easiest way to convey your wedding is an adults-only event? Don’t include children’s names on the invitation.
  • If your budget doesn’t allow for alcohol, don’t serve it (i.e., skip the idea of a cash bar).
  • Don’t leave your guests in limbo between the ceremony and reception – have food and beverages available while they await your grand entrance.
  • Greet as many guests as possible yourselves. Think of it as a grand opportunity to have all those you love in one place!
  • Mail out those “thank you” notes in a timely manner – it may seem like a lost art or a silly formality – but it’s still the right thing to do!