wedding etiquette

champagne and glasses

Etiquette is not just about manners but feelings too.

Many standard rules no longer apply when it comes to weddings and often that's a good thing. However, etiquette still applies because it involves behavior, relationships, and feelings. For the most part, common sense applies. So whatever rule you wish to change, think about how other people will feel about it.

Got questions? Here is a list of questions regarding etiquette and manners that are frequently asked by couples and guests while planning their engagement, wedding day and reception.

questions & answers

Q:Due to space and budget, we don't wish to invite children to our wedding. How can we do this without appearing rude?

A:There is no correct way to state this on your invitations. The best way is to send your invitations in double envelopes and put the invited adult names on the inner envelope. If you have an insert with the reception information, add that you regret it, but you can not include children at your wedding ceremony and/or reception.

Q:I will be attending a wedding in October and have a gorgeous black velvet dress I'd like to wear. Is this appropriate?

A:Old rules don't apply when it comes to wearing black to weddings. In fact, some bridesmaids are now wearing black. The little black dress can be worn and also dressed up with accessories and jewelry.

Q:We would like to have an open bar with free drinks at our reception but cannot afford it. Should we have our guests buy their own drinks?

A:An all cash bar is generally not the way to go and it may cause some disgruntled guests. It is usually a regional thing. Having an open bar with free drinks for the first hour is one option. The downside is that not everyone in the wedding party is always there as they may be out carousing around. A second option is handing out two drink tickets per adult.

Q: I'm getting married for the second time. Is it okay if I wear a white gown?

A:Times have changed. Brides may wear any color they choose. Most second weddings are not as formal as the first time around so you may wish to reflect that in the style you choose.

Q:I am an older, first-time bride. In my younger years, I was invited to and attended several weddings. My question is, do we need to include these people on our guest list?

A: That depends on your budget and if you see these people regularly. Falling out of touch is a natural process so you do not need to invite those you no longer have contact with.

Q:I was engaged to be married but called it off two weeks before the wedding. We have received several engagement and wedding gifts. Do we need to give them back? What about my ring?

A:The gifts were given for your future together. It's only appropriate that you return them with a short note thanking them but that you regret to tell them the wedding is off. As far as the ring, if the bride breaks off the engagement, she should give the ring back. If the groom breaks it off, it's still a good idea to return the ring. But then it's your choice, not his.

Q:Do we have to open our gifts at the wedding reception?

A:Absolutely not. In fact, it's appropriate only at smaller weddings. Couples receiving many gifts often wait until the next day or after their honeymoon to avoid interrupting their party.

Q:Should we invite ex-spouses or in-laws to our wedding?

A:Tread carefully here. It depends on how amicable your relationships are. Talk this over with everyone involved and if everyone agrees, you can probably make it work.