Once again, I am pleased to present The Exclusive, written by Rachel McLean of RS Exclusive, a mother-daughter full service event company. If you have any questions for this knowledgeable duo, feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As event planners, we are constantly asked our opinion on what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to the details leading up to, and surrounding, the wedding day. For many newly-engaged couples, it can be difficult to decipher which rules and traditions of wedding protocol are essential, which traditions are out-dated and no longer apply, and which are simply at their (and/or their families’) own discretion, based upon their unique situation and desires.
A lot of emotion surrounds a wedding, and it can be easy to unintentionally step-on-toes, leave someone out, or overlook common courtesy. As a general rule, we suggest when evaluating a specific decision you ask yourself three questions: Is it respectful? Is it moral? Will it make my loved ones and I feel special and add meaning to my wedding day? If you can easily answer yes to these questions, then you’re on the right path.
While there are innumerable questions that can be addressed when it comes to the topic of wedding etiquette, we’ve compiled of few of the ones we get asked most. We hope they provide you with some added insight and direction when making decisions for your big day.
Who foots the wedding bill?
Tradition of old had it that the bride’s parents consumed the cost for most of the wedding, while the groom’s side paid for the rehearsal dinner. However, times have changed, and event costs are often divided between both sets of parents, as well as the bride and groom. For many families, the desire to help is there, but the finances may not. A good rule of thumb is to never expect, but always be grateful for help that is given. Having a handle on your available finances early on will allow you to set a realistic budget and pinpoint areas of specific need.
Before you make it “Facebook official,” take time to communicate the news of your engagement in a personal manner to your loved ones and closest friends. There is a time and place for electronic communication, but this isn’t it. They will appreciate the consideration, and enjoy the opportunity to personally share in your joy. Once official calls have been made, it’s perfectly appropriate to tweet away, sharing your good news with the rest of the world.
Having a formal, but-not-too-formal affair, but are unsure how to indicate it on your invitation? The use of either “semi-formal” or “cocktail attire” are appropriate, and will communicate in a simple manner to your guests what attire is appropriate.
It is never appropriate to advertise your bridal registry in your invitation, rather, save that information for you wedding website. Prefer cash or gift cards? Notify your bridal party and families, and ask them to pass the word along. Keep in mind that many major retailers now allow you to register specifically for gift cards. With any gift registry, be courteous to your guests by offering a range of affordable items to suit even the smallest budget.
Traditionally speaking, the bride is not responsible for covering the cost of her bridesmaids’ dresses or wedding accessories. Being asked to be in your wedding party is an honor, and your bridesmaid should be aware that certain financial responsibilities will be included with her acceptance of the role. This being said, it is important to be mindful of budget when picking out gowns for your bridesmaids. If you know finances are tight, try and choose a dress that is affordable for everyone or offer to cover some of the cost if the dress you choose is a bit pricey.
If you’re a practicing vegetarian or vegan, it’s perfectly acceptable to prefer an all-vegetarian or vegan meal at your wedding. However, keep in mind that many of your guests may not be used to a completely “veggie” affair, so it is thoughtful to offer a wide selection of popular items (i.e. pasta) to allow for varying tastes.
Dessert Only Reception
While a dessert-only reception can certainly be eye-catching, decadent, and lighter on the wallet, if your reception is held during the hours of a traditional mealtime, it is courteous to feed your guests something substantial. A person can only consume so many sweets before feeling ill. If you’re set on serving strictly sweets, adjust the timing of your reception to late afternoon so guests can plan to eat prior.
While tradition has the best man giving the famed toast, today a couple can incorporate just about any one they wish in their time of tribute. The main thing to be aware of (in addition to the comfort-level of the individuals being asked) is time – keep the reception moving. While guests will enjoy sharing in good-natured levity and touching praise, after a certain point, they will get restless.
Thank you again to the ladies of RS Exclusive for their informative monthly column, “Ask the Exclusive”. I am looking forward to part two on etiquette for wedding next month. The RS Exclusive ladies will also be presenting a workshop during our upcoming event on February 26th, Bliss, a fine wedding fair … be sure to register for this no-miss event!
Here is a sneak peek into their session … Session 3 - Be the Bride – leave the details to someone else – Wedding planners know the inside scoop on the ins and outs of weddings, and they also are connected with the vendors that can make your day spectacular! The team of RS Exclusive will guide you as you learn exactly what benefits there are to utilizing a planner, and how they can turn your wedding into a stress free event.