Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wedding Etiquette

5 Most Commonly Asked Wedding Planning Questions Answered 

Who, How, Where, and When of Wedding Planning 

Wedding planning advice article--who to seat and where, how to avoid insulting family members and friends, who pays, how to determine formality, and much more. 

Two people fall in love, wed, and live happily ever after.  Sounds ideal.  However, in the real world planning the wedding to involve both sides of the family, including the "steps" and "exes" can be difficult, if not nearly impossible.  Excluding some might be hurtful, especially when children are involved.  As an etiquette professional, I answer wedding etiquette and planning questions like these every day.  Here are the top five most asked wedding questions answered.  

Who is seated where and when? 

Steps, exes, and mothers oh my!  Encore weddings are increasingly more common.  This leads to even more exes and stepfamily on our guest list.  Add this into the planning blender and sometimes we get a toxic mix.  To avoid a mess, it's best to know where and when to seat "honored guests" like our parents.   

If parents are on friendly terms, all may sit in front row.  However, how often does that happen? To keep everybody happy, separate and seat them in the proper order.   
  • First: Groom’s father and stepmother (third row)
  • Second: Bride’s father and stepmother (third row)
  • Third: Groom’s mother and stepfather (first row)
  • Fourth: Bride’s mother and stepfather (first row)  
Who foots the bill? 

Wallets are a bit thinner these days, which can add even more stress to the wedding planning process.  However, the real deal is this: the days of the bride's parents footing the wedding bill are gone. Yes, it has been traditional for many years, but things change. Young people have more choices than in the past.  If they decide to marry, they should expect to pay for it.   

That is not to say that it is wrong to ask if parents might want to contribute.  Nevertheless, parents shouldn't be pressured to do so.   If they contribute, it is considered a gift with no planning rights attached.  Conversely, it is polite to allow parents to plan and invite guests if they have contributed.  It is a slippery slope.  So, consider this before asking for wedding cash from parents.   

How to invite guests to wedding and not the reception? 

Since the wedding is the gift-giving event, this would not be polite or fair.   To invite some and not all is classifying one group as “good enough” to entertain and others only good enough to give the couple a gift.  The set-in-stone rule is that we invite all wedding guests to the entire reception.   

How to determine the formality of the wedding?

We begin with time of day and venue. Evening weddings tend to be more formal and if the site is formal, the wedding should be too.  Religion plays a part as well. Catholic and Jewish weddings tend to be very formal, although civil ceremonies could also be formal.

Formal wedding invitations convey formality with heavyweight ivory, cream, or white paper, engraved and written in third person style using classic fonts.  For informal weddings, there is more freedom to customize invitations using informal language and style. 

Nevertheless, the bride decides formality through her dress choice. If she wants a long beaded embroidered formal gown with veil and cathedral train, she wants and plans a formal wedding.

Bottom line, the couple decides formality by the gown/bridal attire, time of day, and venue. Guests guess formality by the invitation, time of day, and location.  

How to inform guests mine is a childfree event?  

To exclude children, it is best to include an inner envelope with the wedding invitations and listing only those invited.  Unfortunately, guests often ignore this and tend to "invite" their own guests, especially their own children.  So, use word of mouth to spread the word as well.  
Be prepared for some to abide by these wishes and some not.  Those who do just may feel as if you purposely excluded their children, resulting in hurt feelings. 

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