Wedding Etiquette
Etiquette used to be so easy. Don't talk with your mouth full. Keep your elbows off the table. Say please and thank you. You know, it was what your Mom called good manners. With weddings, it gets a little more complicated. Here are answers to some questions you may have:

My wedding date is still two years away.
When should an engagement announcement appear in the paper?

Check with your local paper for guidelines. As a general rule, engagements should be published no more than a year and not less than six weeks before your wedding.

Is it okay to include a map in a wedding invitation?
Most of my fiance's family will be coming from out of town.

Yes, but no photocopies please. Make sure they are printed as beautifully as the invitations themselves.

We are planning a very small wedding with only about 30 guests.
I had planned to send wedding announcements
to our friends who aren't invited to the wedding,
but my fiance is afraid they'll think we're asking for gifts.

Wedding announcements are perfectly proper and are not a request for gifts. Only guests who attend the wedding and reception should feel obligated to send gifts. (You, of course, should not EXPECT gifts from anyone). Mail your announcements a day or two after the wedding.

If people bring gifts to our reception, do we have to open them there?

Not only do you not have to, you shouldn't. It used to be considered bad manners to even bring gifts to a reception. While that is no longer true, you should still find a safe, out-of-the-way place for guests to leave them until you can open them later.

My family is much larger than my fiance's.
Do we have to seat people on the "bride's side" and "groom's side?"

No. Just have your ushers seat people without asking which side. Your mothers and immediate families, however, should be seated on the traditional sides.

My parents are divorced, and my father has remarried.
I live with my mother, but I am also very close to my father and his wife.
Whose names go on the invitation?
Where do they sit in the church?

They will not sit together.
If your parents agree, list both names on the invitation:

Mrs. Mary Jones Smith
Mr. John David Smith
request the honor of your presence....

If they don't want their names to appear together, the name of whoever is hosting - not necessarily paying for - the wedding should be on the invitation. Or you can put your mother's name on the wedding invitation and your father's and stepmother's names on the reception invitation.

My father died two years ago,
and I would really like to honor his memory.

You will certainly want to mention your father in newspaper announcements of your wedding: "The bride is the daughter of Mrs. John Smith and the late Mr. Smith." And you may include a very private, symbolic moment in the ceremony to honor your father. Your DJ can announce this for you.

Our wedding reception will be a large, sit-down dinner.
My mother has worked hard to plan seating for all of the guests.
What is the best way to direct them to their places?

Use place cards on the tables; they are especially pretty if written in calligraphy. Then display a seating chart (also beautifully lettered) where your guests can see it, so they won't have to go from table to table searching for their places. Your DJ can help you.

Check with your minister, priest or rabbi to find out whether photography is allowed during the ceremony.

Throw your bouquet at the reception, just before changing into your going-away clothes.

We are registered at Dillard's but don't know how to let our friends know.
Is it okay to enclose a card in the wedding invitation?

Don't enclose a card in your wedding invitation, as that may give the impression that you expect gifts. However, if someone asks you - or your mother - what you would like as a wedding gift, it is perfectly proper to let them know you are registered. It is a good idea for anyone who is hosting a shower for you to enclose a card in those invitations. Letting guests know where you are registered is helpful.

My fiance and I are planning a very small wedding and a larger reception.
Do we need to send separate invitations for the wedding?

If you have chosen traditional invitations, the large formal one is used for the reception and worded to invite guests to "the wedding reception of" rather than "the marriage of" the couple. You would also substitute "request the pleasure of your company" for "request the honor of your presence." Include a separate card in the invitations of guests who are invited to the wedding also:

Mr. and Mrs. John David Johnson
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage ceremony
at five o'clock
St. Mary's Church

It is the custom in my hometown to display wedding gifts,
usually in the bride's parents' home.
How do we go about doing this?
Choose an area of the house that is not in constant use. Set up card tables and cover them with white or off-white tablecloths. Display gifts attractively, using only one place setting of each of your china, flatware and glassware patterns.

Do not include the gift enclosure cards with the gifts, and display only one set of exact duplicates. If you receive similar gifts -- two different toasters, for example -- display them on opposite sides of the room. Do not display gifts of money.

During the wedding, do I walk down the aisle on my father's right arm or his left?

You will take your father's left arm as you walk down the aisle. Thus your father will be on your right when your groom joins you from the right at the altar.

My fiance and I are planning a very formal wedding, with an evening reception.
We would like for our guests to wear long dresses and tuxedos.
How do we get the word out?

Your guests will get some idea of what to wear by the time of the wedding and the location of the reception. But you should also tell your family and close friends what you would like them to wear and ask them to spread the word.

Should I buy my fiance a wedding gift?

While there is no rule that says couples should exchange wedding gifts, most do. Usually brides and grooms choose something they know will be treasured for years to come.

Special gifts for either the bride or groom include watches, sterling silver picture frames or luggage.

Should my mother and my fiance's mother wear dresses
of the same color as my bridesmaids' gowns?

Not unless they happen to like that color. The only rule for your mothers' dresses is that they be similar to each other in length and formality. If your mother is wearing a short silk dress, your fiance's mother shouldn't wear a long, sequined gown.

Usually the bride's mother chooses a dress that is in keeping with the formality of the wedding. The groom's mother consults the bride's mother and then chooses a comparable dress.

What if one of our attendants gets sick and can't come to the wedding?

As much as you'd like to have your friend there, the wedding must go on. If there is time and you feel comfortable asking another friend to fill in, you can do that. Or just proceed as you would without that person.
Be sure to call your friend the morning of the wedding and let here know how much you will miss her. Your Dj can help you.

Following these etiquette rules will help yu solve many issues. Etiquette is simple and mostly common sense.

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