Wedding Manners for the Modern World


Is etiquette archaic? Have paper invitations gone the way of the dodo? We wear jeans everywhere else, why not to a wedding? Etiquette is a tricky subject, not only because personal interpretations of acceptable behavior differ, but also because there’s never been a good answer for where to seat your uncle’s second wife’s daughter’s ex-husband. But like all things, weddings today look different from ten years ago. Here’s a guide for what rules you can safely discard in this day and age, and what is still and always will be true.


Not Seeing Each

Other Before the Wedding

This tradition dates back to a time when arranged marriages were common, and families didn’t want the groom to see the bride before the ceremony and want to back out. Ditto the veil. This is clearly not an issue anymore. Honestly, the photos often work out better when the couple sees each other before the ceremony.

Stay with the Program

Open Bar

Don’t be cheap. You’ve invited your guests to celebrate your nuptials, and nothing kills a party faster than a tab.

Let it Go

A Bridal Shower

Not Hosted by Mom

In the past, it was bad manners for a member of the bride’s family to host the bridal shower, since it appeared that she was trying to get as many gifts as she could for her relation. Today, we recognize that the purpose of a shower is to shower the bride with gifts, so we can safely excuse mom to do what she does best: host a nice get-together.

Keep on the Straight & Narrow

Handwritten Thank-Yous

There is no acceptable replacement for a handwritten thank-you note. Even if you make a cute postcard with a photo of the two of you holding a “thank you” sign, somewhere on there, you need a sentence expressing your gratitude in your own handwriting (sent within three months!). 

Ditch it

Traditional Cost Divisions

Once upon a time, a bride’s parents paid for her wedding because her husband had to assume the role of providing for her financially. Reality check: this is no longer the case, so the expectation for a bride’s parents to still foot the whole bill is a little insulting. Couples should have a frank conversation with both sides to determine appropriate contributions.

Keep Calm & Pay On

Meals for Vendors

It’s a nice thing to do when someone is working to make a perfect day for you; plus, they’ll probably work a little harder if you keep them fed. That being said, they don’t necessarily need filet mignon and foie gras. Discuss meal options with your venue or caterer to find something that works with your budget.

Be A Great Guest!

• When you receive an invitation to a wedding, carefully check to whom it is addressed. If your five-year-old’s name is not on there, little Johnny is not invited.Same with plus ones.

Do not add a name to the RSVP that isn’t on the invitation. And don’t call the bride to nag her about her choice – rest assured, it was a tough one to make.

• Send your RSVP! Brides need final head counts for pretty much every vendor. Send it as early as possible.

• Don’t wear white: It’s hard to believe some people don’t know this, but it’s the bride’s day to wear white, not yours.


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