Wedding Etiquette

From the moment a couple is engaged, there is so much planning to do that sometimes it can seem daunting about what you are “supposed” to do and what crosses the line to “tacky” or “impolite”. Below are some wedding etiquette tips for the bride and groom and their families to help make this time a little easier, and hopefully, more enjoyable as it should be.

Your parents—and any children you may have from a previous union—should hear the news first. Then comes other relatives and close friends. Whether you do it in person or over the phone, do it yourself and don’t just post the news on Facebook or Instagram.


Your budget is the determining factor for the size, location, and for all of the details of your wedding. The best way to decrease your budget is to limit your guest list, but decide first what’s most important to you; attendees, location, fanfare, food, etc., and that should help you determine how much money you will need. Typically, the bride’s parents pay for the wedding and the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner, but depending on the age of the couple, and the finances of each family, who pays what may change.


The time of year you have your wedding is a key consideration. The most popular months for weddings are (in order) June, September, August, May, October and July, and the popular wedding sites will be the most expensive during these times. If guests will have to travel to attend your wedding, you’ll want to select a date that’s convenient for traveling (like over a long weekend). See our post HERE with tips on picking the date plus days to avoid picking!


Many couples create a wedding website so that they can share all the details of the wedding, travel information, pictures, and gift registry information. This is helpful for wedding guest, but it should not take the place of sending physical wedding invitations.

Couples can, and should, register for gifts at up to three stores to give guests different choices on what to purchase. Remember to register for gifts at different price levels so that there are items for your bridal shower and for the wedding, and for your guests’ budgets. Also, registering at a national chain store is helpful for those who don’t live in your town but still wish to go to the store in person to pick out the gift.


Regardless of the type of wedding you’re having, it’s still most polite to send an actual invitation by mail. Along with the invitation, you will enclose a response card with a pre-stamped envelope, and even a card with your wedding website information. You will NOT want to include your gift registry information on your invitation. Go online or ask your printer for information on how to write the invitation and properly address the envelopes.


• “Save the Date” notices before your invitations have gone out.
• Wedding invitation replies. If people would rather email you instead of sending the “Reply card”.
• Wedding announcement to work colleagues or friends who would not be invited to the wedding.
• Invitations to bridal showers or casual pre-wedding events.
• Wedding updates to bridal party or to attendees like hotel information.

• Email a thank-you note for anything. Always send a hand-written note.
• When discussing something “contentious’ that should be handles in person or over the phone.
• Post information about the wedding or pre-wedding events on social media sites if you think you might make those who aren’t invited feel bad.
• Use social media to solely communicate information about the wedding as many people might miss something.


Typically, the bride and her family (or another friend or family member) will host a bridal luncheon to thank the bridesmaids.

This event includes:
• The bride
• Her maid and/or matron of honor
• All her bridesmaids
• The flower girl and her mother
• The bride’s mother
• The groom’s mother

It’s also nice to include:
• Any sisters of the bride and/or groom who aren’t attendants
• The bride’s grandmothers
• The groom’s grandmothers


Traditionally the rehearsal dinner consists of the bride and groom, all attendants and their spouses or partners, the parents of young attendants, the couple’s close relatives, and the officiant and his or her spouse. However, with so many people traveling to attend weddings, inviting out-of-towners has become a trend. If you choose to include some and not others, do so in a clear-cut way—for instance, relatives but not friends. Alternative arrangements for out-of-town guests can include providing a list of local restaurants (a good thing to post on your wedding website anyway), setting up a meet-and-greet at a hotel or bar, or see if local friends would host a dinner, barbecue, or cocktail party.


• Print on the wedding bulletin, or post someplace, asking people to turn off their cell phone during the ceremony.
• Remember to have someone bring cash to tip those who would be expecting a tip (i.e., valet, coat check person, musician).
• Ask someone to make sure that the rooms used by the bridal party and groomsmen are picked up after the ceremony.


Whoever is hosting the wedding is the first in line. Traditionally, that’s the bride’s mother, followed by her father, the groom’s mother and father, the bride, the groom, the maid or matron of honor, and one or two bridesmaids. But if someone else is hosting then they start the line. In a military wedding, it’s protocol for a groom in uniform to stand before his bride.
When the receiving line is held at the reception site, have a waiter offer a variety of drinks—juice, punch, sparking or still water, Champagne—to those waiting in line. Be sure to have a small table where guests can place their drinks before going through the line.


• Try to talk to everyone for even a couple of minutes and thank them for coming.
• Make sure someone remembers to bring the gifts home with them after the reception.
• Remember to have someone bring cash to tip those who would be expecting a tip (i.e., valet, coat check person, musician).


Send a hand-written thank you note on personal stationary or a thank-you card to everyone who has given you a gift (for engagement party, shower, wedding) within three months of the wedding. You need to mention exactly what they gave you, and if it’s money, then how you plan to use the money (i.e., for your honeymoon, to set up your house, for savings). Do NOT send a generic “thank you” to anyone as it will seem like you either don’t know what they gave you, don’t care enough, or don’t respect them enough to take the time to write a personal note.



These wedding etiquette tips may seem overwhelming, but take it all in stride and do one thing at a time. Following these tips will help you to make a great impression on your guests and show them respect, consideration, and of course, love.


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