The Dos and Don’ts of Proper Wedding Etiquette |

The Dos and Don’ts of Proper Wedding Etiquette

Planning a wedding is a tough job. Another thing the bride and groom should think about during planning is to try to heed a few guidelines to make guests, family and friends feel welcome, even if the couple plans to cast tradition aside.

As wedding customs continue to evolve, it gets harder and harder to keep track of what you should do and shouldn’t do before, during and after your wedding day. To help guide you through the maze of rules and regulations, follow these tips.


Your first connection to wedding guests is through invitations. These informational cards set the tone for your wedding and should reflect the theme and scope of your affair.

* Write full guest names on the inside envelope of your wedding invitation. Only the people listed are invited to the event.

* Don’t write “and Guest” on the invitation. Try your best to find out whom your cousin or friend will be bringing to the wedding, and include his or her name on the invitation.

* Wedding-invitation wording is a personal preference. Most couples include their parents’ names on the invitations. However, if a parent is deceased, his or her name should not appear.

* If you know a guest is not in a relationship, do not feel obligated to offer a wedding invitation addressed for “two.” Subsequently, if you only invited one person and he or she “adds” another guest when sending back the RSVP, do not hesitate to call him or her to explain that financial or space constraints prevent you from accommodating the guest.

* Gift preferences, registries or any other matters involving gifts should not be mentioned on the invitation or included in the package. If you have a preference, like monetary gifts or a donation to a charity, spread it through word of mouth prior to the event.

* Don’t use labels on your invitations. Handwrite them, use a nice font and print the envelopes using a computer, or get them done with professional calligraphy.

Financial Responsibility

Finances can turn sweet wedding plans sour. By keeping in mind some general guidelines, things will move more smoothly.

* Tradition once stated that the bride’s parents would pay for the wedding. However, times have changed and more couples are opting to pay for the wedding themselves, or the groom’s family chips in.

* Traditionally, the mother of the bride pays for the bridal shower. The bridal attendants may contribute to the shower’s cost or be designated jobs, such as purchasing favors or decorating the venue.

* Bridal attendants will split the cost of the bachelorette party, and the groomsmen will do the same with the bachelor party, if one is held.

* It is usually the responsibility of the groom’s parents to pay for the rehearsal dinner. The spouses or significant others of wedding party members should be invited to the dinner as well.

Here are some other items and who should be financially responsible:

* Rice/birdseed/confetti bags to toss after the ceremony — bride’s family

* If you are following strict traditions, the flowers are divided between the bride’s family and the groom. However, these days, flowers are included in a “package” and usually whoever is paying for the wedding festivities also covers the flowers.

* Marriage license — groom

* Clergyman/officiant fee — groom

* Rings — bride and groom

* Bridesmaid dresses/tuxedos — bridal party or groomsmen


If you are having a religious wedding, consult your priest, rabbi, deacon or officiant concerning the customary procedure for entering. Each house of worship may have rules concerning processional order, music, photos, etc. Keep in mind that stepparents or boyfriends/girlfriends of your parents should enter and be seated before your biological family.

Mother of the Groom

Oftentimes the mother of the groom doesn’t know her place in wedding planning. She does play an important role and can be as involved as the couple would like. Some of her main responsibilities include:

* Initiating contact between her family and the bride’s family.

* Providing an accurate and timely guest list.

* Organizing and hosting the rehearsal dinner.

* Taking her place beside the bride and mother of the bride in the receiving line to thank guests for attending.

Also note that the mother of the bride dictates wedding day fashion, and the mother of the groom will wear a gown of similar style and length.


Gratuities are more often than not included in the cost of wedding services. However, if a wedding vendor, waiter or other person has gone above and beyond the call of duty, extra tipping is appropriate. Here are some people who should receive a tip on the wedding day:

* Coat-room attendant or bridal party attendant.

* Clergyman or officiant should receive no less than $100 for his or her services.

* Limousine driver should receive 15 percent of the bill if a tip hasn’t already been included.

* Organist and musicians at the ceremony should receive at least $50 per person.

* If your reception features a maitre d’ or head waiter who oversees the staff, expect to tip this person as well.

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