Monday, September 30, 2013

The Time Etiquette for a Wedding RSVP

When sending out wedding invitations, many brides and grooms are unsure of the time they should allow for guests to respond. By following a few simple guidelines you can be sure to allow plenty of time for your guests to respond and make any travel arrangements necessary, without causing them any inconvenience.


    Be sure to send out your invitations at a very early date if you have specific needs in regard to your location or caterer. The earlier guests receive an invitation, the earlier you can expect a response. You will also leave yourself more time to call any one who did not respond in time to secure a definite response. Include any information in the invitation that is pertinent to the occasion, such as the venue, whether indoors or outdoors, or if the reception is onsite or at a different location.

Traditional Weddings

    Six to eight weeks in advance is an acceptable amount of time to send out wedding invitations. Leaving a guest two to four weeks to respond should be plenty of time. Many guests will respond as soon as they get an invitation, but to leave time for the procrastinators, allow two to four weeks from the time you send out the invitation. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a guest to respond four weeks before the wedding. Allow three or four days for any cards that were mailed on the deadline, and begin making your phone calls to find out about the stragglers.

Destination Weddings

    If you are planning a destination wedding, or a wedding that is in an interesting location, you should send save-the-dates or invitations up to three months in advance. You can ask for a response up to two months in advance, especially if you are securing accommodations for guests and assisting in travel arrangements. It would also be a charming gesture to add information in the invitation about local attractions or historical landmarks that guests may be interested in seeing.

Unsure of Answer

    There will be some guests who are unsure of their answer. You can either ask for a definite answer after the response time has ended, or you can plan for them to attend. If you can afford it, consider including a few extra meals at a formal reception for the inevitable great aunt who did not respond, or said no, and has now decided she can attend.

Other Invitation Etiquette

    Be sure to include postage on your response card envelopes as an added courtesy to your guests, taking into consideration those who are overseas or in the military. Always hand address your envelopes, using a calligrapher if necessary, and spell out all items in an address, including the city, state and street.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wedding Reception Seating Etiquette

Deciding on a seating chart is one of the most stressful things for a soon-to-be bride. In nearly every family, there are people who can't sit next to each other, those who want seating near a bathroom and those who don't RSVP but still come to the wedding. Brides also have to deal with the same issues in relation to the groom's family and friends, including some issues that she didn't know about before. Simply coming up with a seating plan isn't enough, as you also need to focus on the etiquette of your seating.


    Wedding etiquette states that you should make your guests feel as comfortable as possible by mixing your guests with others that they know. At the same time, you should also create a better mixture of people by incorporating new names and faces into the group. For example, seat a few friends interested in sports with a group of business associates who share the same interests. By the same token, mix your friends and family together by common interests. Also, determine if you want a single table for those guests who are not bringing a date.

Expert Insight

    No matter how prepared you are, you're bound to have a few curveballs come at you. The best thing to do is prepare for the inevitable by leaving a few empty seats scattered around the room. You may find that your two best friends have a falling out and are no longer speaking or that your aunt and uncle decided to get divorced. Seating those people at the same table is a disaster in the making. Leaving empty seats at the reception also helps if a few of your guests bring dates without telling you beforehand.


    As soon as you start getting responses back in the mail, create a basic seating chart with pencil and paper, which lets you make any changes later by simply erasing and writing in new information. Sketch out the number of tables and chairs you have available and start filling in names. Keep your seating chart up-to-date throughout the wedding planning, moving out names of people not attending and adding in new responses.


    Tradition dictates that the bride and groom sit at a central table, typically at the front of the room where other tables can see them. Occasionally this is referred to as a couple's table because it consists only of the bride and groom, but it's also known as the bridal table because most couples choose to sit with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Two tables at either side of the main table are reserved for the family of the bride and the family of the groom. The rest of the tables are set up for close friends, family members and others invited to the reception.


    On the day of the wedding, you have different ways to let guests know where to sit. Escort cards typically have a table number inside, with the guest's name on the outer envelope. They tell guests which table they're at, but it's their choice where they sit at the table. Another popular choice is place cards, which are set at each table setting. Guests know exactly where they're supposed to sit. Some brides prefer giving guests a name tag and letting them sit anywhere inside the reception, except at a table reserved for the family.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Even the most nontraditional wedding tends to respect certain long-standing traditions of wedding etiquette, and among these is the wording of the invitation. Wedding invitations are not merely pieces of paper that invite guests to the wedding--the location and presentation of names can reveal information to the reader. As a result, many brides and grooms take care with wording their invitation to ensure that no one is offended. In the case of one parent being deceased, wedding etiquette can help get the invitation's wording just right.


    The wording of a wedding invitation when one parent is deceased depends largely on who is issuing the invitation. It is standard only to mention the name of a surviving parent (and possibly a stepparent) on the side of those issuing the invitation, but it is also standard to include the names of both parents on the other side of the family.

Bride's Family

    The bride's family traditionally pays for the wedding and thus "hosts" the event by offering the invitation. If the bride has lost a parent, the surviving parent--if not remarried--issues the invitation alone. If the bride's mother is the surviving parent, she should issue the invitation alone in her name or in her married name. For instance: "Mrs. Jane Catherine Smith" or "Mrs. John Patrick Smith." If the bride's father is the surviving parent, he should issue the invitation alone in his name.

Groom's Family

    In some cases, the groom's family takes responsibility for hosting the wedding and issuing the invitations, in which case the wording follows that of the bride's family hosting. If the groom's family is not hosting, the names of both parents may be included on the invitation, even if one is deceased. For example: "Alfred Arthur Jones Jr., son of Mrs. Caroline Mary Jones and the late Dr. Alfred Arthur Jones Sr." This is not required, however, and it is acceptable to include only the name of the surviving parent, if preferred.

Hosting and Remarriage

    In the case of remarriage, the wording may reflect that the bride or groom is the child of one of the parents but not the other, while still indicating that a parent and a stepparent are hosting the event. For example: "Mr. and Mrs. John Patrick Smith request the honor of your presence at the marriage of his daughter." Doing so reflects that the bride is the child of Mr. Smith but that the new Mrs. Smith is also part of the family.

Not Hosting and Remarriage

    For the family that is not hosting, the choice of wording is up to them and their preference. For instance, if the groom's father is deceased but his mother remarried, the wording choice may include the following: "Alfred Arthur Jones Jr., son of Mrs. Caroline Mary Edwards and the late Dr. Alfred Arthur Jones Sr." If the groom is close to his stepfather, the stepfather's name may be added with the mother's name and in addition to the name of his late father.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for the wedding, and thus their name is listed on the wedding invitation, often at the beginning with something along the lines of, "Mr. and Mrs. John Miller request the honor of your presence as they celebrate the wedding of their daughter Emily Lynn to Matthew Scott Jones." However, as more and more couples have both sides offer financial help or they pay for the wedding on their own, the wording can be altered.

Wording Etiquette

    If the groom's parents are paying for the wedding, then the invitation wording can be altered by simply switching the names. For example, "Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Jones request the honor of your presence as they celebrate the wedding of Miss Emily Lynn Miller to their son Matthew Scott Jones."
    If the couple simply wants to include the names of the groom's parents on the invitation, then their names can be added in the following manner: "Mr. and Mrs. John Miller of their daughter Emily Lynn to Matthew Scott, son of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Jones."
    If both families are paying for the wedding and want to be at the top of the invitation, then the wording should introduce both families and announce the marriage of their children: Mr. and Mrs. John Miller and Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Jones request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their children Emily Lynn Miller and Matthew Scott Jones."

Personal Choices

    Some couples may want both of their families to be included, in order to represent a more unified celebration. The traditional way of doing this is to list the bride's parents' names on the wedding invitations (if they are the ones paying for the reception) and then the groom's parents' names are listed on the rehearsal dinner invitations, which is traditionally an event the groom's parents host.
    If the bride and groom are sharing the wedding costs, then the invitations may read: Emily Lynn Miller and Matthew Scott Jones together with their parents request..."
    In reality, the invitation does not have to signify who is paying for the reception. According to The Knot, a wedding planning website, it signifies who is hosting the event, but of course that can be interpreted to be many different parts of the planning process. Traditionally, the invitations listed the bride's parents because it signified giving her away, but American society has generally moved away from that concept, so altering the format in tune with the altered custom makes sense.

Divorced and Remarried Parents

    If the bride's parents are divorced, but hosting the wedding jointly, then the wording would be: Mrs. Janet Miller and Mr. John Miller request the honor of your presence..." If the bride's parents are divorced and one or both are remarried, you wish to include the step-parents and they are jointly hosting the wedding, then the mother's name is listed first on her own if she is not remarried (Ms. Janet Miller) or with her new husband's name if she is (Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Pendleton) and then the father's name, alone if he is not remarried (and Mr. John Miller) or with his wife's name if he is (and Mr. and Mrs. John Miller). In either instance, when there is a name other than the bride's (Pendleton instead of Miller) then the wording should conclude with the bride's full name: " the marriage of their daughter Emily Lynn Miller."
    If the groom's parents are hosting the event then his parents and his step-parents names would be substituted for the bride's parents' names in the preceding example.
    Proper etiquette dictates that the mother's name always comes first. This can be a useful rule to cite when divorced parents are not amicable and both wish to be listed first.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Envelope Stuffing Etiquette

Many people are surprised to learn there is an etiquette to stuffing envelopes for invitations and announcements. There is a certain order in which items should be placed in the envelope. While you may be tempted to just just stuff the items in, tradition dictates how things are done.


    First, hold the envelope you will be stuffing with the back opening facing you. Place the invitation or announcement in the envelope with the bottom side down and the words facing forward. When the recipient opens the envelope, she see will immediately see and be able to read part of the invitation or announcement. As she pulls it out, she will not have to flip or turn it to read it.
    When more than one item is being placed into the envelope, the larger pieces go in front. Again, hold the envelope with the back facing you. The invitation or announcement should be the largest and will go in first. The rest are then inserted according to size, from largest to smallest. If there are similar-size items, the more important items go in front. A common order of importance is the invitation, the reply envelope facing forward with the reply card tucked backward under the flap and the reception card.

Inner and Outer Envelopes

    If you are stuffing wedding invitations, you may have two large envelopes (plus the small reply envelope). The larger of the two is the outer envelope and the slightly smaller one is the inner envelope. Stuff the inner envelope as described in Section 1. The inner envelope is usually not sealed and is flipped over to the front where you should write the individual names of the people who are invited. Then, place it into the outer envelope so that when the recipient opens it, she will immediately see the front of the inner envelope with the invited guests' names.


    Tissues were originally used in invitations so the ink would not bleed onto one of the items in the envelope. Since everything is now computer generated and bleeding ink is no longer a concern, neither is using tissues. However, if you still wish to be traditional, place one layer of tissue in front of each printed item. Larger pieces will go in front of the actual invitation while the smaller pieces should go in front of the smaller items like the reception card.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wedding Card Etiquette

Although most couples register for wedding gifts, not all guests will want to give them a gift from their registry. Some guests might prefer to give the couple cash to spend on their honeymoon or to let them complete their registry as they choose. These guests can give their gift in a well-worded wedding card. Guests can bring these cards to the wedding and leave them in the card box or drop them in the mail before the event. When writing and delivering a wedding card, there are a few considerations to make.


    Include a thoughtful message wishing your congratulations to the newly married couple in the card. What you choose to include should depend on your relationship with the couple and your timing. For instance, if you send the card before the wedding, you can mention how excited you are for the wedding day. If you bring the card to the wedding, express your best wishes to the couple. Personalize your message depending on how well you know the couple. For example, the best man will want to include a more personal message than a coworker of the bride's father.


    Guests can choose to bring their wedding card to the event or drop it in the mail before the big day. Most couples include a decorative card box on the gift table where guests can leave their cards. However, if you'd rather the couple receive the card in advance of the wedding, sending it ahead of time works as well.

Addressing the Card

    If you are mailing the card before the wedding, send it to the bride or groom--or both of them, if they live together. Include both names on the envelope, and use the bride's maiden name. If you bring the card to the reception, you can write "Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Last Name" on the card, assuming the bride plans to change her name. If you're not sure, you can always write the couple's first names only.


    In many cultures, money is the preferred wedding gift, according to The Emily Post Institute. Couples will always appreciate this straightforward gift, as they can choose to spend the money as they wish. If you include a check in the card, write it out to "Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Last Name" if you give the gift on the day of or after the wedding--so long as you know the bride plans to change her name. If you send the card in advance of the wedding, include both couples' names on the check, using the bride's maiden name.

Other Gift Card Options

    If you are not comfortable giving cash to the couple but want them to choose their own gift, you can include a gift card inside the wedding card to a store where they have a registry. This way, the couple can complete their registry as they wish. Or if you know where the couple is honeymooning, contact the hotel or resort and request a gift card so that the couple can enjoy a romantic dinner or exotic excursion on your dime.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wedding Etiquette for a Pastor

Aside from the bride and groom, perhaps the next most important person at a wedding is the pastor who is officiating at the ceremony. Yet, the pastor may pose one of the biggest wedding etiquette questions for the bride and her wedding planner. The pastor usually plays a bigger role in the wedding day beyond making sure that the vows are recited, rings are exchanged and the marriage validated in the church. Also, the pastor has certain expectations of the bride and groom, and vice versa.

Meet with the Pastor Beforehand

    First of all, the pastor usually expects the engaged couple to consult with her before the wedding so she can give guidance and advice and get to know them better before the ceremony. She may also give the couple some guidelines on what they can and cannot do in regard to decorating the church. Also, the pastor may discuss any expected stipends or fees for performing the ceremony or for using the church. She may also ask the couple to choose from several scripts or other protocols that she usually uses for wedding ceremonies.

Other Expectations of the Pastor

    Pastors expect the wedding to start on time so as not to delay the start of other weddings or church services later in the day. Some churches impose a fee if the ceremony starts late. After the ceremony, the pastor may set a time limit for taking photos in the church.

The Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

    The pastor usually leads the wedding rehearsal at the church. If the pastor isn't available, he may delegate that task to a church employee or volunteer. Some pastors may require a stipend or fee to run the wedding rehearsal. There is no obligation to do so, but the couple may want to invite the pastor to the rehearsal dinner if they are members of his church and have a close relationship with him. If they invite the pastor, they are not obligated to ask him to say grace or lead a prayer before dinner.

The Wedding Day

    On the wedding day, the bride and groom may want to include the pastor in one or more photos of the wedding party, although there is no obligation to do so. Also, they may want to invite the pastor---and perhaps a guest---to the reception. If so, they should send the pastor a formal invitation just as they do the other guests. The pastor is usually not expected to bring a wedding gift, because performing the ceremony is considered his "gift" to the couple. However, if the pastor is a close family friend or a relative, he may choose to give a gift. As with the rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom are not obligated to ask the pastor to lead the prayer before dinner.

The Pastor's Stipend

    It is customary for the pastor to receive a stipend or small fee for performing the wedding ceremony. Often, the stipend policy and the dollar amounts expected for weddings will be included in the guidelines that the pastor gives the couple during the planning stage. Some churches require a stipend for the pastor and an additional separate fee to cover services for cleaning the church before and after the wedding ceremony. If the bride and groom are close to the pastor, they may want to give her an additional monetary tip.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A vow renewal ceremony celebrates and reinvigorates a marriage. From small intimate gatherings to elaborately planned productions, wedding vow renewal ceremonies cater to the taste of the host couple. Like weddings, vow renewal ceremonies also have rules of etiquette.


    The husband and wife typically pay for the vow renewal ceremony. According to, the children of the couple of honor sometimes host the ceremony.


    Vow renewal ceremonies do not have gift registries. Weddings have gift registries as a way for the guests to help the newlyweds build their combined household. Married couples already live together and do not need a gift registry.


    The single days of the husband and wife are long gone by the time a vow renewal ceremony is planned. Bachelor and bachelorette parties are not appropriate.


    The wife should either walk down the aisle with her husband or with her children. According to, the father of the "bride" does not walk her down the aisle for a vow renewal ceremony because the father's approval or public show of support of the marriage is not necessary.


    Vow renewal ceremonies do not have bridal attendants or wedding parties, only guests.

Wording Etiquette for Wedding Placecards

Planning the wedding reception means doing your best to make sure all your guests have a great time. This also means following a few rules of etiquette in the wording on your place cards so your guests will feel as comfortable as possible at the celebration.

Escort Card Wording

    The escort cards for your wedding reception inform each guest of their table assignment. For a formal wedding, the escort card should read "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith." Escort cards for an informal reception can use the first names of the couple (e.g. John and Mary Smith). If a friend or family member brings a date to the wedding, you can have the date's name on the same escort card as your friend, or print a separate card for the date. If you print the name of your guest and date on one card, the woman's name should be first.

Place Card

    The term "place card" refers to the escort cards, place cards, and name cards visible during the reception. The place card should be on the table, facing the chair where the assigned guest will sit. On these cards, print the formal prefix and last name of each guest. If there are two guests with the same last name at the same table, use the first names or initials of these guests as well. For example, if there are two Mr. Jones at a table, place cards for the two guests can either read Mr. R. Jones and Mr. M. Jones, or Mr. Richard Jones and Mr. Michael Jones.

Menu Card

    Use a personalized menu card if you're not using place cards. If you allow your guest to choose their entree at the reception, the menu card is the best choice. The menu that is set as a place card should have the guest's name at the top. If you choose not to personalize the menu, placing three or four menus at the center of the table for guests to review, or put nameless menus at each place setting.

Name Cards

    Name cards simply include the guest's name, in formal or informal fashion, but should only be for friends and loved ones. It is best not to use name cards as a substitute for an escort card or place card. Some couples hosting large receptions may have guests use the name cards at the table or wear them to identify everyone at the celebration. You can also attach name cards to any gifts given at the reception.

Additional Information

    Escort cards placed on the table should be in alphabetical order. If a married couple has different names, the woman's name would come first in this case as well. Even if using place cards and escort cards for the reception, it may also be a good idea to frame a copy of the seating chart and place it at the front of the reception hall. This way, guests will easily find their tables.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Same-sex weddings generally observe the same guidelines and etiquette as heterosexual ceremonies. Like traditional brides and grooms, a lesbian or gay couple might choose to customize their event and identify the type of service and celebration that fits their tastes and ideals best. Location is also an important factor, because not only do you have to find the right venue, the current legality of same-sex marriages varies by state and country.


    Lesbian weddings are legally recognized in different ways, and this can affect the type of ceremony performed. Same-sex marriage allows gay couples to be granted a marriage license and recognized as spouses. Civil unions and domestic partnerships typically grant some of the benefits to same-sex couples that they would to a straight couple, but not all. Commitment ceremonies are symbolic and not legally binding.


    As with any wedding, same-sex couples should send an invitation to guests that represents the tone and formality of the service. There are many ways to customize the wording based on who is hosting, the attire and personal preference. Invitations addressed to a gay or lesbian couple should be addressed in the same manner as to a heterosexual couple that is unmarried, married, or married without a name change, based on what is appropriate.


    The officiant for a gay wedding might vary depending on the religious, cultural and spiritual views of the individuals getting married. However, a few religions might not perform same-sex marriages even in locations where it is legally recognized. In this case, a couple may choose another denomination or have a trusted friend get ordained to perform the ceremony. In an symbolic commitment ceremony, an un-ordained spiritual adviser or friend can perform the ceremony, as it holds no legal bearing.


    The vows for a commitment ceremony can be deeply personal and hand-written to reflect the symbolic bond of the couple. For same-sex marriages or civil unions, participants might opt for more traditional vows. In this case, it is common to change a few of the words to accurately reflect the sex and relationship of the couple getting married while leaving the Declaration of Intent--when each spouse says, "I do,"--intact, which is required to make the marriage ceremony legal.


    While it is a traditional custom for guests to sit on designated sides of the congregation, this usually leads to an uneven congregation and is completely optional at any wedding. Lesbian couples might still decide to have ushers seat guests in certain areas based on names (instead of bride or groom), or they might encourage people to sit anywhere there is room.


    The processional is another way that gay wedding etiquette can differ slightly. While the participants might follow the traditional roles, with one person waiting at the altar while the other walks down the aisle, Gay Weddings reports that "Many gay couples decide that they're more comfortable walking up the aisle together instead of one waiting for the other at the altar. If your ceremony space has three aisles, think about walking up opposite side aisles and meeting at the altar. Then afterward, you can walk down the middle aisle together for the recessional."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wedding etiquette plays an important role in second and especially third marriages. Following proper etiquette ensures the bride, groom, their families and friends can celebrate the union of the couple without awkward and uncomfortable moments. Plan or attend the wedding with focus on the couple's love for each other.

The Couple

    Most second and third weddings concentrate more on the couple than on a big, fancy wedding. However, you can have a large, traditional wedding if that's your desire. The ceremony and reception can be as casual or formal as you'd like; only including your closest friends and family or inviting everyone you both know.
    The bride can wear white or any other color that suits her. White does not mean purity as it once did, but rather joy. Many brides opt for a dress that incorporates color or has an interesting design.
    The invitations should match the formality of the wedding, no matter how many times either party has been married. The invitation can feature only the couple's first names, or the bride's first, maiden and previous husband's last names.

Family and Friends

    Your guest list should include your closest friends and family, but should not include ex-spouses, in-laws or your ex's friends (unless they have been steady, good friends of yours as well). No mention should be made of previous relationships or spouses as the wedding is to celebrate the new love the couple has found with each other.
    Children and grandchildren should be included in the event in one form or another. It is not OK to include the bride's children but not the groom's, or vice versa; unless the children won't be allowed to attend. Ideally, each child should equally be recognized and honored as a part of the new family unit being formed. Children can stand by their parents during the ceremony, participate in a unity candle or sand ceremony or be included in any way the couple sees fit.


    Pre-wedding showers and gift-giving events are commonly excluded for third marriages. They are OK if someone other than family hosts (unless the family member is a part of the bridal party) and guests who have attended a shower for a previous wedding are not expected to bring gifts. It is OK to entirely skip these events as the main purpose is typically gifts. Plan an outing or picnic instead, letting guests know ahead of times that gifts are not expected or wanted.
    The couple usually has everything they need to set up their household, in which case it would be proper, although not required, for the couple to request no gifts. The third wedding should be all about the unity of the couple, not creating an situation where your guests have to shell out money for yet another wedding gift. However, some guests will inevitably feel like they need to purchase a gift, in which case it may be nice to register. Allow your registry information to be spread via word-of-mouth. As with any other wedding, send guests a hand-written thank you note thanking them for sharing your day -- whether they gave a gift or not.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wedding Tasting Etiquette

There are dozens of personal decisions to be made when planning a wedding, and some of them can be extremely stressful. The wedding tasting to choose a caterer and menu can be one of the most fun and relaxing activities if you follow basic rules of etiquette and then consider taste, cost and presentation options before making your final decision.

Shop Around

    No matter how scrumptious the food is, don't feel you have to sign a contract with the first caterer you visit. Get recommendations from friends and family members and try to schedule tastings with at least two caterers so that you have a basis for comparison. Most caterers will understand that you are comparison shopping, and they should not pressure you to sign on the dotted line before you're ready.

Keep an Eye on Your Budget

    Shrimp cocktail and lobster tails might have been featured in the wedding of your dreams, but your budget may not be in agreement with your preferences. Don't be afraid to speak to the catering manager about substitutions based on what your budget will allow. The catering manager might also make suggestions regarding serving fewer courses or a less expensive menu.

Eat Before You Go to a Tasting

    Almost anything tastes good when you're hungry, so make sure you have a little something in your stomach before you go to the tasting. Remember, the purpose of a wedding tasting is to get a small sample of the dishes to be served at your wedding, so don't fill up on any one dish since you will need room to sample several others. A couple of bites is enough to determine whether or not you like the taste.

Don't Bring a Large Group

    It's fun to bring a friend, your parents and your future in-laws, but don't bring a large group of friends. While you want everyone to enjoy the wedding feast, the day really belongs to the bride and groom and ultimately, it's their taste that truly matters. Be sure to let the caterer know how many people will be coming for the tasting.

Be Flexible

    You don't have to choose anything that you or your betrothed really don't care for, but be flexible enough to consider a dish that you might not have initially chosen. For example, a vegetable you've always avoided might be appealing when prepared in a new way. With all the excitement accompanying the wedding and reception, you may be not eating much anyway.

Take Notes

    Bring a notepad to the tasting. Be sure to make a note of not only how the food looks and tastes, but also how it is presented. Even though you will probably take a menu with you when you leave, if you are visiting several caterers, taking notes will help refresh your memory when it's time to make a final decision.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

According to the website I Do Take Two, more than 30% of weddings are couples marrying for the second time (see Reference 1). While a second wedding can be a small, intimate celebration, it is also socially acceptable for the event to be as elaborate as the couple desires. Bridal showers, wearing white and the bridal party are other elements about which couples planning a second wedding often have questions.

The Engagement

    Inform immediate family members, starting with your children, of the engagement before announcing it to the rest of the world. Engagement parties are acceptable, but not as gift-seeking occasions if thrown by the bride and groom. It is more acceptable for the couple to throw a party that is not specified as an engagement celebration and then announce their engagement at that occasion.

Showers and Gifts

    It is perfectly acceptable to have a second bridal shower. As with first showers, invite only guests who will also be invited to the wedding. Guests who gave a gift at the first shower are not required to give another, but it is acceptable for them to do so if they wish. This same rule of etiquette applies to the wedding day gifts (see Reference 2).
    Second showers offer an opportunity to incorporate a theme that reaches beyond the usual giving of household items. If the couple enjoys wine, for instance, the shower can be a wine-and-cheese-tasting party and guests can be advised to give a bottle of wine or related accessory. This allows for guests to feel as if they are contributing something to wish the couple well without duplicating a gift the bride likely received at her first shower.
    It is acceptable to create a gift registry, but it is never a requirement for guests to purchase gifts from the registry. Since you may not need the household items traditionally given at first bridal showers, you may want to register for nonessential items such as that cappuccino maker you've always wanted, electronic devices or decorative items for the home. This is also a good time to seek replacements of worn, broken or lost items you have been meaning to replace on your own.

Wearing White

    Once considered unacceptable, a second-time bride may wear white if she desires. The purity rule has become a thing of the past, and the choice between a white, off-white or pink gown has become a matter of personal taste and preference. Wear white if you desire and wear it comfortably, knowing you won't be looked down upon by the discerning eyes of etiquette.

The Bridal Party

    Many second marriages are combining families of children and inviting the children to serve as the attendants has become commonplace. This is a way to honor the importance of the children to the parents as well as to symbolize the blending of two families.

The Reception

    Receptions are about celebrating the marriage and there is no rule that states a second marriage is less important and therefore should be less extravagant than a first marriage. Most second weddings are paid for by the bride and groom as the parents are not expected to pay for two weddings. The size and elements of the reception should be dictated only by the couple's budget and personal preference.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Etiquette for Not Attending a Wedding

Receiving an invitation to a wedding can present all sorts of questions about what's appropriate and what's not, particularly when it comes to wedding guest etiquette. Many people know the basics of wedding etiquette when they plan to attend the wedding but have no clue what's appropriate if they are not attending the wedding.


    Respond to the wedding invitation using an included RSVP or regret card, or write your own regrets on a blank card. Letting the couple know you will not be in attendance, for whatever reason, allows them to invite others who might have been left off of the guest list because of capacity or budget reasons.
    Write a simple note without going into too much detail or adding any drama. For example:
    "Dear Sarah and Jason,
    Regretfully, we won't be able to attend your upcoming wedding.
    We wish you both all of the happiness you deserve.
    (your name)"


    Send the couple a wedding gift, even if you are not attending the wedding. It's not required, but it is proper etiquette. If you don't attend the wedding and choose not to send a card or gift, you are sending the couple a message that you really don't care much about their union or about them. Send the gift before the wedding if possible.

Last Minute Changes

    Call the bride or groom, their mothers or someone close to the couple if you have committed to attending the wedding and can't at the last minute. If you cancel at the last minute, offer an explanation and make sure it's legitimate. For example, the death of a close relative or unexpected hospitalization would be legitimate reasons to cancel. If you just don't feel like attending or you're having a bad hair day, it's extremely rude and unacceptable to not show up. Weddings are expensive and require a lot of time, energy and planning. Respect the couple enough to show up if you've confirmed your attendance, unless an unavoidable, serious emergency arises.
Everyone knows that wedding customs vary around the world. Weddings in France can be culture shock if you're not forewarned, so keep in mind some information about traditions you'll probably encounter.

Two Ceremonies

    Marrying couples in France are required to have a civil ceremony at City Hall. This generally occurs the morning of the wedding day and is very short. A longer religious ceremony, usually in a church even if the bride and groom do not regularly attend, follows the civil ceremony. All guests are invited to the church ceremony, but unless you are immediate family or an extremely close friend, don't expect an invitation to the civil ceremony.

Vin d'Honneur or Cocktail Party

    After the religious ceremony, all guests are invited to a vin d'honneur, a light reception with drinks and finger foods. You can almost be guaranteed a glass of champagne. This casual cocktail party of sorts will last a couple of hours as the newly married couple mingles with guests.

Dinner and Dancing

    The luncheon or dinner following the vin d'honneur is the main event. For a minimum of six hours, guests sit back and enjoy multiple courses of food and drinks. During this time, guests provide entertainment arranged by family and friends. The bride and groom are sometimes surprised with readings of poems, games, serenades and other festivities.
    Dancing begins later in the evening, often not until 10 p.m., and continues into the wee hours. You will probably be provided with coffee and refreshments somewhere around midnight. This is hardly the end of the event, though, as French weddings can last well into the next morning and beyond in many cases.


    One thing to remember when receiving an invitation to a wedding in France is that you might not be invited to attend the entire event. It is very common for brides and grooms to invite guests only to certain parts of the day. How much of the event you're invited to depends on how well you know the couple.
    If you receive an invitation, you will almost certainly be invited to the church ceremony and vin d'honneur after-party. If you know them more than as acquaintances but are not necessarily close, you might also be invited to join dessert and maybe dancing later that night. Only very close friends and family members attend all events of the day and stay the entire time.


    Grooms in France don't typically wear formal tuxedos on their big day, but instead opt for a simple suit. If you walk in more dressed up than the groom, it will be considered strange and probably even rude. Remember that these weddings last all day and into the night. If you've been invited to join them for every event, be sure to dress comfortably and appropriately.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Your ceremony is the most beautiful and moving part of your wedding day. If you acquaint yourself with the way a ceremony is conducted and plan the order of your processional and recessional, you'll present an impressive picture to your guests.

The Basics

    If your ceremony will be held in a church, temple or other place of worship, the priest, rabbi, minister or other officiant will advise you as to ceremony procedure. If it's in a reception hall that's doubling as a ceremony site, the manager or event planner will be able to assist you with questions about dressing rooms, waiting areas, placement of musicians, public-address system or any other location-related issues. Your officiant will answer your questions about anything that takes place during the ceremony itself.
    If you have a wedding planner, she'll be at your rehearsal to get everyone into position and to advise you about processional order and timing. The officiant will conduct the ceremony portion of the rehearsal, going over the order of ceremony elements, taking you through a rehearsal of your vows, making sure the best man knows when to hand the rings to the groom and that the bride and groom know when to walk back down the aisle together.
    If you don't have a wedding planner, it's a good idea to ask a reliable friend or relative to help you at the ceremony location. Making sure the bridesmaids, maid of honor, flower girl and ring bearer are in place at the beginning of the ceremony, and that the groom and groomsmen enter on cue, is something you don't want to leave up to chance. If you don't have attendants, you'll still want to have a "go-to" person to cue the musicians or start the recorded music, help your guests with anything they might need, and make sure the bride and groom have their rings and are both ready to go.

The Processional

    The groom and groomsmen usually enter the ceremony area first. The groom takes his place, the best man stands next to him, and the groomsmen line up beside the best man in the order they'll be recessing, from first to last. The bridesmaids enter from the rear, or from the end of whatever aisle has been created for the occasion, in the reverse order that they'll be recessing. For example, if Sally will be the last bridesmaid to recess, she walks down the aisle first and takes the farthest spot away from where the bride will stand. The maid of honor follows the bridesmaids and takes her place next to where the bride will stand. She's followed by the flower girl(s) and the ring bearer.
    The bride, of course, comes last. As a rule, whatever music has been played for the attendants stops, and the bridal processional music begins, then the bride walks down the aisle. She can be accompanied by one or both parents, a relative or friend, or she may walk alone.
    This processional order can vary based on whether you're including religious traditions in your wedding. If your officiant belongs to a particular faith or denomination, consult her about the traditional processional order.

The Ceremony

    When the bride reaches the groom, and her father, mother or other relative is "giving her away," the officiant asks the question, the giver responds and places the bride's hand in the groom's. He then takes his seat. If the bride has chosen not to be given away, her escort simply takes his seat and she joins the groom, after handing her bouquet to her maid of honor.
    During the ceremony, the couple should stand facing each other. They may hold hands, or just stand with their arms relaxed at their sides. Most brides and grooms naturally reach for each other's hands during this emotional time. The officiant will lead them through the ceremony and, at the appropriate time, will "feed" their vows to them so that they can repeat them. If you prefer, you can memorize your vows, but make sure your officiant has a copy of them. This is a highly charged moment, and it's very common for brides and grooms to stumble over their vows. That doesn't detract from the beauty of the ceremony; in fact, it adds a charming touch. But you'll want to have some prompting to make sure you say the words you chose so carefully.
    When it's time to exchange rings, the officiant will prompt the best man, if necessary, and he'll give the rings to the groom. The groom keeps the bride's ring and gives his ring to her. As they repeat ring vows, they follow the officiant's instructions to place the rings on each other's fingers.

The Recessional

    After the couple has been pronounced husband and wife, to cheering and applause, the maid of honor hands the bride's bouquet to her, the bride takes the groom's arm, the music begins and they walk down the aisle together. The maid of honor takes the best man's arm, they wait until the bridal couple has reached the end of the aisle, and they recess. Each bridesmaid-groomsman couple then follows in the same way.
    The flower girls and ring bearers usually have been seated during the ceremony, since they're too young to be expected to stand quietly during the proceedings. They can recess with the rest of the bridal party or not, as they wish.
    If the couple has chosen to have a receiving line, they wait at the back of the church or ceremony area and greet their guests, one by one, as they leave their seats. If it's a large wedding, just a few words are necessary so that the line keeps moving. If it's a small wedding, the couple may want to chat longer with each guest.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wedding Flower Etiquette

Flowers are a beautiful part of almost any wedding. They have been associated with matrimony for thousands of years; flowers symbolize fertility and new beginnings. Like everything about the marriage ceremony, certain guidelines have evolved regarding the use of flowers. Modern etiquette doesn't dictate hard-and-fast rules, but traditional rules are a nice place to look for answers about the "right" way to do things at your wedding, then you can add your own twist.

The Bride

    Traditionally, the bride's family is responsible for the flowers carried by the maid or matron of honor and the bridesmaids and flower girl. They also supply the floral decorations for the church and reception hall and all corsages (with the exception of those for the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom).

The Groom

    The groom's family is responsible for the boutonnieres for the groom, best man, ushers and groomsmen. The bridal bouquet is customarily a gift from the groom to his wife-to-be, as is her going-away corsage. The groom's family may also send flowers to close family members who can't attend the wedding. If they host the rehearsal dinner, the groom's parents pay for any floral decorations they choose to use.

Who Wears What

    Corsages are traditionally worn by the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom. Many couples also provide smaller corsages for female friends who have volunteered to help at the wedding. It would not be appropriate for hired servers or other employees, but it's a very nice gesture to the woman who has offered to supervise the guest book, do a reading, cut the cake or play the organ. The groom and his attendants wear boutonnieres, and male volunteers may also receive them. There are two exceptions: it's not proper for members of the United States military to wear a boutonniere or corsage while they are in uniform, nor do officiants wear flowers if they are wearing robes.

About Boutonnieres

    The best man's boutonniere is often a bit fancier than those of the ushers and groomsmen, while the groom's is the most ornate. A boutonniere is traditionally worn on the left lapel of the jacket. It is positioned stem-down over (not in) a buttonhole, if there is one. It is usually pinned from the back of the lapel so that the pin won't show, unless it's a very ornate pin or a boutonniere holder in which case it is pinned from the front.

About Bouquets and Corsages

    The maid or matron of honor's bouquet will often be slightly different to set her apart from the bridesmaids, but not nearly as elaborate as the bride's bouquet. Like boutonnieres, corsages are traditionally worn on the left side because it was believed to be above the heart. Pin the corsage at a slight angle, about four inches from the left shoulder. Wrist corsages likewise should be worn on the left side.

Wedding Etiquette on When to Say Congratulations or Best Wishes

If you'll be attending the wedding of a friend or loved one soon, it's best to be aware of the etiquette associated with wishing the couple well. There is an appropriate time to congratulate the bride and groom that will show your manners as a guest and sincere happiness for their union.


    The size of the wedding will have a lot to do with when you can congratulate the couple on their union. Many couples, along with their parents, will stand in a receiving line at the reception so that guests can greet them. However, if the wedding is small, the bride and groom may accept their congratulations immediately after the ceremony, before the reception. It's best to follow the rest of the guests to ensure you're extending your well wishes at the right time.

Relationship to the Couple

    If you are a family member of either the bride or groom, chances are you will have the opportunity to congratulate them first, since you'll be near the front of the receiving line. This may also be the case if you are a member of the wedding party (chances are you have already extended your well wishes several times during rehearsals or wedding-related parties if you are a bridesmaid or groomsman).

Additional Information

    When you are greeting the couple, it's best to address the husband first, since he is technically the one receiving the congratulations. According to etiquette, the husband has accomplished the task of finding a wife. When addressing the bride, it is proper to say "best wishes" or "I wish you well" to show your support for her marriage.

The Proper Etiquette for Wedding Rehearsal Dinners

If you're getting married soon, chances are you're planning your rehearsal dinner as well. Certain rules of etiquette apply that will ensure the event is as successful as all the other celebrations associated with your upcoming nuptials.

Hosting Etiquette

    According to proper etiquette, the family of the groom is supposed to host the wedding rehearsal dinner. This usually means that the groom's mother and father select the location for the dinner and pay for everyone's meal.

Guest List Etiquette

    Traditionally, the wedding rehearsal dinner is for those who are directly participating in the wedding along with their spouses. This includes the bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearer as well as the hosts and hostesses. The parents of the bride of groom are of course invited to the dinner as well. You can choose to make the party larger by inviting all of your out-of-town guests as well.

Formality Etiquette

    The wedding rehearsal dinner should take place in a location that matches the formality of the wedding. For instance, if the wedding is black-tie, the rehearsal dinner should be held at a four-star restaurant. If the ceremony and reception will have a casual or semiformal feel, it's acceptable for the dinner to be hosted at the home of the groom's parents or at an outdoor location such as a park or apple orchard.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Groom's family wedding etiquette

Wedding planning is commonly dictated by rules of etiquette established over the years through various traditions. The groom's family is typically not very involved in the wedding planning, but it does traditionally follow some guidelines.

Groom's Parents gives a traditional list of responsibilities for the groom's parents when planning a wedding. After the engagement, the groom's parents should invite the bride's parents to a casual dinner. The groom's parents should provide their family's guest list, hold the rehearsal dinner and make hotel reservations for their out-of-town guests.

Groom's Siblings

    The groom's siblings typically do not have any specific responsibilities, but even if they are not included in the wedding party, they should help out at the wedding reception whenever possible. For example, they can ensure that all wedding gifts are placed on the gift table, get drinks for the bride and groom throughout the party, or make sure that all wedding gifts and keepsakes are moved to the proper location after the reception.

Extended Family

    Family members coming from out of town should stay at a hotel. The extended family should not expect to stay at the bride or groom's house.

Financial Responsibility

    Tradition dictates who pays for each part of the wedding, but modern brides and grooms may handle the expenses differently. Traditionally, however, says, the groom's family takes financial responsibility for the rehearsal dinner, the groom's cake and formal wear for the father of the groom.

Dress Etiquette

    According to "The Knot," a wedding planning website, the mother of the groom should allow the bride's mother to purchase her dress for the wedding first. Then, the mother of the groom should select a dress in a similar style and complimentary color. The father of the groom should wear formal wear as dictated by the bride and groom. For an informal wedding, the groom's parents should simply wear attire similar to that of the bride's parents.

Etiquette of the Wedding Procession

According to The Knot, tradition wedding etiquette rules have loosened up. The order of the wedding procession can differ according to the preferences of the bride and groom. While many variations have become socially acceptable, the basic etiquette lies in the tradition of the religion under which the ceremony is performed.

Christian Wedding Procession

    The traditional Christian wedding procession begins with the groom and his best man entering from the right side and standing together at the altar. They wait there with the celebrant as the rest of the wedding party enters from the back door and proceeds down the aisle. The mother of the groom is first, followed by the mother of the bride. The mothers are traditionally escorted by ushers, but it has become acceptable for them to be escorted by their husbands. Of course, if the father of the bride is escorting both the bride and her mother, he will have to return to the back of the church once the mother has been seated. If the groom's father has not escorted the groom's mother, he may either follow the mother of the bride or take his seat prior to the start of the procession.
    The ushers may follow the mothers if they are not escorting the bridesmaids. It is also acceptable for the ushers to take their places beside the best man or in a designated pew without walking down the aisle. If escorting the bridesmaids, their place in the procession will depend on that of their partners. The bridesmaids proceed in an order determined by the bride, with the maid or matron of honor being last. She is followed by any ring bearers and flower girls. In some variations the flower girls and ring bearers follow the bridesmaids, with the honor attendant being the last to proceed before the bride. It is traditional in Christian ceremonies for the women to stand to the left of the men.
    Once the last flower girl or the maid of honor has reached the altar, the bride enters on the arm of her father, who takes his seat next to the bride's mother once he has escorted his daughter to where the groom stands.

Jewish Wedding Procession

    In the Jewish wedding procession, the bride and the groom are each walked down the aisle by their parents in a symbol of the parents blessing the union of families.
    The etiquette of the Jewish wedding procession dictates that the Rabbi walks down the aisle, followed by the grandparents of the bride and groom. The groomsmen then walk in pairs and are followed by the best man. The parents of the groom then walk their son down the aisle. Next come the bridesmaids, with the maid of honor last, followed by the ring bearer and flower girl. The bride is last, escorted by her father on her right arm and her mother on her left arm.
    The parents stand behind their children and the entire bridal party remains standing during the wedding ceremony. The bride's side is on the right, groom's on the left.


    Many ceremonies follow the traditional etiquette of the bride being escorted by her father or parents. Other variations include the bride's escort to be her brother or a close male relative or friend. She may also choose to be given away by her mother or even her children. Another option many couples choose is to forgo traditional etiquette and walk each other down the aisle.

If your wedding date is coming up soon you need to start thinking about sending your invitations out. It's very important for your guests to be given enough time before the wedding to decide if they'll be able to come and to allow them to respond. The RSVP date is a crucial element to your invitation.


    Knowing how many people will attend your wedding is an important piece of information. You need to know how many tables you'll need, how many centerpieces to order and how many favors to make. Most catering and reception halls require you to give a final head count within a specific time frame before the wedding. It could be a week before or sooner.


    Most wedding invitations include a separate card with the information for the RSVP. It will indicate when you would like the guest to return their response. It is customary for the bride and groom to provide a stamped envelope for the guest to mail the card back.

Time Frame

    Regardless of what type of invitation you are sending, you need to be clear on the date all responses must be received. It is recommended that you mail your invitations about 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding and request that your guests respond about three weeks before the big day.


    The RSVP can simply say: "Please respond by..." or be a little more sophisticated: "The favor of your response is requested by...". It all depends on your individual taste and style.


    If you are mailing a separate RSVP card with your invitation, the card should be tucked under the fold of its envelope with the print facing you. The card gets placed on top of the reception card. If no separate card is being sent, simply type out the RSVP information on the bottom of your invitation. Be sure to include the telephone number or email address for who to contact.

As one of the oldest female relatives, a grandmother plays an important and special role on her grandchild's wedding day, whether she is the grandmother of the bride or groom. To ensure respect for the couple on their special day, a grandmother is expected to follow certain wedding traditions. Wedding etiquette for a grandmother is simple and straightforward.


    Proper wedding etiquette dictates that the grandmother should inform the bride and groom of any special dietary or mobility needs as early as possible to ensure that arrangements can be made easily, according to For example, the couple could reserve a special seat if she has difficulty walking, or request a special meal at the wedding reception.


    The grandmother should select her dress based on the overall formality of the wedding. According to wedding etiquette, she should not wear a dress in a color or style that too closely matches the bride's wedding gown or the bridesmaid's dresses. For a semi-formal wedding, the grandmother might wear a pantsuit or casual dress. For a formal wedding, she should wear an elegant dress or skirt suit.


    The grandmother should offer advice and suggestions when the bride requests it. Additionally, the grandmother should offer one of her personal items to the bride to be used as the "something borrowed" or "something old" item. Ideas include pearl earrings, a silk handkerchief or a hairpin.

Special Requests

    Traditional wedding etiquette dictates that all grandparents be ushered down the aisle at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. If requested by the bride and groom, the grandmother should wear a corsage. In some cases, the grandmother might also be asked to join the receiving line following the wedding ceremony. In this case, she should welcome and thank guests for attending the wedding.


    The grandmother should give a gift to the bride and groom on their wedding day, but there are no rules regarding the type of gift from grandparents. In fact, some simply choose to give a check or cash to help bride and groom start their new life together.

The father of the groom has a number of duties other than merely showing up for the wedding. He must, however, balance his pre-wedding and wedding roles with the plans of his son and future daughter-in-law.


    The father of the groom traditionally hosts the dinner that takes place after the wedding rehearsal, according to Emily Post. He makes the first toast at the dinner, welcomes all guests and speaks about the upcoming nuptials.


    On the wedding day, the father of the groom can signify his importance and dress in the same manner as the male bridal party members, according to YourWedding101. Alternatively, he can wear something of his own choosing. If the father of the groom plays a role in the wedding, such as groomsman, he's obligated to dress the same as the other men in the wedding.


    The father of the groom should always consult with the couple regarding any rehearsal dinner and wedding plans. Before booking a dinner venue or renting clothing, he should make sure that the location, menu, and mode of dress are acceptable to the couple. If financial help from the father of the groom is required, effective communication is essential so the bride and groom don't overestimate the amount of assistance being provided.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wedding Band Etiquette

The exchanging of the wedding bands is one of the most significant parts of the ceremony. Special etiquette should be observed to ensure that the rings are safe; couples should also practice appropriate wedding band etiquette after the wedding.

Keeping the Bands

    Traditionally, the groom is responsible for keeping both the bride and groom wedding bands in his jacket pocket, until it is time to exchange the rings. The best man can also hold the rings, and give them to the groom at the appropriate time in the ceremony. Rings can be held in a velvet jewelry pouch, or can be kept loosely in the groom's pocket; the suit jacket pocket should be checked for any rips or breaks in the seaming to ensure that the rings will not fall out.

Groom's Wedding Band

    It is common knowledge that the groom is traditionally responsible for paying for his bride's wedding band and engagement ring. However, the bride is also responsible, according to etiquette, to purchase her groom's wedding band. The groom's band can be part of a wedding ring set, in which case the couple will divide the cost accordingly.

Heirloom Rings

    The groom can present his bride with an heirloom engagement ring or wedding band, but must clear this decision with his family first. Arrangements must also be made for the wedding to be returned if the couple decide to divorce or call off the wedding. If the bride wants to wear a wedding band that is an heirloom from her side of the family, this is permitted as well. However, the bride must inform the groom of her intention to wear the antique ring, so that he will not spend money on an additional wedding band. The heirloom ring(s) can be worn with their original stones and settings, or can be taken to a jeweler so that a new stone can be placed in the original setting, or so that the original diamond can be set into a new ring.

Wedding Band Style

    Traditionally, the woman's engagement ring was the ring that contained a stone or group of stones, usually diamonds. The wedding band did not contain stones, and was a plain ring made of gold, silver, or platinum. However, modern etiquette permits wedding bands that contain precious stones as well; many bands come with the engagement ring as a set. The groom's wedding bands may also be accented with diamonds. Couples can also choose to include other stones in their rings, such as rubies or emeralds, according to the bride or groom's birthstone, the month of the wedding date, or personal preference.

Wearing Wedding Bands

    Both brides and grooms should wear their wedding bands on the fourth finger of their left hand. This is normally the same side of the body where the watch is worn. Brides who have both an engagement ring and wedding band should remove the engagement ring, put the wedding band on, and place the engagement ring on top; this puts the wedding band closest to the heart.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The motto of Winchester and New Colleges at Oxford University is, "Manners maketh man." Etiquette can make many difficult situations easier and less awkward, including divorce. Wedding rings can be a contentious issue, especially if they are expensive or have sentimental value. Because emotions tend to run high during divorce proceedings, abiding by the rules of etiquette can make the process a little easier.

Returning the Ring

    Etiquette, as well as legal precedence, says that wedding rings are a gift from the husband to the wife. Therefore, women do not have to return wedding rings to their ex-husbands if they do not want to. On the other hand, if the woman no longer wants her wedding ring, she can return it to her ex-husband. No sources say whether a man should return his wedding ring to his ex-wife.

Wearing the Ring

    After the marriage dissolves, ex-spouses do not wear their wedding rings. Wedding rings are symbols of marriage, and once that marriage ends, it becomes unnecessary as well as deceptive to continue to wear a wedding ring. However, for those who can not bear to part with their wedding rings, solutions exist. Wear the wedding ring on a different finger or even a different hand. British women in the 1920s would cut notches into their rings to symbolize divorce, according to "Popular Mechanics" magazine.

Keeping the Ring

    Some people cannot bear to part with their wedding rings, but do not want to wear it. Etiquette allows for the storage of wedding rings after divorce. Keeping your ring in a drawer, buried under mounds of clothes, is considered socially acceptable. Some people need a more concrete form of closure. Jill Testa, a Manhattan divorcee, designed the "Wedding Ring Coffin" to contain wedding rings after divorce, according to the "New York Post." The coffin provides a symbolic reminder that the marriage has ended.

Giving Old Rings New Life

    In the age of recycling and re-using, etiquette allows for reshaping a wedding ring into something else entirely. After divorce, some people take their old wedding rings to jewelers to be melted down into another piece of jewelry. The modern ethos of recycling approves this kind of re-use. It is considered bad form to throw items out when they can be given new life.


    Under no circumstances should a couple use rings from their previous marriages for a remarriage, even if they are remarrying each other. Wedding rings exemplify the commitment between two people. If you are using your old wedding ring, you bring a small part of an unpleasant period in your past with you into your new marriage. Use new rings to signify the beginning of a new life together. To be environmentally friendly, purchase or make rings from recycled or re-used materials.

The Etiquette for Wedding Gifts After a Divorce

There are many things that you must deal with during divorce proceedings, and the return or division of wedding gifts may not be high on your list of priorities. However, when little time has passed between the wedding and divorce, it is necessary to decide what to do with the wedding gifts you received. Whom the gifts came from and their value are particular considerations that will determine what happens to the gifts.


    According to Merriam-Webster, a gift is "something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation." Etiquette decrees that offering to return gifts is honorable and appropriate under certain circumstances, such as a short lived marriage. However, etiquette is not definitive, and your own moral standards may not lead you to think returning the gifts is necessary.


    If the marriage has been short in length, for example, less than one year, it would be appropriate etiquette to offer the gifts back to the people who gave them. A brief but sincere note stating that the marriage has ended and that you understand that the giver may want their gift returned will suffice. The giver can then contact you to arrange a return if she wants to. Chances are that the gift givers will feel sad about the breakdown of the marriage and will not want the gifts back. In which case, you can do with them what you please.


    If your marriage has lasted longer than one year, it would be acceptable to divide the gifts between you and your spouse. It would be reasonable to expect that the gifts given to you by your family and friends stay with you and that gifts given by your spouse's family and friends go to him. Hopefully, you will be on good enough terms to determine who should keep gifts given by mutual friends. If there is a lot of gifts, divide them as equally as possible in terms of value and their usefulness to you both.


    If your divorce is acrimonious and there is no chance of reasonably agreeing on distribution of the gifts, how you divide them will legally depend on where you live. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin are community property states. This means that all assets, including gifts, are generally divided equally. In all other states, which are equitable distribution states, assets are divided in an equitable manner, considering such factors as the length of the marriage, child custody and income of each spouse.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wedding Engagement Party Etiquette

There are many etiquette considerations when planning, holding or simply attending an engagement party. While an engagement party may seem just as stressful as an actual wedding, if everyone behaves in accordance with certain conventions, it is a great time for everyone to celebrate the happy couple in a relaxed atmosphere.


    According to A to Z of Manners and Etiquette, "Engagement party etiquette requires the bride's family to host the first social gathering to share the good news with family members and close friends." While some families follow this convention, traditions have loosened somewhat as The Wedding Channel explains, "Nowadays, those rules don't necessarily apply. Any friend of the couple can offer to host the bash, especially if the couple's family lives far away or if there are sticky family relationships." Regardless, it is important for the engaged couple to determine whether the bride's parents plan to hold the party. If not, things are flexible. Some couples even throw their own engagement parties.

Who to Invite

    There are no hard and fast rules on who to invite to an engagement party, except to make sure not to invite anyone who will not be invited to the wedding. Normally, the party will not be as large as the wedding, so the number of guests should be considerably less. The Knot suggests, "The engagement party is a more intimate affair than your wedding, and it's nice to keep it small, especially if your families are meeting for the first time." Keep things within bounds that are comfortable for the families. The Knot adds, "Consider making it a family-only affair---or doing two parties, one with family and one with friends---to maximize your time with each group."


    There are many options for party locations. The Wedding Channel suggests venues ranging from homes, restaurants or more creative locations like the beach or a vineyard. A place that is special to the couple is also a good idea. Where did they meet? Where did they go on their first date? Do they have a favorite restaurant? A location that is important to their relationship will provide for good memories and give guests a topic for conversation.


    Unlike the actual wedding, gifts are not required at an engagement party. Nonetheless, some guests may desire to give them. The Knot explains, "Gifts are optional at an engagement party, but it's smart to start a bridal registry for a few items in case people ask family or friends what they can get you. Don't mention that you have a registry unless someone you invite specifically asks about gifts. A to Z of Manners and Etiquette specifies that you should open gifts in private after the party. Guests who did not bring gifts will be uncomfortable if you open some in front of them. Also, it is essential that you send thank you notes to guests who do bring gifts.


    A to Z of Manners and Etiquette states that "The bride's father is the first to invite the guests to raise their glass in honor of the bride-and-groom-to-be." After the father's toast, it is common for the groom to say a few words, but, in recent times, the bride may say something instead. It is also acceptable for both bride and groom to speak. Next, other guests may raise a toast of their own. The Knot adds, "When well-wishers propose a toast to you, remain seated and don't raise your glass or drink." It is also important that the bride and groom make sure to formally thank their parents or the party's hosts.

Etiquette for Wedding Ceremony Seating

Etiquette is a crucial issue in planning a wedding. It should come as no surprise that etiquette for wedding ceremony seating is another necessary planning step. While etiquette for wedding ceremony seating was once a seemingly easy issue, recent trends have complicated the process. In general, however, these etiquette tips based on "The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book" (Emily Ehrenstein et. al.) should make an easy job of wedding ceremony seating.

Choosing Sides

    In a traditional Christian ceremony, the bride's family typically sits on the left side of the church, or on the right side for Jewish ceremonies. In a civil ceremony, seat people on the side on which you will stand during the wedding ceremony.


    Traditionally, parents of the couple sit in the first row. It is acceptable to seat the parents in the second row if the attendants will be seated during the ceremony.

Divorced Parents

    If the parents are divorced, the mother should be seated in the front row with whomever she chooses. The father should then sit in the second row. If the divorced parents are on bad terms, the father should sit several rows back.

Close Family

    Siblings and grandparents should be seated in the second row or directly behind the parents.

Seating Order

    Proper wedding rules indicate that guests will be seated by an usher on a first-come basis. The usher should seat guests from front to back starting at the row behind where the family will be seated.

Wedding Announcements Etiquette

The word "etiquette" refers to particular rules of societal behavior that are deemed to be proper. Although there may be a set practice regarding wedding announcements, it's OK to make some variations if need be; after all, every couple is different. A basic wedding announcement should include the full names of both the bride and groom along with the wedding date; additional information such as the name of their parents or where they come from may also be included.


    Wedding announcements are typically sent by the parents of the bride, although they can also be mailed by the couple themselves.

Time Frame

    Wedding announcements ought to be mailed directly after the wedding, never beforehand.


    The wedding announcements should match the design and format of the wedding invitations, which are traditionally on paper that is a shade of white, with letters that are engraved in black colored ink, and sent in double envelopes.


    The addresses on the wedding announcements should also follow the arrangement of the wedding invitations; hand-written in black ink using a calligraphy writing style.


    The format of a wedding announcement (it tends to vary) includes: the full name of the bride on line one, the word "And" on line two, the full name of the groom on line three, followed by the announcement of the wedding, the date (with the days and year spelled out) and the location.

At-home Cards

    At-home cards are the little cards included with the wedding announcement that give the address of the couple.


    The purpose of a wedding announcement is only to announce the marriage of a couple; that being said, receivers of the announcements are not required to send the couple gifts (unless they choose to do so).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weddings are joyous occasions that require preparation that entails a significant amount of attention to detail and etiquette. Brides can be surprised at the extensive rules that are part of wedding etiquette. Wedding etiquette for a return address sets standards for brides to personalize their invitations and stationary. Brides must make decisions regarding the outer envelope, inner envelope, response card, calligraphy, and whose address to use when dealing with the wedding etiquette for a return address.

Outer Envelope

    Make careful decisions about the return address on the outer envelope because it is the first thing that people will see. According to The Knot, "etiquette does say that you should never print addresses with a computer, but always hand write them. Remember, a wedding is an extremely intimate and personal event, and your invitations should reflect that." Although printing addresses is incorrect etiquette, some people believe that printed return addresses are not necessarily a poor choice to make. The decision is ultimately up to the bride and whether she can gather her mother and bridesmaids to help her hand write beautiful return addresses on each outer envelope.

Inner Envelope

    Do not put a return address on the inner envelope. The inner envelope only has the name of the people invited and their children.

Response Card Envelope

    Write or print the return address on the response card envelope for the people to ensure that the wedding party knows who is coming and what they will eat. According to, "response cards should be sent out accompanied by an addressed, pre-stamped envelope to encourage your guests to send it back." Make the response card look clean by choosing the neatest method to get the address on the envelope.


    Hire a professional calligrapher if the bride and her bridal party do not have good handwriting. According to Crane's, "calligraphy is a centuries-old art that was practiced in monasteries by monks who copied bibles and other important documents by hand." Calligraphy is significant because some some brides choose a formal, elegant style wedding, and it goes well with their theme.

Whose Address to Use

    Determine whose address to use on the return address. According to The Knot, "the return address should be that of the person whom you've designated to receive response cards." The person whose return addresses is on the invitations and stationary envelopes will receive the gifts, response cards, and any invitations that the bride did not address properly. Traditionally, the bride's mother was on the return address, but many brides now use their own address.