Friday, February 28, 2014

If you've been asked to preside over a couple's wedding ceremony, it is very important to adhere to certain etiquette rules concerning the duties you are asked to perform. Displaying certain courtesies to the bride and groom will help to make their wedding day one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

Communicating with the Couple

    The wedding officiant must communicate effectively with the bride and groom. For instance, if the couple email the officiant about logistical matters, such as potential date(s) for the wedding, she should return the email within 24 to 48 hours. The officiant should also return phone calls from the bride and groom as soon as possible, so that the couple can better plan for their ceremony.

Deposits and Payments

    The wedding officiant should communicate clearly with the couple concerning the rate that will be charged for his services. If the couple makes a deposit or two before the ceremony, it is proper etiquette for the officiant to acknowledge receipt of the deposits, especially if the money was collected by a church secretary or office assistant. If the wedding officiant prefers to have all the money paid up front before the ceremony, or wouldn't mind receiving full payment after the wedding, he should let the couple know this as soon as possible. The couple is not required to tip the person who performs the ceremony, but the gesture is appreciated, and 10 to 20 percent is standard.

Arrival Times

    It is very important for the officiant to arrive at the rehearsal and ceremony on time. If possible, the officiant should be 15 to 30 minutes early for both events, in order to address any concerns that the bride and groom may have, and to be notified of last-minute changes if necessary.

Emergencies and Replacements

    If the wedding officiant is not able to preside over the wedding because of unforeseen circumstances, it is up to him or her to find a replacement that the bride and groom will be satisfied with as soon as possible. Once the original officiant has agreed to perform the wedding, it is not the couple's responsibility to find a replacement.

Marriage License

    The wedding officiant is legally required to go over the marriage license before the actual ceremony, and should ask the bride and groom for the license if they have not already presented it. If the officiant has agreed to file the marriage license after the ceremony, this should be done no more than 10 days after the wedding.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wedding Rehearsal Invitation Etiquette

Due to the often hectic nature of wedding planning, the rehearsal is typically considered a minor detail in comparison to the "big day." However, the rehearsal is an important element of the wedding and helps to ensure there are no major hiccups on your wedding day. You want to make sure all of the key players for your ceremony are in attendance by properly informing them of the details of your rehearsal with an invitation.

Whether Invitations are Necessary

    The simple answer to this question is no. There is no formal etiquette that dictates an invitation is required to inform your wedding party of the wedding rehearsal; it is assumed your wedding party will be kept abreast of the planning via phone calls or meetings throughout your planning process. However, it is entirely likely that members of your wedding party will be traveling to your wedding from somewhere else. As such, an invitation to keep everyone in the loop and help them make their travel arrangements appropriately could be beneficial.

Who to Invite

    While there is no official guideline, the wedding rehearsal should only include those participating in the wedding ceremony--you, your groom, parents and grandparents (if they are part of the processional), your attendants, officiant, musicians, anyone doing readings and any children participating in the ceremony (their parents should also be in attendance). Your wedding coordinator should also be present, if you are using one.

What to Include in the Invitations

    The most important things to include in your rehearsal invitations are your names, the location of the rehearsal and the date/time. These may seem like obvious things for your invitees, but so many weddings take place from May to September that it is quite possible your wedding attendants are in more than one wedding. Ensuring that they know which rehearsal they are being invited to will be vital to your planning as well as their own. Also, while it is ideal that you would hold your wedding rehearsal in the same location as your wedding, this is often impossible due to things like weather and prior bookings; so make sure to include the location of the rehearsal in the invitations, as well as a separate sheet with concise directions to the rehearsal site. Other information to include would be the time and date of the rehearsal, as well as any dress code to follow (many churches still implement a dress code, even for wedding rehearsals).


    It is entirely up to you whether to spread the word of the rehearsal verbally or with a printed invitation. Many couples utilize e-mail and text-messaging trees to get information to their attendants, while others prefer hand mailing details, making phone calls or setting up meetings with the entire wedding party. There is no official etiquette involved when it comes to the formality and style of your wedding rehearsal invitations, which means you are open to follow any style or level of formality that you would like. You can choose to use the same degree of formality as your wedding invitations or go for something more casual.

When to Send

    If you are mailing out or e-mailing rehearsal invitations, it is best to do so as soon as you have your plans solidified. Doing this will give your attendants and other ceremony participants ample time to make arrangements so that they can be present for your rehearsal. The same guideline applies to verbal invitations and text messages--as soon as you know your plans, inform your participants to avoid frustration later on.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Parents of the Bride Wedding Etiquette

Applying traditional wedding etiquette for parents of the bride can help to ensure that the wedding process runs smoothly up to the day of the ceremony. By understanding the roles and responsibilities, applying a few basic manners and embracing elements of general kindness, etiquette for parents of the bride can help the wonderful yet stressful day go smoothly. Although there are a number of expectations in wedding etiquette for parents of the bride, they are time-tested ways aimed at carrying out a successful wedding.

Wedding Expenses

    Traditionally the bride's parents pay for the reception costs -- including the wedding cake, food, space rental and music -- as well as the wedding invitation packages and floral arrangements for ceremony and reception. The bride's parents also pay for the gift to the couple, which can be financial or material, the wedding dress, the bridal consultant or wedding planner, and the photographer and videographer. It is the bride's parents who are to initiate topics related to wedding finances. It is not proper etiquette for the bride and groom to inquire about the parents' intention to help with expenses.

Guest List Development

    Once the finances for the wedding have been decided upon and an itemized budget set, the development of the guest list can begin. It is important to specify the number of guests to be invited to attend the wedding. This is another area that requires sensitivity and some level of negotiation, because of family dynamics and limitations set by the budget. Working with the bride, the parents of the bride help decide whom to include on the guest list, beginning with immediate family members, aunts, and uncles on both the bride and groom's side. Then, friends of both sets of parents, acquaintances, and co-workers are added, with the last group being optional.

Proper Attire Selection

    Upon selection of the wedding colors by the bride, the tradition is for mother of the bride to choose her dress first, followed by the groom's mom. The colors should coordinate with the rest of the bridal party, but not be the same color or style, including avoiding white or similar colors. The dress selected by both mothers should be the same length and of complementary styles to one another. The father of the bride selects formal wear that coordinates with the other men in the wedding party. It is the father of the bride who informs the father of the groom whether or not a fitting is needed for the formal wear.

Ceremony and Reception Activity

    For the ceremony, the mother of the bride is escorted down the aisle and is traditionally the last person to be seated for the ceremony begins. The bride's mother is the first to be escorted out of the ceremony. At the reception, she is the often the first person in the receiving line. The father of the bride guides the bride down the aisle during the ceremony the sits beside his wife. At the reception, the bride's father serves as the host of the reception and makes his round, greeting guests. Making the toast to the new couple is also an honor given to the bride's father. In addition, the father of the bride is the last to leave the reception, making sure all loose ends are tied.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Informal weddings should follow certain etiquette just as formal weddings do. Usually there aren't so many "rules" to abide by and the atmosphere is more relaxed, but respectful and polite etiquette helps make the day special.

Planning Informal Weddings

    Many people associate informal weddings with small, intimate gatherings. This may be the case for you, however the two don't always go hand-in-hand. For example, some couples may wish to include all their friends and family for a beach wedding. Adventurous couples may opt to exchange vows in the bowling alley where they met, on their favorite ski slope or in the middle of their favorite camping grounds. These weddings would typically be informal, but can include everyone the couple knows, or just the two of them, the officiant and a couple of witnesses. Either way, the bride and groom should hold the type of wedding they want.
    Planning an informal wedding isn't always less work or stress than a formal one, and the need for proper etiquette remains the same. For instance, officiants should always be held with respect, and should always receive a "tip" even if they say their service is free of charge. If you are hosting your wedding in the backyard of the home of a friend or relative, you should be grateful and respectful of their home. Include your parents and the parents of your soon-to-be spouse whenever possible.

Invitations and Guest List

    Invitations should be printed on less formal, thinner card stock. The wording of your invitations should be less formal as well. For example, "(host's names) wish to invite you to celebrate the marriage of (bride and groom's names)" or something along those lines. Leave out the Mr. and Mrs. titles as well. Your invitation is the first clue for your guests as to the formality of your wedding, which they will use to plan their attire for the big day.
    Invite everyone who is near and dear to both of you. If your mother and stepmother don't get along, but you are close to both of them, make sure they are both in attendance. Perhaps you could give your mother a "special" honor or recognition, and you might also consider entrusting someone such as the maid of honor or best man to keep an eye out for potential trouble. It's your day, so invite everyone you wish to have there. Proper etiquette would be to calmly sit down with your mother before the wedding and explain that it is your day and the guest list is up to you.

Reception and Food

    A receiving line is not necessary at an informal wedding. In fact, it would probably be out of place. Keep the atmosphere more like a social party and encourage guests to chat and get to know one another. Music can come from a compilations CD with your favorite music, instead of a DJ or band. Forgo expensive flowers, and decorate in homemade arrangements or less expensive lanterns and candles. The food can be as simple or lavish as you want, although you should probably avoid multi-course sit-down meals since they are more formal. Offer a buffet or barbecue for a "full" meal, or serve hors d'oeuvres instead. Candy bars or dessert buffets are perfectly acceptable for informal weddings. As a matter of fact, cake and punch work, too. You can serve any drinks you'd like, such as limiting it to lemonade, punch and soft drinks, or supply a keg if you desire. Having a bartender on hand is likely overkill for an informal wedding.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Etiquette for Addressing Wedding Invitations to Single People

When considering the wording you would like to use to address your wedding invitations there are many factors to consider. Since a wedding is usually an extremely formal occasion, great care should be taken to be sure you are observing the rules of formal etiquette. If your occasion is less formal, feel free to convey that by using more creativity in your addresses.

Unmarried Woman

    When addressing an envelope to an unmarried woman over 18, or a divorced woman who maintains her maiden name, the outer envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Jane Doe. The inner envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Doe and Guest.

Divorced Woman

    If you are addressing an envelope to a divorced woman who is using her married name, address the outer envelope to Mrs. Jane Smith. The inner envelope should be addressed to Mrs. Smith and Guest.

Unmarried or Divorced Man

    An envelope that is addressed either to an unmarried or divorced man can be addressed in the same way. The outer envelope should read Mr. John Doe, while the inner envelope should be addressed to Mr. John Doe and Guest.

Unmarried Couples at the Same Address

    When sending an invitation to an unmarried couple that lives at the same address, list their names in alphabetical order by last name. The outer envelope should read Miss (or Ms. ) Jane Doe, Mr. John Smith, with each name being on a different line. The inner envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Doe and Mr. Smith.

Unmarried Couples at a Different Address

    If you are sending an invitation to unmarried couples that do not share the same residence, send the invitation to the friend who is the closest to you as a couple. The outer envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Jane Doe and the inner envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Doe and Guest.

Same Gender Couples

    When sending an invitation to same gender couples, simply address them alphabetically by last name. The outer envelope should read Miss (or Ms.) Jane Doe, Miss (or Ms.) Susan Smith, with each name on a separate line. The inner envelope should be addressed to Miss (or Ms.) Doe and Miss (or Ms.) Smith.

Other Etiquette

    Always be sure to address the envelopes by hand. It may take a little extra time but it is a necessary part of wedding invitation etiquette. If you expect your guests to RSVP, stamp the return envelope as a courtesy to your guests. Send out your invitations six to eight weeks before your big day to allow your guests ample time to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wedding Etiquette for a Step-Grandmother

Family issues can be a stressful part of wedding planning, but wedding etiquette helps brides and grooms navigate otherwise difficult family situations. Part of wedding day etiquette is making sure step-parents and step-grandparents are acknowledged appropriately. With sensitivity, you can make sure that everyone, even your step-grandmother, feels special on your special day.

Blended Families

    Wedding etiquette is evolving all the time to accommodate ever-changing family units. Through divorce, separations, death and other unique situations, families grow to include step-relatives. A step-grandmother may come into a family when a grandfather remarries, or when a parent remarries, bringing a new set of relatives into the relationship. A step-grandmother's involvement in a wedding will depend partly on the couple's relationship with her.

Basic Etiquette

    While there are no set rules to follow for a step-grandmother in a wedding, the basic rules concerning grandparents apply. In traditional weddings, grandparents play only a small role. You generally don't need to include a step-grandmother's name in the wedding program, as grandparents are rarely listed. However, it is polite and perfectly acceptable to buy her a corsage and to include her in the wedding processional, as you would for other grandmothers. During the ceremony and reception, the step-grandmother should sit with her spouse. Seat a parental grandmother and a step-grandmother in separate rows or at different tables to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.


    At a wedding, grandparents represent family history, being among the eldest living relatives. That significance is noted by including them in the wedding processional. While processionals vary by denomination, it's common for the ushers to escort grandparents to and from their seats. According to, the grandmothers of the bride are seated first and then the grandmothers of the groom. If there is a step-grandmother on either side, she is seated after the parental grandmother.

Step-Grandmother's Role

    Etiquette also guides a step-grandmother's behavior at your wedding. Her role is to accompany her husband to your wedding, or to support her child who married into your family. Like all wedding guests, she should be respectful of you and your blood relatives.


    It's up to the couple to make the wedding etiquette decisions to ensure that everyone--including a step-grandmother--feels comfortable on the wedding day. Additionally, the wedding day provides an opportunity to open the door to a new relationship. If you have never been close to your step-grandmother, including her in the event in some small way may be the first step on the path to a closer relationship.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wedding Etiquette for Seating Mothers

The seating of the mothers of the bride and groom is an important part of the wedding ceremony. These women are very proud of the step that their children are taking that day. All of the wedding guests may not know who the mother of the bride and mother of the groom are, so special treatment helps them to stand out from the crowd.


    The grandmothers of the bride and groom are escorted to their seats approximately five minutes before the ceremony starts. An usher will escort the grandmother of the bride to her seat first. Her husband will follow her down the aisle. After she is seated, an usher will escort the grandmother of the groom down the aisle, with her husband following right behind.

Mother of the Groom

    The mother of the groom is escorted down the aisle right after the grandmothers are seated. An usher, or the groom himself, will seat her on the groom's side of the church. She will sit in the front row, in the aisle seat. Her husband will follow her down the aisle and will sit next to her.

Mother of the Bride

    The mother of the bride is escorted to her seat by an usher right after the mother of the groom is seated. She will sit in the front row, in the aisle seat, directly across from the mother of the groom. The seat next to her remains empty until her husband has finished walking the bride down the aisle and is ready to sit down.


    It is up to the bride and groom whether or not a stepmother is escorted down the aisle by an usher prior to the ceremony, or if she simply seats herself as the other guests do. She should sit in the row behind her husband and the biological mother of the bride or groom.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a party is common, but many people don't know the proper etiquette for such an event. Whether you're hosting your own 25th wedding anniversary party, that of a loved one or simply attending one, follow proper etiquette guidelines when it comes to invitations, money, gifts and general planning to enjoy the occasion rather than cause someone to feel bad.


    Begin planning the silver anniversary celebration by setting a budget. Determine the formality of the party, who to invite, where to host the party, the food, cake and other details of that nature. Proper etiquette states guests should not pay for any part of the party, such as their own meal, but some anniversary celebrations are arranged in such a manner that it is acceptable. Host the party in a restaurant if you plan to have your guests pay for their own meal and word your invitation in a way that lets them know they are invited to join in the celebration. Include a menu card from the restaurant including prices that you have agreed upon.
    Surprise parties are common for milestone anniversaries, such as the 25th, but they should be done in a way that won't inconvenience or embarrass the couple or guests. Arrange for the guests to show up properly dressed, and in good spirits, rather than putting them in an awkward situation. For example, invite the couple to a restaurant, and let the guests be a surprise.


    Invitations should reflect the formality of the party. Formal 25th anniversary parties ideally have formal invitations, printed or engraved, similar to wedding invitations. Names, dates, times and streets should be spelled out in their entirety, without abbreviations. Address the envelopes by hand, in your best handwriting. Informal invitations can be fill-in-the-blank or handwritten cards, and abbreviations are acceptable.
    Never make any mention of gifts of money in the invitation, unless it is a note stating, "No gifts please." For formal invitations, this should be printed on an insert, whereas a handwritten note at the bottom is customary for less formal affairs.
    Send invitations out at least six weeks before the party, and note any special instructions such as advising guests of a surprise party. Consider save-the-date cards six months before the event if it falls around major holidays when most people make plans.


    Gifts are typically not required of guests for 25th anniversary parties, and should never be solicited. Guests can bring gifts if they wish, although a simple card is most appropriate if the invitation states, "No gifts."
    Money trees or collections are common practice in some communities, but it is rude to solicit money openly or ask on the invitation. Spread any desire to build a fund, such as for a vacation, via word-of-mouth.
    Gifts should be opened after the event, or in a private manner out of respect for any guests who don't bring one. Always record who gave what, and send timely, handwritten thank-you notes.


    Dress and behave in a manner that's respectful to the couple and reflects the formality of the party. Never gossip or air any "dirty laundry" as the event is to celebrate the 25-year union of the couple. Bite your tongue, or stay home if you have nothing pleasant or uplifting to contribute. Avoid making any conversation about you, or anyone else other than the couple.
    Relax and enjoy the party thrown in your honor. If your children, parents, siblings or friends are planning a spectacular event in your honor, but you feel it's too much, gently let them know you'd prefer an intimate celebration.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Destination Wedding Gift Etiquette

Destination weddings allow couples to combine their wedding and honeymoon in one location and celebrate their nuptials in an exotic locale with close family and friends. Attending a destination wedding requires more planning for guests---and, often, additional expenses. However, guests who attend a destination wedding should give the couple a gift, and there are a number of considerations to make when selecting one for the bride and groom.

When to Send

    It is best to send the wedding gift to the bride and groom before or after their destination wedding. That way, you don't have to lug a gift on your trip, and the bride and groom don't have to worry about transporting gifts back home. If you select a gift from the couple's wedding registry, you can often choose to have the store ship the gift directly to the couple's home.

What to Give

    Purchasing a gift from the couple's registry is always the safest bet when it comes to wedding gifts. Since destination weddings often result in added expenses for guests, you can feel free to choose a registry gift with a lower price point, if necessary. Housewares, from kitchen gadgets to bed and bath products, are perfect for a couple starting their lives together and stocking their home.

Alternative Gifts

    Destination weddings give guests the opportunity to choose unique gifts as well. Since you'll be vacationing with the couple before---and perhaps after---their wedding ceremony, you can seek out creative gifts specific to your destination. For example, if you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, consider purchasing the couple his-and-hers massages at the resort's spa. Or, find a nice restaurant at the location, and get the couple a gift card. Be sure to give the couple their gift with plenty of time to enjoy it before they head home.


    Attending a destination wedding can be expensive. Most couples understand that guests are incurring these additional expenses and realize that it might affect what gifts they receive. According to Smart Money's Wedding Etiquette Gift Guide, guests can choose more inexpensive gifts for a destination wedding to compensate for the added cost of attending the event.

For Guests Not Attending

    Perhaps you can't afford to attend the destination wedding or you don't have the vacation time to get away from work. Smart Money suggests guests still send a gift even if they cannot attend the wedding. (see Reference 2) Even if you choose a smaller gift, the couple will appreciate your generosity.