Etiquette-schmetiquette, until you’re planning a wedding. Then it’s all wedding etiquette, all the time, because you know how easily offended some people are and there is no leaving those folks off your guest list. Here are 10 questions brides-to-be ask us and our answers because there’s a good chance you’ve been wondering, too.
1. How can I let people know where I am registered?
Word of mouth is really only the “proper” way to inform people where you are registered. You really must wait until they ask you or other family members. The one exception: all close family members and your attendants should be told where you are registered so they can inform others when they’re asked. And they will be asked. Okay, there is one more exception – but one that is still considered unmannerly by many. Most couples these days are putting their wedding registry information on their wedding websites.
2. How can I ask for money instead of a gift?
Hold up. There is literally no way to politely ask for money as wedding gifts in lieu of something else without being totally, utterly tacky. I’m afraid this is a cardinal rule of etiquette that must be taken seriously. You can plant the seeds with close family and attendants but even then, it’s still kind of tacky. That said, here’s a trick that could just get you cold hard cash: don’t register. Anywhere. People are much more likely to give you a check when you haven’t registered anywhere. But when guests do come bearing gifts that don’t fit into an envelope, accept them graciously.
3. How can I let people know that I don’t want children at the wedding?
The only thing you can do is not include the children’s names on the invitations. However, you’ll find that some people will still want to bring their children. Hopefully they will ask if that’s okay at which time you absolutely can say that your ceremony and reception will be adults only – just make sure you say it kindly. Should you find yourself in a situation where children are coming, be prepared with a “kids table” that includes crayons, coloring books, and candy. Don’t print Adults Only on your invitation.
4. Who pays for what?
A growing trend today is for wedding expenses to be shared among the bride and groom, as well as each of their families. Don’t rely on traditional ‘who pays for what’ lists without actually consulting your families and one another. You may be expecting your parents to pay for most of the event when it’s not in their budget. Or your future in-laws may have some ideas about what they would like to pay for. It never hurts to ask – just be mannerly about it.
5. How many invited guests should I expect will actually attend my wedding?
The general rule of thumb is if you’re inviting over 200 guests, then you can estimate that about 25-28% of your guests will be unable to attend. If you are inviting fewer than 200 guests, then the percentage usually decreases to about 15-20% or less. Other factors include how many guests you invite that live out-of-town and the travel distance required to attend the wedding. Ultimately, there is no way to predict with certainty how many people with RSVP yes. Remember, every family and guest list is different, so always be prepared in case everyone is able to come! And please, no A lists and B lists because that sort of thing has a way of getting out.
6. What are the Maid of Honor’s responsibilities?
The main role of the Maid of Honor is to help the bride with the wedding planning. This can include shopping for dresses, addressing invitations, putting together favors and just being there when the bride needs some extra help, support or someone to talk to. However, don’t choose your MOH based on who you think can give you the most help. If your favorite person in the whole world lives miles and miles away, pick them anyway. And don’t forget to buy her some stunning bridesmaids jewelry to make her feel beautiful on your big day as a thank you in either case.
7. What is appropriate to wear for a second wedding?
No matter whether it is your first, second or third wedding… the focal point is still the wedding dress. Many second-time brides choose a simpler, more elegant or sophisticated wedding dress. Many choose a floor length or cocktail length dress in white, off-white or a pretty pastel. Many “etiquette experts” advise second-time brides to not wear a veil or a long train for their second wedding. Don’t listen to them! This is your day, wear what you want to wear! Maybe you had a very small first wedding and now you want to go all out! Wear what makes you feel beautiful!
8. How Do I Personalize my Wedding?
There are plenty of tips and ideas to make your wedding unique and personal. But, which ideas are right for you. Only you can decide. Think about what is important to you and your fiancé. Think about special interests or hobbies that you share together. Or, maybe there is a special place, the beach or some quaint little Inn you went to when he proposed. Incorporate these elements and these “feelings” into your wedding and it will be truly unique and personal. Theme weddings are okay but expect some opinions!
9. Should I tip my wedding vendors?
Your caterer or reception site serving the food will most likely include their gratuities with your bill. So, a tip is not necessarily expected. As for your other vendors (wedding consultant, band or DJ, limo driver, photographer), again a tip is not required if they are business owners. Employees of a business should always be tipped. It never hurts to ask a particular vendor if they are expecting a tip.
10. What fee should I pay my clergy or wedding ceremony officiant?
This can be a tough one, as most clergy do not have a fee but instead ask for a donation. In this case, anywhere from $50 – $100 or more. A lot depends on how well you know them and whether or not counseling sessions were involved. Some houses of worship will specify a donation, making it not much different than a fee. If you are still unsure what the appropriate amount should be, then talk to the church secretary and ask for an “acceptable range” for a donation. Professional wedding officiants typically have a set fee, though there can be room for negotiation!