Wedding Etiquette For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Engaging in Proper Wedding Etiquette from the Start

Part II: The Main Event: Planning Your Ceremony and Reception

Part III: Working on Wedding Details with Your Manners Intact

Part IV: Behaving on the Big Day and Beyond

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Engaging in Proper Wedding Etiquette from the Start

Chapter 1: Incorporating Etiquette into Your Wedding

Sharing the News of Your Engagement

Putting Technology to Proper Use during Wedding Planning

Establishing the Budget and Planning Responsibilities

Making Plans for Your Ceremony and Reception

Understanding different ceremony styles

Deciding your ceremony’s details

Preparing for your reception

Working Out the Details of Your Wedding

Choosing your wedding party

Shopping for wedding attire

Putting together the guest list

Assembling invitations and announcements

Giving and receiving gifts

Acting appropriately at prewedding parties

Behaving on and after Your Wedding Day

Chapter 2: Announcing Your Engagement with Elegance

Informing Your Immediate Family

Sharing the news with your parents

Telling your children tactfully

Introducing the parents to one another

Sharing the News with Relatives, Friends, and Colleagues

Telling your relatives

Letting your friends in on the happy news

Informing your co-workers

To share or not to share? Telling folks you know won’t be invited

Dealing with Folks Who Object to the Engagement

Announcing Your Engagement in the Newspaper

Figuring out where and when to submit announcements

Wording announcements for different situations

Composing and Mailing Save-the-Date Cards

Using the right format and wording

Understanding who should receive cards and when

Throwing an Engagement Party

Do you need to have a party?

Who hosts the party, where, and when?

Who should be invited and how?

Should you expect gifts?

What about the announcement and toasts?

Don’t forget to send thanks!

Canceling the Engagement

Chapter 3: Tastefully Using Technology during Wedding Planning

Why Have a Wedding Web Site?

Telling your story

Providing wedding details

Managing RSVPs

Maintaining a guest book

Setting Up a Wedding Web Site

Getting started

Including appropriate content

Politely spreading the word

When Is E-mail Appropriate during Wedding Planning?

Chapter 4: Deciding on Finances and Planning Responsibilities Upfront

Traditional Expenses for the Bride and Her Family

Traditional Expenses for the Groom and His Family

Traditional Expenses for Members of the Wedding Party

Staying on Budget (and Staying Engaged)

Establishing a budget

Deciding who pays for what

Keeping a record of who pays what

Giving Gratuities: Who Receives How Much?

Putting Together a Planning Team

Deciding on your parents’ level of involvement (and letting them know)

Asking friends and relatives for help

Considering a wedding planner

Keeping the peace

Part II: The Main Event: Planning Your Ceremony and Reception

Chapter 5: Checking Out Ceremony Styles

Surveying Different Religious Ceremonies



Mainstream Protestant

Eastern Orthodox









Examining Other Types of Ceremonies

Secular ceremonies

Civil ceremonies

Military ceremonies

Destination weddings

Commitment ceremonies

Chapter 6: Nailing Down the Basics of Ceremony Protocol

Scheduling Your Ceremony

Choosing a ceremony site the right way

Agreeing on a date and time

Working Well with an Officiant

Finding potential officiants

Making appointments to meet

Asking important questions

Properly Personalizing Your Ceremony

Picking your music

Featuring special readings

Writing your own vows

Honoring the deceased

Other Etiquette Guidelines for Planning Your Ceremony

Putting together appropriate wedding programs

Planning for transportation to and from the ceremony

Setting up activities for your guests between the ceremony and reception

Chapter 7: Perfecting Your Reception Plans

The Essentials of a Proper Reception Style and Site

Deciding on the level of formality

Selecting a comfortable, appropriate site

Getting the Info You Need from Site Managers and Caterers

Making appointments as a matter of course

Asking the right questions

Providing the Right Food and Drinks for Your Guests

Offering an entrée choice for seated meals

Determining whether alcohol is appropriate

Knowing whether to feed vendors

Putting Together an Appropriate Seating Chart

Seating the bridal party and close family

Assigning seating for other guests

Making special arrangements for children

Keeping everything straight with place cards

Selecting and Presenting Appropriate Favors

Part III: Working on Wedding Details with Your Manners Intact

Chapter 8: Putting Together Your Wedding Party

Determining an Appropriate Number of Attendants

Like a Rock: The Maid or Matron of Honor

The responsibilities of the maid or matron of honor

Selecting your maid or matron of honor

The Groom’s Right-Hand Guy: The Best Man

The best man’s responsibilities

Choosing your best man

Let’s Get Together: Your Wedding Attendants




Flower girls

The ring bearer

Additional helpers

Breaking Old Rules

Attendants of the opposite sex

Pregnant attendants

Handling Sensitive Situations

Feeling pressured to ask someone to be an attendant

Staying cool when someone turns you down or drops out later

Removing an attendant

Treating the Wedding Party Respectfully

Chapter 9: Choosing Appropriate Wedding Attire and Doing So with Grace

Recognizing Different Levels of Formality

Black tie




Dressing the Women in the Wedding

The bride


Pregnant attendants

Flower girls

Mothers of the couple

Dressing the Men in the Wedding

The groom

Groomsmen and ushers

The ring bearer

Fathers of the couple

The Etiquette of Shopping for Attire

Simplifying shopping and decision making

Keeping cost in mind

Chapter 10: Assembling the Guest List

The First Steps of Figuring Out Who Attends the Festivities

Considering your budget before you begin

Building a master guest list

Keeping in Mind Guidelines for Specific Groups

Knowing that shower guests are a must

Determining whether single guests can bring dates

Deciding whether to invite work colleagues

Handling sticky situations

The big dilemma — Kids or no kids?

Cutting Back the Guest List

Deciding whom to cut

Avoiding arguments about cuts

Being gracious to the people not invited

Chapter 11: Carefully Composing Your Invitations and Announcements

Choosing a Proper Invitation Style

Focusing on formal invitations

Looking for less traditional

Wording Invitations Properly

Spelling and abbreviation rules

Specifying the hosts

Special wording for special events

Items you should never include on an invitation

Investigating Invitation Insertions

The inner envelope

The reception card

The response card

The response envelope

The map and directions

Hotel information for out-of-town guests

Pew cards

Tissue paper

Putting Everything Together in the Outer Envelope

Addressing Invitations Properly

An entire family

A married couple

A married couple using different last names

An unmarried couple

A same-sex couple

A single guest

Indicating no children

Knowing When to Mail Your Invitations

Postponing or Canceling Your Wedding after Invitations Are Out

Sending Wedding Announcements

Chapter 12: Registering for Gifts and Giving Your Own

Behaving throughout the Gift Registry Process

Figuring out when to register

Accommodating your guests with a range of stores and prices

Making selections together — and keeping the peace

Spreading the word about your registry appropriately

Monitoring your registry and knowing when to add items

Tracking gifts you receive before the big day and sending prompt thanks

Understanding when a gift registry may not be appropriate

Picking Proper Gifts for Your Loved Ones before the Wedding

Gifts to your parents

Gifts to the wedding party

Gifts to special helpers

Gifts to each other

Chapter 13: Observing Etiquette Rules at Festivities before the Wedding

Considering Bridal Shower Etiquette

Deciding when to hold a shower

Figuring out who hosts your shower

Understanding how formal a shower should be

Determining who’s invited and whether you can have more than one shower

Sending invitations

Giving thanks after all your showers

Making the Most of the Rehearsal Dinner

Easy rehearsal etiquette

Deciding who should host the dinner

Choosing the formality of the dinner

Knowing whom to invite and whether to send invitations

Making speeches and toasts

Part IV: Behaving on the Big Day and Beyond

Chapter 14: Minding Your Manners at the Ceremony

Greeting and Seating Appropriately

Greeting guests the right way

Escorting guests to the correct seats

Going down the Aisle: The Processional

Seating honored relatives

Knowing the right order of the bridal party

Deciding who walks the bride down the aisle

The Recessional and Other Postceremony Rituals

Stopping to greet your parents

Following the couple up the aisle in the right order

Releasing guests from their seats

Signing the marriage license and paying the officiant

Walk the Line: Receiving Line Etiquette

Picking the right time to line up

Knowing the correct order of the people in the line

Greeting guests in line politely

Chapter 15: Celebrating with Class at the Reception

Announcing the Parents, the Wedding Party, and the Happy Couple

Don’t Burn the Toast!

Cutting Your Cake without Messing Up Your Manners

May I Have This Dance?

Tossing the Bouquet and the Garter

The Importance of Mingling

Accepting Gifts Directly from Guests at Your Reception

Being Prepared for the Unexpected

Avoiding wardrobe malfunctions

Recovering from an embarrassing moment

Handling issues with your vendors

Asking a guest to leave

Dealing with uninvited guests

Deciding what to do about uninvited kids

Departing the Reception Properly

Chapter 16: Acting Properly after the Wedding

Wrapping Up the Gift Process

Keeping track of gifts

Exchanging gifts

Sending the all-important thank-you notes

What’s in a Name Change?

Keeping a few considerations in mind before you make a choice

Making the switch official

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 17: Ten Tips for Working with Your Vendors and Wedding Planner

Set Priorities

Be Honest

Be Flexible

Get Everything in Writing

Remember the Golden Rule

Hope for the Best

Prepare for the Worst

Have a Sense of Humor

Plan for Payments

When All Else Fails: Gracefully Firing Your Vendors or Planner

Chapter 18: Nearly Ten Guidelines for Getting Married the Second Time Around

Realize You May Meet Some Resistance

Don’t Be Shy about Having the Wedding You Want

Have Realistic Expectations

Consider Your Ceremony Carefully

Select Appropriate Attire

Extend the Invitation Yourselves

Know Whether to Invite the Ex

Decide Whether to Ask for Gifts

Be Respectful of Your First Marriage

Wedding Etiquette For Dummies®

by Sue Fox


About the Author

Since 1994, Sue Fox has provided etiquette products, educational material, group training, and private consultations to business professionals, celebrities, corporations, K–12 schools, and higher education, through her company, The Etiquette Survival Group, which has offices in Central and Southern California. Previously, she was employed in the high-tech industry, with 10 years of experience in event planning and sales and marketing at Apple, Inc.

The Etiquette Survival Group offers etiquette products and mentoring programs for individuals interested in starting their own etiquette consulting businesses. Sue has set up many Etiquette Survival consultants throughout the United States and internationally. She has traveled extensively and is well acquainted with various international cultures. Her travels have taken her to East Africa, Mexico, Central America, and Europe. Sue and her company have provided western etiquette programs throughout the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and India. She also is executive producer of The Etiquette Survival Kit, a series of educational DVDs featuring dining and social etiquette and proper table settings for adults and teens.

Sue is a professional member of the International Association of Protocol Consultants (IAPC) and has an additional background in image consulting, makeup artistry, and wedding planning. She is the author of Etiquette For Dummies, 2nd Edition, and Business Etiquette For Dummies, 2nd Edition (Wiley).

The Etiquette Survival Group and MCE International have partnered to jointly develop etiquette and diversity products and programs. Sue and her business partner, Linda Cain, are working together to create a better understanding of people in diverse business and social environments by emphasizing the importance of respect, diplomacy, and civility in every aspect of life.

Sue and The Etiquette Survival Group have been featured in many national and international publications, including Woman’s Day, Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal, Real Simple, American Baby, Newsweek, Fortune, New York Magazine, US Weekly, People, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Washington Times, San Francisco Examiner, The Boston Globe, USA Today, Sunday London Times, Australian Financial News, Folha de S. Paulo, Brazilian Daily News, Nikkei Business Journal, Times of India, and The Hindu Businessline.

Sue’s media credits include radio interviews and feature stories on CNBC, KRON-TV (San Francisco), Knowledge TV, San Francisco Mornings on 2, KOVR-TV (Sacramento), ABC World News, ABC News with Sam Donaldson, KQED-TV (San Francisco),, and KABC-TV (Los Angeles).

Sue is the mother of two grown sons, Stephen and Nathan, and she has two grandsons, Joseph and Michael Fox.


This book is dedicated to my two charming grandsons, Joseph and Michael Fox, who continually make me smile!

Author’s Acknowledgments

I’d like to express my sincerest thanks to the dedicated team at John Wiley & Sons who generously contributed to the preparation of Wedding Etiquette For Dummies.

My deepest gratitude goes to my acquisitions editor, Tracy Boggier. Thank you for your continual faith in me. My sincere appreciation goes to my tireless project editor, Georgette Beatty. Thank you so much for your ongoing assistance, guidance, and professionalism.

A special thank you to assistant editor Erin Calligan Mooney, to copy editor Amanda Langferman for her meticulous editing, and to the additional talent at Wiley, illustrator Liz Kurtzman and cartoonist Rich Tennant, who all contributed to the development of this book. I gratefully acknowledge and thank my technical reviewer, Nancy Mitchell, for her editing expertise and knowledge, and a special thank-you to my agent, Reid Boates. I am most grateful for the assistance of Sandra M. Monahan, MBC, for her expertise, insights, and graciousness. It’s been a pleasure working with all of you!

Among those who deserve an enormous thank-you are my talented etiquette colleagues, friends, and family who pitched in to help shape this book — Colette Swan, Kimberly Seth Smith, Roberta Kay, Julia Todd, and Anne Fox. You are all an inspiration, and there are no words that can describe my gratitude for your generous assistance, your encouragement, and especially your enthusiasm and humor! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving your time.

To my dear friend and business partner, Linda Cain, thank you for your friendship and support. My ongoing appreciation and gratitude goes to the Etiquette Survival consultants who continue to motivate me to stay focused on our quest to raise awareness of the importance of treating others (and ourselves) respectfully. And a big thanks to all my colleagues and friends at The Monarch Club. I want to thank all of you for your patience and understanding while I was working on this project.

I gratefully acknowledge the love of all my family — my sons Stephen and Nathan, my sisters Shirlee and Sandy, my brother Rick, and your families — thank you for always being there for me. And to my two extremely precious grandsons, Joseph and Michael, how you tug on my heartstrings!

Finally, I would like to thank all the faithful readers of the For Dummies series, and to every couple planning to marry — may your wedding planning be absolutely seamless and your wedding day faux pas free!

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Georgette Beatty

Acquisitions Editor: Tracy Boggier

Copy Editor: Amanda M. Langferman

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Nancy Mitchell

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: © Marnie Burkhart/Corbis

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

Layout and Graphics: Karl Brandt, Ana Carrillo, Joyce Haughey, Christine Williams

Special Art: Elizabeth Kurtzman

Proofreaders: Rebecca Denoncour, Toni Settle

Indexer: Sherry Massey

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


People constantly ask me whether wedding etiquette still exists today or is merely something from the past. Well, the answer to this question is really two sided. Yes, today’s engaged couples toss out traditional etiquette faster than they throw the wedding bouquet. And, yes, the rules have relaxed a bit since the Victorian era; however, a certain level of common sense and basic etiquette is still necessary in every facet and phase of wedding planning, not to mention the protocol needed for the big day itself. Familiarizing yourself with what to do before, during, and after the wedding will help you ensure that everyone, from the ring bearer to the caterer, enjoys the ceremony and all the wedding festivities. Wedding Etiquette For Dummies is here to help you do just that.

About This Book

You’ve announced your engagement, your phone is ringing off the hook, and your mother, future mother-in-law, sister, aunt, and cousin are all calling to ask questions and give opinions. Plus, you’re looking into possible ceremony and reception locations and talking to caterers, florists, photographers, and wedding planners — just to name a few folks. Are you feeling overwhelmed, yet? Well, buckle your seat belt because the ride is about to begin! Wedding Etiquette For Dummies guides brides, grooms, and friends and family of happily engaged couples through the basics of appropriate wedding behavior, from the engagement announcement throughout the planning process to the big day itself and beyond.

Use this book as a reference guide, reading any section that interests you. You can start at the back, in the middle, or at the beginning — it’s your choice.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you make your way through this book, I use the following conventions:

Italics highlight definitions and emphasize certain words.

Boldface text indicates key words in bulleted lists and actions to take in numbered lists.

Monofont highlights Web addresses.

When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that I didn’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. When you’re entering one of these Web addresses, just type exactly what you see in this book, pretending the line break doesn’t exist.

What You’re Not to Read

Throughout this book, I share information that may be interesting to you but isn’t essential to your understanding of a given wedding etiquette topic. So feel free to skip the sidebars (shaded gray boxes) within the chapters. They don’t provide vital information you need to know to incorporate etiquette into your wedding.

Foolish Assumptions

In short, I assume that those of you who pick up this book are planning to marry or perhaps that you’re a family member or friend of someone who’s engaged. You may want to clear up some confusion about the complexity of planning a wedding, or maybe you’re seeking some guidance on the finer points of wedding etiquette. Whatever your reason is for reading this book, I hope you find it helpful and have fun as you incorporate some wedding etiquette that often gets overlooked!

How This Book Is Organized

I organized this book into 5 parts and 18 chapters, separated according to specific topics and situations. You don’t need to read any previous chapters to understand a later one that’s of interest to you. Just jump around to find what you need or check out the table of contents to locate the specific subject matter you’re curious about. I provide cross-referencing between the chapters to help you find more information on certain topics.

Part I: Engaging in Proper Wedding Etiquette from the Start

In this part, I walk you through all the etiquette involved at the beginning of the wedding planning process. Many questions come up when it comes to how to properly share the news of your engagement, whether to throw an engagement party, and how to gracefully handle friends and family who may not be excited about the announcement. I address all these issues in Chapter 2. If you’re interested in technology, turn to Chapter 3, where I talk about the etiquette behind creating a wedding Web site and using e-mail during wedding planning. If you need to figure out who pays for what, check out Chapter 4, where I explain everything from the traditional expenses for the couple and their families to how to stay on a budget while keeping your cool.

Part II: The Main Event: Planning Your Ceremony and Reception

In this part, you find details for creating a memorable and tasteful wedding celebration. In Chapter 5, I describe different types of ceremony styles (such as religious, civil, military, and others). In Chapter 6, I offer advice on choosing an appropriate ceremony site and officiant and personalizing your wedding with readings, music, and more. I explain all the details for selecting a proper reception venue along with tips for planning different aspects of your reception in Chapter 7.

Part III: Working on Wedding Details with Your Manners Intact

This part addresses all the etiquette you need to know as you plan your big day. Chapter 8 helps you through the highly personal and subjective task of choosing a wedding party. I offer etiquette advice specifically to help you through the selection process, along with tips on determining the number of attendants and advice for breaking away from the norm. You find advice on choosing your wedding attire in relation to the various levels of formality in Chapter 9. And, if you’re struggling with the guest list, check out Chapter 10, which lays out the etiquette ground rules.

That’s not all! In Chapter 11, you find the details for composing your wedding invitations and the all-important etiquette involved with assembling, addressing, and mailing them. Chapter 12 offers you advice on registering for gifts and the proper way to present gifts to family members and the bridal party. Finally, Chapter 13 addresses the major etiquette involved in the prewedding festivities, from the bridal shower to the rehearsal dinner.

Part IV: Behaving on the Big Day and Beyond

This part covers everything that occurs on your wedding day. Chapter 14 helps you specifically with the ceremony, from how to properly greet and seat guests to what steps to follow for a proper processional, recessional, and other ceremony rituals. Chapter 15 includes etiquette advice on events at the reception: giving toasts, cutting the cake, and more. Chapter 16 finishes up the wedding festivities with tips on celebrating after the big day, including the protocol involved with sending thank-you notes.

Part V: The Part of Tens

This part is chock-full of good advice, given concisely for your convenience. In Chapter 17, I offer you ten tried-and-true tips for getting along with vendors and the wedding planner. And in Chapter 18, I provide some important etiquette guidance for marriages the second time around.

Icons Used in This Book

I use little pictures, called icons, to flag important bits of information throughout the book. Here’s what these icons mean:

Remember.epsThis icon points out take-home messages you can use before, during, and after your wedding.

Tip.epsWherever you see this icon, you find small hints that help make the bumps you may encounter as you plan your wedding a little easier.

warning_bomb.epsWhen you see this sign, pay attention — or watch out!

Where to Go from Here

If you’re new to the whole wedding etiquette thing, I suggest you start off with the basics in Part I; otherwise, feel free to skip to the section you’re interested in. I hope that, as you read, you pick up ideas and information that make your wedding day the day you’ve always dreamed of!

Part I

Engaging in Proper Wedding Etiquette from the Start


In this part...

In this part, I provide suggestions and advice on incorporating etiquette and grace into the beginning of your wedding planning — starting with the proper way of announcing your engagement. I talk about the basics of save-the-date cards and engagement parties, and I give you helpful information for creating a wedding Web site. I also offer some gentle guidance on how to politely handle sticky situations, such as dealing with family or friends who may object to your marriage. Finally, I offer advice on the all-important task of managing your wedding finances — and keeping the peace at the same time!

Chapter 1

Incorporating Etiquette into Your Wedding

In This Chapter

Announcing your happy news

Properly using technology during wedding planning

Determining the budget and planning duties

Coordinating all the details

Acting appropriately on — and after —your big day

Now that you’re newly engaged, it’s time to start the planning! As exhilarating and fun as wedding planning can be, you need to keep in mind that weddings scream etiquette more than just about any other event in life, so, before you get started, take some time to understand the guidelines — which is where this book comes in.

From the moment you become engaged to the moment you and your beloved wave farewell to your guests after the reception (and beyond!), this book provides all you need to know to plan your wedding, walk down the aisle, and receive your guests with grace, dignity, and good manners. This chapter introduces you to the essentials. Gracious planning, and best wishes!

Remember.epsEtiquette (in other words, good manners) is a way of honoring and showing respect to other people in any circumstance, no matter what.

Sharing the News of Your Engagement

Announcing your engagement can be thrilling, intimidating, stressful, or all of the above, depending on whom you’re telling. But properly announcing your engagement is more than just informing your family and phoning your friends: It’s alerting the media. (Just kidding — sort of.)

Really, though, you need to give careful thought to how and when you tell your parents, children (if you have any), siblings, grandparents, other relatives, friends, and co-workers. What should you do if someone objects to your engagement? How do you word the newspaper announcement? And what about save-the-date cards — are those really necessary?

Chapter 2 covers all these concerns in detail. It also explains everything you need to know about the etiquette of having engagement parties and handling the unfortunate situation of calling off the engagement.

Putting Technology to Proper Use during Wedding Planning

A wedding Web site is an excellent tool for publishing details about your engagement and wedding. For example, you can provide a place for guests to select their meal preferences, as well as share information about accommodations for out-of-town guests. You can even tell your personal engagement story or the tale of how you met. And don’t forget to share photos — just make sure they’re appropriate for all your guests.

Chapter 3 gives you all the Web site etiquette and pointers you need to know. It also discusses the use of e-mail during wedding planning. In some instances, e-mail is completely inappropriate (such as in place of formal wedding invitations or thank-you notes), but there are a few times when using e-mail is okay.

Remember.epsAs wonderful as a wedding Web site can be, know that such sites (along with e-mail) don’t take the place of formal announcements and invitations. After all, Grandma probably doesn’t have access to the Internet, and even if she does, she still wants a printed invitation for a keepsake.

Establishing the Budget and Planning Responsibilities

Over the years, the people responsible for funding the wedding have changed. Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for a good portion of the costs, but today about 30 percent of couples pay for their own weddings, sometimes with a little help from both their families.

Knowing who pays for what can be tricky. Trickier still is graciously managing overly ambitious (yes, pushy) people who want to have a major say in how you plan your wedding. Fear not! You don’t have to go at it alone. Chapter 4 focuses on handling budget and planning responsibilities with grace.

Making Plans for Your Ceremony and Reception

Although etiquette certainly plays a major role on your wedding day, good manners are also crucial when you’re planning the basics of your ceremony and reception, as you find out in this section.

Understanding different ceremony styles

In addition to choosing whether to have a formal or informal wedding, you have to choose to have either a religious or secular service — both of these decisions somewhat determine your ceremony’s overall style. Various faiths/denominations have unique customs. A Christian wedding is vastly different from a Hindu wedding, for example. Military weddings have a certain protocol. Destination weddings and commitment ceremonies involve their own etiquette guidelines. Each of these choices helps define your particular wedding style.

Chapter 5 gives etiquette considerations for a variety of wedding ceremony styles.

Deciding your ceremony’s details

After you settle on a ceremony style, it’s time for the fun stuff: figuring out the ceremony details. You have to choose everything from the date and time to the content of your programs — all while keeping your manners intact and ensuring that the ceremony itself is appropriate. Here are a few of the topics I cover in Chapter 6:

Making sure your ceremony style matches your location

Agreeing on a date and selecting a time that works for your ceremony’s level of formality

Graciously communicating to the officiant your desires for the ceremony and working well with the officiant throughout the entire planning process

Selecting your music, special readings, and vows

Appropriately honoring deceased loved ones

Assembling wedding programs

Planning your transportation to and from the ceremony

Preparing for your reception

After you become engaged, the ceremony and reception sites are among the first things you need to select and book (after the officiant, if possible). In fact, many couples pick their wedding dates from the list of available dates they get from their chosen venues. (Gee, how romantic!)

After you’ve booked a site, what do you have to consider as you plan the rest of your reception? Chapter 7 is your go-to chapter for helpful etiquette guidelines about this step of the planning process.

Working Out the Details of Your Wedding

Working out the details of your wedding means selecting your attendants, choosing appropriate attire, assembling your guest list, putting together invitations and wedding announcements, giving and receiving gifts graciously, and attending a variety of festivities before the wedding. This section introduces guidelines on how to effortlessly navigate through these details.

Choosing your wedding party

After you know the style of your wedding, you can figure out the appropriate number of attendants to have. You probably have two special people in mind to be your maid or matron of honor and your best man, but you need to come up with a few more attendants, too. I discuss the main wedding-party considerations in Chapter 8.

Remember.epsCarefully considering the bridal party you want to surround yourself with on this special occasion is an important part of ensuring that your wedding day becomes a wonderful memory for years to come.

Shopping for wedding attire

Wedding attire doesn’t have to translate to fashion disaster for your attendants. A little planning, a little compromising, and voilà — everyone wins.

You can have the wedding of your dreams without sentencing your attendants to the wedding of their nightmares. Chapter 9 covers the important points you need to know to help you choose wedding attire that’s both appropriate and stylish. It also discusses how to outfit the happy couple.

Putting together the guest list

A cold, hard fact of life is that unless you’re a gazillionaire, you have to make your guest list match your budget, which often means you can’t invite everyone you’ve ever known. Some guests will be on your must-invite list; some will be on your should-invite list; others will be on your could-invite list. Chapter 10 explains all the etiquette details for assembling your guest list.

Assembling invitations and announcements

Invitations and announcements should, of course, match the style (formal or informal) of your wedding. But you’re no longer forced to choose either white or ivory. Not at all. Today you can choose from a beautiful array of wedding stationery — something to fit every wedding style and budget.

But you can’t stop after you pick out your invitation style. You have to word your invitation properly and then figure out how to stuff all the enclosures into one nice, neat packet to mail to your guests. And, of course, you have to address those packets correctly, too. Find out all these details in Chapter 11, which also explains when to mail your invitations, what to do if your wedding is canceled or postponed after the invitations are out, and when (and why) to send wedding announcements.

Giving and receiving gifts

Current research indicates that more than 91 percent of couples register for — and receive — gifts from an average of 200 guests. Most of these gifts are between $85 and $100. Not to mention you and your spouse-to-be have to give your own gifts to all your wedding party members and a few other special helpers. With so many people involved, you better believe you have a few etiquette guidelines to follow as you register for, receive, and give gifts. Chapter 12 includes details to help you get through the gift process gracefully.

Acting appropriately at prewedding parties

Wedding festivities aren’t limited to just the big day. Prewedding celebrations include bridal showers and the all-important rehearsal dinner. Like at the wedding, guidelines for etiquette prevail at these parties, too. Have fun at your parties, but keep your manners intact! Chapter 13 discusses these events and the appropriate etiquette guidelines that go with each one.

Behaving on and after Your Wedding Day

You’ve finally arrived at your big day, and everyone’s etiquette antennae are up and running. You just have to get through the ceremony and reception, and then you can focus on happily ever after. Here’s what you need to know and where you can find it:

The ceremony: Chapter 14 guides you and your star players through the nerve-wracking event known as the ceremony.

Remember.eps Knowledge is power. Knowing what you’re supposed to do will help you remain confident and radiant as you marry the love of your life.

The reception: Finally; it’s time for the party you’ve waited for all your life . . . your reception! Take note: The reception is no time to throw etiquette to the wind. After all, you’ve had a wonderful wedding up until now; why give your guests a lasting memory that, at best, embarrasses you or, at worst, seriously offends someone else? For all the details on reception etiquette, check out Chapter 15.

After the big day: After the wedding day is over, you need to tie up a few loose ends to make your wedding experience a complete etiquette success and to give yourselves a positive place to start your new life together. Chapter 16 is your guide to a happy ending.