I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about wedding planning and etiquette and I think it’s time to start up a brand new column: Wedding Wednesdays! In this series, I’ll share tips and tricks, highlight real weddings of couples I’ve worked with, and answer your burning etiquette questions.
So I can already see you rolling your eyes. Yes you, the one over there who thinks etiquette is antiquated and stuffy. I hear you mumbling “etiquette shmetiquette. It’s my wedding, I’ll do what I want.” And I say, “Yes! It IS your wedding and you should do what I want!” And I’m here to help you do that gracefully without pissing people off. I think the word “etiquette” gets a bad rap–it’s right up there with “Politically Correct” and “Salad Fork.” But etiquette isn’t just for rule followers and traditionalists. Sure, you can look to etiquette to dictate the proper placement of your water glass and napkin or to advise on the traditional way to address a wedding envelope. But I think it’s really about so much more than that.
To me, etiquette isn’t really about “properness” anymore. It’s not about doing what’s expected or about pure avoidance of offending people. It’s just about respect and grace. You can solve almost any etiquette question by asking yourself, “What will show my friends and family that I love and respect them?” Here are my top 3 wedding etiquette tips to help you navigate sticky situations:
- Put Yourself In Their Shoes – You have probably been a wedding guest at some point in your life. Have you witnessed wedding behavior that has rubbed you the wrong way? What did you most appreciate as a guest? If you’re facing an etiquette question, ask yourself, “How would I feel if I was a guest and the couple did/said/wrote this?” If you think you’d feel icky or hurt, think twice before you do it to your friends.
- Ask People Directly – Sometimes seemingly touchy subjects really aren’t that big of a deal. If your etiquette question only affects a handful of guests–try asking them what they’d prefer! For example, a lot of couples still address their invitations super formally, but may worry that their independent, forward-thinking cousin doesn’t really want to be addressed as “Mrs. Benjamin Johnson.” Instead of fretting about it, try calling her up and saying, “Hey! I’m addressing my wedding invites–can’t wait to see you guys–Do you mind if I address yours to Mr & Mrs Benjamin Johnson or do you prefer just Ben and Allie?” Not sure if inviting your bestie “and guest” will make her feel pressure to go out and find a date? Talk to her! You can say, “Hey, we have enough room for everyone to bring guests if they want to, and I wasn’t sure if you had someone you wanted to invite. There’s no pressure, a bunch of our friends are coming stag, I just wanted to know how I should address your invite!”
- When in Doubt, Love Trumps All – If you make a decision based on love and respect for your partner and for your family and friends, it is usually the right decision. And this goes both ways! If you’re worried that the etiquette police are going to be analyzing every aspect of your wedding, remember that your guests are there because they love you and want to celebrate with you. They are most likely not nit-picking every single detail of your wedding. (And if they are, are they really the people you want to spend time with?) So do your best to keep etiquette in mind, but at the end of the day, cut yourself some slack!
And for those questions that are a little trickier or more complicated–I’m here for you! Today’s world and today’s weddings are infinitely more complex than they were fifty years ago. Weddings range from casual backyard barbecues to million dollar black tie affairs, family structures have gotten more dynamic, and the “who pays for what?” rules have gotten more flexible. So sometimes the old school rules don’t make sense with your new school wedding. If you’re not finding the answers to your questions in the traditional etiquette resources that are already out there, hit me up! I’d love to answer your question in an upcoming post! You can comment below or email me at customerservice[at]freshpaperstudios.com