Wedding etiquette

June 3, 2013 10:26:00 AM PDT
During this wedding season, it can be difficult to navigate the social rules when it comes to gift giving, attending a ceremony, and what is appropriate to wear. Ellen Ericson, etiquette expert helps navigate through some common confusing questions.

1) How quickly do I need to RSVP to a wedding invitation?
When invited to a wedding, you should reply with an acceptance or regret as soon as possible. Do it right away so you don't forget and put it in the mail the next day. You do not want to look ungrateful for the invitation nor lazy and unorganized.

2) If the invitation is addressed to just you and not your partner, should you ask if your significant other can attend or should you just assume the invitation is just for you?
Typically, serious partners or fianc?s are invited. If they are not, the female or male guest may ask the bride if they can bring their partner. With this being said, use your own discretion if you know that the couple has a tight budget or if your partner is not well liked by them, you may want to refrain from asking if they can accompany you.

3) What to wear?
Daytime weddings are typically more informal (unless stated otherwise on the invitation). A nice sundress and flats (or heels) are appropriate. There will be many photos taken, always be tasteful. Although it is more casual make sure you look well put together. There is not a hard and fast rule about wearing white to someone else's wedding as long as the dress doesn't resemble anything bridal. With that said, everyone believes that it is inappropriate to wear white to a wedding as it looks like you are trying to upstage the bride. A safe recommendation is to proceed with caution and wear something that looks pretty on you that isn't white.

4) Gifts:
How much?
Bring to wedding?
Shower and Wedding?
There is not a correct or incorrect amount of money to spend on a gift. What makes a gift special is that it is thoughtful and specific to the recipient. If you find something on the bride and groom's registry that is within your price range and you like, purchase it for them. Since it is on their registry you know that they want it and will like it. If you would prefer to get something unique and special that you know would be meaningful to the bride and groom then that would be a very nice gift as well. even if you buy a shower gift you should still buy a wedding gift. They are two separate occasions and traditionally have represented different kinds of giving. The shower gift should not be elaborate. The gift should be thoughtful and appropriate for the bride or couple. The wedding gift is typically something more decorative and useful for the home or many times a check is given to the couple. Typically, serious partners or fianc?s are invited. If they are not, the female or male guest may ask the bride if they can bring their partner. With this being said, use your own discretion if you know that the couple has a tight budget or if your partner is not well liked by them, you may want to refrain from asking if they can accompany you.

5) If it's an all day ceremony, is it rude to just show up for the reception and not go to the wedding?
If you are invited to the both the ceremony and reception it means something special to the couple or the families of the couple to have you there. They probably believe the feeling is mutual and that you would like to take part in the entirety of their special day. For that reason alone, I would recommend going to both the wedding and the reception

6) During the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception it looks like people openly get up and give toasts, should I feel pressure to give one too if I'm close to the bride or groom?
First, never feel pressure to give a toast. If there is something you would like to say from the heart then by all means get up and make a toast that the couple will enjoy and remember for a long time. Second, there is an order of toasting that involves the best man, groom, bride, parents of the bride and parents of the groom. Once all the formal toasts are given, many times other attendants, relatives and close friends may continue toasting the bride and groom. This is when you would get up to give your toast.

7) Do I have to go to an out of town wedding for a work colleague that I'm not that close to?
Managing your friendships and social calendar is your business. You are not obligated to attend anything. Just realize that major life occasions, like a wedding, typically don't happen often in a person's lifetime so at the very least be appreciative that you were included in the affair. If you are unable to attend, RSVP right away and also convey your regrets about having to miss the wedding to your work colleague in person. Still do celebrate the occasion with her, whether you and your colleagues put on a mini bridal shower after work one day or you can take her out to lunch and give her a gift in person.


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