Wedding Wednesday: Etiquette

I’ve decided to put my usual Wedding Wednesday features on hold until the new year. Until then, you’ll have to deal with a few posts on the topic, but without the featured weddings.

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I’ve been reading a few articles recently about the touchy subject of wedding etiquette. Some of these articles question whether or not it’s still necessary, while some maintain that etiquette is alive and should still be followed. Many brides are in one boat or the other, if they’re even informed at all. I like to think, however, that there is a definite grey area when it comes to wedding etiquette, and that it is an ever changing concept.

Note that this is entirely my opinion. I’m not trying to suggest that what I believe on this topic is correct, but then again, is there really a right answer?

You all know how I feel about food at weddings. Typical wedding food, in my mind, is entirely boring and bland and unoriginal. Thus the reason for our choice in wedding fare. When planning my wedding, I asked other brides for their opinion on my thought of having the In-N-Out truck at our reception, which probably wasn’t the best idea. Some were completely supportive, and thought it was a great and fun idea. Others…not so much. There were a few women in the middle who thought it would be nice as a late night snack, or as part of the meal, but not as the main course. We, obviously, chose to only have burgers as our food, along with some appetizers, and it went over really well. I know there are probably a few people who disliked it, or who thought it was “tacky,” but it doesn’t really matter, does it? We enjoyed ourselves, and we had the best night of our lives.

I’m only using my wedding as an example. There are a thousand rules out there about weddings and what is and isn’t appropriate. Some of this etiquette is culturally or geographically influenced, and some of it is just plain old tradition. When it comes right down to it, however, what’s the point? I promise there will be someone at your wedding who disapproves of your planning and decisions.

And there are so many rules, how are we supposed to remember them all?!

Someone is going to think that spending $100 on a meal is ridiculous and unnecessary.

But someone else might think that having your wedding anywhere but a country club or hotel ballroom is tacky.

Your grandmother may not like you wearing a dress that isn’t pure white, and you’ll probably get chewed out by someone for not inviting their kids.

You’ll probably read plenty of articles about how honeymoon registries, or cash registries, are a huge faux pas, but there will be some people out there who think that any type of registry is bad etiquette.

Did you know that traditionally, family members are not supposed to throw showers for the couple? Or that when someone toasts to you at the reception, you aren’t supposed to raise your glass? Or that people expect thank you notes no more than three months after the gift was given {at the latest}?

People are opinionated and bitter, and weddings are the perfect place for people to cast judgment. It’s just the way life is. There is no way that you can please everyone.

If you do care about what people think, the best way to approach etiquette is to prioritize. What is most important to you?

I personally believe that having a cash bar is a breach of etiquette that I wasn’t willing to cross. We provided alcohol for everyone, and were able to do so on a budget by supplying our own. But that isn’t possible for everyone. You still have a few options: host a bar during the cocktail hour, host beer and wine, or don’t have alcohol at all. It’s not a win-lose situation.

Do you not want to compromise the quality of your reception just so that you can invite more people? Don’t invite so many people! Nobody should expect to be invited to a wedding. Or have a destination wedding. Or have a really nice cocktail or dessert reception. These days, anything but a traditional sit down dinner reception is popular.

There are a few things, however, that I do feel are inappropriate for weddings. But again, entirely my opinion…

It’s not technically appropriate to invite someone to a shower, but not a ceremony.

It’s not technically appropriate to invite someone to a ceremony, but not the reception.

Or to not invite a significant other.

And thank you notes are still highly encouraged and appreciated {even if it takes you longer than three months to get them out}.

I only encourage you to follow things like this because they can hurt feelings and ruin a relationship with a friend.

I could go on and on and on, but the bottom line is this: It’s your day. Do what you want. You might hurt a few feelings or ruffle a few feathers, but all that matters is at the end of the day, you’re husband and wife. In fifty years, when you look back, you probably won’t remember, or care, if you did a dollar dance or had your dog as the flower girl. Trends and fads change. You’ll remember seeing the faces of everyone you love in one place, and saying I Do.

Here are a few of my favorite non-traditional wedding ideas {and potential breaches of etiquette} that I’ve seen recently:

First looks


Food trucks {obviously}


Non-White dresses


Open seating


Mismatched bridesmaids


Happy Wedding Wednesday my dears.


Becca said...

Oh BOY does this post hit close to home! Having thrown my own wedding and been involved in several others in the last couple of years, many of my friends have been asking me all kinds of things in the etiquette department!

I totally agree with you - whatever FEELS right is probably going to be the best choice for any couple's wedding. That said, regardless of what the couple decides to do, the only real piece of etiquette that MUST be followed is to enforce the "rules" equally! It's all or none for things like inviting small children, covering the bar tab, and allowing guests to bring guests.

While people may grumble about specific decisions, the feelings really get hurt when they're not universally applied! But that's just my anecdotal opinion, too, I suppose. :D

Heidi said...

I'm currently planning my wedding and I have to admit that sometimes I feel a little confused about what we should or shouldn't do. We're not having an official photographer, I'm making the bouquets myself, and we're sure not having a fancy sit down dinner.. yet, even though these are the things we both really want, I feel like I'm breaking all these unspoken wedding rules. I feel like wedding planning is this completely different culture and language, and I'm clueless!

marissa at the boot said...

i can't wait to plan my wedding and i hope to be able to not sacrifice what i want and get lost thinking about what everyone else wants. of course, compromise is important, but i like that your wedding etiquette is all about being an individual! :)

Jessica said...

Ah what a great post- thank you! So many things I could identify with after finishing our wedding planning and all that several months ago. So much of it is just learning to prioritize and what matters to you and your fiance. Great post :)

Michelle said...

Love this post today!!!! I agree with you when you said whatever feels right...that is what me and the hubs decided to do from the very beginning. We said it was OUR wedding and we get to decide what we want it to look like and what food we would eat, etc.

We both look back at our wedding with positive, happy memories and we both know that the decisions we made for the wedding were good ones.

Christina said...

First of all, I LOVE the idea of In-N-Out! My sister got married this summer and we all wore different dresses. People freaked out about it! I struggled with some traditional verses what we wanted decisions too. In the end, I didn’t care what my crazy aunt or old fashioned grandma said. People are going to judge your wedding anyway, doesn’t everyone? So we just did what we wanted. I mean, we got married in Vegas and our reception was two weeks later back at home in a log cabin! Not ideal. Although, I would never think to invite someone to the shower and not the wedding. That’s just rude! And I’m a firm believer in handwritten thank you cards! What a great post!

MarieHarmony said...

I think you expressed it well, what is the most important is you. There are always things to remember, but at the end there are also always people who will judge the way it's done.

I have to say I didn't have much to worry about etiquette for my own, we kept it simple and because we celebrated it in a different country than our own. My husband and his friends organized it all and I was left with chatting with friends, taking care of myself and managing visitors and planes arrivals organisation. Better than a wedding planner. Some would think it was not a fancy one, but for sure it's a time we will all remember with s big smile on our face.

Chelsea said...

I LOVE this post! Wedding etiquette is definitely something I wish I saw people posting about more often, especially with the ever-changing trends. I couldn't agree with you more about the food! The last thing I wanted to do was serve typical wedding food. It was more important for me to have fun, tasty food with a good variety!

You're right. People are opinionated and bitter and there's always going to be someone who is disappointed or has something to say about your choices. Oh well. I think there's definitely some etiquette that can be a thing of the past but there are certain things that should always be paid attention to...

Anyway, I love this! It's crazy how much etiquette can be involved in the whole wedding planning process. Sometimes you don't even realize it until it hits you in the face!

Eliza said...

I think more people need to read this post before planning their weddings!! :) We also decided to pass on the traditional wedding food and instead had the best BBQ I've ever tasted. My dress had bits of blue here and there...my bridesmaids wore matching dresses, but each chose their own shoes/hair/earrings/etc. It was the perfect day because we stuck with what was important to us - like you said, we prioritized the most important things and compromised on the others. Great post, love! xoxo, eliza

Carolyn said...

This post is so good! It's so hard to know what's the "right" thing to do. I think it's important to know the "classic" rules, but to also do what you want. It's your day, and the people attending should enjoy it no matter what sort of food they're eating, or where they're sitting.

Thanks for bringing up such a delicate topic!! :)

KellyMichelle said...

I cannot remember for the life of me where or when I found your blog (I think around the time I won your awesome fall giveaway) but I am so glad I did. I love how you tell us what you think while still trying to make sure people are not offended. I know I am not like that but I think it is refreshing for someone to just say "I think this and just because you don't agree, it doesn't make either of us wrong."

At the end of the day, just know that you are awesome :)

Amanda said...

As a person who will someday get married, this post was super helpful. I don't have any close friends who've gotten married, and I've only ever been to 3 weddings. I am clueless. I never really thought about etiquette issues. But you're right; it's our day, and if someone doesn't like what we do, oh well! I guess that's the mentality that I have. And, of course, I'll probably hire you as my wedding planner, because I will totally need help in all of this! Haha