Who knew there were so many rules when it came to weddings? I never knew how many there really were until I was a bride myself. It can be hard to keep track of for sure. So, here’s a quick breakdown for you!
Announcing the Engagement
Make sure to call everyone close to you to notify them about the engagement prior to putting it on Facebook. It’s very hurtful when a close friend or family member gets engaged and you find out on Facebook, not from the person directly (and I know from personal experience!).
Engagement Party Gifts
Simple answer: they are not required.
This is up to the groom’s family to plan, host, and pay for. Though the bride and groom can certainly give input, they should not help plan it as they have enough on their plate. Likewise, guests with questions should go to the groom’s parents with them. An invitation for the dinner is needed, but it can be as simple as an emailed notice of the event – just something so the guests know where to go and when. Generally, the bridal party and their dates (along with the parents of the couple) are the guests to this event.
Save the Dates should be sent to people on your “A” list (i.e. people you really want to come), but not necessarily the full list (and do not send out more than your max capacity). They should be sent out about 6 months prior and should include the wedding date and at least the city and state of the wedding.
Invites should be sent out to everyone on your “A” list (which should match your top number of guests) approximately 6-8 weeks before the wedding. If it’s a destination wedding, feel free to send those out sooner. It should include the date, the exact location, the time of the ceremony, and a way to RSVP. This could be in the form of an RSVP card or a link to a website where they can learn more about the wedding and RSVP there. And guests, RSVP as soon as you can. Do not wait until the deadline, and above all, do not send it in late.
Brides and grooms, offering guests a “plus one” option is not mandatory, so you can choose if you wish to allow guests that option or not. Weddings are certainly expensive enough without a plus one, so it’s fine if you choose not to offer it. If you are okay adding some “plus ones,” but you want to put a limit on it, reserve those for guests who won’t know anyone else besides you. Also, if you know someone can’t come, you should still send them an invite anyway (unless they’ve asked you not to). Otherwise, they could feel offended. It’s best to include a note with the invite that explains you know they can’t come but wanted them to have a copy of the invitation as a keepsake.
If the bride’s parents helped pay for the wedding, the wording should begin with both of the bride’s parents’ names followed by “request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter” (or something similar) followed by the bride’s name and then the groom’s. If the couple paid for the wedding on their own, the wording should begin with the bride and groom’s name followed by “request the honor of your presence at their wedding.” If both sets of parents helped out financially, the wording should begin with the bride and groom’s named followed by “and their parents request the honor of your presence at their wedding.” Of course, these are just guidelines, and they can definitely be altered to fit what you want to show on the invite!
Gifts are typically given for bridal showers and the wedding itself. How much to spend really depends on the guest’s budget, and they may choose to make something versus buy if that’s easier. Typically, guests tend to spend around $100 a gift on weddings, and they can spend around $50 on shower gifts, but again, this is entirely up to the guest and what they are comfortable with. It is best to stick to the wedding registry when choosing gifts, but a sentimental or handmade gift is also appreciated.
Brides should send out thank you notes as soon as possible, but the general rule is that they have one month to send out thank you notes from the time the gift was received. In the note, it’s a good idea to mention what the gift was (i.e. “We love the gravy boat!”) so it’s personalized. Also, it’s good to have them handwritten (I know, I wasn’t a fan of this one either because my handwriting is horrible) and both the bride and groom should sign it.
Guests, if you are writing a check to the couple, make sure to check if they have a joint account. If they don’t, and you write the check out to both of them, they’ll have to go down to the bank and open a joint before they can cash or deposit it. When in doubt, put the check in one name only.
Brides, you may get the majority of the gifts, but you still have some to give. Brides give gifts to their parents, their bridesmaids, the groom, and anyone else who really helped out. Grooms do the same on their side.
A virgin wears white right? Wrong. I’m not sure how the old tradition got switched from wearing a veil to wearing white, but for some reason, most now believe the sign of purity is wearing all white. Fashions have changed though. Now, wearing a non-white dress is becoming more and more popular since not everyone looks their best in white – and those color dresses can be absolutely stunning! Sometimes, a veil doesn’t go with the bride’s overall look. Sometimes, the dress isn’t white. And that’s absolutely fine. As the bride, you should wear what makes you feel beautiful. So, guests, make sure you never comment negatively about the fact that the bride chose a color other than white or decided not to wear a veil. Nowadays, it really has nothing to do with “purity” just with beauty.
Alcohol can be a wild card to throw into the mix, so always make sure to discuss with your partner as to what you’d like to do. The typical options are to have no alcohol at all, just wine and champagne, or a full bar. If having no alcohol, make sure that is noted on the invite, or better yet, on the wedding website. Some guests may choose not to come if alcohol is not served. If you’re just having wine and champagne, you can limit how much guests drink by having your caterers provide one glass to each guest. You don’t have to note this on the invite or wedding website, but you certainly can. If having a full bar, it’s generally expected that it will be an open bar (i.e. free), and that guests can come back as many times as they want. For any alcohol, you will need to talk to your venue about a liquor license (this is generally passed onto the bride and groom to pay for). Oh, and guests, do remember there are photographers there taking pictures!
The look and feel of the invitation generally lets people know the style of the wedding, and thus what is appropriate to wear. It may not specifically state the attire, but if it’s an evening ballroom wedding, you can expect to dress up a bit fancier. On the other hand, an outdoor garden wedding would be a perfect place to wear a nice sundress. Of course, there are some rules that guests should abide by. Read more about which rules matter on a past blog post, Wedding Guest Attire Rules: Brides Tell Us What Rules They Do and Don’t Care About. It’s always nice to let guests know the attire on the wedding website if you can though. This is especially true if it’s a themed wedding or if you have a very specific style you’d like guests to match.
You’d think it goes without saying that you should always be on your best behavior at a wedding (regardless of your role), but sadly, some people do need reminding (check YouTube for examples). That’s not to say you can’t let loose and have some fun, though! Just know when to sit quietly and when to party.
As far as taking pictures during the ceremony goes, take your cue from the couple. If there are no signs saying you can’t, and the officiant doesn’t request that phones and cameras are put away, then you can take pictures. Just make sure flash is off and don’t reach your camera over your head or in the aisle to get the shot – you may just block the professional photographer!
To learn more about bridesmaid duties, visit our past post here: Bridesmaid Protocol: What to Expect As a Bridesmaid, and What Brides Should Know.
Who Pays for What
Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, the marriage license, the officiant fees, the bride’s bouquet, the boutonnieres and the corsages, and even sometimes the honeymoon. The bridesmaids handle their own attire, as do the groomsmen, and the couple pays for the rings. So that means, the bride and her family would handle the rest (short end of the stick there, huh?). That being said, things have changed, and brides and grooms are paying for a lot more than before. That being said, if it’s your child, you should be pitching in some places, and not just the bare minimum. If you can’t do that financially, then find ways to contribute your time to help take the pressure off the others.
Some women keep their maiden names. Some hyphenate. Some take their husband’s last name. All are fine!! It’s up to the bride as to what is best for her.
Weddings are wonderful, but they are also incredibly stressful. With stress comes tension and frustrations. These are natural, but there is a time and a place to express that frustration – it’s not on social media.
Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.