With the rise of social media and the fact that many couples now live together before they marry, wedding traditions have changed. Here is a look at the new rules of wedding etiquette for both the bride and groom, and their guests.
Don’t announce your engagement on social media before telling your family and friends.
Have the courtesy to share your news personally with your loved ones before you announce it to the world. This is a very special moment and your family and friends will want to share the news personally rather than reading about it on the internet.
The Bride’s family doesn’t have to pay for everything.
Traditionally the bride’s family paid for the wedding and the groom’s paid for the honeymoon. These days more couples are getting married later and they are paying for, or at least contributing to the cost of the wedding. Weddings have become increasingly expensive so it is polite to offer to split the costs between yourselves and your families. Some couples even prefer to pay for the whole wedding themselves so they can have exactly what they want and avoid all of the family drama.
Your Bridal party can include all genders and ages.
Traditionally the bridal party consisted of the same number of bridesmaid’s and groomsmen. Today, there are no restrictions. Many people have platonic friendships so it is quite acceptable for the Bride to have her best male friend beside her. These days it’s about the couple choosing who they want to stand beside them regardless of their gender so many coupes are choosing co-ed wedding parties. It’s also not unusual to ask family to be part of your Bridal party, such as having your mother as your matron of honour. After all it’s about sharing your wedding with those closest to you.
You don’t have to ask your dad to walk you down the aisle.
Although it is traditional for the bride’s father to walk her down the aisle, these days you can ask anyone who is significant to you. That may be mum, stepdad, brother or sister. You can even walk alone or with more than one person. It is entirely up to you who, if anyone, walks you down the aisle.
The Groom can see the Bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.
Superstition has it that it is bad luck for the groom to see his bride in her wedding dress before she walks down the aisle. These days couples are far less traditional and many take the opportunity to have wedding photos together before the ceremony, whilst the bride’s hair and makeup is fresh. Afterwards they can have family photos and relax with their guests and enjoy the cocktail hour. This also shortens the time between the ceremony and reception so that the guests don’t have hours to kill in between whilst the couple are having photos.
Men can choose whether to wear a wedding ring.
Often traditionally both the bride and groom exchanged wedding rings. These days it is a personal choice and it’s really up to the groom – as long as the bride is happy with his decision!
You don’t have to invite everyone.
Traditionally when the parents were paying for the wedding they felt it was their right to invite every distant relative to the wedding. After all it was a status symbol. These days it is quite acceptable to limit the guest list. As more couples today are contributing to the wedding costs they feel less obligated to invite relatives that they haven’t seen since they were 10 years old. Be upfront with your parents about who you want to invite and give them a number of guests to invite on each side.
Send out paper wedding invitations.
In a word of digital technology, sending out paper wedding invitations is still the way to go. Your guests receive dozens of texts and emails every day, so a physical wedding invitation is much more meaningful than a digital invitation and gives the wedding invite a more personal and special touch.
Should you send an invitation to people who can’t attend?
Yes, it’s an honour to be invited to someone’s wedding so even if you know they are unable to attend don’t take that honour away from them. Send them an invitation but be sure to add ‘no gifts’ so they don’t feel obligated to send a present.
How should guests RSVP?
These days there are many forms of communication available so it is not always necessary to RSVP in writing. A phone call, text, email or even Facebook message may be appropriate. It’s best to simply follow the instructions on the wedding invitation and RSVP in the way requested and that may also include a paper RSVP. The bride and groom have specifically come up with their RSVP method to make it easy for them to keep track of who is coming, so respect that.
It’s acceptable to ask for cash as a wedding gift.
As many couples these days often live together before getting married they have already set up their home, so giving kitchen appliances often isn’t appropriate. Nowadays it is certainly acceptable for the bride and groom to ask for gift cards or cash. It’s also convenient for the guests. Most couples who prefer cash will set up a wishing well (either physical or digital) so that guests can contribute toward the honeymoon or a house deposit. So, don’t feel that it’s tacky to give cash because for the modern couple it’s a great wedding gift.
As a guest you don’t have to buy a gift from the gift registry.
Although many guests enjoy the convenience of a bridal registry, perhaps you are on a budget and really can’t afford that expensive registry gift. As long as your gift is personal and meaningful, it is totally acceptable to bypass the gift registry.
When should you give the wedding gift?
Traditionally guests have until the couple’s first wedding anniversary to give a wedding gift and although this has not changed, most people give the gift within three months of the wedding. These days it is not necessary to bring a gift to the wedding reception. Bridal registry’s usually have a cut off date and all of the gifts are delivered to the couple or the Bride’s home. And with the increased popularity of wishing wells, who is to know what you have given or when.
If my invitation doesn’t say ‘and guest’ do I have to come alone?
These days it is not unusual for couples to reduce the number of guests in order to cover the costs of their wedding and reception. Weddings have become expensive. So, if your invitation does not say plus one, it means that you are invited on your own. Don’t take offense as there is obviously a good reason why the bride and groom invited only you. It could be due to budget or they may want only their closest family and friends to attend. And remember it is not polite to ask if you can bring someone.
It is okay to decline the invitation to be a Bridesmaid?
Traditionally the bridesmaid’s must pay for their own wedding attire, hair, makeup and travel. So, if being a bridesmaid is really out of your budget, be honest and explain to the bride that although you would love to be part of her special day, being a bridesmaid is just not something you can commit to. Suggest that you could help in some other meaningful way.
Similarly, if someone asks you to be part of their bridal party, you don’t have to ask them to be part of yours. However, if you do feel uncomfortable, ask them to read a poem during the ceremony or assist you on some other way.
Respect the couple’s decision to have a child free wedding.
Most guests will be thrilled to leave their children at home and enjoy a fun filled evening, however there are those who will be outraged to receive a child free wedding invitation.
Child free weddings are becoming more and more popular, as weddings are an expensive and lavish occasion. So, if you do receive a child free wedding invitation, be polite and accept the bride and groom’s decision. After all, it’s their wedding.
If a guest insists on bringing their children, it is important to call them and kindly but firmly explain that the invitation is only for adults and you do hope that they can still attend. Don’t make exceptions as that it is not fair to the guests who do respect your wishes.
It is still not okay to wear white to a wedding.
White should be reserved for the bride, even if she doesn’t wear it! It is not okay to upstage the bride on her wedding day, so follow the rule and don’t wear white to a wedding. Black also used to be taboo, but these days as long as you break it up and don’t look like you are going to a funeral, black is quite acceptable.
Can you skip the ceremony and attend the reception?
If the couple have invited you to their wedding, they expect you to be at the ceremony and not just attend the reception. The ceremony and reception go hand in hand.
Fortunately, these days many couples are ditching the religious ceremony and getting married outdoors, however whatever the setting you are expected to attend the nuptials. And be assured the bride and groom will remember who was at the ceremony!
Do you need to be involved in embarrassing wedding traditions?
Even though weddings have truly evolved, there is every chance that the bride and groom will incorporate a few age-old wedding traditions into their big day such as throwing the bouquet.
This is the bride’s prerogative, so even if you don’t feel comfortable about catching the bouquet, do it anyway as some things never change.
Whether or not the couple request an unplugged wedding, it is not polite to tap away on your phone and continuously take photos. The bride and groom have asked you to be part of their special day so for the most part you should ditch the devices and enjoy the celebration. Of course, it is fine to take a few snaps (with the couple’s permission) but it’s best to keep your phone in your pocket and be social.
Don’t post wedding photos on social media before the Bride and Groom.
These days everyone has a smart phone and promptly post photos to social media. At a wedding it is best to err on the side of caution and don’t post anything. You don’t want to post wedding photos before the bride does as this can be very upsetting. Although some couples will encourage you to take photos and even give you a hashtag to use on the wedding photos, it is better to wait until the bride and groom post first. So, put down the phone and enjoy the ceremony. There is plenty of time later to post all of the snaps you like.
Don’t get in the way of the professional wedding photographer.
The bride and groom have probably spent a large amount of money on a professional photographer to capture their special day, so respect that and do not get in their way whilst snapping pics on your mobile phone. And remember, during photos put your phone away as there is nothing worse that a sea of mobile phones ruining a beautiful, professional wedding photo.
Hire a social media maid of honour.
Just as the guests should be mindful of using their devices, it’s important for the bride (and groom) to enjoy the moment as well. Your wedding day will fly by and you simply can’t enjoy it if you are constantly on your phone. So, focus on your guests, stay off your phone and designate someone else to update your social media.
You don’t have to have a wedding cake for dessert.
These days cupcakes and dessert bars are more popular than the traditional wedding cake. However, it is still tradition to ‘cut the cake’ or serve dessert as this signals to the guests that they may then leave the reception without being rude.
It’s okay to elope!
Shock, horror but yes, these days it is becoming more and more acceptable to ditch the big, traditional, expensive wedding and elope.
More and more couples are choosing to scrap the planning and politics of a big family wedding at home and elope.
Combining your wedding and honeymoon makes perfect sense for couples who want an intimate wedding for two away from it all.
But how do you plan the perfect elopement?