Rules of Conduct
Common questions regarding wedding etiquette
By Kai Ma
July 8, 2011
Weddings are full of traditions and expectations. Theyre also filled with opportunities for etiquette gaffes. Perhaps this explains why brides and grooms, as well as (some) wedding guests, worry over etiquette. Nobody wants to seem rude or foolish on such an important day. Weve pulled together a list of common wedding etiquette questions and answers to help you set those anxieties aside.
Q. Can I ask for money as a gift? Or should I stick to registered stores?
Proper etiquette rules dictate that you should not expect or demand gifts from your guests on your wedding day, but these days, it has become customaryeven expectedto have an online wedding gift registry. The tricky part is deciding how prominent this information is displayed. Having gift registry information highlighted on your wedding invitation can be viewed as tacky. However, having the information noted on your wedding website (on a subtle sidebar or footnote; not in large bolded fonts on the home page) is acceptable and more dignified. If youd like to receive a cash donation, simply note: Cash in lieu of gifts on your website. If you choose not to have a website, communicate this to your guests in an email that includes other important information about the wedding.
Q. Must all guests respond to the invitation? What if guests dont respond?
Potential guests must respond to wedding invitations they receive. Food must be ordered, for example, and the hosts simply must have a proper headcount. More elaborate weddings may need a headcount in order to plan activities or arrange transportation and accommodations. As a guest, it is inconsiderate to not respond to an RSVP card. Its perfectly appropriate for brides to call negligent invitees who havent responded and ask for a confirmation.
Q. Can I prohibit children from coming to my wedding?
Yes, but you must make that clear in your wedding invitation with a statement such as This is an adult-only event. Dont bend this rule for anyone, even if guests call you and ask you to make an exception. Though it is perfectly acceptable to have an adults-only event, keep in mind that guests who are parents to young children are likely to not attend. This is not to punish you; it is simply the reality. As the invites go out, it is also recommended that you personally call the guests you are close to; emphasize your love for their kids and family, but that an adult-only reception was the route you decided to take.
Q. My parents are divorced and remarried to other spouses. Who should stand in the receiving line with me?
Some brides and grooms have good relationships with their parents or stepparents; some do not. Some divorced parents get along; some cant stand the sight of one another. This is an area so complex that the rules of etiquette cannot meet the needs of each family. That said, your parentseven if they do not get alongmay be mature enough to set their differences aside for your big day. That also means that you have to treat them with the same respect. Your parents should not be expected to leave their new spouses behind; the stepparents must be invited. If one set of parents is paying for your wedding, it may be wiser to ask that set to stand with you in the receiving line. Or, invite all of them to stand with you. This is not an uncommon sight anymore; also, it is a sign of respect that will be duly noted. You can also limit your receiving line to the bride and groom only.
Q. Who should give me away: my father or my stepfather?
The answer to this question depends heavily on your relationship to the men involved. If you are closer to one man, choose this father to walk with you and explain your situation to the other father long before the ceremony. If you simply cannot decide, walk down the aisle with your mother or take the walk solo. All of these options are common and celebrated.