Wedding Etiquette

Still with me after the last blog post on Traditions?  Right, let’s move on to answering some of the common questions regarding etiquette, and handling some of those more delicate situations.

Children at the wedding - If you don’t want children at the wedding you need to do both of these things in order to make it clear to your guests and avoid awkward conversations further down the line:
1. When addressing invitations, leave the children’s names off, and don’t allow for confusion with wording like ‘the Clark Family’
2. Friends and family can pass the word around that children aren’t included this time

Also, we suggest you try adding one of these phrases to the bottom of the reply card:
* Adult Reception
* We hope the (# of) you will be able to join us

Other invitation etiquette –
* If someone hasn't responded to an invitation by one week past the RSVP date, call them.  They’re the ones being rude here and you’re entitled to ask.
* Children over the age of eighteen get their own invitations, even if at the same address as their parents.
* Your parents and wedding party will probably love to be sent an invitation as a keepsake, but for obvious reasons they don’t have to reply.
* You should put return postage on your RSVP’s, it’s just the considerate thing to do.

Wedding Gifts - This is such a tricky one, and everyone seems to have an opinion.  You’re certainly free to go your own way, but our thoughts are that gifts should be a lovely surprise and much appreciated, rather than an expectation of your guests.  After all, the important thing is that your family and friends are there to share the day with you, right?  So here goes…

Although wishing wells are very popular, traditionally it is considered rude to put ‘cash only gifts’, or other wording meaning the same thing on the invitation. 

Etiquette dictates that registry information shouldn't be put on the wedding invitation and it's left up to friends and family to inform everyone.  But that's not very practical.  We think it’s fine for gift information to be on a separate insert within the invitations.  Again, it should be worded so that your guest understands it is there to help guide them in their choice, should they choose to do so, rather than an expectation.  For example, ‘If you wish, we have registered at David Jones Adelaide’.  

Some couples like to politely inform their guests that gifts are not necessary on this occasion.  Perhaps you already have all you need, or many of your guests are spending money to travel to your wedding.  Alternatively, you may like to use the opportunity to direct your guests’ contribution toward something more meaningful to you.  We’ve seen many couples ask for donations toward their favourite charity in lieu of gifts, often in memory of a loved one who can’t be there on the day.

Second marriages -
* If the bride has been married before or has children it's still perfectly acceptable to wear white.  She is not supposed to wear a veil, have a train attached to her dress, or carry orange blossoms (must be a sign of purity or virginity thing).
* You know what, it's your wedding, wear whatever it is that makes you feel fabulous!
* The second time around, parents are not obliged to pay for anything.
* If the bride gets along with her ex-husband and his family, and its fine with her fiancé, then it’s acceptable to invite them to the wedding.  (It might be acceptable but we think it’s almost always a recipe for awkwardness at the very least).

If the bride is wearing gloves (which by the way, gives her wedding attire such an elegant look) -
* They can be taken off sometime before the wedding rings are exchanged and handed to the maid of honour who will give them back at an appropriate time.
* It’s appropriate to wear gloves in the receiving line and for the first dance.  When it comes time to eat and party, the gloves come off!

Seating Plan Basics -
* Don't seat battling relatives together.  In-fighting within families is always difficult, but trust us when we say that your wedding is not the time to try and mend fences.
* So that everyone has a good time, seat teens together, aunts and uncles together, etc.  Try seating groups either by their relationship to the bride and groom or by their ages.  One wedding we attended did away with the ‘immediate family’ table and split those people up amongst each and every table at the reception.  Surprisingly it really worked!  That family member was able to provide some insight on personal family traditions when they happened during the night and generally keep the conversation happening at tables where guests may not know each other very well. 
* As for the head table, the rule has changed so often that there really isn't one anymore, so do what makes you happy.  The bride and groom can sit at a raised table with their wedding party below them. They can have their own table with a table on either side of them with their wedding party. Bride and groom in the middle of a long table with men on one side and women on the other, or boy, girl, boy, girl. Parents and grandparents at the table or not, it's up to you.

Guest Rules -
* If a guest arrives at the church during the procession they should wait until the bride has gone down the aisle before entering.
* If a guest is late for the ceremony they should walk down an outside aisle and find a seat quickly and quietly (this once happened to me and the only way in was behind the bridal party, eek!)
* If they are of a different faith they are not required to participate in the rituals, but if they want to that's fine.
* Guests from out-of-town pay for their own transport and accommodation (although it’s lovely of you to have a welcome basket waiting in their room).

Speech Etiquette - Everyone basically knows, you have a wedding, you better get the speeches prepared, because they are inevitable. If done well, they can really add to the enjoyment and atmosphere of the occasion.  As for the proper order of speeches, we've looked at books and websites, and everyone has a different order.  What is universally accepted is that the only person who is required to make a toast at the wedding is the best man.  And we say, other than the best man being first, and the couple being last, what happens in between is up to the bridal couple.

If you’re having more than five speakers try and fit a couple of speeches in between dinner courses. People tend to get bored if they have to listen to one speech after another, and after eating a big meal people have to get up and move around, or risk dropping off to sleep.

Advice on the Speeches -
Things to Say and Do:
* Keep speeches short, five minutes is ample
* If you can, add a funny (yet tasteful!) story
* If you get sentimental, you'll be a hit, so don't be embarrassed about it

Things Not to Say and Do -
* Don't be drunk before you give your speech
* Don't curse, don’t chew gum and don’t use a lot of slang
* Don't bring up the couples past relationships, they will not love you for it
* Funny is one thing, but taken too far can become humiliating.  Save it for the bachelor party instead.

The Ceremony & Reception Etiquette -

Which side of the church?  Left side is traditionally the bride’s side, and right is for the groom.

The correct order for the attendants in the processional - There are many variations to the processional, we’re just giving you one option.

* The groom, best man and groomsmen are already at the altar
* Bridesmaids first
* Maid of honour next
* Flower girl and ring bearer
* Bride walks with her father, other escort or by herself.

 The order of the recessional -

* Bride & groom first
* Flower girl & ring bearer next
* Maid of honour & best man
* Bridesmaids & groomsmen in couple pairs

So there you have it.  We hope that covers everything you ever wanted to know about the why and how of a traditional wedding.  If you have other questions, let us know, we can cover it in another blog post!  You might choose to follow some, all, or none of them, and that’s okay because there’s another much-loved tradition we haven’t mentioned yet - rules are made to be broken!