Wedding Etiquette….Do’s and Don’ts

Inviting Plus Ones

invites01-214x273If your relatives or friends are engaged to be married, their fiances (or fiancees) must be invited; their live-in romantic partners must be as well. However, if they are only dating, you need not invite their boyfriend or girlfriend. Should you decide to include some dates and not others, draw your cut-off line at a clearly identifiable place and communicate it to everyone who is not allowed to invite someone to accompany them. Beware, many unmarried people find it tremendously upsetting to not be allowed to bring a date. Prepare them for the idea and pay careful attention to where the singletons sit during dinner.

Rules for Inviting Cousins

Though most etiquette advisors will say that inviting one of your first cousins means you should invite them all, this rule does not mean you must treat both sides of the aisle the same. Elizabeth Howell of the Emily Post institute confirms: It’s best to treat each family according to the closeness (and the reality) of that family’s ties. Your family won’t be as aware of the family-tree breakdown on his side; but should they discover that his first cousins were included while yours were not, there’s a simple reply: “His family is much closer than ours is.

Who to Invite from Work

“It all depends on the size and location of the wedding and the size of your department,” says Elise Mac Adam, author of “Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between” (Simon Spotlight Entertainment; 2008). If you’re throwing an intimate destination wedding, it’s unlikely that your boss would be insulted to be left off the guest list. But if you’re throwing a rather large affair and work at a small organization, it’s polite — not to mention smart politics — to invite the head honcho. “A courtesy invitation can’t hurt,” explains Mac Adam. “And your boss will be happy to have been thought of.” Finally, don’t worry that it will be seen as a ploy to score a present; most managers, regardless of whether they’ve been invited, give wedding gifts to their employees who marry.

You Don’t Want Children at the Wedding

Let your invitation do the talking, says Anna Post, author of “Emily Post’s Wedding Parties” (Collins; 2007). Let’s say you’ve chosen not to include kids younger than 5, and your friends have an 11-year-old and a 4-year-old. You’d write the friends’ names and the older child’s name on the inner envelope, indicating that the youngest isn’t invited. If you’re worried guests won’t get the message, call beforehand. Says Post, “You can say, ‘We just sent the invitations and we’re excited to have you join us, but we’ve decided not to include young children. I wanted to give you advance notice so you have time to find a sitter. I hope you can make it!’ ” Don’t grant any exceptions; that would be rude to guests who’ve abided by your wishes.

To Invite Teenagers or Not

It’s very common nowadays for brides and grooms not to invite children. Increased competition for wedding venues has pushed prices for sit-down dinners way up. But what about teenagers? There’s no clear guideline from etiquette — you could use the “old enough to receive their own invitation” rule (which is 18, per Crane’s, and 16 per other sources; but we’ve also seen 12 given as that age). If you set the cut-off at 18, however, you may really hurt the feelings of any younger teens. Teenagers especially hate being treated like children, so they may resent it even more.

Do You Have to Invite Them if They Invited You

Etiquette’s rule of reciprocal entertaining is pretty strong. If your friends’ wedding was recent, and you are still close — and if your wedding is on a similar scale as theirs, or is larger — they should already be on your guest list. But if your friendship has faded some since their nuptials, or if your wedding is of a smaller size, it is completely appropriate to leave them off your guest list. Exercise some caution if you have mutual friends who are invited; alert those people to the restriction in your guest list, so that they won’t gush on and on about your wedding in front of those not invited, and create an awkward moment for everyone.

You Have Relatives Who Are Known for Misbehaving

Well, it wouldn’t be a wedding without at least one loose cannon — the uncle who drinks too much, the overemotional mother, the cousin who needs to be the center of attention.
You can’t control other people’s behavior, but if  you’re worried, enlist a trusted friend to keep an eye on the troublemaker and nip any developing scenes with a well-timed, “How about a dance?” Then, focus instead on celebrating your new union.

You’re Having a Cocktail Only Reception

Regardless of how formally you are constructing your invitations, adding the word “cocktail” before “reception” is the most straightforward way to let your guests know that dinner will not be served. Traditional wording might read something like: “A cocktail reception will follow the ceremony” or, more casually, “and afterward for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.” The start time for your reception will also help clue in guests. “Set the event during cocktail hours — that can be 4 to 6 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. — and anticipate that it’s going to be a shorter reception than usual,”  says Mac Adam. Whatever time you choose, wrap things up, including the cake cutting, no later than 8 p.m. so people will still have time for dinner.

You Won’t Be Serving Alcohol

Even though your choice of what to serve really doesn’t require an explanation, it’s not a bad idea to give your guests a heads up about alcohol, says Post. The best way is by word of mouth, she says; ask your family and your wedding party to pass along the information as they would any other details about the wedding and reception. You could also casually mention it to guests with a simple “By the way, there won’t be any alcohol served at the reception.” If your guest list is large or you prefer to let people know in writing, add a discrete note on the reception page of your wedding website: “Please know that alcohol will not be served.” The same wording could also unobtrusively appear on any insert you include with your reception invitation, such as directions to the venue or other logistics, but Post says this should be a last resort. Never include it on the wedding invitation itself.

Assigning Seats and Tables

Open seating may seem as if it would be fun and spontaneous, but guests shouldn’t have to feel like they’re the new kid in the school cafeteria. You don’t want them to be stranded, without somewhere welcoming to sit, or rushed into claiming territory. That said, you needn’t micromanage — only the most formal receptions require place cards at each setting, says Joyce Westin Dunne, a Chicago wedding planner. Assigning only tables and letting guests choose their chairs is perfectly acceptable. Should you decide to forgo table assignments, remember that your guests will take longer to seat themselves. And you’ll need to account for more settings than number of guests, since it’s inevitable that there will be incomplete tables (for example, six guests seated at a table of eight).

What Should Actually Be In Your Clutch On Your Wedding Day


We know those bridal clutches are small, so it’s time to talk essentials. Pack yourself a bag ahead of time so you have one less thing on your mind on the Big Day. We’ve mapped out the 12 essential items you’ll want by your side on your wedding day, other than your groom of course!

Cell phone
It’s your big day and you’ll be surrounded by all of your loved ones, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need your cell! Even if you hand it over to your MOH to Snapchat your day, don’t forget to pack it in your bridal bag.

This is a must—happiest day of your life = ugly crying, and lots of it.

Compact mirror
In between hugging every aunt and cousin you’ve ever met, and some you haven’t, you’ll need to check up on your makeup.


Bobby pins
If you’re sporting an up-do, bobby pins are essential so that you can dance the night away while making sure your hair stays in place!

Everyone is there to see YOU! As hostess, you’ll be greeting all of your guests so make sure you smell minty fresh!

Safety pins
Heaven forbid a wardrobe malfunction, you and your MOH better be ready with safety pins to pull it back together. *knock on wood*

Ballet flats
It’s your night—you want to dance, but those Louboutins are not broken in yet. Pack a compact pair of ballet flats to subtly slip on when your feet are feeling iffy. No one will even notice them under your dress!

Your caterer is amazing, the best. Just make sure you don’t flash those pearly whites at the camera with the previous course still showing.

Between kissing your new hubby and every relative ever, you’ll definitely need to reapply! Don’t forget to ask your makeup artist to apply a lipstick that you actually own

Ok maybe this one is for the day-after, but after the longest-shortest day of your life and one too many rosés you’ll be needing some assistance.