Wedding traditions are everywhere and many traditions have changed or been completely forgotten over the years. However, brides often ask me about wedding etiquette and the expected protocol in certain situations.
Wedding etiquette is an unwritten (though sometimes written) list of traditions and guidelines to follow in the planning and execution of a wedding. Generally, this type of etiquette can be traced back through centuries of tradition and routines, and most of it will play a big role in the weddings and marriage ceremonies of today.
Wedding etiquette is important because it is there to ensure that weddings progress smoothly and that all guests are treated with care and appreciated for attending the wedding. It also really does impact just about every aspect of your wedding, from the invitations to the thank you cards.
Here are 8 top etiquette tips to help guide you through your wedding day.
Paying For The Wedding
Traditionally it will be the parents of the bride that will pay for the majority of the wedding, with the groom paying for suit hire, rings and the honeymoon. However, nowadays many couples are paying for their weddings themselves or even splitting the cost between both families. It is a difficult subject to approach when starting to plan a wedding but it is important to sort this out early on so you know what, if anything, each family would like to contribute.
Setting Dress Codes
When it comes to dress codes, traditions have changed. A formal engraved invitation used to mean that guests were expected to wear morning dress. However, nowadays dress codes are much more varied but are still known to be quite formal. If you do wish to set a dress code this is fine, just make sure that any invitation wording is simple and clear.
This is an age old question of who sends the invitations and when? Traditionally invitations are sent from the bride’s parents, nowadays it is becoming more common for couples to send their own or for the wording to be from whoever is paying for the wedding. If a number of people are contributing, it is best to send it from the couple.Order your invitations four months before your wedding and post them approx. 10 weeks before the wedding.
Arriving at the Ceremony
The groom and best man should arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the bride. This is also true of guests who would usually arrive half an hour before the start of the ceremony.
The groom usually does not mingle during this time but sits quietly at the front of the ceremony room waiting for the bride to arrive.
Traditionally the bride would enter first and bridesmaids would follow, sometimes with the flower girl going before the bride. In the States it’s the other way around, and this is becoming more and more popular in the UK. There’s no set rule for this so go with your instincts and what you would prefer.
Favours are not necessary, especially if you are on a tight budget. The most traditional wedding favour is sugared almonds. These are usually given in a box or bag in sets of five, representing fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness.
The speeches are usually made as coffee is being served. The father or the bride usually speaks first, followed by the groom and best man. However, you could have the speeches before the meal so that the speakers can relax and enjoy their food, or hold them later on when your evening guests are also present.
Register your gift list sooner rather than later, especially if you’re planning to use one of the popular department stores. Some will let you register online early, but otherwise 12 weeks is about standard. If you’re sending your invites out eight to 10 weeks before, you can include information about your gift list with them. Although it’s more acceptable now to ask for money as a gift, some guests may still prefer to buy you a present. A compromise could be to set up a small wedding list and suggest that vouchers for a variety of retailers would be just as useful.