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Wedding Etiquette

When planning for your wedding day, careful thought must be taken into account. There are proper ways to conduct the service, the reception and all of the details that are required of a wedding. Proper etiquette standards are in place for such things as attire, manners, procedures and announcements. Proper etiquette is the one area often overlooked.

General Wedding Etiquette


Do I have to invite people I work with?
You do not need to invite coworkers or business associates to your wedding. If there are some coworkers that you regularly socialize with outside of the office, they may be an exception.

If I was invited to a wedding does that mean I have to invite them to mine?
You shouldn't feel obligated to invite people just because you were invited to their weddings, especially if a lengthy amount of time has passed or circumstances have changed. The same is true for members of your wedding party; just because you were a bridesmaid in their wedding, doesn't mean that you must make her one for your own.

If my friends are single do I have to add "and guest"?
Don't feel obligated to give all of your single invitees an "and guest" option on their invitations. They're big boys and girls...they can come on their own! Seat singles near one another so that they mingle, and feel free to play matchmaker if you like. After all, love is in the air!

If we are having an adult-only wedding and someone asks to bring their children what should we do?
Simple. Just tell them sorry, but the wedding is an adults-only affair except for your immediate family. If they're traveling from out-of-town as a family, you can also offer to locate a babysitter to watch their kids during the wedding. Once you've indicated that children aren't invited to a wedding or any other event, it's best not to make any exceptions.

I would really like to give wedding favors to my guests at the reception. However, we are having a buffet-style dinner with no assigned seating. How do I make sure that everyone gets a wedding favor?
Why not set up a table with your favors near the exit at the reception with a note saying something like, "Thank you so much for being here with us. Please take one"? This way, guests won't miss them, and can simply pick up a favor on their way out. There will also be no worry of them misplacing their favors during the reception or forgetting them on the tables before they leave.

I want to use my new monogram. When is it appropriate?
Before the wedding ceremony do not use your married monogram. Starting at your reception, however, is just fine. Use your new monogram anywhere you want to. Put them on your menus, napkins, match books, the cake or even on the dance floor. Remember when doing a monogram the woman's name or initial always goes first.

Engagement Etiquette


You're engaged and you don't know where to begin...

Who should be told first?
Both sets of parents should be told first and both of you should be present. Letting your parents know that they are still very much a part of your life. After your parents have been told, next a phone call to immediate family members and close friends is just fine, and then to other family members, friends and colleagues you wish to tell. However, if either or both of you have children, they should be informed first. Keep in mind that this might be hard for them to accept, hopefully you have prepared them for the probability of you remarrying and they are reassured that no one replaces them in your heart.

How do we announce our engagement?
First you have to decide how you want your engagement to be known. You may decide you want to publish it in your local newspaper, maybe you want to mail out engagement announcements or surprise everyone with the news at an engagement party.

Publish Engagement Announcement in the Media:
A formal announcement through the media is the most traditional. The bride contacts the local newspaper and gathers all the details (i.e., guideline, deadlines, fees and regulations). If you are not given strict guidelines, the following is some of the information that is usually included in the announcements: your names, education credentials and parents' names. You might also want to ask if you can include a photo of the both of you and whether it should be in color or black and white. The wedding date should not be included for safety reasons, instead you may want to use the phrase "a fall wedding is being planned" or "we're planning a tropical moon-lit wedding in the near future". If the groom's parents live outside your vicinity, the bride's parents should make all necessary arrangements to announce the engagement in the groom's hometown. It isn't traditional for the groom's parents to make arrangements to announce the engagement.

Mailing Engagement Announcements:
This is also a conventional way of announcing your engagement, but you have to be very careful. You will need to ensure that everyone who receives an engagement announcement also receives a wedding invitation and that the announcement is not mistaken for an invitation; for this reason your wedding date is typically not included. You can shop on-line or look up your local stationery stores for the various styles and designs, you can use any wording, but it usually should have the same information as a newspaper announcement.

Your Engagement Party Announcement:
Whether you want to surprise everyone with the news of your engagement or just have some fun seeing everyone's face when they hear the news, announcing your engagement with a party can double as your engagement celebration party. Again, here you have to be very careful and make sure that whoever is invited to this event is also invited to your wedding ceremony.

Sample wording for Engagement Announcements:
Etiquette stipulates that it should be the bride's parents, not the groom's, who announce the engagement or preferably someone other than the bride or groom themselves. The following is sample wording for various circumstances:

THE BRIDE'S PARENTS:

Mr. and Mrs. Alan Whitehead
are proud to announce
the engagement of their daughter,

Allison Marie
to
Donald Avery,
son of Gregory and Martha Williams.

Ms. Whitehead graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education
to become a Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

SINGLE PARENT:

Ms. Deborah Whitehead
announces the engagement of her daughter,

Allison Whitehead
to
Donald Avery,
son of Gregory and Martha Williams

Ms. Whitehead graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education
to become a Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

DECEASED PARENT:

Ms. Deborah Whitehead
announces the engagement of her daughter,

Allison Whitehead
to
Donald Avery Williams

Ms. Whitehead also the daughter
of the late Alan Whitehead
graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education to become a
Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

DIVORCED PARENTS:

Mr. Alan Whitehead, Ft. Lauderdale,
and
Ms. Deborah Whitehead, Miami,
announce the engagement of their daughter,

Allison Whitehead
to
Donald Avery,
son of Gregory and Martha Williams

Ms. Whitehead graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education
to become a Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

REMARRIED PARENTS:

Mrs. Deborah Alton and Mr. Daniel Alton
announce the engagement of
Mrs. Alton's daughter,

Allison Whitehead
to
Donald Avery,
son of Gregory and Martha Williams.

Ms. Whitehead graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education
to become a Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

BRIDE AND GROOM:

Allison Whitehead,
a graduate of Nova University,
is to marry
Donald Avery Williams

Ms. Whitehead graduated from Nova University
and is now continuing her education
to become a Real Estate Attorney
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Barry University
and is currently a Real Estate Agent
with Caldwell Banker
A summer wedding is planned

Save the Date Etiquette


After the engagement has taken place you need to get the word out about your wedding. Sending a Save the Date is a great way of doing just that. It is not an invitation to the wedding, but it should include all relevant information pertaining to the wedding such as the bride and groom's names, the date, and the location. The advance notice is especially helpful to your friends and family who live out of town and will need to make travel arrangements.

Should we send Save the Dates?
You do not have to if you do not want to, however, your guests will thank you for the heads up about your wedding plans. If you are having a destination wedding or a wedding during a holiday weekend it is an expected courtesy. It will give your guests ample time to make travel arrangements if necessary. If someone receives a Save the Date and can't make it to your wedding they usually will offer their regrets at that time. You should still send them an invitation as a courtesy.

When should we send out a Save the Date?
It's best to start spreading the news at around six to eight months prior to the ceremony. This will give your guests ample time to make any travel arrangements if necessary or ask for time off from work.

Should we send Save the Dates to everyone?
You should send them to everyone you want to invite to your wedding including bridesmaids, siblings and parents. Be certain of who you want to invite. Once mailed there's really no turning back.

Should we add "and guest," or can that wait for the invitations?
Now is the time to be very clear about who you are inviting to the wedding. If your best friend has a boyfriend include his name on the Save the Date. By including all the names of your intended guests on the envelope, you are less likely to have any uninvited guests or confusion. Being up front with those you invite will give families with uninvited children time to plan for child care.

What should we do if we mailed Save the Dates and something changed?
You should never send out formal wedding information before the plans are set. If something unavoidable happens and your plans change you should update your wedding website (if you have one) or pick up the phone to start advising everyone. A personal notice is the best way to avoid any additional confusion.

Sample wording for Save the Dates:

SAMPLE 1:

Save the Date!

We're getting married
December 18, 2022

Invitation and details to follow

Shanna Callahan and Pierre LaCoste

SAMPLE 2:

Please reserve the date of
December 18, 2022
for our wedding

Shanna Callahan
and
Pierre LaCoste

Invitation and details to follow

SAMPLE 3:

A Great Girl, A Great Man
Save the Date, That's the Plan!

Shanna Callahan and Pierre LaCoste

are tying the knot!
December 18, 2022

Invitation to follow

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette


Your wedding is just a few days away and there are still quite a few events that have to be accomplished before the wedding day. One of these events is the rehearsal dinner, this is a great way for the wedding party to gather together and relax before the wedding and for the bride and groom to show their appreciation of everyone who has been involved in helping them plan their wedding.

When should the Rehearsal Dinner be held?
The rehearsal dinner is usually held the evening prior to your wedding date and immediately following the rehearsal. It can be in a formal setting or casual gathering. This is a great way for the wedding party to get to know each other and for the bride and groom to thank everyone who has helped out in the wedding planning.

Who pays and plans for the Rehearsal Dinner?
Traditionally this was an event planned and paid for by the groom's parents. In today's time, you will often see that the bride and groom include this expense in their budget. In any event, the Rehearsal Dinner can be planned and paid for by anyone; be it either or both sets of parents, bridal party, family member, etc.

Should Rehearsal Dinner Invitations be mailed?
Yes, the rehearsal dinner invitations do not have to be formal or very expensive, they are a great way to let everyone who is involved in the wedding party and/or planning know the time, date and location.

When should the Rehearsal Dinner Invitations be mailed?
If you are having a formal event, the rehearsal dinner invitations can be mailed out a few days after your wedding invitations have been mailed. If the plans are for a smaller and intimate gathering, send out the invitations a month prior to the event.

Who should be invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?
It used to be customary that only immediate family and the bridal party were invited to the rehearsal dinner. Since times have changed, the guest list is up to the person hosting this event. Aside from the above, you might want to consider inviting out-of-town guests whom have come from afar to be with you on your wedding day.

The rehearsal dinner is also a great time to hand out the bridal party gifts and don't forget to thank the host!

Sample wording for Rehearsal Dinner:

SAMPLE 1:

Please join us for a
Rehearsal Dinner
in honor of

Janice and Tom

on July 16, 2022
at 7:00 p.m.

The Bonefish Grill
990 West 89th Place
Boston, Massachusetts

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Matthews

SAMPLE 2:

The pleasure of your company is
requested at a rehearsal dinner as

Patricia and Randy

toast to the upcoming unity
of their families

Friday, May 15, 2022
half past 7 o'clock in the evening

Houston's Restaurant
12 Alhambra Circle
Coral Gables, Florida

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Weiss

SAMPLE 3:

To honor the bride and groom-to-be
Sean and Betty Robinson
request your company at a
Rehearsal Dinner
on the eve of the marriage of

Leslie and Ethan

at 5:30 p.m.
Fireside Room
289 Wisteria Avenue
May Hill, Ohio

Wedding Invitation Etiquette


The bride and groom along with the cooperation of both families make out the guest list.

How Many Invitations do I Order?
A guest list of 150 people does not necessarily mean you will need 150 invitations. You will need one invitation per couple and one invitation per single guest over the age of 18. Young adults living with their parents require their own invitation, and should not be included on their parents. You should ALWAYS order extra invitations, as there may be last minute additions to your guest list. It is always less expensive to order 15 extra now than to have to re-order 50 later because of a minimum quantity requirement. ALWAYS order extra envelopes to cover mistakes made in addressing.

When do I Mail the Invitations?
Invitations should be mailed out four to six weeks prior to the wedding. For summer and holiday weddings, many brides mail their invitations eight weeks prior to the wedding since people are more likely to be traveling at these times. All invitations should be mailed at one time.

Can you abbreviate words?
Words should be spelled out, including the hour, the date and the year. Spell out all words in the address, including Street, Road and Avenue. The two exceptions to this rule in an address are Saint (St.) and Mount (Mt.)

Wording Guidelines:
The way you word your invitations is very important. Pay attention to the guidelines and etiquette of wedding invitation wording. They will guide you on how to properly convey the tone and information needed by your guests to ensure the day is enjoyed and memorable to all who attend, without offending anyone.

  • The guidelines of which name goes first on an invitation will vary depending on who is hosting the wedding.
  • If the ceremony is not in a place of worship the correct phrase is ....request the pleasure of your company.

Sample wording for Wedding Invitations:

Bride's Parents Issue the Invitation:

As we shall become one
to share all the days of our lives...
We learn to experience love
in our families and our friends...
this unity of new love will not be complete
until you share with us this special day

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henry Hart
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Groom's Parents Issue the Invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. William Howard Barkley
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their son

Mr. and Mrs. William Howard Barkley
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their son

Both Sets of Parents are Issuing the Invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. William Howard Barkley
and
Mr. and Mrs. Todd Foster
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children

The Hart and Foster families
invite you to share in the joy of the marriage
uniting their children

And the two
shall become one...

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henry Hart
and Mr. and Mrs. Todd Foster
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage uniting their children

Divorced Parents:

When your parents are divorced the name of the parent who is paying for the wedding goes first. If they are splitting the cost of the wedding the father's name goes first.

Sample Wording:

Mrs. Jayne Sanford
and
Mr. Jeremy Sanford
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Ford
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sanford
Ms. Jayne Spires
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Remarried Parent(s):

When your living parent has remarried it is okay that your father or mother's name be on the first line or he/she can include your stepparent. Either way is fine. It depends on how you feel. Your father or mother should be okay if you do not want to include your stepparent.

Sample Wording:

Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Ford
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Mr. and Mrs. James Riles
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of Mrs. Rile's daughter

Mr. and Mrs. William Hahn
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter

Mrs. James Riles
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter

Divorced Parents and Stepfather:

Bride's mother and stepfather should be listed first,
followed by your dad.

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. James Anderson
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of

When one Parent is Deceased:

When the mother or father is deceased and the living parent has not remarried their name would go on the first line. It is fine to honor the parent who is deceased.

Sample Wording:

Mrs. Melanie Johnson
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter

Mr. Scott Jerome Johnson
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter

Emma Marie
daughter of
Stuart Foster and the late Meredith Foster
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Both Parents are Deceased,
Another Relative is Issuing the Invitations:

When both parents are deceased and a sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent is issuing the invitations, their name would go on the first line.

Sample Wording:

Issued by a sibling:

Mr. and Mrs. Howard Caplan
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his sister

Issued by aunt and uncle:

Mr. and Mrs. John Carson
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their niece

Issued by grandparents:

Mr. and Mrs. James Smith
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their granddaughter

Bride and Groom are Issuing the Invitations:

When the bride and groom are issuing their own invitations the format is different. You can put the bride's name first or a verse of your choice before the bride and groom's names.

Sample Wording:

Candice Ellen Katz
and
Stephen David Cohen

request the pleasure of your company
at their marriage

Two lives, two hearts
joined together in friendship
united forever in love

It is with joy that we,

Candice Ellen Katz
and
Stephen David Cohen

request the pleasure of your company
at our wedding

When one has a title,
such as Reverend or Doctor:

The Reverend and Mrs. James Calloway
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Mr. and Mrs. Mason Bentley
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Anne
to
Doctor Robert Chester Browne

Name with a Suffix:

When there is a suffix with a name such as Jr., Sr., Junior, II, III, or IV all are preceded by a comma. Junior is always capitalized when it is abbreviated.

Sample Wording:

Mr. and Mrs. James Wallace Brown, Sr.
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Mr. and Mrs. James Wallace Brown
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Heather Nicole
to
Richard Alan Watson, III

Military Wedding:

A military wedding is like most other weddings. What makes it a military wedding is the attire worn and traditions that are not found in civilian weddings. There is usually a lot of pomp and circumstance along with pageantry and patriotism in these rituals. A military wedding is the beginning of a whole new way of life and culture.

Sample Wording:

General and Mrs. James Louis Barkley
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

Leslie Ann
to
Trey Mitchell Collins
Lieutenant, United States Army

Sarah Joy Simmons
Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force
and
Captain Justin Travis Schafer
United States Army

request the honor of your presence
at their wedding

Envelope Etiquette


What are the proper guidelines pertaining to envelopes?
The outer envelope is glued for sealing and should be fully addressed on the front. A return address printed on the back flap of the envelope ensures that undeliverable invitations will be returned to you. Inner envelopes are unglued and the names of the guests are written on the face of the envelope. The names of any invited children under the age of eighteen would appear beneath their parents' names. If you are inviting a man and woman who are living together but not married the woman's name should go first on the envelope.

If a married couple have different last names whose name goes first?
If you are closer to one of them their name would go first on both the outer and inner envelope. If you know them equally you should put them in alphabetical order.

Sample wording for Envelopes:

Outer Envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Jose Otero
1510 Broad Street
Hialeah, Florida 33023

Mrs. Rita Valdes
1510 Broad Street
Hialeah, Florida 33023

Ms. Rita Valdes (unmarried adult)
1510 Broad Street
Hialeah, Florida 33023

Miss Rita Valdes (under 18)
1510 Broad Street
Hialeah, Florida 33023

Mrs. Rita Valdes and Guest
1510 Broad Street
Hialeah, Florida 33023

Inner Envelope:

Names only on the inner envelope.

Mr. and Mrs. Otero

Mr. and Mrs. Jose Otero

Jose and Rita

Jose Otero

Mrs. Rita Valdes
Mr. Jose Otero

Ms. Rita Valdes (unmarried adult)
Mr. Jose Otero (unmarried adult)

Miss Rita Valdes (under 18)
Mr. Jose Otero (under 18)

Military:

Captains and higher
Captain Martin Lawrence Anderson
United States Army

Lieutenants
Martin Lawrence Anderson
First Lieutenant, Unites States Air Force

Non-commissioned Officers and Privates
Martin Lawrence Anderson
United States Marine Corps

Navy and Coast Guard
Ensigns and higher
Martin Lawrence Anderson
Ensign, United States Navy

Petty Officers and Seaman
Martin Lawrence Anderson
United States Coast Guard

Officers in all branches of service may use their rank before their names, which includes their spouses.

Captain and Mrs. Lawrence Anderson
United States Army

Mr. Thomas and Lieutenant Kathy Jones
United States Army

Response/Reply Card Etiquette


In accordance with the rules of etiquette you should R.S.V.P. to any event, especially a wedding. R.S.V.P. cards and reply envelopes are necessary to the planning if a meal is to be served. Return envelopes should be pre-addressed and stamped for convenience. A response card will allow guests to conveniently notify the host/hostess of their plans to or not to attend. When sending a response card, if your wedding has taken place in a house of worship and you used request the honor of your presence, The favor of a reply would be the correct wording to use.

Sample wording for Response/Reply Cards:

SAMPLE 1:

The favor of a reply
is requested by March 31, 2022

M___________________________

_____ Will attend
_____ Will not attend

SAMPLE 2:

Kindly respond on or before
July 20, 2022

M ____________________________________

_______ Accepts with pleasure
_______ Declines with regrets

SAMPLE 3:

The favor of a reply is requested by the fifteenth of May

M________________________________________________

_______ Accepts with pleasure
______ Declines with regret

Entrees
___ Filet Mignon ___ Baked Chicken ___Vegetarian

Thank You Card Etiquette


When should I start sending thank you notes?
You should send a thank you as soon as you receive a gift, even if you receive a gift before the wedding.

Does it make a difference what ink color I use when writing out a thank you?
Tradition says that you should use black or blue ink.

Should I mention what the gift was in the thank you even if I don't like it?
If you want to you can, but it is not necessary. Thanking them for their generous gift would be just fine.

Sample wording for Thank You Cards:

SAMPLE 1:

Thank you for adding to
the joyful spirit of our wedding
with your presence
and lovely gift.

Jayne and Jack Johnson

SAMPLE 2:

We thank you
for your thoughtfulness
and the wedding gift.

Kim and Brad Andrews

Wedding Announcement Etiquette


A Wedding Announcement is used when the bride and groom have a small wedding and/or there were too many people to invite such as extended family, friends, and colleagues. A Wedding Announcement will let them know that you made it official.

The nearest relative of the bride, or the bride herself usually issues wedding announcements.

Announcements are mailed immediately after the ceremony to those who did not receive an invitation to the wedding and to those too far away to be expected to attend.

Sample wording for Wedding Announcements:

SAMPLE 1:

Mr. and Mrs. John Crawford
have the honor to announce
the marriage of their daughter

Tricia Marie
to
Rob Becerra

Sunday, the eleventh of June
Two thousand and twenty-two
St. James Catholic Church
Miami, Florida

SAMPLE 2:

Making their friendship so true
after great times and happiness,
they've said, "I do!"

Tricia and Rob Becerra
were married on
April 15, 2022

SAMPLE 3:

We set sail for a much needed vacation,
and we tied the knot
in a tropical destination!

Lainie Cartwright
and
Howard Johnson

were married
Saturday, June 12, 2022
Nassau, Bahamas