When it comes to wedding etiquette and planning, there are countless questions that may come to mind. When do you send invitations? Who do you invite? What is an acceptable gift value? Minted has written dozens of articles on all of these topics, but this article answers some of the top wedding planning questions all in one place.
“There Will Be a Party”, designed by Amy Payne
What are the important things to remember about Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations?
Send your save the date cards out six to eight months in advance of your wedding. Include your names, wedding date, wedding location, wedding website URL, and mention that a formal invite is coming. To answer all save the date questions you might have, we also have an in-depth article specifically on save the date wording and etiquette.
Colorwash floral by Angela Marzuki
How do you decide if a guest gets a plus one?
If there is one question that always makes it into the wedding FAQs, it’s this one! And for good reason, because it can be a tricky question. Here is our stance: Married, engaged, and cohabitating guests should get a plus one. Give your wedding party members a plus-one. Also, guests who’ve been with their significant other for so long that it would be awkward if you didn’t invite them should get a plus one. For everyone else, make a blanket rule, like “only immediate family or close family can bring a date” and stick to it (though you can always make exceptions!). In order to indicate whether a guest gets a plus one, note it on the response card that is included in the wedding invitation. It will state your guests’ name and the words “and guest'' if they’re invited to bring a plus one. A guest can correctly inform the wedding couple they’re bringing a guest by sending back the response card and indicating there will be two people attending.
Delightful by Phrosne Ras
Who do you need to invite to a wedding?
Start with the A-list guests first. These probably include:
- Your parents
- Your grandparents
- Your siblings, their partners, and their children
- Your closest family
- Your best friends and their partners
Be sure to review our full article on how to create your wedding list to be reassured you have not left any key individuals off the guestlist.
real Minted wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia
Photo by Michael and Carina Photography
Are rehearsal dinners mandatory? Who traditionally pays for them?
Having a rehearsal dinner isn’t required, though it can be a really nice way for family and the wedding party to socialize and get to know one another more intimately before your big day. It also doesn’t need to be an actual dinner. It could be a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a happy hour. Traditionally, the groom’s parents, or those that are not paying for the bulk of the wedding, pay for the rehearsal dinner but these days more couples are paying for their own rehearsal dinners (and weddings).
Check out Minted’s complete guide to rehearsal dinner etiquette for more info.
Eat Drink and Rehearse by Qing Ji
Who traditionally pays for the wedding/reception?
Today, many couples are paying for their own wedding festivities, however, traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the reception. In these instances, the parent of the bride (most often father) will usually make a small speech at the reception welcoming guests to the celebration.
What is the appropriate attire for the wedding?
If you’ve been invited to a wedding that indicates formal attire, we only have good news for you. The first good news is you’re probably in for a chic affair you’ll remember for years to come. The second news is you have an excuse to get dressed up! Formal attire means a tuxedo or formal dark suit with a white shirt and a conservative tie or a long dress, pretty separates, or a formal cocktail dress. For a full dress code cheat sheet that breaks down the difference between “white tie”, “black tie”, and so much more, we’ve put together an article on everything you need to know about wedding dress codes.
What are traditional seating arrangements at the ceremony?
Parents sit in the front row of their respective side, along with anybody else who is walking down the aisle (this includes the wedding party, readers, etc). Grandparents sit behind them with other family members and close friends in the following rows.
On what side does each of the families/friends sit?
Often, this depends on the number of guests at a wedding from each side. Wedding ceremony etiquette for heterosexual couples follows the guideline that the bride’s family sits on the left side and the groom’s family sits on the right side.
Does the wedding couple need to have a bridal party?
It isn’t necessary to have a bridal party (groomsmen/bridesmaids). However, typically the people you would ask to be in your wedding are responsible for helping with things like your wedding shower and the bachelorette/bachelor party, so be prepared to plan those things yourself or ask a friend or family member to help coordinate. If you do have bridesmaids, here are some creative ways to “propose” to your bridesmaids.
Midnight Garden by Paper Raven Co.
What is the traditional recessional order?
There are slight variations, but when it comes to practicing best wedding etiquette, you should be in the clear if you stick loosely to the below breakdown.
- The Couple
- Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
- Maid or Matron of Honor and Best Man
- Parents of the Bride
- Parents of the Groom
- Grandparents of the Bride
- Grandparents of the Groom
Can the Bride walk down the aisle alone or with someone other than her dad?
While it is tradition for the father of the bride to walk the bride down the aisle, it is by no means necessary. In fact, today it is not unusual for brides to walk themselves down the aisle. In other cases, brides are opting to have someone else give them away. Think mother, grandfather, brother, son, or best friend.
Who walks the mother of the bride down the aisle?
If the father of the bride is walking with the bride, then who does the mother of the bride get accompanied by? Good question! There are several options, the most traditional being one of the groomsmen. If it is more fitting, have one of her sons walk her down the aisle. Another good choice is her brother.
Which dance comes first at a wedding?
It’s called the “first dance” for a reason! The couple’s first dance is traditionally the first introduction to the dance floor, which is performed by the newlyweds. Wedding reception etiquette is that the father/daughter dance follows, and then the mother/son dance.
How Much Should a Guest Spend on a Wedding Gift?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule! The only thing you definitely don’t want to do is spend more than you can afford to. Things you can consider are approximately what your meal cost (plus more if you are bringing a guest) will be, what you’re spending to attend, how close you are to the couple, etc. If you’re considering a gift for a destination wedding, this is really up to you and your budget. Some couples forgo a registry given the costs guests will incur to travel and attend their nuptials.
Do guests have to buy a gift off the registry?
Registries offer great gift suggestions, but you don’t necessarily have to purchase your gift from one. If you’re thinking about wedding gift etiquette and want to purchase a gift from elsewhere, taking a look at the registry to get a sense of the couple’s style is a good idea. If you want to give the wedding couple cash, that is perfectly acceptable, just make sure it includes a note so they’re not confused about who it’s from.
Wedding Moments Landscape by Hooray Creative
What wedding etiquette surrounds writing thank you cards?
When it comes to wedding thank you card etiquette, the most important thing is that you express your heartfelt gratitude in your notes to guests. Basic guidelines include:
- Send a wedding thank you note to every guest, even if they didn’t send a gift.
- Send your thank you notes for gifts you received before the wedding within a couple of weeks. Send thank-you notes for gifts you received on your wedding day within a few months.
- Handwrite your thank you notes. Aim to include exactly what your recipient gifted you and what that present means to you and your spouse. You could also share a fond memory from the wedding weekend that included them. This will show you carved out time to specifically compose a unique message of gratitude.
- Send your vendors thank you notes, too
For more on thank you note etiquette, FAQs, and wording examples, read our post summarizing proper techniques regarding your notes of gratitude.
Monumental by Jessie Steury