Have you ever wondered why so many couples find wedding planning stressful? Weddings cost a lot of money and involve a lot of people. Newly-engaged couples face a big challenge when planning their wedding. Your goal is to create an event that feels true to the two of you while ensuring your loved ones are happy and not going over budget in the process.
Following proper wedding etiquette can help, however. Etiquette has a practical value, because it has made time-and-thought-saving decisions on technicalities, such as the wording on invitations.
While some wedding etiquette “rules” may feel old-fashioned (for example, seating guests on opposite sides at the ceremony), some tried-and-true wedding etiquette standards are still around for a good reason.
Here are 10 of the most-asked wedding etiquette questions and my (practical) answers.
1. Who pays for the wedding?
Today, couples rarely follow the traditional “who pays for what” wedding etiquette rules. In fact, according to a recent WeddingWire report, around half of couples pay for most of their wedding themselves.
There are a variety of ways that parents or other loved ones can contribute. For example, some parents still pay for the entire wedding, while others only pay for specific wedding-related products or services. Others pay for events like the rehearsal dinner or decide not to contribute.
Keep in mind that anyone who pays for a wedding cost gets a say in whatever it is they’re paying for. So, for example, if your parents are paying for your wedding cake, you need to make sure they’re happy with the baker you choose.
2. Is it OK to create an “A list” and “B list” when considering who we’ll invite?
Some couples create A and B guest lists to create a ranking of sorts for their guests. The B list serves as a waitlist; everyone on the A list gets an invite, but if someone can’t make it, a member of the B list gets an invite later on.
I strongly advise against this practice, as people tend to find out if they’re being invited late to a wedding. And feeling like a “second-place” guest can feel like an insult!
What you can do, however, is to use the idea of A and B lists when you’re initially creating your guest list. These lists should remain private, just between you and your future spouse. You can use the lists to help you prioritize.
If your A list ends up smaller than you expected, you can add guests from the B list until you’re satisfied and have a final guest list. Once you send out your invitations, don’t invite additional guests if members of the A list declined.
3. How do I ask my parents to contribute to my wedding?
Sometimes parents will express their wish to help you pay for your wedding, but you may need to make the first move. Prepare your parents for this conversation. For example, springing it on them in front of everyone at Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the smartest move.
When approaching your parents about this potentially sensitive subject, ask them politely if (not how much!) they could contribute. If they say yes, be prepared to discuss what areas of the wedding they could pay for or how much they would comfortably be able to spend.
It’s good to know how much certain wedding services typically cost so that you can give your parents price ranges during your first conversation. But no matter how the conversation goes, be as appreciative and respectful as possible.
4. Can I fire a member of my wedding party?
When a member of your wedding party is causing drama, your first instinct may be to cut them loose. But I encourage you to think long and hard before you “fire” a wedding party member.
If you do oust them, your relationship is probably over. Consider if you’re OK with that. Unless they’ve done something horrible, I suggest keeping them in the party and having a chat about any recurring issues.
5. Can I put registry information on my invitations?
Nope, that looks tacky. Printing your registry information on your invitation looks like you’re asking for gifts, which shouldn’t be what your wedding is about. Instead of committing this heinous wedding etiquette crime, create a wedding website and include your registry information. From there, you can share the link with your guests who inquire.
6. I was a bridesmaid for my friend years back, but we’re no longer close. Should I ask them to be in my wedding party?
No, because your wedding party should include friends and family you’re close with now. Please don’t feel like you’re required to ask someone to be your bridesmaid because you were one of theirs.
Plus, in most cases, I wonder if your friend would even want to be in your wedding party if you’re not close. They probably won’t know the other members of your wedding party, making it an awkward experience for all.
7. When should I send thank-you notes?
You may have heard you have a year after your wedding to write and send your thank-you notes. But please don’t wait that long! Your guests may wonder if you received their gifts or if they got lost in the mail.
I recommend writing thank-yous within two or three weeks for gifts you receive before your wedding. After your wedding, there’s more wiggle room, but try not to wait more than a month or two.
8. Do we have to give single guests plus ones?
The answer depends on several factors. Guests in long-term relationships should be invited with a plus-one even if you haven’t met their significant other yet. For guests in newer relationships or not in a relationship at all, it’s up to you. However, I recommend making a rule and sticking to it. Don’t make exceptions if you decide not to include plus-ones for guests not in long-term relationships.
Consider your guest list as a whole. If it contains primarily married couples, consider allowing plus-ones as a consideration for your single guests. They’ll likely feel much more comfortable bringing a date. But if your guest list is primarily single folks, plus-ones might be unnecessary.
9. Do I have to include guests’ kids in my invites?
When deciding whether to include children at your wedding, I recommend making a rule and sticking to it. If your invites say something like, “This will be an adults-only celebration,” don’t make any exceptions. That means even if your cousin Hailey begs to bring her adorable little ones.
The only exception is if you have children in your close family (your own kids, siblings, nieces, and nephews) and they’re in your wedding party. Inviting those children but saying no to the rest is fine.
10. Do I have to provide meals to my wedding vendors?
Yes! Your wedding vendors are working hard to ensure your big day runs smoothly. They deserve a break and a hot meal. Your caterer, wedding planner, or venue coordinator can help you make the arrangements, but vendor meals are necessary during your reception.
As Venue Manager for the Rough & Ready Vineyards, Tiffany has a genuine love and passion for planning and organizing weddings. She shares, “Being able to create memories that will last a lifetime for you and your guests is so rewarding. I enjoy making your dream wedding day come true!” Tiffany specializes in personalizing wedding services for each client and handling stressful event situations with grace.