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Mrs. Johnson
Dedicated May 2024

Wedding Etiquette...?

Mrs. Johnson, on February 25, 2024 at 5:23 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 17

I had no idea how in depth wedding etiquette goes. It really is on another level then what you think when you first start the process. Where did you learn your wedding etiquette? Is tradition more important then then our wants? How do you find the balance between etiquette and and budget?

17 Comments

Latest activity by CM, on February 26, 2024 at 4:48 PM
  • H
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    There is a difference between etiquette and tradition. Tradition is just “this is the way things are typically done” for better or worse. Etiquette specifically relates to ensuring you are hosting your guests properly, so things like ensuring there is enough food and beverages for the time of day, that guests have appropriate seating, you aren’t B-listing people, etc. A lot of etiquette is related to common sense (you wouldn’t invite friends over to your home during peak dinner hours and not serve them any food) and others come from looking online in places such as this forum. Regarding balancing budget and etiquette, it can be difficult but some common options are things like reducing the number of guests you are inviting (less people means less food needed, less chairs, etc.) and time of day (hosting a cake and punch reception in the middle of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at a non-meal time is going to be cheaper than a full 3 course dinner on a Saturday evening).
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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    Yea it is difficult especially just to maintain budget alone. That’s the part am I at. I tried to maintain my guest list but I’m not sure how that’s going on at the moment (a lot of +1 and people want to or expect to be invited). I also know my side of the family will make dinner difficult. The ceremony and reception will be in different locations and I know some of them are going to want to end up going elsewhere to have dinner. We are reserving a room at a restaurant (I think they gave me a really good price for a steakhouse). I already spoke to a few cousins and they keep tell me where they would like to go eat. If I have to accommodate how do I keep cost under budget? This makes it hard to give the restaurant an actual count. I almost got frustrated and was just going to change it to a ceremony only. Also I am getting a lot of back and forth with if doing favors are worth it.
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  • H
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    The best thing for you sounds like just not sharing details with folks when they ask. Plan the ceremony and reception you want (keeping those etiquette things in mind) and people can choose whether or not they want to attend. The ceremony and reception venue are up to the couple. No one else (unless someone else is helping pay—then they often get a say). If your cousins would rather go somewhere else for dinner, they can politely decline the invitation and have dinner wherever they please. Now, if they are apprehensive about the steakhouse because they are vegetarian or vegan, you do want to ensure there is a meal they can eat based on dietary restrictions. Otherwise, the reception is where it is. Also, favors are typically not something that’s missed. If you want them, great. If you don’t and would rather save that money, it’s really not going be the make or break aspect of the wedding.


    Regarding guest lists: plus ones are for truly single guests and not necessary. Anyone in a relationship should be invited with their partner (it’s rude to ask people to celebrate your relationship when not acknowledging theirs). What is helpful is to invite in circles: start with immediate family, then go out from there as another circle. You can’t invite one first cousin and not the other. But if you run out of budget before you get to your 3rd cousin twice removed, well…so be it. People may be upset they aren’t invited, but at the end of the day, you cannot invite everyone you’ve ever met to your wedding.
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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    Now I see where I went wrong not inviting my dad’s girlfriend…ex-girlfriend… they are the complicated couple. *backstory* Before I sent out my invitation (which apparently was early) I spoke to a close friend and she insured me that I should only invite people that I want there. We’re not close and never talk unless we are in front of each. She has never invited me or my brother to one of her milestones celebrations and they have been together for 20 years. ALL my aunties know her, even on my mom’s side and feel like I have a right to feel how I do but I need to be respectful. They ALL went to high school together.


    It wasn’t me sharing details when folks ask, it was more like the close family members that got the invitations first shared it to the 2nd and 3rd cousins. Now the cousins are calling me asking me why didn’t they didn’t get their invitation first. I’m handling that as I go.

    I did think about the vegans on his side of the family. The steakhouse has a cauliflower steak option. Great! no favors lol don’t have the budget for it anyways.
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  • H
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    Yes, only inviting people you want there is a good general idea when creating your list, but that means that the partners of who you want there are included (regardless of how you feel about them). If people ask about where their invitation is, you say “I’m sorry, but the guest list is not up for discussion.” Wedding planning is the time when a lot of people try to push your boundaries. So you and your partner need to stand firm on the decisions you’ve made.
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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    I spoke to FH and it sounds like we definitely have everything in place for our boundaries going forward.


    Thanks for the advice, tips and conversation, I appreciate it.
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  • Andrea
    Rockstar January 2024
    Andrea ·
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    It sounds like your issues are more with boundaries than etiquette. It’s not rude not to invite extended family. I made it very clear (from myself and having my parents casually spread the word in advance) that we were not having a huge wedding and were setting limits on the guest list. With family you usually do it in circles — invite all or none of a particular “type.” We set ours at aunts & uncles and first cousins, so it was easy for 2nd or 3rd cousins to know why they weren’t invited and not speculate on if it was because we didn’t like them.


    Etiquette does not require a plus-one. You are required to invite couples who are married, engaged, or living together. Any further than that is purely up to you and your fiance.
    There are lots of etiquette books and websites, including those specifically for weddings. Emily Post is usually considered a good standard to go by.
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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    So not inviting my dad’s girlfriend isn’t an issue? I ask because they aren’t engaged, married, living together.


    As far as the second and third cousins future husband and I spoke, we are going to confirm all the RSVPs a month out to get our official guest count and anyone that doesn’t confirm or just should up will have to pay for their meal but we’ll pay for the extra gratuity. I figured since we have room in the ceremony we could let them stay.
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  • LM
    Super December 2022
    LM ·
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    Has anyone in your family been to a wedding before? Generally, the hosts (the couple) decide the guest list, the venue, everything. It's not a regular ol' group outting to a restaurant where opinions matter. Please affirm that invitations and RSVP's to essentially reserve their seat is necessary for your special day. A Host should not have to prepare for no-shows or crashers, and frankly it gives me anxiety just hearing you talk about it.

    By the way, a 20-year relationship is a real relationship and you would invite the partner. Many people don't aim for marriage but have respectable relationships. If they are not together, then I wouldn't worry about it any longer.

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  • Michelle
    Rockstar December 2022
    Michelle ·
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    Etiquette and tradition are completely different and are not interchangeable. People insist that post Covid, etiquette has no place, even though it will always be relevant as long as people interact. Because it is defined as the art of navigating social interactions to prevent awkward and uncomfortable situations. It also includes what is and acceptable within your social circle and family. The first source is usually your parents and grandparents. Then seek out Miss Manners for wedding etiquette that is universal. The original Emily Post had sound advice but on her passing, her granddaughter Peggy published under her name and she lost her credibility among some because Peggy taught the opposite of Emily. Most wedding articles quote Martha Stewart as their only source and she is less credible than Peggy Post because none of her advice is polite or falls in line with Miss Manners or Emily Post.


    Tradition is following age old customs of a culture. Usually these are adhered to blindly and people don’t know why they do them other than to follow the crowd. This is where the list of traditions associated with weddings falls: cake cutting, veil, garter toss, bride escorted down the aisle. Many of them originated in ancient or medieval times and don’t apply anymore. Some people stick to them and others toss them out.
    People find a balance between etiquette and budget with little difficulty. The problem is that the Wedding Industry, social media and the world at large is anti etiquette. They go back and forth between “etiquette is outdated” and “we are your sole source for etiquette”, and neither is correct. When you know what good etiquette is, you fine tune your budget to work with it. For example, at a reception, guests attending the ceremony must be given appropriate refreshments immediately following. People have been conditioned to believe through movies and social media that the bare minimum is a full 3 course dinner with alcohol, and anything less is the epitome of rudeness. That is not true and doesn’t work for many for a number of reasons. It’s not budget friendly, and many circles serve cake and coffee and call it a day. There is nothing offensive about it because it’s still covering all bases, just at a lower price point. Some circles don’t offer alcohol period and it’s not taboo like people want to believe. Pizza or local casual restaurant drop off catering is acceptable for a meal at a lower cost. Budget is applied to every area as long as you are not inconveniencing guests. Partners are invited by name regardless if you know them and it’s not your place to judge the validity of a relationship because they started going out or they have lived together for years and don’t plan to make anything legal.
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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    Yes, we have been to wedding but I was never on the planning process with them nor did I ask, I just rsvp’d and went lol.
    I understand what the couple decides and did hope that our guest list and invitations would be respected. That’s why we decided when we confirm with everyone we will handle things from there.
    How would you handle the “crashers”?
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  • S
    Dedicated June 2023
    SandyZV ·
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    I would tell anyone that wasn't invited that they are not on the RSVP list that they are not invited and there is no space for them. I honestly do not know what kind of people would just show up to a wedding that they weren't invited to.

    Have the word spread that the wedding is invite only. That is just basic manners 101.

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  • Andrea
    Rockstar January 2024
    Andrea ·
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    Are you the one whose father had been with his girlfriend for 20 years? That long of a relationship I think should still be invited. If not, no, technically you don’t have to invite her if they’re not married, engaged, or living together, but I would still invite her as a courtesy to your father. Immediate family gets a little more consideration than a typical guest, and it could affect your relationship with him in the future.


    Please don’t do a “you can come if you pay.” That’s horribly tacky. Just tell them that you’re unable to invite them.
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  • Jacks
    Rockstar November 2054
    Jacks ·
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    Etiquette is less situation-dependent and is a set of guidelines that ensure that you're treating guests with respect and their needs in mind. The idea is to avoid hurting people's feelings. Tradition is optional and not involved with the needs/feelings of the guests.

    The old adage about couples being married, engaged or living together falls apart exactly in the situation with your dad's GF. She should have been invited for sure. Anyone that identifies as being in a relationship must be invited with their significant other. I would avoid Emily Post for etiquette advice, that has gone massively downhill lately. Miss Manners is a better source of information.

    I would definitely check a lot of your plans here before making anything firm, because you seem to be getting incorrect advice IRL.

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  • Jacks
    Rockstar November 2054
    Jacks ·
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    I addressed the girlfriend issue in the previous post. In brief, this is exactly the situation where that theory falls apart. She should have been invited.

    RE: your second paragraph, wait. No. This isn't a good plan.

    You need to be very clear on who is invited and who isn't. This is part of the problem with sending invites out so early, people try to negotiate to be included. Do not leave any option for people to just "show up". If they aren't on the guest list they won't be seated. Period. Don't "let them stay", that just opens the door for crashers. Don't tell people they can stay if they pay, that's not polite.

    It's your job to obtain RSVP's from everyone on your guest list so if people don't respond you'll need to track them down for an answer. If you receive declines, don't B-list people, that's also rude, just as a heads up.

    Don't invite people to the ceremony and not the reception, if that's the plan, that's also considered rude because you're treating guests differently in priority.

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  • Mrs. Johnson
    Dedicated May 2024
    Mrs. Johnson ·
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    Yes, my father isn’t married to her, they aren’t engaged and she doesn’t want him moving in with her and refuses to move from her home. Because of their issues I think they are broken up but my dad is a man. Oh he already told me something like that wouldn’t affect our relationship. He said he’ll always put his kids before his relationship and I think that’s another reason why I don’t know where their relationship stands but that’s not mine issue nor do I want to be confused about it.

    Well I surly don’t have a problem with telling people they’re not invited tho lol so invitation only is going to have to be told.
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  • C
    CM ·
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    It is a common misconception that etiquette requires you to spend money you don't have. You set the guest list, making any necessary cuts in a consistent way if you want to avoid hurt feelings, and only then do you plan the reception you can afford based on those numbers. As a PP said, if that means properly hosting your guests with cake and punch after lunch then there is nothing inappropriate about that. Host what you can afford, but do it graciously.

    I agree that your issue is mostly around boundaries. The first thing I would do is put a stop to your family members sharing information about the wedding. And for anyone who rudely asks where their invitation is, you would tell them you're sorry but you are planning a small wedding. End of discussion.

    Your invitations should have an Rsvp on them. If people don't reply by a month out then you contact them individually. If they reply to say they would rather eat somewhere else, tell them this has already been decided. If they continue, ask them if that means you should count them as a no for your reception since you need their final answer for your venue.

    Favors are not necessary and in most cultures are not even traditional. It would be rude to invite guests to a ceremony and not the reception since the reception is the thanks to people for making the effort to attend. Some kind of reception is obligatory.

    It would be very rude to charge someone, even if they rudely show up or misunderstand based on what your close family member said. You need to insist that the guilty party or parties make it clear to every one of those distant cousins that they shared inappropriately. Use your judgment. If just one or two people crash, I would personally try to be the better person and accommodate in that situation, but if you're talking lots of people, that won't work. You'll have to apologize for the "confusion" and tell them you will have to catch up another time. But the goal should be to make sure in advance that this doesn't happen.

    As everyone told you on the other thread a couple in a 20 year relationship needs to be invited with their SO. That's not a plus one.

    I agree with PPs that Miss Manners is a better source when it comes to etiquette than the "new" Emily Post, though the latter is useful for certain things and they overlap. Miss Manners is more traditional. She barely tolerates registries, doesn't approve of honeymoon or other cash registries, destination weddings or monetary gifts, and disapproves family hosting showers. Wedding gifts are highly traditional to the point that she doesn't know why you'd attend a wedding if you aren't moved to give a gift. Parents of the bride and groom pick their own attire.

    Emily Post says it's fine to wear white to someone else's wedding, to register for a honeymoon, for family members to host showers and that wedding gifts are obligatory.

    Both of them would say that your father's girlfriend of 20 years should have been invited, that you should never charge guests a penny to attend a wedding, that shower gifts are obligatory, pre-wedding parties are optional and voluntary, the main responsibility of wedding party is to show up and support the couple on their wedding day, and that guests should never be asked to dress according to any theme. And lastly, that you sent out your invitations too early, which likely helped lead to all of this.

    Sorry for the novel!

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