Close up of the torso of the bride and groom while the bride holds her bouquet in the grass at LaLa Park in San Marcos, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Your Top 10 Wedding Etiquette Questions Answered

Etiquette still reigns supreme when it comes to weddings. Even with modern-day twists on tradition, cultural shifts, and couples “doing their thing,” there is still room for proper wedding planning and respect towards everyone involved.

Did you know that there are actually etiquette coaches out there who put on workshops to teach couples how to do everything from plan a rehearsal dinner to properly addressing a wedding invitation? The fact that this exists shows that future wedded couples take etiquette seriously and want to make sure all is well.

But you don’t have to go to a fancy workshop or hire an etiquette coach to get the details on what’s appropriate. I’ve pulled together the top 10 wedding etiquette questions couples have, and you can find the answers right here.

Bride standing in front of the groom while looking back as their foreheads touch and his arms are wrapped around her waist while they stand in a field at The Addison Grove in Austin, Texas.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

1. Who gets a plus one? Anyone who is married, engaged or living together gets a plus one on the invite. Even if you can’t stand your cousin Amy’s boyfriend of six months, it’s still appropriate to tack on that +1 in her wedding invitation. Any relationship less than six months is questionable, so just use your judgment around the situation. 

2. Can and how do we fire a member of the wedding party? You definitely can say adios to a bridesmaid or groomsmen, but do you really want to? This is tricky because letting go of someone you’ve chosen to stand by your side during the wedding planning process has the potential to end your friendship. Assess the situation and use your best judgment. If possible, redistribute their duties to another member of the wedding party before giving them the boot.

3. How do we handle invitees who have not RSVPed? If it’s past the RSVP date and you haven’t heard from so-and-so, contact them as soon as possible to confirm their attendance. You can send them a casual email or text (“Just checking in…hope you can make it…let me know by ____”), but it’s better to call or get them in person so as not to have to wait around for an answer. It’s up to you how long you’ll hold their spot.

4. Is it okay to have an adults-only wedding? Although it would probably be easier for guests with children to bring them along, it’s not necessary to have a kid-friendly wedding to appease potential invitees. The pros suggest only addressing your invitations with the adults’ names, but this is quite subtle and may not get the point across. If you want to be more direct, but polite, consider adding a simple note inside the invitation that reads something like: “This invitation is extended to adults only,” or “Adult wedding and reception.”

The bride and her female friend holding 2 children as they all smile at the camera and stand on a balcony overlooking a body of water.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

5. Who gets invited to the rehearsal dinner? If you’re hosting a rehearsal dinner you’ll need to invite immediate family, members of the wedding party (bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, etc.), and out-of-town guests.

6. Is it okay to have an unplugged wedding? Absolutely! Whether it’s because you want people to be more present, for privacy reasons, or because you don’t want to chance cell phone photobombs, asking guests to put their devices away is acceptable. There are a number of ways you can politely let your friends and family know that you’re having a phone and social media-free wedding: let them know in the invite, display a sign at the wedding, have your officiant make an announcement.

Related: How to Tell Your Wedding Guests to “Unplug”

7. Do we have to have a wedding registry or can we just ask for cash? The most important thing to remember about wedding registry etiquette is that your registry should not be treated as a personal wish list. It’s more about asking for items that you can use as a couple. But since people are usually already living together before the wedding and have the essentials, it’s okay to set up a different kind of registry. Consider a honey fund (cash that goes towards a honeymoon) or home improvement registry.

8. How do we handle inviting co-workers? You don’t have to invite everyone in the office, but if there are certain people you would like to extend an invitation to, treat them as you would a friend. Invite them outside of work and mail invitations to their homes. To avoid people feeling excluded, try to keep your wedding planning discussions to a minimal or outside of the office.

Bride and groom standing face-to-face with their foreheads touching while the groom holds the bouquet as the sunsets in the background in Austin, Texas.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

9. How much should we tip the vendors? Tips should go towards non-contracted vendors, but it’s acceptable to distribute a small gift or cash tip to those you have signed a contract with. For a more detailed look at how much you should tip to each kind of vendor, read Bridal Guide’s cheat sheet for tipping wedding vendors.

10. When should we send thank-you notes and can they be digital?  You have three months after the wedding to send your handwritten thank-you note to guests. And yes, handwritten trumps digital in the etiquette world. As etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer says, “Nothing expresses gratitude like a handwritten card. The ink on the paper shows that you put everything aside to focus on writing this one letter for this one special person.”

Related: Unique Ideas for Wedding Thank You Cards

Still have a wedding etiquette question? Or want to make sure you’re covering all your bases? Contact me using the link below and let’s chat!

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