In a cultural moment where the rules of wedding etiquette tend to be in flux, it can be confusing to keep up and stay confident with what is expected. Following every single “rule” written by our friend Emily Post will definitely produce some tension, so let us take the reins on the research so you can get informed on all wedding etiquette & expectations. First up – pre wedding preparations. Stay tuned next week for part two, we’ll be discussing guest and hosting etiquette the day of the event.
Talk About It. Though some families may stick to the tradition, modern weddings are not necessarily to be paid for by the brides parents. With many couples now contributing or covering the bill, its not completely expected that the brides family bears total financial responsibility. Don’t go into planning assuming certain people will be contributing.
Ask Tons of Questions. Before deciding on potential vendors, it is key that you ask a ton of questions about costs and extra fees. This open line of communication will help you keep a clear head and close eye on your budget. For example inquire about how much staff will be required on the day of, and what exactly they will be needed for.
Who gets a plus one to this fancy fete? Traditional invitation etiquette suggests that a plus one is extended to a guest who is in a committed relationship; married, engaged or living together. If you couldn’t tell a theme in our blog, feel it out for what makes sense for your guest list. Our token of advice: find consistency in your method. With feelings on the line, it is best to create boundaries of what makes the most sense for you and your wedding.
Kids or no Kids? Having children invited to the wedding is entirely up to you, but make sure that it is made clear. If you decide to include children in the invite, you can write “and family” on the RSVP. However, it is also perfectly okay to invite just children from your close family but state clearly that you cannot invite everyones children for logistical purposes. If you do decide that you want children invited but don’t want your guests to have to be on chaperone duty, hire a nanny or babysitter to entertain the little ones at the event!
When to send? Save the dates have become increasingly more popular with the emergence of destination and long weekend weddings. Though they aren’t required, save the dates give your guests a chance to look forward to the special day as well as save some cash and make travel plans. We suggest sending them out at least 6 months in advance, and even earlier for destination weddings. When sending out your formal invitations, we suggest at least eight weeks before the wedding so that you can receive timely RSVP’s and keep the planning organized!
The Engagement Party:
When to throw the fabulous celebration? It is nice to host the engagement party soon after the engagement is announced so the news is still exciting and new. Want to make it even more exciting? Announce the engagement at the party itself!
Who hosts? Traditionally it is the brides parents that host the engagement party, however with wedding etiquette constantly evolving it is not rare to see friends of the couple hosting the party, or even the couple themselves choosing to throw their own gathering.
Who is invited? Usually anyone who is invited to the engagement party is also invited to the wedding. However, this doesn’t mean you have to invite everyone from the wedding to your engagement party. Many couples opt to keep the guest list to close friends and family. But, if you are having a rather small wedding and can’t accommodate everyone, the engagement party could be a great opportunity to include those who you can’t invite to the wedding.
Do you register beforehand? Though gifts aren’t traditionally expected, it is often the case that guests will show up with gifts in hand. For this reason it might be useful and helpful to your guests to have a registry to refer to!
Guest etiquette for engagement parties
Are gifts required for an engagement party? If there is no registry what are we supposed to give the couple? Don’t Overdo the Gift. We love the idea of giving something special for the couple to enjoy together. Don’t feel pressured to give something over the top or elaborate, but rather something that shows how much you care about the couple and their future life together.
Show your genuine style. We love the idea of giving a special set of champagne flutes for the couple to cheers with, or for a more foodie option, a tasteful basket of fine cheeses and meats for the couple to snack on during a pre-wedding picnic. We are especially in love with these baskets from Cured, a local Boulder, CO shop. If you really want to put the future newlyweds to the test, gift them with the Williams-Sonoma Newlywed cookbook and let them create amazing memories testing out new recipes.
The Bachelorette & Bachelor Party:
Bridal party etiquette for Bachelor & Bachelorette parties
Who pays? Traditionally the bridesmaids and groomsmen foot the bill for the bachelor or bachelorette festivities, including all of the costs for the bride and groom. You want them feel as special as possible so make it a point to save some extra cash to make the weekend the best it can be. That being said, you don’t want to break the bank and become resentful of the special weekend, so make sure to keep an open dialogue with the bride or groom about what is reasonable.
Listen Closely! The bachelor and bachelorette parties are supposed to be symbolic of the bride and grooms last single time out. That being said, not every bride or groom wants that wild weekend in Vegas (though there is nothing wrong with that!) Be the best bridesmaid or groomsmen you can be by listening to the needs of the guest of honor, even if its not exactly what you want. You want them feel comfortable and appreciative of all of your hard work.
Say Cheese! Make sure to document the weekend by snapping pics. You can even make a scrapbook or photo collage later on for the bride or groom to keep. However, make sure that you are social media cautious and double check with the guest of honor about what they want posted.
You’ve crafted the perfect wedding invitation suite, now what? Next comes the sometimes-daunting task of assembling, addressing, and mailing out those beauties. The pressure of logistics and etiquette can be an unexpected stress at this time, but don’t worry; Whimsy Design Studio has got you covered. Here are her top five dos and don’ts for sending your wedding invitations with confidence:
Do write out your guest’s addresses by hand.
Addressing by hand is a personal touch for your invitations that sets a warm, inviting tone for the event. Hate your handwriting? Hire a calligrapher or even a fun hand-lettering artist if you are going for a modern, playful vibe.
Don’t use adhesive labels.
Adhesive mailing labels have a time and place but your wedding invitations are not traditionally one of them. That said, I have seen them used with very contemporary or minimalistic invitation suites and they do coordinate beautifully. Use adhesive labels purposefully and not because you’re trying to save time.
WHO TO ADDRESS
Do use proper titles.
Titles are always important, but particularly necessary to include when the guest has a distinguished title such as doctors, judges, or military personnel. Your guests have earned these titles and it is disrespectful to forgo including them. When in doubt, ask before addressing!
Don’t write “and guest” for long term significant others.
Inviting a non-married friend with a long-term (typically over a year) or live-in significant other? Please learn their significant other’s name and include it on the envelope! Writing “and guest” instead of their name can be insulting to the sincerity of their relationship.
Do stack largest to smallest.
Traditionally your invitation is on the bottom, followed by the reply envelope and response card on top. Inserts such as reception cards and maps should be stacked accordingly depending on their size. Have more than a couple inserts? Pocket folders are a great way to organize all of those pieces.
Don’t wait until the last minute to assemble.
Assembly takes longer than most people realize. I recommend giving yourself at least two weeks for addressing and assembly; even longer if you have extras such as pocket folders, belly bands, wax seals, etc.
Do mail 6-8 weeks before your big day.
Wedding planning timelines can be chaotic. Remember to send your invites 6-8 weeks before the big day. I always recommend a little longer (roughly 8-10 weeks) for destination weddings or if you are expecting a lot of out of town guests.
Don’t ask for a reply within a week of when you mail.
Give your guests enough time to make a decision. Make your RSVP by date 2-4 weeks before your wedding date. This should not only give you enough time to track down those who don’t respond (there are always a few) but also allows enough time to give a final head count to the caterer, finalize your seating chart, and provide guest names to your stationer for escort cards.
Do include postage on your reply envelope.
Make it as easy as possible for your guests to RSVP by including a stamped envelope with your invitation set. Budget savvy tip: postcards require less postage than a reply card and envelope. The savings is roughly 13 cents per reply, but that can easily add up if you have a large guest list!
Don’t guess on the postage needed to mail your invite set.
Bring an assembled invitation set with an envelope and all inserts (reply, maps, etc.) to the post office and have them calculate what postage will be needed. Want something different? My favorite thing right now is mixing vintage postage in with modern designs for an eclectic and unique look.
Wedding invitation etiquette is difficult to navigate for most engaged couples and it’s hard to keep up when the “norm” is constantly evolving. When in doubt, think of the overall tone and mood you are trying to set for your wedding and keep that in mind when designing and sending your stationery pieces. Your invitations are a preview of what is to come on your wedding day; everything – even your envelope – should reflect that vision.
Want more tips for your wedding invitations? Follow Whimsy Design Studio on Instagram: @whimsydesignstudio and check out her weekly Manners Monday posts with advice, etiquette, and tricks for all things wedding stationery.