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The Bride's Guide Blog

Wedding Etiquette 101

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We've all been there. Those questions or problems that come up while planning your wedding, ugh.

Whether it's the moment you sit down to write your invitations and don't know exactly what should or should not go on it. Or when you're putting together your guest list and you're not  sure who should make the cut (they invited me so should I invite them? I don't want children at the wedding, but how do I let my guests know? Do I let them bring a plus one?).

And these are just a few of the sticky situations you might be faced with, after all, planning a wedding is hard -- wonderful -- but hard.

Although my wedding is done and over, yours isn't and that's why we wanted to put all of our best advice, etiquette tips, and solutions to sticky situations all in one place. Our new Wedding Etiquette Adviser has ideas from how to word, address, and mail your invites, to how to handle a falling out with a guest after the save-the-dates have been sent, and everything in between.

Don't see the answer you're looking for? Send us your question and we'll send you our advice. Even though planning a wedding is sometimes hard, we want to make sure the wedding itself is totally worth it!

Comments (8)

  • We used Martha's advice on our invitations, but all our Single relatives were confused when the outer envelope didn't state "and Guest." I think the logic was sound, but there's no way to please everyone!

  • Author Comment:

    Mica, did the inner envelopes say "and Guest"?

    People are funny--and unfortunately, the rules of etiquette aren't as effective if some people refuse to follow (or to read) the rule book!

  • We invited four guests for our relatives. They RSVP to us that they were bringing their son's girlfriend to the wedding because their other son could not make it. How do we handle this situation? We are not including anyone to have a guest unless they are engaged or married.

  • Author Comment:

    Hi, martha!
    Boy, your relatives are annoying! But I've seen this happen in my in-laws' family a lot. It's as if they think those invitations are tickets or something. (Hey, even some tickets are non-refundable.)

    Here's what you do. Whoever is most authoritative (like, if your aunt thinks of you as "just a kid," have your mom call; or if your mom is a pushover, and you can be firm, you should call) should telephone the family. (Social stuff often goes through the matriarchal line.)

    Say, "Thank you for telling us your plan to bring your son's girlfriend. Unfortunately, I have to tell you that we will not be able to accommodate her. Our invitation was for you and your sons, because of your relationship to us. The invitations are not transferrable. If your son cannot make it, we will simply not set a place for him; we won't be looking for a substitute.
    "We are not extending invitations to dates of our single guests; the only people invited are fiancees. If we were to make an exception for your son's girlfriend, this could create problems for us with all the other guests to whom we did not give that privilege. I'm sure you understand how important it is to us, not to hurt the feelings of our friends and relatives."

    And if she says, "But we've already asked Janey! She's very excited," get tough. (Look, if she hadn't been so darned rude, she wouldn't be in this pickle. Bed. Made. Lie.) And say, "I'm sure you'll be able to explain it to her, and I'm sure she'll understand."

  • Author Comment:

    Oh--and, martha:

    Miss Manners suggested once that someone in your position should call and say, "Oh, how exciting--Josh is engaged, that's so wonderful. You must all be very, very happy for him!"
    (bcs the only *polite* reason to add this girl on is because she is now his fiance--and you'd include her cheerfully then, probably, right?)

    So just gush on and on about how exciting, and everything. Ask for her name and address so you can write her a letter welcoming her to the family, and say you'll have to mention it on Josh's Facebook page.

    When she interrupts you to tell you that they're NOT engaged, then you say, sort of shortly and w/ a tinge of disappointment, "Oh, I'm sorry to have misunderstood. i thought that since you were wanting me to invite her, that meant she was about to be a member of the family. I'm sorry, the wedding is for family members only. We'll have to get to know her better some other time. I'm sure you'll understand."

  • And don't forget, you can submit your own questions by emailing us at askmartha@marthastewartweddings.com

  • Hi Martha -

    Question is if someone has already had a bridal shower and now the wedding is called off, should the bride still send out thank-yous? And what should she say in them if so?

  • after the wedding, how long should it be before the thank you cards are sent to the folks who sent the gift?

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