Really, wedding etiquette isn’t just about what fork to use or how to properly wipe your mouth with your napkin (not your sleeve, please). It’s truly a sort of compass or guideline to help you in social situations that you may not be familiar with. For instance, did you know it is considered a major faux pas (French for “What was I thinking?”) to indicate on your wedding invites where you are registered for gifts or to request cash-only gifts? It’s considered more appropriate to include the couples’ wedding website address on an insert card or include the gift information on the bridal shower invites. As long as we are still on the topic of invitations…YES – you should include return postage on your RSVPs. YES – invite the clergy and his/her spouse. YES – guests that have kids living at home that are 18 and older should receive their own invites. YES – it is okay to indicate “Adult Only Reception” if you prefer no children.
One etiquette subject that is usually a sore spot between the families of the bride and groom is the actual guest list. If this isn’t a traditional situation and the parents are only contributing but not footing the entire bill, then things are more complicated and some compromises need to be made. These situations need to be marked “Handle With Care.” This is an opportune time for the Coordinator you just hired to switch hats and become a Mediator.
Here is a reminder for everyone what traditionally both sides are responsible for:
Bride’s Family: Invitations; church fees; groom’s ring(s); flowers for the church, bridesmaids, and reception; reception costs; transportation for the bride and bridesmaids; groom’s gift; and gifts for the bridal party.
Groom’s Family: Rehearsal dinner; clergy fees/tip; bride’s bouquet, corsages, and boutonnieres; transportation for groomsman; bride’s gift; and gifts for the groomsman.
As far as the bridesmaids and groomsmen, each should be responsible for their own attire, lodgings, and travel expenses. The bridal party is typically responsible for the Bridal Shower, and the groomsmen are responsible for the Bachelor Party. And yes, respective party members should also bring a gift for the couple. Should everyone adhere to these guidelines? Of course not. That is exactly all that they are – merely a template for “Proper Distribution or Allocation of Financial Obligation,” OR who should pay for stuff.
The next subject is a popular concern heard from brides, grooms, AND parents – TIPPING. Most everyone in a service-driven position expects a tip, especially in the wedding industry. In fact, with many vendors, gratuity is already added into the final bill. Always read your contract carefully and make sure if gratuity was added or not. It would be unfortunate if you inadvertently overlooked great service and “stiffed” the staff so to speak.
People you should consider tipping are usually vendors who go above and beyond to make your event special. These might be the wait staff, caterers, bartenders, DJ, and wedding consultants. Other people who you may contemplate tipping – but only IF they provide special services – would be florists, musicians, bakers, photographers, videographers, and hair & makeup stylists. Consider 15%. And please do not forget your clergy!