Emily Post Wedding Ceremony and
Reception Etiquette Guide
Etiquette fundamentally prescribes and restricts the ways
in which people interact with each other, and show their respect
for other people by conforming to the norms of society. In
the world of Wedding Etiquette some things to consider are:
Greet friends and acquaintances with warmth and respect, offer
hospitality equally and generously to all guests, wear clothing
suited to the occasion, contribute to conversations without
dominating them, eat neatly and quietly, avoid disturbing
others with loud music, follow the established rules of the
location or venue, arrive promptly when expected, and respond
to invitations promptly.
These are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding
wedding reception etiquette (click
here to see complete wedding etiquette guides):
1. Can the host/hostess of the reception ask the
caterer to wrap up all the leftovers?
You better believe you can!!! After all, you paid for it -
it's yours and it's a very common (and a proper occurrence).
Be sure to let the caterer know ahead of time that you will
want to take some leftovers so he/she can have the proper
contains ready for you.
2. Is it proper etiquette to give a gift if a couple
is renewing their wedding vows?
Absolutely! Usually, if the couple has not stated otherwise
through the rumor mill, the guest would give life style gifts,
such as certificates to spas, or a certificate to a favorite
restaurant. Many times, guests will purchase a joint gift,
such as a vacation package, or a night in a nice lodge. Often,
though, many couples ask for no gifts and request donations
to their favorite charity.
3. My brother is getting married in July. Both he
and his bride live here. However, the bride is from another
town, about 5 hours away. The wedding will take place in her
home town. We (my parents & I) have some questions regarding
the rehearsal dinner. 1) Is it proper to have the rehearsal
dinner at the bride's parents' home? 2)Who is usually invited
to the rehearsal dinner? 3)What part does the brides' family
have in the planning of the dinner? 4) What are the responsibilities
of the groom's family for the rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner is a part of turn-of-the-century proper
wedding etiquette and the responsibility of the groom's family.
In the past this was not an obligatory item - but - that was
then and this is now. The rehearsal dinner is attended by
the wedding party - those participating in the wedding - often
including the officiant and spouse of the officiant - the
spouses and/or live-ins of participating members of the wedding
party - grandparents and a few other "favorite"
relatives are generally welcomed.
here to see complete wedding etiquette guides
The bride's family generally helps the groom's family (particularly
when the groom's family is from out-of-town) in finding an
appropriate location and with the names of special members
of the wedding party to be invited. Is it proper to have the
rehearsal dinner at the bride's parents' home? Well, it isn't
improper - maybe a little unusual, but not improper - I think
it would depend on how the groom's family felt about it -
and, perhaps, financial considerations. If the bride's family
was kind enough to offer (for the right reasons) then there's
nothing wrong with it. If the groom's family elects to take
the bride's family up on the offer then it wouldn't hurt for
the groom's parents to offer to pay for the caterers
4 . My fiancé and his mother don't really get
along. In fact, they are not close at all. He does not want
to have to share a special dance with her at our wedding.
I know she will be very hurt if he doesn't. Is there any way
to get around this?
If your fiancé's mother is coming to the wedding and
to the reception, do you think it may be to try and be a "party-pooper"
- if the answer is YES then you have a bigger problem than
just a dance - if the answer is NO then your fiancé
should consider doing the dance - after all, regardless of
what the rest of the family thinks, it IS polite, it IS etiquette
and it IS something that will only be "once in a lifetime".
Now, from another angle, why "hurt" anyone - regardless
of how they may have hurt you in the past - when it's not
necessary to do so??? This wedding isn't about "getting
even" or "not sharing" a special moment ...
this is about TWO OF YOU ... tell your fiancé to go
ahead and be a hypocrite this once ... your marriage should
be joyous and wonderful - not only for the two of you but
for EVERYONE involved; and if they don't feel it is joyous
and wonderful - well - at least you both made the effort and
that's all that can be expected of you; and you both can start
your lives together without ANY hard feelings. Look at this
situation not as "the glass is half empty" and being
a hypocrite - but - "the glass is half full" and
the word to go with this view is magnanimous -- your fiancé
can be magnanimous and not hypocritical -- and still do the
dance. The alternative (etiquette-wise) is to opt for having
just the bride and groom do the special dance (in this case
it usually follows immediately after the toast). When the
only special dance is the bride and groom the attendants join
them after a minute or so and then (after another minute or
so) the remainder of the guests are encouraged to join the
dance. While this solves the problem, and is proper etiquette,
it also eliminates the tradition dances of the bride with
father-in-law, bride with father. So - if you want to do it
right - one of the two of you will have to sacrifice: You
sacrifice the dance tradition of being able to dance with
your father and father-in-law (at the traditional time); or,
he can find a way to be magnanimous enough to take on a short
(but not too short) dance with mom.
5. The Top Three Wedding Etiquette Dilemmas:
#1 - Including the Partners of Wedding Guests
Partners of invited guests must be included in a wedding invitation,
whether or not they are married, engaged, or living together
and whether or not anyone in the wedding party knows them.
Suggesting that single guests who aren't attached to a significant
other bring a date is a thoughtful gesture, but one that is
certainly not required and often not realistic. A single invitation
addressed to both members of a married couple, or a couple
who live together, is sent to their shared address, while
invitations to an engaged or long-standing couple who don't
live together are sent separately, to each address. Envelopes
addressed to a single friend may include "And Guest,"
indicating that he or she may bring an escort or friend. If
it is possible to obtain the name of the guest, the name would
be included on the invitation to the friend, or a second invitation
may even be sent directly to the date at his or her home address
#2 - Guests Who Ask To Bring A Guest of Their Own
The answer is straightforward: It is impolite of a guest to
ask if he can bring a date -- but it is not impolite of you
to refuse. You may certainly answer no. However, if you do
discover that they are engaged or living together, the thing
to do is invite your friend's partner, whether verbally or
here to see complete wedding etiquette guides
#3 - Sending Invitations to Out-of-Town Guests Who Can't Possibly
Apply careful thought. Many people prefer not to send invitations
to those friends and acquaintances who they feel cannot possibly
attend the celebrations. They believe that doing so makes
it look as if they are merely inviting those friends in order
to receive a gift. In most cases these friends should receive
a wedding announcement instead, which carries no obligation
There is the flip side to this dilemma. Some good friends
who live far away might actually be hurt if you do not send
invitations, even if your intent was to spare them from feeling
obliged to send a gift for a wedding so far away. These friends,
upon hearing news of your engagement, may actually have been
making plans to travel to your wedding. In general, always
invite truly good friends -- even if they live far away.