Wedding etiquette questions received by our SA Living viewers, blog readers and social media friends:
Q: It is a second marriage for both of us and I didn’t have a church wedding the first time around. Is it okay to “walk down the aisle” since I’ve been previously married?
A: You may walk down the aisle with absolutely no reservation. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
Q: As a guest, may I wear my a white dress, that looks nothing like a wedding gown?
A: White is generally reserved for the bride; I would strongly suggest you choose an alternate color. Even if the bride opts not to wear white, you are showing deference and respect for the bride. Kudos to you for asking and caring enough to do what is most appropriate.
Q: My husband’s daughter, my step daughter, is getting married for the first time. The situation is fraught with difficulty and the bottom line is my adult child is not invited to the wedding. I am looked upon, and referred to as, “only the step-mother,” do I have any right to say anything? Her mother is completely out of the picture and is not interested in any part of this wedding. This situation is very hurtful to my own 26 year old daughter who has never had a cross word with her step-sister. How should I handle this family drama?
A: First of all, you are not “only” the step-mother, but an important part of your husband’s life, and, whether his adult daughter likes it or not, a part of the family. Unless there are other extenuating circumstances, it would be inconsiderate to omit your adult child from the guest list. This is a conversation for your husband to have with his daughter, and while he is at it, let his adult daughter (the one he is paying an enormous price to keep happy, both emotionally and financially) know that he will not tolerate any further disrespect towards you or any part of your family. Then he must act on his word. My guess is, she will not go too far for very long.
Q: I don’t plan on attending my neighbors wedding but I would feel uncomfortable if I didn’t at least take over a gift. What are your thoughts?
A: If you were invited to the wedding and cannot attend, it’s always a nice gesture to drop off, or mail a gift to the bride and groom. However, if you are invited to a wedding, don’t really know the person very well, and have declined the RSVP, and haven’t seen them in several years, you can probably forgo a gift and not live with any guilt or remorse. Take a look at a timely article via Kiplinger’s where I offer advice on this exact question: http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T062-C006-S003-get-financially-ready-for-wedding-season.html.
If you are interested in taking your own Wedding Quiz, go to this slide show written by Susannah Snider via Kiplinger’s where Anna Post and I offer our tips. See how many questions you get correct:
Q: I received a wedding invitation to my cousin’s wedding but it didn’t say anything about bringing a date. Should I call and ask if it’s okay to bring a friend along?
A: You can be certain that unless the invitation specifically stated “and guest,” the answer is no. Don’t put the bride and groom in an uncomfortable position by asking if you may bring a plus one. There is often a tight head count and a specific reason your invitation did not include an additional guest.
Q: Can I skip the ceremony and just attend the party afterwards?
A: Unless you have a very good reason (i.e. your plane was re-routed to Hawaii, you were a witness in a bank robbery, your house flooded and your car ended up in another state), attending the wedding ceremony, before the reception, is the proper thing to do. I admit there have been some ceremonies I wish I could have skipped but…
Q: When is the best time to give the wedding gift?
A: A monetary gift should be mailed to ensure safe delivery. It is most convenient to send the gift in advance. On the day of the ceremony, gifts are being juggled from table to table, wedding cards, with checks enclosed, are getting passed from hand to hand and presents can easily be misplaced. Don’t take any chances.
Q: How long do I have to respond to an RSVP for a wedding reception?
A: Respond within a week of the arrival of the invitation and, remember that once you have confirmed, you may not change your mind for a better offer.
Q: I know that children are not allowed at my friend’s wedding, but my nine year old son is the bride’s godson. Should I ask to see if she would make an exception?
A: An exception for one family would mean an exception for other families with children and it would put the bride in an uncomfortable position. Rest assured. if she wanted to make an exception for your son, he would be in the wedding party or his name would be on the invitation.
Q: My sister is having a destination wedding and has made it clear she does not want kids attending the wedding or reception. I have two small children and I can’t possibly leave them behind. She didn’t ask me to be in the wedding, didn’t consult me on whether the location was convenient and isn’t taking the families budget into consideration. She told me she would understand if I couldn’t make it and we could celebrate when she got back from her honeymoon. I’m not only confused but angry at my sister’s selfish behavior. Should I just go and crash the wedding, bringing the kids anyways, or boycott the entire wedding?
A: Do I just get two choices? There may be a reason it’s a destination wedding. It’s your choice to not attend the wedding but it would be extremely inappropriate to “crash” the wedding, bringing your children, or any children, when your sister specifically requested a kids-free zone. I am extremely uncomfortable with the word “boycott,” but perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stay back and cool off. Truly, the most wonderful gift you could give your sister is you support and understanding and not take her wishes personally. It’s her wedding and she has the right to decide if children are included in her special day. Good luck.
Q: If the invitation says “Black tie optional,” what does that mean?
A: Black tie optional means that you may wear a tuxedo or formal attire but a dressy dark suit for men and a very dressy dress or pant suit are the least that is acceptable for a man or women.
Q: Why is it considered rude to take my own pictures at a wedding?
A: Your camera or smart phone should not be removed from your purse during the ceremony unless you have prior consent from the bride and groom. Flashes and clicks are distracting and can also prohibit the professional photographer’s ability to do his or her job to the fullest potential. It’s also impolite to post any picture you snap of the wedding on a social media site without permission from the bride, groom, or fellow guests.
Q: How long do I have to stay at the reception?
A: Traditionally, it is a courtesy to stay at the wedding reception until the cake has been cut but if you have to leave early, say goodbye to the bride and groom and make a quiet exit.
Q: Do I have to send a thank you note to immediate family?
A: Most certainly. Not only do your parents and siblings deserve a thank you note, but a warm hug and perhaps a dinner invitation to watch the wedding video! They undoubtedly went through a great deal during the past few months while you were planning and executing your wedding and heartfelt thank you note expressing your gratitude is a wonderful keepsake.
Q: We cancelled our wedding! Do we need to give the gifts back?
A: I am sure you have a great deal to attend to, and making arrangements to return the gifts to the gift givers is on that list. You can return them in person, by mail, or on line when applicable. Gifts that must be returned also include those you received at your wedding shower(s). If you received any gifts on line, contact the company and ask if they can send a credit directly to the gift giver. A good rule of thumb is to wait until after the “I do’s” before using the wedding gifts. I wish you the best of luck.