Wedding & Function
Wedding & Function

Etiquette: Planning a Wedding

Who should know about my engagement first?

Before your broadcast the big news on the social networks, proper wedding etiquette says you should share your engagement with family and friends first. If you have children from a previous marriage, etiquette says you should tell them first, then your parents, family members, godparents and anyone you are particularly close with. After that, you can go ahead and make it public knowledge.

Do I need to bring a present to an engagement party?

Traditionally, the answer is no. However, today some guests bring a small token, like Champagne flutes, for the couple – but this is not standard everywhere. Consequently, do not expect your engagement gift to be opened at the engagement party.

How do I deal with an over-enthusiastic mother/mother-in-law-to-be?

Difficult family situations and interfering mothers can add pressure to the wedding planning process. Allocate both the mothers special tasks, like allowing them to help with the flowers, or research wedding car options. Let them feel involved and part of the wedding planning process and you should be able to restrain the meddling!

Who should host the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts (and pays for) the rehearsal dinner and arranges a guest list in conjunction with the bride’s family. Nowadays, some families are splitting the cost or let the bride and groom host their own rehearsal dinner - the groom’s family should get ‘first dibs.’

Should I set a wedding dress code?

Traditionally, a formal engraved invitation meant that guests were expected to wear morning dress – without it being stated on the invite. Nowadays, wedding dress codes can be quite varied and it’s fine to specify what you want – just keep the wording simple and clear.

Who pays for the wedding?

Traditional wedding etiquette says the bride’s parents pay for most of the wedding. Today, however, many couples fund their wedding themselves or split the cost between both families. Since no one really likes to bring up this subject, it’s important that you speak to both parents and find out what, if there is anything that they would like to contribute early on in in your wedding planning.

Should we offer a choice of food, or stick with a set menu?

When having a sit-down meal at your wedding, it is simpler (and usually cheaper) to stick to a set menu with provision for vegetarians. If you want to offer more choices, it is probably a better option to have a buffet where guests can choose from a selection of meat, fish and vegetarian options. Your guests know they are coming to a wedding and not a restaurant and as long as you choose a fairly simple menu, they should be happy.

Who sends the wedding invitations?

Traditionally, wedding invitations come from the bride’s parents, although at times the groom’s name is followed by “son of (his parents’ names)”. Nowadays, many couples just send their own invites. If you want to know when to send out the invites, see our wedding planning checklist here.

When should we register our wedding gift list?

Soon; especially if you’re planning to use one of the popular department stores. Some will let you register online early, but otherwise 12 weeks is about standard.

Can we ask for money instead of presents?

Times have changed and many couples already have a home before their wedding so bringing them china and linen may be pointless. Asking for money as instead of gifts is now quite commonplace and acceptable, but it must be handled carefully.
Some guests may still prefer to buy you a present. Be prepared to make a compromise and set up a small wedding list and suggest that vouchers for a variety of retailers would be just as useful. However, if you can make it known that cash would be welcome, most of wedding guests will be happy to oblige! Just give assurance that the money will be spent wisely.

Can I register for wedding gifts if it’s my second marriage?

Whether it’s your first wedding or your third, you can still register for gifts. There are plenty of people who may want to give you a gift, including those who have attended a prior wedding.
If you feel uncomfortable about receiving wedding gifts all over again, you can sign up for a honeymoon registry. It’s also perfectly fine to ask your wedding guests not to bring you gifts.


YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO WEDDING ETIQUETTE