What You Need to Know about Modern Wedding Etiquette


Weddings in the twenty-first century are playing on an entirely different field

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

everything you need to know about wedding ettiquette graphic over girl in white dress on lush road

At APW, we like to think about etiquette not as a stuffy set of outdated rules, but as a living, breathing set of (feminist) guidelines that lets us communicate with each other with kindness. And if there is any place where we need some guidelines to help us, it’s wedding planning. Because with issues like family and faith and money… and yes, etiquette, all in the mix, things can get dicey, quick.

The problem is, most wedding etiquette guides out there are pretty awful. A lot of them seem to be motivated by getting you to buy more things, and that’s not even getting into how painfully anti-feminist a lot of the purported wedding rules are. So, in the interest of providing some updated wedding etiquette to share with your mama, or just relax you—I researched all the terrible rules floating around out there and came up with this set up no-nonsense, feminist, up-to-date set of guidelines. After eight years in the industry, two wedding books, and thousands upon thousands of hours of research, I feel comfortable helping you throw some terrible rules out the window, and also telling you which rules you’re probably stuck with. (Feel free to share your own best tips in the comments.)

Feminist Wedding Etiquette

What’s the deal with engagement parties?

Engagement parties are a hundred percent optional. Actually, they might be a thousand percent optional, but I’d have to check my math. They are most likely to occur when A) you know you’re going to have a long engagement, and you want a party right now to celebrate your commitment, and B) you have an enthusiastic family member who wants to Throw A Little Party Right Now To Celebrate.

Who hosts the shower, and do we have to have one?

Once upon a time the rule was that showers couldn’t be hosted by family members because it looked too “gift grabby.” (See below for debunking of the “gift grabby” concept, hopefully forever.) That rule is thankfully out the window. Anyone can host your shower! And you don’t have to have one. So if you want to opt out—opt out.

Who pays for what?

UGH YOU GUYS. I’m frustrated that we still have to deal with this question. Here is the dirt: back in the day the bride’s family paid for basically everything, because… giving your daughter away was an occasion to be celebrated. If you weren’t offering a dowry, you could at least offer a party that cost as much as a dowry. So unless you feel like your parents are unburdening themselves of an economic liability, then payment should be split equitably.

From each according to their ability, if you will.

How do we word our wedding invitations? 

For all the detail you ever wanted, plus tons of examples, check out our handy wedding invitation wording guide. For bonus points, we can also answer all your wedding invitation etiquette questions over here.

Do I send invites to people who I know can’t attend?

If you love someone, and really wish they could be at your wedding, send them an invite. Your guests are adults, and they can and will say no if attending isn’t practical for them. But it’s an honor to be invited to someone’s wedding. Don’t take that away from someone just because you know they’re not going to be able to make it.

Who gets a plus one?

It’s kind to offer single guests the ability to bring a date, and it increases the odds that they’ll attend. (Social anxiety is real, y’all.) But if you can’t afford (or really don’t want) those extra guests, the “and guest” invitation is never required.

Do I have to invite all my cousins/co-workers?

Nope! But it is helpful to set general rules so feelings are not hurt. Maybe all first cousins are in, but second cousins are out. Maybe co-workers on your direct team are in, but your department is out. (Besties are obviously an exception to any rule.)

Do I Have To Invite My Friend’s Significant Other?

If someone is in a long-term committed relationship, you need to invite their partner. But if your friend is dating someone they met on Tinder last week, you don’t have to invite them.

Is it okAY if we don’t want kids at our wedding?

Of course! We’ve got a whole post to help you throw a childfree wedding right here.

Do we have to send paper invites to be taken seriously?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If you want your great grandmother to attend, you probably need to send her a paper invitation (or call her). But you’re in luck, because almost all e-invitation services give you the option of sending out matching paper invitations to selected guests. Figure out which of your guests are really not plugged in, and send them something in the mail.

What’s the point of a wedding registry?

The point of a wedding registry is to make sure that you don’t end up with a mis-mash of shockingly ugly homewares. Because no matter what you say, people will buy you wedding presents (sorry about that). And if you don’t have a registry, a good percentage of them are likely to be… eccentric.

Can we have an “experience” registry?

You sure can. But the bottom line is, some people will get you physical presents, because that’s just how they do things. And that’s okay. Because a present is just that… a present. It’s not something you deserve, or can expect. It’s something someone gives you to express love. And sometimes love comes in the form of incredibly ugly pepper grinders.

TL;DR: Ask for what you want, be happy with what you get.

Can I ask for cash?

“Can I ask for cash?” and “Will I get cash?” are somewhat different questions, so let’s break it down.

Yes, you can ask for cash. But fair warning, there are still plenty of folks who won’t like it, so know your crowd. That said, if you quietly put out the word that you’d prefer cash, because you’re saving for a particular thing (moms and best friends are great for broadcasting this message, by the way), and provide only a minimal registry, you may well get tons of cash.

(Note: This particular issue varies widely by culture. YMMV.)

Are guests required to bring a gift?

Required is a strong word there, grasshopper. I’d say that it’s recommended that guests bring a wedding gift, but I’m pretty sure you’d rather have them there than have a toaster. Also, the idea that gifts need to cover the cost of the meal is false. Make sure you have $10 and $20 items on your registry for the broke (but loving) folks.

Is XYZ thing I’m doing considered gift grabby?

NO. No, no, no. Unless you’re doing it to actually make a play for extra presents, in which case, yes.

Can we include information about our registry in our invitations?

Many etiquette rules have changed in recent years, but the answer to this question is still no. You don’t want to make giving a gift seem like a requirement of attending your wedding.

Can we include registry information on our wedding website?

Yes! In fact, as far as your guests are concerned, that’s basically the whole point of a wedding website.

Do we need a wedding website?

Nope! But if you don’t have a website, and you do have a registry, you may need to be a little more proactive spreading that information through word of mouth.

Can you wear white (or black) to a wedding?

These days you can wear black to a wedding, so rock that little black dress. However, if the bride (or brides, as it were) is wearing white, you shouldn’t. (And frankly, if she’s wearing red, you probably shouldn’t wear red. Or blue… etc.) In short: give a girl her moment.

Will people really leave after we cut the cake?

Yes, they will. This has got to be one of the most archaic rules around weddings, but the real truth is, some older people are waiting for polite permission to go lie down. That permission slip is traditionally offered with a slice of cake.

Do we have to send thank you notes?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: If someone brought a gift to your wedding, they need to be thanked. If that someone is under thirty and casual in nature, thank them however you see fit. Text? Snapchat? Instagram tag? If that’s how the two of you comfortably communicate, it’s fine to express your genuinely felt gratitude that way. However, if your gift-giver is over thirty, you probably need to send a card on paper with an actual stamp, as etiquette has always required. I know: OLDS. But hey, you will be an old one day soon, so be kind.

How long do we have to send thank you notes? 

Technically, you have a year. Realistically, you probably should probably send them within two or three months.

What were your biggest wedding etiquette questions? How did you resolve them? Are there any other tips you think are essential for the engaged to know? It’s time to talk about rules (and how to break ’em nicely).

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

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  • Jen

    Any suggestions for how to nicely invite only some of your relatives but not others? My mom came from a family of 12 and with that are way too many aunts, uncles, and first cousins to invite everyone (I’m talking over 100 once you deal with remarriages) but we want to invite one or two of the families that we’re closer to… Even if we could afford it, I just don’t want them all there as we’re not close and I really couldn’t handle that many people in one space…
    How can we word this (why aunt 1 is invited but not aunt 2) the easiest? A few will always be ruffled but trying to burn the least number of bridges…

    • Keri

      Depends on who you’re talking to and why. If you’re talking about discussing the planning/invites with someone like your mom and giving your rationale to her, I would try to be upfront but positive and say it’s a big family, and you really want X, Y, and Z there.

      If you mean when you’re talking to people you invited, if they ask why someone else wasn’t? Or if someone should happen to ask why they are not invited? That’s trickier, but also less likely to come up, I think?

    • Kayjayoh

      I don’t have any great specific suggestions. We invited all of my mom’s living siblings, but none of their kids. We invited my dad’s living brother, my late uncle’s widow, and the three cousins on that side. Ultimately, we got a total of two uncles, two aunts, and one cousin. I didn’t hear about any hurt feelings about cousins on my mom’s side.

    • Lawyerette510

      If all my aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins’ kids would have been invited, it would have been 36 people for a wedding with 65 guests total. My husband and I are only close to and in regular contact with 6 of those 36 family members plus there is a lot of drama beyond the 6 I’m close with, so we made the decision to only invite those 6 (one aunt, her husband, her kids and their SOs). For our parents we framed it as “We are only inviting people who we both have a relationship with, that includes family members. You know that we are close to [specific family members] and consider them friends in addition to family. It is important to use that our day be about love and our beginning to form a new, healthy, family of our own while honoring the people who got us to this point. We’d appreciate your support with us on this, but feel free to put all the responsibility for the decision on us.” We took a similar approach to drawing lines on his side of the family.

      I don’t have much insight on how to approach it with the other family members as we dodged that because of how fast our wedding happened: it was less than 2 months from when we found our venue and chose our date to when we were married. As a result of the fast time-frame and our not really talking about the upcoming wedding on facebook, most of our extended family did not even know we were getting married. Additionally there weren’t many pictures posted at the wedding because service was really bad. A friend photographed our wedding, so we had the pictures in about a week, and we promptly sent postcards announcing our wedding with a short playful note. The people we had decent but not close relationships with have continued, and the people who we had not good relationships with have continued to by not good, but that was inevitable. When people asked us, we explained how small our wedding was and that it was hard to draw lines but that the people we invited are the ones we spend time with regularly. The reasonable ones understood, as it wasn’t a surprise that we are close with this particular aunt and cousins.

      • Jen

        Thanks, that’s actually really helpful! My parents have no problem with inviting less people, so luckily that’s actually support for us, I’m definitely more worried about relatives talking behind our backs about who got invited and who didn’t, etc. Especially because we’re not in any disagreements, just not close at all.
        Most of this stems from an older cousin who was planning a similar type of wedding and I definitely heard the aunts talking about “if you can’t invite everyone you shouldn’t get married in the first place” which makes no sense to me
        I think we’ll focus on limited space as a good explanation, and hope everyone can deal with that, and if not then tough

    • Lisa

      My dad is one of 11, my mom is one of 12, my FIL is one of 4, and my MIL is one of 6. If we’d invited all of them, their spouses, and their kids (our cousins), that would have been the entirety of our guest list.

      We ended up settling on inviting the siblings our parents wanted us to invite (most except for a few black sheep) and then only cousins 18+ with whom we had close relationships.

      Honestly, if you aren’t that close to them, most people won’t ask why a certain person was invited. If they do ask, you can explain it with, “We chose to invite family members with whom both of us have a relationship.” (Or whatever your metric is.)

    • Lulu

      I was a little cavalier about how hard it can be to make explicit a lack of closeness that had previously been unacknowledged. I didn’t invite any of my dad’s five siblings. I never felt particularly close to them, then felt even less so in the years between my dad’s death and my wedding. But the next time I saw them, at an aunt’s funeral, I did feel tinges of guilt when I perceived hurt feelings. So I have no advice, just solidarity with how hard it is to define every relationship in your life in the way that weddings demand of you.

    • Caitlin

      At my Mum’s wedding, she elected to only invite members of her side of the family (her cousins etc) if they had met my step-father. Given that they had been dating 10 years before the wedding occurred, that seemed like a very fair criteria and no-one contested it. Another bride I know used the “have THEY contacted ME in the last year” criteria, mainly to draw line around friends who haven’t been that involved in her life in recent years. Plus if you have anyone who doesn’t meet this criteria that you want there, you can have a friend/sympathetic family member tip them off to call you asap so that they make the list.

    • I invited everyone I see at Christmas. So there was a lot of family (although that was the goal), but it helped with the degrees of people, so my nana’s brother and his wife who comes to most family events with us and who I have lots of memories of were invited, but not most of my nana’s other –very large number of–siblings were invited.
      {The hardest part though actually about invitations was that one of my uncles and aunts were getting divorced during the wedding, so my aunt who I knew for all of my life couldn’t come for various family reasons (we weren’t super close specifically, but she was always just sort of there at family things) but we met up with her a couple days later for lunch just my husband and her and my mom and talked to try and still include her in our life.}

  • Kalë

    Are rompers appropriate wedding-wear? I’m attending several weddings this summer, and am

    struggling to find dresses I like, in my price range – but finding lots of “formalish” rompers that float my boat. My mom would say absolutely not, but as noted above, the times they are a’changin’, and I’d like your take on it. Examples below:

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/astr-flutter-cape-romper/4260121?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=MAUVE

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/leith-floral-crossover-romper/4196877?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=BLACK%20CHINOSRIE

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/minkpink-by-the-river-floral-print-romper/4273198?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=MULTI

    • CMT

      I don’t think I’d wear any of those to a capital-F Formal wedding, but I like all of them and think you could get away with them at a less formal wedding. Especially the second one. It’s gorgeous!

    • Kayjayoh

      I think it depends on the wedding. But if a short sundress would be appropriate, these would work. They are shorter than the dresses I’d wear to a wedding, but the non-skirt makes it more covering than a short dress would be.

    • Aubry

      I especially like that first one! totally looks like a little dress :) I think this is a know your crowd situation. My wedding was in my family friend’s backyard at 10:00am in July, so yes totally. My friend’s formal dinner at a fancy golf course, maybe less so.

    • Bethany

      I’m not the etiquette police, but for some reason it seems a little weird to wear a romper to a wedding. I think maybe because at the end of the day they are basically shorts (and usually pretty short at that) and I would never wear shorts to a wedding. If I were you, and was good friends with the bride, I’d just ask her what she thinks. She’d know better than anyone what is appropriate. Good luck!

    • Jennifer Landree

      I would think this depends on the dress code for the wedding…like, some of the rompers pictured (while beautiful!) are probably too short to be appropriate for a church wedding or a formal event, but could be ok for a more casual event!

    • Lawyerette510

      I agree it depends on the weddings. If it’s something daytime and informal then go for it, if it’s cocktail or more, then I don’t think the rompers work. That said, I think you can find jumpsuits that are more formal and work.

    • Jess

      My opinion varies based on the event.

      Evening black tie wedding in a stylish location – not romper friendly.
      Outdoor backyard wedding – 100% romper friendly.

      Regarding the ones you linked – I would wear them for a casual feel wedding but not a formal feel wedding. If the attire was “cocktail” a stylish jumpsuit would feel more appropriate over a romper.

      Just my two cents, from someone who loves the look of jumpsuits and rompers on others but would never ever in a million years wear one themself.

      • Alynae

        As someone attending a backyard wedding…rompers pose bathroom complications…and the backyard wedding I am going to has port-a-potties. Logistics matter!

    • Meg Keene

      UM YES.

    • Kalë

      Sounds like the consensus is that it’s totally acceptable, provided it’s not a super formal/black tie wedding (which, for the record, none of the ones I’m attending are). I might not end up wearing one, but it’s nice to know it’s definitely an option!

      • kate

        totally! i loooove the first two you posted!
        i’d equate shorts rompers to sundress level fancy myself – they can vary a bit, but if it’s a casual, daytime wedding it works. if it’s cocktail attire or above, i’d go for a long jumpsuit though, which generally reads a bit more formal. either way, details/fabric and accessories can really elevate the formality or not, so pay attention to those in your final choice too.

    • Sara

      I love these for an outdoor spring/summer wedding!

    • toomanybooks

      I think of all of these, the first one is the most wedding-appropriate, especially if you accessorize in a way that dresses it up (jewelry, nice shoes). Agreed it’s best for a non-formal summer wedding.

      • toomanybooks

        Also, on a related note, I could see a jumpsuit being easy to wear to a wedding because it eliminates the it’s short/it’s shorts thing the romper has.

        • Greta

          This kick-ass female wore a jumpsuit to my brother’s wedding and it was AMAZING. Felt plenty formal, took amazing pictures on the dance floor too! :)

        • JC

          My sister wore a jumpsuit to her own rehearsal dinner, and it absolutely would have been appropriate as guest attire for the wedding the next day. It was a February wedding, though, so the short/casual factor that seems to be in question with the rompers wasn’t an issue in the cold…

  • Kayjayoh

    Got into a disagreement on FB (I tried not to comment and I failed) on the plus one thing. Based on this article: https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/give-every-adult-a-plus-1417621087494198.html

    Frankly, as someone who has been a wedding date (ugh) and been in the position of wondering if I should find a wedding date (ugh) I honestly wouldn’t want to deal with it if I didn’t have to. I mean, I don’t, anymore. But as a single person, unless I was going to a wedding where I didn’t know anyone beside the couple, I just wanted to go and hang out with people there, rather than dragging in some other person.

    • JLily

      Ugh yes I have such heartburn about the plus-one thing. I feel like I cannot explain it to my mom in a way that she understands, and we are totally butting heads over it. Like, I GET that its no fun to go to a wedding where you know no one else, and it can FEEL like a slight if your single. I’ve been there. But I think what some people forget about weddings is that the couple is sharing something personal with the community there, so for me personally, it needs to be a community and I don’t really want to include people that my friends are casually dating or a friend that happens to be free that night. We did make sure to invite groups of people so there isn’t really anyone on the list that wouldn’t know ANYONE. And I’m already nervous about the ceremony being in front of people that love and support me, so it just adds extra anxiety for me to know that there will be random, total strangers. Like, its a party, but its not JUST a party, you know?

      • Kayjayoh

        If I were doing my wedding list again and were inviting someone who really didn’t know anyone else, I’d definitely give them a plus one. We gave plus ones to the two single people who were going to have to travel, in case they wanted to have a travel buddy and hotel split. We gave plus ones to the two people who asked us for them specifically.

        I did, however, tell my sister no. She was my attendant and her son was going to be there with us. The guy she wanted to invite was this guy from out of town that she had a crush on yet had never actually met in person. No, no, nope. :) She was a little mad at me, but I think she also got it.

      • Meg Keene

        Girl, true story. We didn’t have plus ones at our wedding. We ended up making a few exceptions when people begged (funnily, all of those people were in the wedding party, and they all brought a sibling who we knew somewhat), but we felt the same way. It’s ok. As long as you invite long term partners, you’re being polite. People might not love it, but you can do you.

      • kate

        yep, totally with you on this. we offered plus ones to everyone and the majority of those had existing bf’s/gf’s/partners, so it wasn’t too big a deal, but when it actually came up that one of our close friends in the wedding party was bringing a someone he’d just met a week or two prior it felt a little squicky to us for exactly the reasons you describe.
        the thing is though, you either offer or you don’t and then you have to let your people make their own decisions about what they’ll do with the offer (or lack thereof), so it wasn’t something we felt we could make up a rule to prevent after we found out. in the end, it was fine, but i hadn’t expected to feel that way when we initially made the decision to include plus ones, so it’s certainly something to consider early on and definitely a valid choice as long as you’re consistent and clear in where you’re drawing the line.

      • Sara

        I feel like I am going to try and be extra-careful about our +1 offerings. My partner (now fiance) was invited to a wedding right before we got engaged, and was not given a plus one – even though we had lived together for over 2 years at the time and been dating for 3. A year earlier I was invited to an out of town wedding where I did not know 90% of the guests and I was not given a plus one. I was really, really hurt both times. I know most people have the decency not to do that, but I’m going to try and be hyper-aware when we are allotting our guests +1s because of this.

      • Greta

        We had a relatively large wedding (165 attended, 200 invited) and we gave plus 1’s to all the single people. There were only about 20 people that were single on our invite list, and of those 20, only 2 brought plus 1’s! One of them was a random couple who I barely noticed and haven’t seen since (husband’s friend) and the other was our dear friend’s now long-term partner. I was so glad she was there! Most of our single friends choose to come alone, and a lot of our friends who have long-term partners also came alone because they lived far away and wanted a fun weekend with friends. When I really broke it down with numbers, it wasn’t a big deal at all.

    • Lisa

      I saw that article at last Friday’s Happy Hour and had wondered where you fell on the spectrum! I’ve been partnered for almost all of the weddings I’ve attended in my life so I didn’t have to worry about finding a plus one. However, for our wedding, we chose to only extend plus ones to people who were in committed relationships. Some people asked if they could swap out their plus one (my aunt’s husband was in Korea so she brought her son).

      The only issue we had was a close friend of mine who had a visitor in town that she wanted to bring as a plus one. I was hesitant at first, but he ended up being the pianist for our ceremony and attending the reception. Everyone else was perfectly fine talking to the people who were there.

    • Elizabeth

      I guess my thing is that I don’t want to pass judgement on other people’s relationships. It means the world to me that I’ve gotten a +1 for the wedding I’m attending next week, because even though I wasn’t in a ‘long-standing committed relationship’ when save-the-dates went out or most of their planning happened it would be difficult for me to attend without my SO. I would, and I would still be happy for the couple, but I would be leaving someone behind. It was hard for me when it happened a year ago and six months ago (although that had to do with her being out of the country, rather than not getting a +1).

      I understand not doing blanket +1’s, I absolutely 100% understand. But in making my own list to figure out numbers, I have no idea who’s going to be in a committted relationship a year from now. Some of the people I might not give +1’s on my current list may be married then. So I think it’s a nice gesture, if you can. It certainly didn’t stress me out to get a +1 and know that my person couldn’t attend — I just attended solo.

      • You can always add an “and guest” to the wedding invitations, even if you didn’t on the Save the Dates. No need to predict the future a year in advance, just two months!

      • Kayjayoh

        I don’t have a general problem with plus ones in theory. But you invite who you are going to invite, and budget aside, you have a finite amount of space. If the named guests is pushing at capacity and you are hoping some people will decline so that everyone will fit, unnamed plus ones might not work. And I don’t think (like the author of the article implies) that people who don’t invite unknown plus ones are jerks or terrible friends.

        I mean, if the option is A. invite all the people that I know and love plus the people I know that some of those people are seeing or B. invite most of the people I know and love, but trim some of the single people from the list because if most of them bring a date it will be too many people, I’m going to go with the option that doesn’t have me trimming people beyond unnamed, unknown +1s.

    • Eenie

      In no way does “and guest” mean you HAVE to bring someone! We ended up with blanket plus ones against my initial wishes. It worked out fine. Some brought friends, some came alone, and some SO could not make it. I find it really hard to believe that a blanket plus one policy causes more stress than not giving out plus ones to everyone (for guests).

    • Erica G

      Oh I shouldn’t have read that article… I have been the plus-one at two weddings where I barely knew anyone and it was awkward even though I am a super-extrovert! There is no reason anyone should feel obligated to give every adult a plus-one. I even already regret giving the few plus-ones we did for our wedding in July, we are scrimping together cash to pay for it and there are going to be people there that neither myself nor my partner has ever met… its weird.

    • Amy March

      As a single person, I want to be invited with a date. I’m over 30, nearly all my friends are paired up, and I want the option to bring someone. I don’t think it is mandatory, but I do think it is a very nice thing to do.

      • Kayjayoh

        It is a nice thing to do, yes. At the same time, I don’t agree with the idea (in the article) that you are big jerk if you don’t. I’ve been invited to weddings as a single person without a plus one, and I didn’t think anything of it.

    • LucyPirates

      I am having sleepless nights over not being able to invite 3 of my cousins gf/bf even though we are only inviting 4 of my cousins in total (I have 21, not close to all, and I have to invite my dad’s 8 siblings and spouses)
      I haven’t met any of the bf or gfs as in a different country, they were all either early stages or less than a year when we started the guest list so felt justified at the time. But had a message yesterday from my cousin asking if we were intending to invite his gf as she would need to travel from another country.
      I said currently no as we were maxed out… and he was very understanding about.
      If I send invites out and get some no thanks replies, which is looking unlikely, I don’t know if I should then be inviting other cousins rather than partners who I don’t know….

      The problems of an irish Catholic family…

  • Jess

    Welllllll I have already broken at least one of these rules. I sent out little registry cards with our invites (think business card size with a simple “X and Y are registered at these places”). We decided not to do a wedding website (I did not need one.more.wedding.thing to do and if left up to the groom it wasn’t going to get done because he thinks they’re silly), my mother would not have spread registry information and I eventually decided, what the hell, I’m letting people know, if they’re offended I am very sorry. It wasn’t a great solution but it worked.

    • Ashlah

      Personally, I think that’s a fine solution. It wouldn’t offend me in the slightest, especially given you have no website.

      • Keri

        Right. And what if I don’t know your mom or maid of honor anyway?

    • Kalë

      I think that this is something that is changing as well. Perhaps the more Miss Manners inclined might be offended, but I’ve received several invites with the registry info on the actual invite itself. Doesn’t offend me in the least – in fact, I’m grateful to not have to chase down the info from elsewhere. I’ll ALWAYS get someone a gift for their wedding, and would much, much, rather it be a gift that they actually want.

      • MC

        I agree with this – I’ve never felt pressured to get a gift because I got registry info with the invite, but I have always liked the convenience of it!

    • Jayne

      As a custom stationery designer, I think that’s totally fine! I discourage my brides from including registration on the actual invitation card itself, but unless they have a wedding website, most of them choose to include a registry card with a very gracious statement about where they’re registered. Don’t worry about it!

    • emilyg25

      This is one of those things that’s not a big deal. But one thing to remember is that if people want to know your registry info, they’ll just ask you.

    • Sara

      FWIW, I get these little registry cards fairly often with invitations and my only thought has ever been “Thank god they made the information easy and clear!”

    • Eenie

      I don’t think it’s weird to get the registry cards. You’re fine.

      For everyone else: There’s quite a few sites that will magically find your online wedding registries if you make them public. if you want to know how easy they are to find, open up an incognito browser and search both your names plus registry. It took me a while to un-privatize our amazon registry after having it private while we finished registering elsewhere.

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      I personally think it’s pretty dumb to impose a no-registry-info-on-the-invite rule. Relying on word of mouth is very frustrating for the guests who would like to give you gifts. And those who can’t or don’t want to get you a gift–surprise!–don’t have to. They’re adults who can make their own decisions.

    • AP

      I recently got an invite with a registry card in it, and didn’t think a thing about it! You’re good.

    • Caitlin

      The majority of wedding invites that we have received have included information on where the couple is registered for gifts. I don’t know if it’s one of those rules that are different here in the UK (I still can’t get over the fact that bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dresses in the US – especially when the bride has picked them & therefore how much they will cost!) but no-one I know has ever been offended by knowing exactly what the preference is for gifts.

      Plus having the information on the invitation has saved us a couple of time where my SO hasn’t sorted out a gift until the last possible moment, and rather than having to call someone for the information at 2am the morning of the wedding (yes, seriously) we have been able to do a last minute check and pick the gift up on the way to the wedding.

      The wording is usually something very gentle, like “Your attendance at our wedding is gift enough, but if you feel that you would like to do something more we are registered at X/would be thrilled with a contribution to our honeymoon/first home as a married couple”.

      • Rhiannon D

        Yep, the no registry in invite thing I find odd too. John Lewis even gives us the cards to put in the invites here in the UK.
        And wow, I wouldn’t have considered even asking my lady team to buy their own dresses properly (they ordered them as they could handle the sizing, and I paid them back !)
        I’d love to see a couple of US-UK posts on here, different traditions and etiquette are interesting!

        • Sosuli

          I second that! I’m not British, but my FH is and we’re based in the UK. So much UK wedding etiquette is different. Like apparently wearing white to a wedding is not that big a deal, it’s totally normal to invite some people to the evening reception only… and fruitcake. I can’t get over the fruitcake (I hate it). I should point out that I’m also not North American, so I’m confused by both sets of traditions!

          • Rhiannon D

            I’m british born and bred, so I love fruit cake! We had three tiers of fruit cake for our wedding cake. The top tier is being kept for the first baby’s christening style celebration (which is another tradition, except I’m not in the sort of church that does christening).
            I’d still say avoid white though. I’d be too worried about getting food on it anyway.
            I didn’t realise the evening only guests wouldn’t be a thing elsewhere.
            APW needs a whole series on round the world wedding traditions and etiquette! Its a minefield otherwise.

          • Sosuli

            Haha, I’m just making the comment about white because my FMIL apparently thinks it’s okay… a long story I have gone into detail about on here many a time! I hate fruit cake, but conceded to having one if we also have another cake. I’m Scandinavian and people at home would be appalled if they were only invited to a part of and not a whole wedding. Our wedding is in the UK, but we’ve decided not to have any extra evening guests because my relatives would think it’s incredibly rude! I’m personally used to it now and can understand the reasons for it, but I was confused the first time I got an evening-only wedding invitation.

          • Caitlin

            The one that I recently found out was that American weddings seem to finish much earlier than UK weddings – I don’t think I’ve been to a wedding that finished before 1am, and to be honest if my taxi arrives at 1am I still feel like I’m missing a good bit of the party.

          • quiet000001

            My British SIL had two cakes at her wedding since not everyone likes fruitcake but having fruitcake was really important to various relatives and so on. The way they did it was the displayed decorated cake was the fruitcake (which meant it could be done well in advance and set up early so less stress for everyone since fruitcake and fondant keep well) and then in the back they had plain white-iced sheet cakes (which they actually got from CostCo, but any place that does tasty but not too expensive cake would work fine) and then everyone was served a ‘tasting’ size piece of each, then larger pieces were available of just one or the other for whichever you preferred. (They didn’t have any other dessert, so the cake was the dessert, hence the larger pieces also.)

            Seemed to work pretty well – at our table people traded around a bit as some people didn’t want the fruitcake at all and some didn’t want the other cake, and whomever was cutting the cake for serving was totally clued in on what is a sensible serving of a fruitcake compared to a sponge-style. (I.e. no one got huge hunks of fruitcake that would feed a family of twelve for three days.)

            Anyway, I know this is an old post and an old comment, but in case anyone else is reading who is still planning – the two cake method worked quite well and everyone was happy.

  • Gray

    How do you handle if it you’re not doing cake? For example, cupcakes or a dessert bar. There’s no “cutting” those, so how do you signal to the older folks that it’s okay for them to head out?

    • Kalë

      I would probably say making an announcement? “The cupcake bar is now open!” “Please feel free to take a sweet treat from the dessert bar!” “At this time, the bride and groom would like to offer you an ice cream sundae!” etc.

      • Keri

        And then go up and have a bite of it together and get your picture taken.

    • Stephanie B.

      An announcement works great, or you could even cut one of the cupcakes if you’re so inclined. (We didn’t really care about a cupcake-cutting moment/picture, but parents wanted one, so we rolled with it. But we planned poorly, so we cut it with a plastic knife, which is about par for the course for us.)

      Plus, if some of the cupcakes/desserts happen to be vegan/gluten-free/nut-free, you may want to make an announcement anyway (some of our cupcakes were gluten-free, because I have celiac disease, and I knew some of the guests were also gluten-free, so we made a quick announcement that all cupcakes with a [whatever color; I can’t remember] wrapper were gluten-free, so come and get it!).

    • Eenie

      We didn’t have cake. We served creme brulee. It was well known there would be no cake. This was the one thing where I said etiquette be damned, I’m not buying an f*cking cake and having a cake cutting picture just for this. After the toasts were done we had an announcement that kicked off the “dance” portion of the night. People left when they wanted to or needed to. Let anyone over 60 gently know there will be no cake cutting.

      • Stephanie B.

        Whaaaaaaat. Now I’m wanting a do-over so I can have wedding creme brulee, because I love it so much!

        • Eenie

          It was the only gluten free option on the dessert menu! But I also love creme brulee! There’s awesome pictures of me eating it while dancing since I refused to leave the dance floor. The restaurant served it in styrofoam cups with plastic spoons.

      • Stephanie B.

        Or I could just go get creme brulee at a restaurant, which is way easier than a wedding do-over.

      • Sara

        Your creme brulee sounds delicious. I also do not want a cake but keep getting told I “must” have a cake. Except, I don’t like cake or enjoy cake, at all. I’d much rather have a cake-shaped mountain of French fries. (to be clear, I’m having a fruit tart instead)

        • Eenie

          You don’t need to have a cake. Fruit tart sounds delicious!

        • Rebekah

          You don’t need cake. We had wheels of cheese. Just ate a replica of the top tier the other day to celebrate our anniversary.

          • Sara

            OMG. Cheese… brilliant! This sounds so much better!

        • Greta

          You definitely don’t need a cake! We did a donut buffet. It was amazing. the bakery even made a giant donut that we used for the cutting. :)

      • toomanybooks

        Ohhhhhhhh creme brûlée. I’m sure that was WELL worth skipping the cake tradition. I certainly wouldn’t be complaining at that!

    • kate

      we had an ice cream sundae bar and just made an announcement that it was open – i did notice some older aunts/uncles or those with small kiddos left right after that, but others left whenever they needed to. i don’t think it’s too big a deal, just make it known that dessert is served and that’s probably good enough for those that are needing an early exit.
      might also help to make your general timeline known to family and/or on your website ahead of time so folks have a chance to find out what to expect and plan exits accordingly if necessary.

  • anon for this

    For some reason I have this huge mental block about Showers. I totally get behind Weddings, Engagement Parties, Bachelorettes, etc, all being a celebration of the PERSON and the COUPLE and the COMMITTMENT, but can’t see showers as anything but – yes, here’s the bad words – a gift grab.
    Is it just the ones I’ve been to? Do people do things at showers besides all sit around while the bride opens a bunch of presents, which you HAD to bring as price of admission, and then goes home? After which you buy them more presents for the wedding? Like, are my cousins just weird or is my hates-to-shop, acts-of-service-love-language self just… missing something ?

    • BDubs

      A shower is an unofficial was to have people meet and get to know one another in person. This is basically interchangeable with an engagement party except usually showers are single-partner and engagement parties seem to be a couple event.

      • Gray

        But you don’t bring gifts to an engagement party, right? Except a normal small party gift like a bottle of wine. Whereas with a shower you’re expected to bring a real gift, often $40-$80. Or is that just in my region?

        • anon for this

          This is absolutely my issue – an engagement party is just a party, and yeah maybe you bring a bottle of wine but there’s certainly no expectation of a gift.
          Whereas with a shower the gift giving / opening is the MAIN EVENT. You can’t show up without a gift, and yeah, there’s an expectation it’s a nice one.

        • sofar

          My in-laws insisted on throwing us an engagement party. And everyone brought gifts. Really nice gifts. I think they were trying to get into my in-laws’ good graces, as they’re social pillars of their community or whatever.

          I was shocked when I saw the presents start to pile up in the corner. I’ve never brought a gift to an engagement party. But I made sure to write grateful, personal thank-you notes for every gift.

          • Amanda

            I’m from NYC & my grandmother was pretty insistent on the engagement party. Many people have engagement parties that are bigger than most weddings, are often catered at a hall with a DJ. There was no way I was getting out of it because all of her friends kept asking. I insisted on doing it at home & keeping it low-key. My future in-laws came from several states away & stayed with my grandmother the night before–they’d only met once before so it was an opportunity for them to bond. But we got A LOT of cards with nice checks and a couple of gifts. I learned after the fact that the purpose of the engagement party was to let both sides get to know each other & to help the couple pay for their wedding. Those cards added up to be contributions to the photographer, flowers, music… Now my inlaws have met much of my extended family & they’ll be able to connect on a deeper-level at the wedding itself. It’s really about two families, especially extended families, coming together in a bigger way than just one big party.

            I think showers serve much of the same purpose. It’s for different people (often women) from the bride’s life to get to know each other. It’s for the adult-world friends to mingle with the bride’s childhood bestie, and for the favorite aunt to tell funny stories to the future grandmother in law who didn’t know the bride her whole life. I personally like the idea of co-ed showers because it gives a chance for the people who don’t know about the groom to get to know him too. That was not going to happen for me because my partner hates these kinds of parties and would be mortified, so I won’t torture him.

            But what I learned through this process is that when people are really insistent about certain customs, especially those that vary widely from culture to culture, there’s probably meaning in it beyond its stated purpose. And those sorts of hidden things have been really pleasantly surprising

          • Chicagoan

            Good for you for writing those notes :)

        • Erica G

          My friends had a “Stock-the-bar” engagement party where everyone brought them wine and booze, it was pretty fun!

        • emmers

          When I go to these, I either bring nothing or a bottle of wine!

    • Keri

      I agree that most people would expect that guests bring gifts to showers and that the gifts will be a big part of the event (opening them in front of people, etc). That being said, I think showers are much more optional for guests to attend. Like, it’s not a big deal to RSVP no to a shower, compared to RSVP’ing no to a wedding.

      • Sara

        Yum! This sounds delicious. I also do not want a cake… people keep telling me “but you HAVE to have a cake!” But, why? I don’t even enjoy cake! Like, at all! I’d rather have a cake-shaped mountain of French fries! (to be clear, I’m doing a fruit tart instead)

    • Meg Keene

      Here is what’s weird about showers: they’re a relic of another time. They were a way for the community to set up you and support you when you needed it most… when you were starting your first home. Now they’re just mis-timed. You don’t get one when you get your first apartment (and need it), but you do get one after you need it. The thing is, people are not doing them AS a gift grab, they’re doing them because it’s part of the traditional ways of celebrating people. Obviously, if you’re not into them, you can always decline an invite or not go. That’s pretty much what makes NOTHING a gift grab. As a full grown adult, you get to make your own choices.

      • Bethany

        Totally agree about them being mis-timed. I also think showers are nice if they are thrown by, for example, a church or a workplace where the people attending aren’t necessarily invited to the wedding but they still want to celebrate you. But when the invitees are all close friends and family, or actually in the wedding party, it makes declining just because you find Bridal Showers super weird a little harder.

        • Meg Keene

          I generally just like to celebrate people. So you know, as long as I can buy something I can afford, I’m in. They may be weird, but they’re harmless!

      • Carolyn S

        It would be nice if we could start throwing “Graduating from University Showers.” Because that’s when I needed stuff.

        • emmers

          So true! I also wish I had just bought myself some nice plates in my early 20s. I don’t know why I thought they were so expensive!

          • I got some nice plates in my later twenties after a break-up. It was my mom’s idea and she and my dad split the price of them for me for Christmas one year. Excellent idea and I STILL use those plates ten plus years later. And it was empowering to not wait for the possible wedding I didn’t know if I would ever have or not… I am so thankful my mom encouraged the idea after I had been thinking about it for a few years before that break-up.

        • Lawyerette510

          Yes! Let’s make “first home showers” a thing. My mom’s best friend (who is like an aunt to me), surprised me the summer before my second year of college with a little celebration for my moving into a house. She coordinated with lots of the other women who were like family to me, and they along with my mom and grandma showed up with the essentials (like decent towels, sheets for the queen bed I was going to get, a starter-kit of cleaning supplies, toaster, hand-mixer, good basic dishes, etc) and recipe cards of their favorite recipes. It is still one of my favorite memories of all time, and 13 years later I still have many of the things they gave me. It made a huge difference and impression then when I really did need all those things and guidance.

          • AP

            I love this- I had older coworkers at the summer job I had before I left home for college who threw me the most thoughtful surprise shower and gave me things like an iron/tabletop ironing board, laundry basket, and a lamp. Really useful stuff that I needed even in my dorm room and still have to this day.

          • Lisa

            What an amazing gift! I absolutely love this idea.

          • anon

            Those are called housewarming parties and I am not sure why they seem to have fallen out of fashion.

          • CrazyCatLibrarian

            I had a friend plan a house warming party and create a gift registry. I don’t have a problem with the idea in theory, and it can be handled well I’m sure, but she got really bitchy about it and said that she had spent so much money of the deposit, that it would be rude for us to not bring her a present from her registry. She went out of her way to contact everyone invited and remind them to buy her something. No one went, and she cancelled.

        • Maya Amack

          I didn’t want a shower, but after having mine last weekend, I am so glad I did. It was a good time to get the support of my main ladies, have everyone meet each other, and it ramped up my excitement about the wedding itself. I had been kind of living in this isolated bubble of planning for a while and it made me not only realize that I had support, but also remind me that it’s a party!

        • Chicagoan

          Or, “After the divorce and needing stuff for two houses” parties.

    • Bethany

      I FEEL THE SAME WAY. I would say 98% of the showers I have been to are a little bit of fun mixed with a whole lot of boring. Watching someone open presents is the worst. I’ve been very adamant about the fact that I don’t want a Bridal Shower and I think my MOH is having a hard time wrapping her brain around it. Probably because she had more than one Shower when she got married? They’re nice in theory I suppose, but I hate them in practice.

      • Bridal Luncheon instead? Make it themed around “everyone bring their favorite recipe” or their favorite bottle of booze, or whatever.

        • Bethany

          I mostly just don’t want another “event” that is for ladies only, and for people to feel obligated to buy a shower gift + a wedding gift. (I know you don’t HAVE to buy 2 separate gifts, but I always feel kind of obligated to, so I don’t want to do that to other people). I was totally down for a mixed-gender BBQ or party (with a note about gifts aren’t required) but I don’t think the dates are going to work out, which is ok. I think for my MOH it WAS about the gifts so that’s why she is super confused — she married younger and had never lived on her own so it was a huge help in setting up her home. I’m older and already have 90% of everything I need.

    • Stephanie B.

      My aunt *wanted* to throw me a shower, so at least in her case, it was a way to hook me up with, yes, gifts, but also a whole lot of love and a really boozy brunch. For her, throwing a shower/providing gifts is a way to show love. And also mimosas.

      • Jess

        Yup – my family speaks in gifts (I find gifts to be very uncomfortable, personally) and in parties.

        I am having a shower not because I want gifts but because people around me want to throw me a party.

    • Elizabeth

      I find them weird also because they’re a single-gender event, generally. There are couple events, and there are single-gender, and since my work is 90% male I’m friends with a lot of guys, and then I get invited to their fiancee’s bridal showers when I barely know their fiancee’s. And maybe it would be a chance to get to know them better, but then why isn’t it a more general gathering? And obviously bridal showers are not things couples go to, but my other half is also a woman, so whether she goes or does not, it’s going to be weird.

      And that’s way before watching people open presents comes into it. :p

      • Jessica

        My parent’s group of friends always throw co-ed wedding and baby showers. There is more beer (yay!), fewer games (yay!) and more opportunity to mingle with the ‘other side.’ When it was my turn to have a wedding shower, none of my male friends showed up because they didn’t ‘get it’ and my husband was kind of a wet blanket who didn’t understand, even when I simply said ‘Jane and Susie want to do something nice for us, let’s just let them.’

        My brother’s turn just came up, and I think it went a lot better because he and his fiance are older and live out-of-state, so it was a reason for all his friends here to come see each other again. The fiance’s mom and two of her sisters also came up.

        • Sara

          I love the idea of co-ed showers, mainly because I hate baby/bridal showers and get stuck going to my partner’s cousin’s showers… and he has a ton of cousins. It doesn’t seem fair to me that I have to go and he gets out of it even though it’s HIS family!!

          • Jessica

            Yep. Things my husband has had to go solo to for my family–maybe half an event. Things I’ve gone to solo for his family–at least a dozen and counting.

          • Amy March

            RSVP no!

        • AP

          When my mom remarried few years ago, she and her husband didn’t need the traditional wedding gift stuff, so their friends threw them a couple’s shower BBQ and all went in on a new patio set for their back yard. I remember thinking it was a pretty modern wedding party idea for an older couple and their friends! But so perfect for them and their friend group.

      • Nell

        YES! OMG!

        My wife and I have a constant battle with this. Friends invite both of us to things that to ME are “only one half of the couple” events, but for straight friends are “female bodied people” events. I get that people want to be inclusive, but it is weird.

    • emilyg25

      I’m not a shower person, so yeah, I get it. But… if you bring a gift to the shower, you don’t need to bring one to the wedding. Or you can split however much you usually spend between two gifts.

      • Yeah, this is key. Have a $50 budget? Spend $10 on the shower and $40 on the wedding gift. Totally cool.

    • Sara

      I refused to have a shower for this reason. We politely “no thank you”d family members who wanted to throw us one. They may have been offended, but if they were, we never heard about it thankfully.

    • sofar

      I spread the word (and asked my MoH to spread the word) that I didn’t want a shower. I actually think they’re fun to attend (and happily attend my loved ones’ showers). But I hate being the center of attention and I’m not exactly hurting for gifts (tiny apartment), so I made it clear I didn’t want a shower.

      Everyone has been asking “when’s the shower?” And when I happily tell them there isn’t going to be one, I get reactions of such pity. And also reactions of, “But you’re missing out on all the gifts!” But I am just filled with relief that I don’t have to have a shower when what I really want is a nap!

    • Erica G

      I specifically asked that no one throw me a shower, it just seems so weird and uncomfortable and most of my friends and family are from out of town, so I didn’t want them to feel obligated to travel, buy gifts, etc… when really I just wanted them to make it to the wedding. We also only have a few physical items on our registry and then we have a home improvements fund and a honeymoon fund that people can gift to. We are adults and we don’t really need things. I also don’t like how most of the time the shower excludes the groom and the male friends and family.

      • I asked my sister to not throw me a [second] bridal shower [on the other side of the state]. But mom forced her to “for grandma.” SHE PLAYED THE GRANDMA CARD. Ugh.

        So. Two showers it is.

    • Amy March

      No they are. Showers are there for the giving of gifts, for those of us who love buying and giving gifts and want to show our support of a marriage in the form of a toaster or towels. Totally fine to decide they are not for you and just be busy those days!

      • tr

        The problem is that for many people, the shower feels obligatory. If it’s just my third cousin’s friend’s shower, yeah, I’ll be “busy” that day. But if you’re a bridesmaid? People kind of expect you to be there, whether any of you see the point of it or not.
        That said, I am totally looking forward to my shower. I have sat through 1,000 showers by now, so tacky or not, I’m going to get my day of awkwardly opening gifts in front of people who probably don’t really want to be there, too. It’s only fair!

    • emmers

      I mean, you do typically get gifts as a shower, but I think it’s a nice way for friends and family to help set up your household. It’s kind of old fashioned (and yea, if you’ve been living together for awhile, clearly your household has already been set up), but I actually LOVE going to showers and giving gifts, and I loved having a shower. It’s like one of the few times where it’s socially acceptable for me to give you ALL THE GIFTS, and give you tangible stuff to show how much I love you. So bring on the shower! Grab those gifts! Cuz really, I just want to give you what you want.

      • Just put a whole bunch of small, inexpensive gifts on the registry beforehand, right? I mean, I don’t care if you show up with a gift to my shower, but if you feel socially pressured to do so…I wouldn’t mind a $7 UV-protected glass tea canister ;)

    • Megan

      My town has this thing called a “Jack and Jill shower” which is essentially a fundraiser for the couple. Instead of a single-gendered party where the guests bring gifts and do nothing, the guests pay for a ticket to the party where they get dinner, drinks and then they enter raffles to win awesome prizes. After the raffles is a dance party.

      Yes, it sounds tacky. But it’s SO much more fun than a bridal shower.

      My FH and I have a podcast where we discussed the concept if anyone is interested: https://soundcloud.com/wedopodcast/wedding-parties-part-2

      • Amy March

        It does sound tacky.

        • Booknerd

          Little harsh. Friends of ours from Manitoba have a similar idea where the couple hosts a “social” and the guests (not just wedding guests) pay for tickets to a massive party to fundraiser for the couple’s wedding. I don’t know how it works specifically, and I personally think its a strange concept but its accepted practice for a large amount of people! I think it goes along with the thought of know your people. If that’s the norm then why not?

          • Lawyerette510

            I agree, if something is normative for a community then it’s not tacky within the community, and tacky is really just a context-based judgment.

          • Ashlah

            I wish we could just remove the work tacky from our lexicon. It’s so judgmental and nasty sounding. Tacky is subjective.

          • Lawyerette510

            Very good point.

          • Amy March

            Yes, you’re right. I don’t like “tacky” even though I just used it!

            But I still hate this idea! Fundraisers are for good causes to my mind, and throwing yourself a party doesn’t qualify.

          • It’s rare for the couple to throw one for themselves, it’s usually the wedding party and the community. And when you live in a small town, it’s probably the only thing happening on that Friday night, so it’s a chance to have a good time.

          • Becky

            Yes, definitely. I live in western Massachusetts (important designation because when I say MA most people automatically assume Boston area) and these are pretty common in my area. I’ve been to quite a few for family and friends, and in most cases I believe it’s been family and friends of the couple hosting, not the bride and groom themselves.

          • EXACTLY.

          • Alison O

            I can see how this type of thing would be fun if it were a familiar part of my culture.

            But yeah, I am mortified even thinking about asking people to pay to come to a party for me. If I really need financial help, I’ll ask people who are dear to me for a loan, a financial gift outside the context of the wedding, or for cash instead of a wedding gift. How much do these events even raise, if $10 is a standard charge? It doesn’t seem like it would amount to very much money (that is a relative assessment, of course), unless this is a massive party (which in itself sounds like a headache). I am interested to listen to the podcast.

            FWIW, I’m also not big on showers except as a way to (re)connect with people at an important moment in one’s life, I resent bachelorette parties that are really expensive, I would never make wedding party members pay for clothing that I am forcing them to wear, and I wouldn’t care one way or another if my wedding guests didn’t get me a gift. So, basically I like to keep the money aspect out of the whole wedding process. :)

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            This.

        • Carolyn S

          This is pretty cultural, and something that seems tacky to you might be the norm for another community. I had never heard of these before I spent time in Ontario, so they seemed ridiculous to me. However, when everyone you know has one, it’s not exactly tacky when you do it yourself? “good for you, not for me” might be a better response.

          • Yeah, I’m from Ontario and the Stag and Doe is totally a normal thing. Usually the wedding party rents the community centre or a bar and sell tickets/cover for about $10/person and then 50/50 raffles and other games and everyone drinks and dances and has a great time. It’s kind of a fundraiser for the couple and a fun night out, especially in smaller communities where there isn’t much else going on.

          • I’m also from Ontario and am familiar with the popular Stag and Doe. Popular doesn’t exclude the event from being completely tacky – I’ve seen people charge $25 for admission to such events plus expensive drink tickets on top of that.

          • Eenie

            Amy is agreeing with the comment: “Yes, it sounds tacky.”

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          When assessing tackiness, I think it’s important to maintain the rule I maintain about family: I am allowed to shit talk my own relatives, and you are not.

      • Elizabeth

        I don’t think it sounds tacky at all.

    • Natalie

      I hear you. Showers that mix multiple disparate friend groups can be awkward and do sometimes feel like they’re all about the gifts. A shower for me hosted by my fellow broke grad student friends would have made me feel awkward in a gift-grabby way (I don’t want my friends who qualify for food stamps feeling obligated to spend money on me!). That said, I have a close group of female friends (a knitting circle) who delight in throwing showers (both baby and bridal). To me, our showers always feel like a beautiful celebration of the guest of honor and of our friendships. There are gifts, but the shower feels much like the many other times we get together to celebrate promotions, graduations, a random Sunday… We eat, talk about our lives, knit, talk about yarn, etc. We all knit little thematic gifts ahead of time to use as decoration (baby socks for baby showers, dishcloths for brides, etc.). Most people bring other gifts, too, but sometimes women on tighter budgets give only a small handknit item. The shower these friends threw me was the only one I had or wanted.

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      Agreed! The following conversation has occurred between me and friends/acquaintances for roughly five years.

      Me: What even IS a wedding shower?
      Friend: It’s an event where relatives and friends bring gifts for the couple that’s about to be married, and sometimes there are games.
      Me: But don’t people also bring gifts to the wedding itself?
      Friend: Well, sure. But this is more of an opportunity for people to give a different kind of present, and sometimes it’s specifically for female family and friends of the bride.
      Me: But that sounds like a bachelorette party.
      Friend: No, it’s generally for older female friends and family.
      Me: But isn’t that like five to ten people? Why would you spend hours of your time and lots of dollars to organize a party for five to ten people who you’ll see at the wedding and receive a gift from anyway?
      Friend: I…I don’t know. It’s traditional! Moms like it?

      • Chicagoan

        The shower prior to the wedding used to called a Bridal Shower. It was for presents for the bride to set up her household. I remember them from 50 years ago (I am one of the olds). Often a nice peignoir would be given for the wedding night, or household items the bride would use to set up the house with. Back then, it was not thought that the bride would go to work outside the home. The groom-to-be was not invited to the Bridal Shower. It was a kind of “Hen” party where the women would tell stories to the bride-to-be about married life, etc. Most girls were moving from their parent’s home to their groom’s parent’s home, or the couple’s first home, so the women would get together to “prepare” the girl for being a wife and homemaker.

    • In Australia we don’t really call them “showers”. I had a hen’s night (like a Bachelorette party) and a kitchen tea (like a shower). Gifts aren’t really a big part of a kitchen tea.

      At mine, we had a fancy afternoon tea, a couple of silly games (like everyone making me a wedding cake out of lego), and everyone brought me a recipe to add to my collection. The recipes were my only presents.

      • Kara Davies

        We had an engagement party (hello pizza and drinks!) at my parents house the night after we got engaged. I wasn’t privvy to any of it before hand (obvs) and it wasn’t many of my friends that came. It was more my folks friends and those that could come on short notice.

        We had another engagement party in Oz on my 24th birthday (about 2 weeks after the ring went on). It was a typical family and friends bbq that my inlaws are famous for! The entire youth group crew of friends of my husband pooled their money together and gave it to the girls of the group. Those girls hit the town and bought pretty much everything on our kitchen wish list and put it into a huge basket. They gave it to us at our bbq party. Pretty much our entire kitchen was furnished by gifts that night!

        Later my mum (inlaw in Oz) threw me a bridal shower where all the guests (and me) made pages for our wedding album. If they wished, they were encouraged to bring some money so I could get all the tools and goodies to finish making my wedding album. (As we got pretty much everything for our kitchen at our engagement bbq, and kitchen stuff is what’s commonly given at a bridal shower or “kitchen tea” in Oz, this made heaps of sense to all.) Most everyone did give something and it was lovely! I didn’t have to spend much to start my scrapbooking stash and I still use some of the items to this day.

        My mom (she that birthed me) and friends threw me a shower at my childhood church not long after my Aussie shower. I knew nothing of what was to happen, no idea the theme, the guest list, the time, anything. I don’t do surprises well. It was very unnerving heading into a room full of women that I didn’t know who was there or what was going to happen, or even what was going to be on the nibblies menu! It was a lovely shower yet I wasn’t enjoying myself or the attention.

        I had a “bachelorette party” that consisted of my girls and I getting our nails done, checking out the location for outdoor photos, teriyaki for lunch, then fajitas and naughty boardgames at my MOH’s parents house. A rousing game of Penisary (naughty Pictionary) and some others ensued! They had all chipped in and bought me 2 sets of beautiful lingerie for my honeymoon. A lovely blue bra and undies set (my favorite ever!) and a nude and black lace set. I rarely had a matching set of underpinnings and this was such a thoughtful and appreciated gift!

        • Kara Davies

          And my hubby loved the matching sets of underpinnings too. ;) ;)

      • Chicagoan

        The recipe collection is a lovely idea.

    • If you feel weird about the bridal shower for yourself…you can always call it a “bridal luncheon.” Drop the “shower” and you instantly have a celebration instead of a celebration AND gifts. That being said, you probably shouldn’t host your own shower…

      • Helen Yan

        Yes! An awesome friend threw me a shower (I live far from family), and we called it a “tea” because I didn’t want to do gifts. She ended up asking each guest to bring a seed packet, so I got to look through and see what veggies everyone had picked out for me to put in the garden.

    • Kelsey

      In my family and social circle you generally only receive one physical present from people who are invited to both the shower and the wedding and it is presented at the shower–this is fantastic practically speaking because it is much easier to corral your gifts back to your home on a random Sunday, as opposed to at midnight the night of your wedding. Some people who are well off/generous/close will give you a card (with money or gift cards) at the wedding as well. Usually the only day-of gifts are from people who weren’t at a shower.

    • CrazyCatLibrarian

      I know my sister/MOH is going to plan a shower, and that’s cool because any excuse to drink mimosas all day is fine by me, but seriously the last thing I want is to play games and have people stare at me while I open presents. She refuses to take suggestions from me but I made sure that my mom knows my feelings about stuff. Like, can’t we skip all that and just focus on the drinking and food part?

  • savannnah

    We are sending out our save the dates very early (like getting married in the fall of 2017 early) because most of my fiances friends are beyond broke and need time to save up for plane tickets (we are doing it in my home state, about 8 states over from his) but also because I straight up love them and we didn’t have an engagement party and I’m excited. All the weddiquette websites say 8-9 months out and I’m choosing to just be ignorant of that.

    • Keri

      The only caution I would say is make sure you’re going to want to invite those same exact people when you send out the invites. We did sort of early save the dates, but we didn’t send them to everyone that we eventually are sending invites to. So you might not want to send them to fringe friends or coworkers or someone, who your relationship/circumstances might change with in the next year. Otherwise, I think it’s fine!

      • savannnah

        We did actually think about that, and pulled about 10% of our guest list onto another sheet and it was exactly those types of people, coworkers and unfortunately a few friends who are in rocky but long term or married relationships. A little awkward but seemed smart.

        • Keri

          And then you just have to make sure those people aren’t related to/going to gab with people who did get one – in which case you might decided to just send them one anyway! :)

    • Sara

      I am also looking at fall 2017 and have already started giving out of town people the heads up on the date (no official Save the Dates though until we 100% lock down the venue). I think it’s helpful to them, and my whole attitude towards my wedding thus far has been “I don’t know what the official etiquette says, nor do I care to.” I’m doing it the way that makes the most sense for us!

  • Anon for this

    Having a tough time with the “you must invite long-term partners” rule. I have a friend whose partner many of us in her wider social circle believe is emotionally abusive, manipulative, and also just plain obnoxious. I have a tough time supporting their relationship, and an even tougher time inviting him to our wedding. Many of our guests have already asked that if he is coming, to not sit him with them. We haven’t yet sent out invitations, but the clock is ticking to figure out what we’re going to do. I feel obligated to invite him because etiquette, though another friend also getting married this summer is flat out not inviting him. Any tips on how to handle this would be appreciated.

    • Meg Keene

      I mean, I’ve been there. But if you don’t invite him, and you do invite other partners, you’re burning a bridge with that friend, frankly. You have to get on board with her life choices, or not.

      I am sorry though. I think most people have one ass at their wedding, and it sucks.

    • Gray

      Personally I feel that not inviting an abuser to your wedding always trumps etiquette. Especially if a victim of his abuse is in attendance (for example, if he has gotten in a physical alteration with another of your guests).

      But if your friend isn’t already aware of how you feel about him, this is definitely going to blow up your friendship, so it may be worth it just to invite him. On the other hand, if she is already aware of how you feel about him, I would probably start by having a conversation with her, like: “Friend, you know that although I love you, I am not a big fan of your partner, and I would prefer not to have him at my wedding so I can just celebrate with you. But as always my first priority is to be here for YOU. How would it make you feel if I didn’t invite him?” Something like that.

      • Anon for this

        I agree. Fortunately, as far as I am aware, he doesn’t have any victims among our guests,

        She definitely is aware how we feel about him, but my main concern with the conversation you laid out, while exactly what I would like to say, is that I worry she wouldn’t be honest if she really did want him there, because she isn’t the best at standing up for herself. I might try it anyway. I appreciate your input!

    • emilyg25

      There’s something to be said for remaining quietly present in your friend’s life so she knows you’re there if/when she needs you. That would be one argument for inviting him.

      • Anon for this

        That’s exactly the approach I’ve been trying to take in general. And what I worry about my other friend straight up not inviting him.

    • Lulu

      In a similar situation, I had a hard time with it from the perspective of, “These are supposed to be Our People, and that jerk is NOT Our People.” But in the end he ruined no one’s fun, I barely noticed him, and I was probably better off for accepting that Our People has to be a fluid concept.

      • tr

        “Our People has to be a fluid concept” may be the most perfect statement ever in this situation!
        Otherwise lovely friends and family members sometimes pick awful mates. Goodness knows that I’ll be inviting some people who I’m not overly fond of because of that, but that’s just life.

    • Sosuli

      Ugh. Dealing with something similar with FH’s brother – when we sent out invites he was not seeing his on-again-off-again girlfriend, so when they inevitably got back together again he asked if he can bring her. We literally do not have the space so said no. They’re in their early 20s and she is really controlling and aggressive (throwing things at him etc.). Last week we got a call from him because his girlfriend had heard that one of the elderly relatives we had invited passed away… and she had asked if she could take their place! Way to make us want to invite you even less… So now we’re not sure what we’re doing about her invite, because it is obvious we have space but… eh. So I feel your pain though the situation is slightly different!

      • Lisa

        How incredibly awful. And I would say that throwing things at him isn’t just aggressive–that crosses the line into physically abusive for me.

        It’s totally up to you what you do with her invitation; I wouldn’t want her there either. You could tell her that you had invited that elderly relative as a courtesy since you didn’t expect her/him to travel so that space isn’t technically available. However, whether you invite her or not might affect your relationship with you FBIL so I might lean towards inviting her if she’s not going to be overly dramatic at your wedding.

        • Sosuli

          That is pretty much what FH said… we knew this person was ill for a long time, so already had their space filled by someone else… I feel bad not including her, because his brother says that she has been in counselling and we don’t want him to feel like he can’t talk about his relationship with her to his family… but so far she’s a bit of a liability. We told FH’s brother that she is welcome to come to a get-together we’re having in a couple weeks and that we’d like to get to know her better, but his response was that while he’ll be there she might refuse to come to anything else if she’s not invited to the wedding…! Not the most encouraging sign…

          • Amy March

            I mean, that seems fair? If you are excluding her from your wedding, even though she is your FI’s brother’s girl-friend and he wants her there, why would she want to come and get to know you! If you don’t want her there that is your call, but it certainly isn’t going to make her think you genuinely want to get to know her better or care about the relationship at all. Doesn’t make what you are doing the wrong decision, but there are consequences.

          • Lisa

            But it sounds like there might not actually be space for her at the wedding at this point if I’m reading correctly? To me, she has something to prove to the family (that she’s taking her relationship with the brother more seriously in the past, that she’s attending therapy and trying to mend burned bridges). If she’s serious about her current relationship, the onus is on her to take the opportunities presented and show that she wants to be a part of the family in the ways that are available to her.

          • Sosuli

            Yeah, I’m with Lisa on this one. I don’t feel like we’re actively excluding her because when the invitations were sent, they weren’t even together. Also, FH’s brother once ended up in the hospital as a result of an argument they had (it’s a very long and complicated and private story so I don’t want to go into it), so his family have very good reason to be cautious of her. I really feel like it is on her to make an effort with the family. Asking if she can have the space of a very recently deceased, very close member of the family is not the way to do that, right? We were trying to offer an olive branch, as in “we really don’t have space as things stand, but we would like to get to know her better”. I don’t actually know whether she has refused that yet, but FH’s brother thought it was likely… so I guess we’ll just see what happens.

    • BDubs

      May I ask, how close is this friend? Is her invitation an obligation-invite because you’re in the same social circle, or do you feel a genuine affection for this person?
      I feel like in the US, we don’t invite half of an established couple. There aren’t really hard rules for who “deserves” to get an invitation to any person’s wedding, although it feels like there are tacit ones.
      If it’s more important for you to have this friend present to witness your union than to avoid her unpleasant SO, I think that answers your question. If not, well…

  • Booknerd

    Quick thank you card question! Our wedding is August, but we have received so far two gifts, one from a person who has not rsvp’d either way to the wedding and one from our temporary roommate who has come. We have thanked the roomie, and I plan on sending out a thank you card to everyone that attends the wedding, or sends a gift, but what do I do with the first person? Thank them now for the gift with a card and send a second one after the wedding? Its a friend of my fiance’s and I have no clue what the etiquette is.

    • Meg Keene

      You can go either way. I sent some thank you cards before, because I just wanted them done and over with. But if you want to wait and thank them for coming to the wedding as well, just do one card later.

      • Booknerd

        I like that advice, I’ll get my fiance to verbally thank them so they know the gift was received at least. Thanks!!

    • KitBee

      I think you should send a thank-you note for the gift now, and maybe add a sentence like, “We hope to see you at the wedding!” Thank-you cards are about expressing gratitude but also about letting people know that their gifts did actually arrive and didn’t get lost in the mail! No need to send a second card after the wedding, unless the person brings or sends a second gift.

    • Ashlah

      I think we ended up sending a quick thank you via text or Facebook to let someone know the gift was received, then sent a formal thank you card after the wedding.

    • emilyg25

      I sent thank-you’s as gifts came in, even if they were super early. That way, the giver knows I got it and I can check one thing off my list.

  • Obvious Poster

    For the love of all things holy, including holy matrimony, please do not have this tacky wedding. Yes it’s gift grabby, no no no never ask for money-how gauche, buy a gift, send thank yous, wear a dress, and feed your vendors. There are a zillion other opportunities to be a snowflake in life. “If you thumb your nose at etiquette, so will your guests”.

  • Casey

    I thought the etiquette on thank you notes was 2-3 months, and that the “one year” rule was actually that guests have one year to give you a wedding gift and have it still be considered a wedding gift. In that case, obviously you’d be writing a thank you note a year after thr wedding, but that for gifts given at the wedding you need to write the thank you ASAP. In my opinion, a year is far too long after the fact to be sending someone a thank you note.

    • Eenie

      I agree with this as well. But if you’re sending a thank you, a year later is better than never!

      • Casey

        That’s true, better to send out a late thank you note than to have the gift-giver think you’re unappreciative!

    • sofar

      According to Miss Manners, you send the gift the second you receive it — a day later at the latest. Of course, that’s assuming guests have the gifts mailed to your house in advance of the wedding — you jot off a thank-you note as they arrive. That’s what I’ve been doing for the early gifts as they arrive.

      But if people bring gifts to the wedding and you’re heading off on the honeymoon the next day, I don’t see how that’s even possible. I have a feeling I’ll be working on thank-you notes for months after the wedding.

      • Lindsay

        My problem with sending thank you cards for the wedding is that I also wanted to thank the guest for attending our wedding and celebrating with us! I even sent thank yous to people who didn’t give gifts – because having them there was also special. I wouldn’t want to send 2 thank you notes

    • Chicagoan

      It used to be that the couple would leave for the honeymoon, then return to set up their house. So thank you notes would not be sent until after the honeymoon and homemaking; perhaps a couple of months. It is more heartfelt, in my opinion, to write in the thank-you note how much your are enjoying your gift, ie: “We have set up your cappuccino machine on our counter, and husband and I are using it everyday.”

  • Anon

    Loved this post, it’s so nice to have a break down of SANE guidelines for my wedding that I can show my mom and say “Look we really can (have a food truck/make our own invitations/have a honeymoon registry)”

    Also it’s so good to get a post from Meg! As always, thanks for writing!

    • Although, be careful with that. There really are a lot of BSC “modern etiquette” guides out there that will lead you astray! ‘Hope your mom doesn’t find one of those!

  • Eenie

    Did evites. Worked fantastic. But I highly recommend sending paper save the dates or invites of some sort. No one could remember when our wedding was. At least four people texted me about how sad they were to not make it because they had XYZ on weekend-that-wasn’t-our-wedding.

    • raccooncity

      Evites FTW. ]

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      Rather than spending money on paper reminders, we’ve scheduled a reminder email to go out with the original invitation a couple of weeks out! I’m a very forgetful person, but even I never forget events when I get a reminder email. I do, however, forget about the paper invites stuck to our fridge all the time.

    • Evites + postcard invitations. Save on paper and postage, while still giving guests something to stick on their fridge!

  • Sara

    I have a friend from Lithuania who married an American in April. It was fascinating watching her react to things that her family and friends don’t do. Some examples: no showers. People bring physical gifts to the wedding. Rarely do people give cash or checks. No thank you notes. No bachelorette parties. Engagements are very short and there’s no time for extra parties. Weddings go all night. Her MIL was totally flummoxed when she asked if they could extend the wedding past midnight. Her MIL also kept harping the ‘don’t open gifts until after the wedding’ rule to her which freaked her out so much that she refused to let her fiance open any box they had gotten at their shower.

    • Erica G

      Yea it is SO INTERESTING to learn about other cultures wedding traditions!

    • Sara

      I’m liking this “party all night” rule!!

    • Sosuli

      I’m Scandi – we don’t have showers, but there are bachelor/bachelorette parties (that I think are typically a bit more low-key than North American ones), people do bring physical gifts or cash to the wedding (checks don’t exist), they do go on fairly late… and there are loads of little games and traditions that go on throughout the day, which the bridesmaids and groomsmen organise.

    • Valerie

      I’m European (Belgium) and a lot of these etiquette rules seem so weird to me. We do have a bachelorette, but engagement parties are very uncommon en i’ve never even heard of bridal showers. It’s so weird to me. We also don’t have a rehearsal dinner, which also seems unnecessary to me :)
      Wedding registries are also rather uncommon and asking for cash is totally normal. Almost everyone gives cash actually, and often there is a small envelop somewhere on the invitation as a way to tell people this is appreciated. It’s not considered tacky AT ALL, so before people start to shout “tacky”, they should think about the fact that all cultures are different.
      And i actually think it’s weird if a wedding stops at midnight. People here usually party and dance all night long, like 4 AM long :) I love it! I would be super sad if everybody left at midnight at my wedding.

  • Danielle

    One more piece of etiquette I haven’t seen mentioned yet: Cameras + cell phones + social media posting. If you don’t want it, let your guests know.

    People now feel it is their God-given right to have their cell phones with them wherever they go, and it’s also their right to take pictures and post them on social media.

    We had our officiant make a statement before the ceremony to please put all cell phones away and be in the moment. We still had multiple people, on both sides, in different generations, pull out their phones and take pictures of us. We didn’t want this. One also posted a pic on social media.

    I was annoyed and surprised. You will probably need to strongly word this in at least one-two places, and people will still disregard it. Ugh.

    • Before we started our ceremony, our officiant had us turn to face everyone and we had a “selfie moment” for people to take photos, and then we asked people to put their phones away. Most did, and the ones who didn’t, didn’t really disturb anyone. It helped a lot.

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      • albertiraross

        I love this idea so much! (jotting down note to include this in our ceremony)

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    • Kate

      I was absolutely mortified at a family wedding in September when my stepfather stood through much of the ceremony to take photos and video with his phone. Tried to motion that it was not okay, but he was intent on standing (luckily we were in the back row). MORTIFIED.

      • Danielle

        It is mortifying that people think it’s completely acceptable to document every single moment, including private ones.

        It’s like the default now is to assume that every moment can be photographed, videoed, etc. If you don’t want that, you need to make it *extremely* clear.

        It makes me sad for our culture now.

        • Amy March

          I don’t view a wedding as a private moment. You’re doing it in front of people! I would certainly respect a request not to take photos, but I do think it is completely acceptable to take pictures of things you are at, barring requests otherwise.

          • raccooncity

            Also if any moment is socially acceptable to be photographed, it’s a wedding. It’s one of the moments people were photographing when pictures were still investment pieces! Obviously photography has changed now, culturally, and there’s a more nuanced idea of what it means to be taking pictures, but weddings are crafted culturally to be photographed, and have been for generations.

          • Danielle

            We had a relatively small wedding in a remote location. It felt private in that sense.

            “Personal” might be a better word here.

        • Eenie

          I think this has always been the case, just now it’s easier to see because it’s digital and not cost prohibitive. It’s always been the fact that if you fall on the private side of the sharing spectrum you are fighting an uphill battle and will have to advocate for yourself.

      • Ashlah

        My mom was super into us having an unplugged ceremony, but then at my cousin’s wedding a year later, she was up and walking around all over the place during the ceremony to get cell phone pics. She wasn’t the only one either. I felt so bad for the couple and was also mortified.

      • Kara Davies

        Do these peole not realize that there is a professional photographer around? One hired by the bridal couple? If you really want pictures from our wedding, I have the files from our photographer and you are welcome to purchase a few from our online gallery!

        • Amy March

          I mean, yes, they do realize, but no most people don’t love the idea of waiting months to buy something they could have had immediately for free, and many couples don’t make their pro photos available.

          • Alison O

            And most people don’t realize they can’t take pictures for shit.

          • Kara Davies

            When I got married 9 years ago, our photographers had a gallery up within days for people to view and purchase from.

      • Becky

        I went to a cousin’s wedding a year and a half ago where some of the guests were holding up iPads to record/take pictures of the couple’s first dance. And not iPad minis either, they were using the big ones. It was nearly impossible to see anything if you were stuck behind these people like I was. I don’t know if the bride and groom really noticed or cared, but I did see some of the other guests giving these people side-eye.

        • Rachelle

          I’ve seen people (generally older relatives) do this at weddings and it drives me crazy! One, why are you carrying around such a large piece of technology and two, hello, no one can see around those things! Someone with a phone in front of them in the professional photos (and the couple’s line of sight) is one thing, but an iPad completely covers your face!

        • Alison O

          Ugh. I would be so tempted to tag these people in the wedding photos on facebook with captions like “cousin Shelly with the GD ipad covering her face”

          • Michela

            Literal quote from the “Unplugged Wedding” section of our website:
            So when we walk down the aisle, say “I do”, hear our closest loved ones raise a glass to us, and celebrate ya know, being married, we want to see your smiling faces, not your iPhone obscuring your face as you try to capture what will likely be a very fuzzy Instagram photo.

            Now we’ll see if we can get anyone to listen…

      • Meg

        I was at a wedding where the large videographer blocked the entire wedding ceremony to videotape it…he had it on a tripod!! He could have just left it there and stepped aside!!

        • Danielle

          God, my sister’s wedding ceremony was like this. The videographer was so intrusive.

      • Amanda

        This is why I’m confiscating my dad’s phone all together, and he has been warned. I know he won’t be able to resist if it’s in his pocket. We’re making an announcement, putting it on the website, printing it in the program, and spreading word of mouth. I hope it works…

    • raccooncity

      Tangentially related, I have a relative (full disclosure: an in-law) who considers herself the family documentarian. So we had a no-photos rule during the ceremony and while she totally respected that, she actually waited outside for me to arrive at the church (just a couple minutes before the ceremony, as you do) and paparazzi-style took a whole bunch of pics close up to my face as I walked in. I was not happy to see her and equally not happy to have my zen happiness of about-to-be-married vibes killed by a relative I’m not super close to being a part of it in a weirdly invasive way.

      • Lawyerette510

        Ugh the self-proclaimed family documentarian. There is one in my husband’s family. Our wedding was small, and at the ceremony everyone stood in a circle around us. The photographer shot a few different angles and every single shot from the ceremony that she is in, she has her big camera out and in front of her face. We can’t see her face in any shot, just the camera! It’s kinda of funny but also ridiculous. Also, none of the photos she took turned out because the light where she chose to stand was bad and she kept saying how she couldn’t remember anything about our ceremony because she was so focused on getting pictures for everyone. We had a photographer and had told her that ahead of time and that we would send her all the photos as soon as we got them (which we did) but it’s like a compulsion with her, she has to take tons of photos of everything, whether they are good or not, whether they are useful or not. I think her intentions are good, but it’s also just a bit over the top, much like waiting outside the church to paparazzi the bride like your inlaw did!

        • raccooncity

          That is so eerily similar that I’m convinced it’s the same woman.

          • Lawyerette510

            If I didn’t happen to know that my in-law doesn’t have any Canadian in-laws, I would think it was the same person!

        • MTM

          If folks are able to have the conversation beforehand, sometimes saying that it conflicts with the hired photographer’s contract helps in these situations.

      • Danielle

        Ugh. I hate people.

    • Lawyerette510

      I just wish we had made an announcement because it is such a disappointment that in most of the pictures from our ceremony, people’s faces are blocked by their cameras or phones. We had everyone stand in a circle around us for our ceremony, and I didn’t notice anyone’s snapping pics during the wedding, but it is sure visible in the professional photos!

      • Danielle

        Please note, even an announcement might not stop them!

        Yes, it’s disappointing to see photos of our ceremony where people are focused on our phones. It’s like, we’re sharing a really personal moment with you – put your phones away and really be here with us!

        I really don’t know how else we could have communicated effectively that we don’t want cell phones here.

        • Lawyerette510

          Very good point, I’d like to think that an announcement decreased the number of people who were device-focused during your ceremony at least.

        • Sosuli

          I’ve seen (admittedly on pinterest, so no idea how effective) signs asking people to put their phones away, but of course not everyone might see that. I’m thinking of printing something on the program for the ceremony… But yeah, I can understand why you’re annoyed, it seems really impolite to me to hear an announcement at the start and just ignore it.

          • Danielle

            i thought about doing something like a sign but someone (cough, my mom, cough) thought that was acting too diva/celebrity-ish.

            [Note: Moms don’t know much about the reality of mobile phones and social media in our current society. At least, mine doesn’t.]

            We didn’t have programs, but a notice there (or on a sign, or your wedding website) would be a good way to communicate your intentions. As well as a public statement before the ceremony. I really think people will need two statements to completely comprehend it – since we are so used to being able to take pictures/post things whenever we want nowadays.

          • eating words

            We printed a “no cell phones”-type note, in our program, but turns out most people didn’t see it. We didn’t think to make an announcement. There were a few phone guests, but thankfully they weren’t intrusive.

          • Another Meg

            We printed something in the program, put it on the FAQ for the website, and put up a sign. Only one or two people took photos. Kind of success! It was probably more helpful that there was little to no reception where the wedding was held and so many people’s phones died from trying to get a signal. :/

            Good luck with yours!

        • Greta

          We put a note in our program, and our officiant made an announcement before the ceremony started, and we didn’t have any issues.

        • quiet000001

          I feel like maybe phrasing it as “hey, we want to see you in the photos, not your phone” might work for some people. It makes it more of a request that has a good reason rather than sounding like some kind of pinterest-hipster-need-to-be-unplugged-because-it’s-COOL request, you know?

      • Marylee Jeria

        We’re putting it on the website, spreading it through word of mouth, posting it, ironically enough, on Facebook and having th officiant remind everyone. I can’t be any clearer. My wedding is only going to be 30 people and I hate the intrusiveness of the Internet. Surely these guests can turn their phones off for 4 hours. -_-

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    My fiance and I set up a mostly-experience-based honeymoon registry, and we were planning on thanking people by tagging them in Facebook/Instagram photo posts during the trip. Almost all our wedding invitations were digital, and we were only planning to send paper thank-you cards to the same people who received paper invitations. Now you guys have me all nervous about the Facebook thing…!

    • Lawyerette510

      You know your people, and you know what the norm for your community is. I think the idea of sending photos of you enjoying the things people’s contributions made happen is adorable. If the posts are more on the public-side in terms of sharing permissions it might make some people who are being thanked uncomfortable, but you know your people. As an alternative, you could send the picture(s) via direct message so that each person is thanked individually (or as the group they gave the gift with) but it’s also happening digitally so it’s feasible to do and happens quickly.

      • the cupboard under the stairs

        That’s a great point, thanks! I know certain people love public attention for their good deeds while others are more private, so I’ll keep those preferences in mind.

        • Greta

          Yes, but also – if some of your friends get thanked publicly and others dont? That also feels icky. I would stay away from public thanking. It feels like you’re broadcasting what people got you, and how much they spent. The whole thing sounds icky. Stick with email or paper, but keep it private.

    • MC

      We had a honeymoon registry, and we sent postcards to everyone thanking them, and we got great feedback from that! Pictures sound super cute as well, but I am one of those people that loves getting mail and a nice note. E-mailing pictures to those who would appreciate more than a tag would be a good alternative, I think!

    • Amy March

      I just don’t think a FB tag is a very good thank you. If I’m spending money to get you a gift, I’d like to think you can spring for a stamp and a card as a thank you. Honestly I would be insulted, and I don’t necessarily want what I got you broadcast, especially if it reveals how much money I spent, or even the ballpark amount.

      • Lisa

        This is kind of how I feel as well. I wouldn’t be comfortable being publicly thanked, but would greatly appreciate a postcard from the trip (I collect them!) or a thank you note with a picture from your trip in it.

    • CMT

      Definitely a know your people situation. If all I got as a thank you was a Facebook tag, I’d be pretty miffed.

    • Michela

      Just tossing my two cents in!

      We’re doing an experience-based registry with a combination of honeymoon experiences plus dates for each month of our first year of marriage (12 Newlywed Dates, we’re calling it). Our plan is to send everyone thank you notes following the wedding and also send photos via text or email when we are actually experiencing the gift so people can see us enjoying it (this feels similar to pulling out the crystal cut vase your family friend bought you for a wedding gift when said family friend comes over for dinner).

      This might be a great solution for you because you can bypass the maybe-squicky calling people’s gifts out on social media by thanking them via paper card, showing you enjoying the gift via text/email, and then if you want to post your swimming with dolphins photos to Instagram, just caption it “loved experiencing this honeymoon gift from dear friends”. Your dear friends will know who they are but you won’t call them out by name- thus avoiding the maybe-squicky call out while still posting dope dolphin photos.

      That’s our plan. Hope it helps!
      xoM

    • Mrrpaderp

      Super late to the party, but I would worry that people might see it as a competition. As in, whose experience gift did you look like you enjoyed the most? And what if you’re not able to take pictures for some of them, or not able to even USE some of them, or what if some aren’t as great as you expected? It would be super disappointing, as a gift giver, to see you post all of these pictures of you enjoying other guests’ awesome gifts, but not one of my gift. Stick to private, personal thank yous. Maybe Snapchat if you don’t think the person needs a paper thank you?

  • MsDitz

    Can we discuss how to address wedding (or any other party, for that matter) invitations. My son is 2 and since he has been born we have been invited to three weddings where our invitation was addressed to, “Mom & Dad Last Name” with no mention of our son. Two out of those three weddings it turns out he WAS actually invited, the other one he was not invited (which was why the invitation was addressed the way it was). Another wedding we were invited to was addressed to “The Last Name Family”, which he was also invited to, seeing as he is a member of our family. Please remember that children are people to, and if you do want them at your event please include them somehow in how you address the invitations. It would also be nice to somehow reach out to families with children and tell them personally that either a) they are totally welcome to come! or b) the event will be adults only. I have found it kind of awkward having to ask around to find out if my kid is welcome or not, and I don’t want my kid to be the “person who shows up who wasn’t actually invited.” Some clarity on the kids will be GREATLY appreciated :-)

    • Michela

      When we were inviting parents + kids we addressed the invites to “The XYZ Family” and when we were inviting the adults only we addressed the invites to “M and N XYZ”. I thought this was pretty clear, but pretty much every single family asked me if their kids were invited, even those invites addressed to the entire “Family”.

      One other option to make things more clear on the kids/no kids issue is to go old school with the outside envelope for the address and an inside envelope with everyone’s names on it. I resisted the envelope inside of an envelope tradition because it seemed like more wasted paper to me, but maybe it’s necessary to literally spell out every single person’s name on the envelope. This just seemed so burdensome given that I’m Italian-Irish Catholic and my partner runs a soccer training academy = more kids/names than will fit on an envelope!

      Did anyone else have trouble with this- when you thought you were pretty clear on the invitation envelope but people remained confused about kids/no kids? Any advice on how I could have been more clear? It’s too late for me but I’d love to pass advice along to my friends who get married next!

      xoM

      • Amy March

        Names. I think the clearest way is to include each person who you are inviting by name. It still leaves room for some confusion- people whose children are not listed by name may still wonder if they are invited, but I think it’s clearer than “family.”

        • Michela

          Yea.. I guess I also assumed, as MsDitz does, that of course “Family” includes the kids! Since when do families with kids not count kids as part of the family??

          I’ll be suggesting names of everyone from now on. This is, of course, assuming people pay any mind to the names on the envelope before tossing it! I expect lots of people throw out the envelope and forget what the envelope said two months later when they go to RSVP.

          • Amy March

            if you’re really determined, you could also write the names on the RSVP cards with check yes or no lines for each person, but that seems like way too much work for me.

          • Michela

            Haha yup- we thought of that too and decided it was too time-intensive since we’d have to print unique RSVP cards for each family and we invited over 200 people. I think everyone’s names on the envelope is the way to go (again- provided anyone pays attention to the envelope).

          • Bethany

            I haven’t sent out invites yet, but we are inviting family kids only (plus babies). I probably won’t write out names on every single RSVP card, but I definitely plan on doing it for the ones who may question whether or not their kids are invited. ALSO to make it super clear if someone has a plus one or not. Although I’m sure a couple of my fiance’s friends will still assume they get a plus one anyway.

          • Michela

            Yes- I would definitely recommend including everyone’s names if possible (learn from my mistakes!). We had an even harder time making the +1 thing clear, so if you learn any tips- please share.

          • Bethany

            It really baffles me that some people can’t figure out if they get a plus one or not. But I asked my fiance if he were to receive a wedding invite that only had his name on the card, would he think he got to bring a guest? And he said yes, he’d just assume he could bring someone. WHICH WAS TERRIFYING TO ME. So that’s when I decided I was writing names. If someone can’t figure that out, there is no helping them.

          • Michela

            Oh my gosh that IS terrifying!! I had an aunt who told my cousin she was “of course” allowed to bring her (on-again, off-again, criminal history, one-half of an abusive relationship) boyfriend to our wedding, even though we hadn’t extended my cousin a +1 because we weren’t sure they’d be together and when they drink, they throw things at each other and threaten suicide (*gulp*). What frustrated me further was my aunt declaring this ultimate truth when she had neither RSVPed herself nor congratulated me on my engagement/acknowledged I was getting married at all/spoken to me in over a year.

            People are enigmas sometimes.

            Good luck!! I hope it goes more smoothly for you. Keep us updated!

            xoM

          • tr

            I’ve had several people just completely take it for granted that they can bring a +1….when they aren’t even in a relationship of any kind!

          • MsDitz

            I think your guests were double checking that their kids were invited because, like me, they’ve come across confusing situations when getting invitations and they just want to double check to be 100% clear. Kids/no kids at a wedding can be a hot button topic for some people, and I personally would be mortified if I brought my kid to an adults only party, even if I was sure the invitation was clear. And also, tossing the envelope, as you said. When you have little kids sometimes you put something somewhere and then never see it again, haha

    • Nell

      We went a step further. We printed up little stickers that we put on the back of each invitation that went out to families with kids. It said something like “Your kid is totally welcome at our wedding!” This was especially helpful because a lot of those kids were still in utero when the invites went out, and thus didn’t have names yet :)

  • Morgan D

    What if you’re the proverbial non-white-wearing bride?

    How do you convey that message – e.g. “the bride is wearing purple, don’t wear purple” – politely?

    For added complexity:

    What if you want the wedding dress (color and all) to be a surprise?

    • Amy March

      If you really want it to be a surprise, I think you need to let go of the being the only one in that color thing and look for a different visual distinction- veil or flower crown maybe?

      If you don’t care so much about the surprise aspect I think the polite way to convey it is by word of mouth that “the bride is wearing purple” and leave the “don’t wear purple” unsaid.

      • Morgan D

        Thanks! I don’t know why I forgot about hair, etc – plus the cut/style of dress itself – as other ways of being distinct. That feels right, since we’re way more into just letting people do their thing than making up extra rules for something that probably won’t matter in the long (or even the short) run :).

        • Caitlin

          Word of mouth is a good way to go – but my golden rule for wedding guest outfits is that I never wear the colour that is on the invitation (for example purple) because that is usually significant in some way (either bride or bridesmaids). Not that you can guarantee that your guests will pick up on such subtleties..

          • Lisa

            This is actually a brilliant idea.

          • Caitlin

            Thank you :-)
            It became a rule after a friend told me about how she had turned up to one wedding wearing the same dress as the bridesmaids by mistake (and as she was a close female relative of the bride it looked rather like she was trying to make a point….)

          • Lisa

            This almost kind of happened at my wedding. I showed one of my good friends the dresses that my mom was making for my sisters, the only bridesmaids. Then a couple of weeks later, the friend started texting me pictures of dresses she was trying on for the wedding, and they were the exact same color, fabric, and style as the bridesmaids’ dresses. She asked what I thought, and I said something back like, “I love the color/fabric! They look just like the bridesmaids dresses we’re making.” I think that got the point across because she showed up in something completely different to the actual event.

          • nutbrownrose

            I accidentally wore the same shade of purple as the bridesmaids to a wedding, but since I was dating (am marrying) one of the groomsmen, it wasn’t a big deal. And apparently the others who were dating groomsmen at the time were instructed to match the bridesmaids? But then, there were 7 on the groom’s side and 3 on the bride’s, so she was very chill about the whole thing.
            I just wore that dress because it looked good on me. Hadn’t actually seen the invitations, either (I wasn’t a new date or anything, my man is just very very bad at telling me things in general).

      • CMT

        I know etiquette would say leave “don’t wear purple” unsaid, but there are people out there who won’t understand that unless somebody tells them explicitly. But a better way to do it would have a friend pass along that info to people you think won’t get it.

  • Joann Maultsby

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  • Caitlin

    I love this post – I could debate/discuss wedding etiquette for hours!

    With the Significant Other invites – I’ve not been invited to a couple of weddings where my long-term, live-together boyfriend has been invited. And whilst I am completely ok with it (wedding guests are expensive!), a small conversation with the invitee to quietly explain the reasoning/regret is always appreciated. It just makes it clear that the non-invitee has been remembered and is loved, they just can’t be fitted on the guest list.

    My follow up question for this is: when the invitee is taking a gift to the wedding, is it appropriate for the non-invitee to sign the card? The gift is still from both of us and I would usually send a gift or card even if neither of us were invited (I’m a strong believer that wedding gifts are a way of supporting a couple starting a life together, whether that is by buying a toaster, contributing to their house deposit or paying towards their kids nursery fees). So can I sign the card without it looking like a pointed comment on the guest list?

    • Amy March

      I don’t think you should be okay with it! It’s rude and disrespectful. If you are a good enough person to still want to get them a gift by all means sign the card though. If they take it as a pointed comment, oh well, may all the pointed comments in our lives arrive as lovely gifts.

      • Caitlin

        It’s only ever been where they are trying to do a wedding as cost-effectively as possible so that’s why I am ok with it.

        Having said that, my boyfriend & I have agreed that (when the time comes) the most important thing for us is to have everyone we love there. If that means getting married in the biggest church we can find and then doing a tea & cake reception in the church hall whilst I wear a dress I’ve made myself, then so be it!

      • Booknerd

        I really don’t think it’s rude to not include plus ones at their wedding. I actually think its incredibly rude to be offended. Your friends want to celebrate their day with the people they love, at the same time not go broke doing it. If a friend chose not to invite me to their wedding because I have a fiancee and they couldn’t afford both of us, I’d much rather go alone. Being close friends with someone doesn’t manufacture more money to allow their plus one to come.

        • Amy March

          Rude to be offended that your long-term live-in partner is excluded? That’s ridiculous. Rude to do anything about that offense, sure, but these rules exist, like them or not, and it’s not rude to be offended when people don’t follow them.

    • Sosuli

      Did I read above that you’re UK-based? Because this sort of thing is definitely more common here (in the UK) and I think would seem rude to Americans who don’t have the same wedding cultural context. It is totally normal to invite one half of a couple to a wedding here because they really are that damn expensive – my FMIL has even been invited to weddings where her husband (of over 30 years) has not been included on the invite (specifically, of co-workers who didn’t know her husband).

      As for your actual question, I think the only way that your partner’s signature could seem pointed is if you made snide comments about it also. Which based on your post there is no way you will do! So don’t worry about it – especially if you’ve had that conversation already and they have mentioned why they couldn’t invite him.

      • Caitlin

        Yes, UK (Bristol) based and it definitely seems more common here.

  • Rhiannon D

    On the cultural aspects of this, in the UK it is totally fine to include a little note about the gift registry in your invites (the store you have your registry with will even provide you with them). However it is totally not cool to have more than one list for stuff (sure have a list of stuff and a honeymoon contribution option, but not a list from shop A for kitchen and shop B for bathroom!) I’m always surprised about the whole “no registry info in the invite” thing, how do you tell people otherwise!?

    • CMT

      I love the online registries that let you have stuff from different places. Because who needs a whole list of stuff from one specialized store?

  • These are great wedding etiquette. But I agree that using guests’ cellphone camera should be banned from a wedding especially the couple hired a pro photographer that is shooting the whole event.

  • Janisrcohen4

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  • tr

    A word of warning about the invitations: While mailed invitations aren’t necessary per se, the invitation does still set the tone for the overall feel of the wedding, and emailed invitations scream “super informal”. If you’re having a casual backyard wedding and you’re fine with your guests showing up in khakis and a polo, awesome! If you’re having a black tie wedding, an e-vite might not be the best idea.

  • Lizabjohnson1

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  • WarnerFamily

    For plus ones: we were really space constrained and basically over our tent limit from the start, so we initially only gave plus one’s to people who’s SOs we had met or people who didn’t know anyone else at the wedding. It ended up that we were able to give plus one’s to everyone with at least a month’s heads up before the wedding, which worked out. If they are secretly mad at us, I understand, but hopefully alls well that ends well.

    For registry info: we did include it in our invites. Maybe that was tacky but we only had a registry online at Zola and I didn’t want people going to Williams Sonoma (something some of our guests would likely have done) expecting we’d have something there when we didn’t. 2 lessons learned on this one: I should have just done a Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma in addition to Zola because it would have been easy, and in trying to use Zola for one stop shopping potentially made things actually a bit less easy for our guests. Just my 2 cents.

  • Chicagoan

    As one of the “olds”, this was very interesting. Thank you.

  • Col

    Late to the party here, but I’m wondering how many of you guys got gifts for the host(s) of your shower? What did you choose? Did you bring it to the shower with you? For me, they number 5 (aunts/cousins). My mom said not to sweat it but she honestly wouldn’t know. Wondering what this community has to say…

  • quiet000001

    Older post, but suggestion for “experience” registry sort of things – register for real gifts also that are related to or would be useful for the experience you’re also registering for. They don’t have to be expensive, but for folks who really really want to give a physical gift, it can really help.

    I said this in another comment elsewhere, but my mom really likes to be able to give a small related gift if she is also giving cash. Example might be a monetary gift towards a honeymoon, plus passport covers or luggage takes or packing cubes, something useful for the trip that the couple need/want/will get use out of. It makes her feel better than just giving cash/money. She does this for non-wedding gifts, too, for people who don’t need a lot of Stuff, like a gift card for Amazon/iTunes given with a box of movie theater candy and some microwave popcorn so people can have a movie night on her. Or an anniversary gift of a gift certificate to a nice place for dinner given with a small box of chocolates or a relatively inexpensive bottle of champagne or wine, whatever suits the recipient or recipients best.

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