While many weddings these days tend to move away from the traditions of the past, there are still some components that should always remain intact. Following these simple, but vital guidelines will show your guests and family that you are being respectful while also adding your own creativity to the mix.
"Start Spreading the News"
Although you may not be "leaving today" as Frank Sinatra put it, it is a great idea to let the bride and grooms parents know of your engagement. It may not be mandatory, but it shows respect for the bride as well as her family, especially if they are partaking in the payment of part or all of the wedding. Then, all of the close friends can personally be made aware in whatever way you see fit.
Additional ways of announcing your engagement, could be to have it included in the newspaper. Also sending out invitations for an engagement party is a great way to include those in the wider circle of friends who may or may not be attending the wedding.
Thoughts on Cost
It is more common today for both the bride's and groom's parents to help out with the major costs, such as the catering and wedding venue. However, sometimes it can be the obligation of the bride and groom to pay the costs, taking into consideration that their parents are deceased or elderly, or if it is not their first wedding. Either way, it is still important to make sure that everyone is valued for their aid in the finances.
This list of "wedding etiquette practices" taken from The Wedding Establishment is a great way of organizing the costs amongst the two families.
The bride’s family pays for:
- All reception costs, including venue, catering, flowers, decorations etc (this can be share with groom’s family)
- Other associated event costs such as engagement party, wedding breakfast etc.
- The bride’s dress (this may be shared with the bride)
- All wedding photography and wedding videography
- Wedding stationery
- Wedding cake and favors
- All bridal accessories, hair and makeup (this can be shared with bride or attendants)
- Mother of bride outfit
- Accommodation for bride’s family if they have to travel a long distance
The groom’s family pays for:
- Share of reception costs
- Alcohol at the reception
- Wedding cars
- Her gown (if her parents are not paying)
- The groom’s wedding ring
- Part or all of the attendants’ dresses, particularly if it’s a unique design that’s not easily worn again
- Honeymoon to be shared with the groom
- The bride’s wedding ring
- Bouquets, buttonholes and corsages for the bridal party and parents
- Gifts for the bridal party
- The marriage license
- Wedding ceremony costs
- The groom’s suit
- Groomsmen suits’ costs (if appropriate)
- Honeymoon shared cost with bride.
The Three S's: Seating, Standing, and Salutation
Seating: The proper etiquette in a church setting, in particular, would be to have the bride's family on one side and the groom's on the other. Room should also be left in the few front rows for the parent's and close family. Most of the time usher's are used to avoid confusion. Typically, the usher's will greet you at the door and courteously take you to your seat.
Standing: Depending on your faith, the procession of the bridal party will vary. In most Christian weddings, the groom and groomsmen wait in the front of the church. The bridesmaids will lead the procession down the aisle, followed by the ring bearer and flower girl and the main girl, the BRIDE!!
Reception Line: This is a great time for the bridal party to really connect with the guests. Introductions will be made of whoever is in charge of the wedding. If the case is that both the bride and groom's parents have split the costs, the mother and father of the bride would be introduced first, then the mother and father of the groom, bridal party and of course, the bride and groom for the big finale.
Seating: Usually, the bride and groom will have a table in the center of the room, with the bridesmaids to her right and the groomsmen to his left. The parent's will sit with close relatives at another table. Make sure that the guests at each table are seated with others they can somewhat relate to, so it makes for a smoother and more enjoyable night.
Traditionally, the father of the bride, head groomsmen and groom give speeches at the reception. However, many modern day weddings include a speech by the mother of the bride/groom, bridesmaids, and other close family. It is really the decision of the bride and groom. Ensure that someone also acts as an MC, so all of the names are pronounced correctly, and try not to let anyone go over 10 minutes in their speech. There is only so much your guests want to hear, with out turning it into an epic performance.
Cutting the Cake
This is a fun time for the bride and groom to connect with each other and share this exciting moment. In this occasion it is important that the cake be placed in an open area that is clearly visible for the photographers and videographers to gain the best shots.
The Dance You'll Always Remember
It is best to choose something tasteful for this special first dance that means something to both the bride and groom. After they dance, the parent's of the bride and groom and bridal party can now take the floor. Customarily, the bride will dance with her father and the groom with his mother.
This is the point of the reception, where the bride will throw her bouquet, and the groom the garter. This is a moment of good luck and love in marriage to whoever catches these two. Therefore, it is one that should not be missed. It is a richly symbolic moment.
The Thank You
The bride or groom should take this time to thank all of the key people that played a part in the wedding (the hosts, maid of honor, bridesmaids, etc.) Send thank you's to all the guests that came there for your special day. The formal wedding etiquette was to typically send out thank you's up to 12 months after the wedding. Nowadays it's better to send personalized thank you notes up 1 or 2 months after.