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Wedding Etiquette


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Wedding EtiquetteWeddings are once in a lifetime affairs and the utmost care has to be taken when it comes to the sending of the invites, seating, appropriate dress, gifts, amongst other things. The hosts and the guests ought to mind their manners, as a single ‘faux pas’ could ruin the wedding and leave behind bitter feelings, or in the least raise several critical eyebrows. Abigail Rodricks lists certain etiquette guidelines that should be kept in mind while planning, or attending a wedding.

The number of people to be invited from each side

One of the biggest problems faced by the couple and their families is the all-important guest list. This potentially dangerous list could very well become the basis of the first argument. So it is imperative that the issue be dealt with correctly.

The bride-to-be and the groom-to-be should get together and decide between themselves - or if required with the help of their parents - how many people they can accommodate at the wedding reception, and more importantly, how many they can afford to accommodate.

After having sorted that out, next they ought to decide:

a) Whom do they would like to be present at the occasion (family members, close friends, relatives, etc.)

b) Whom it is necessary to invite (the boss, colleagues, relatives, etc.)

c) Who is likely to eventually make it (those living in the same city, neighbourhood, etc.)

d) Who is unlikely to come (those living in another state or country)

Ideally, both the bride and the groom should have a similar number of guests, but this is rarely possible unless both families are from the same town and are of a comparative size and have about the same number of close friends. They should also compare their two separate guest lists to make sure there is no duplication.

The ideal time to send out the invites

The invitations should always be sent a month before the wedding date. The guest list should be kept ready well in advance, to avoid a hasty inclusion of all and sundry, or as many have found to their dismay that they have forgotten to invite an old friend, who may have temporarily slipped out of their memory. The soon-to-be bride and groom should not forget people who helped make the wedding possible like the tailors, the beauticians, etc.

When misfortune strikes, or there’s a severe case of pre-wedding jitters

Often unfortunate accidents, doubts, or unforeseeable circumstances may lead to the wedding being postponed, or simply cancelled. When this happens after the invitations have been sent out, there might be a bit of confusion. If time permits, a printed formal announcement should be mailed to the invited guests. When a wedding is postponed, but a new date has not been decided yet, the invitation must be recalled. When the new date is determined, a new invitation must be issued.

Splitting the expenses

Traditionally, the brides’ parents pay for the entire wedding, while the groom’s parents pay for the dinner and the fees of the priest. With changing times have come economic constraints and this entails a little more flexibility in the matter. Families can mutually decide who covers a particular wedding expense.

Cash instead of gifts or gift certificates

Many a times, newly-weds prefer cash to gifts. So how do you tell guests that you would like cash instead of the same old boring gifts that are of little or no use?

Unfortunately, it is considered a breach of etiquette to mention ‘gifts’ in any form in the invitation. The ideal way is to spread the word through family and friends. If guests ask you about gifts, don’t blurt out that you’d prefer cash to gifts. Instead, let them lead the discussion into what you really need, rather than saying outright ‘give me money’. However, not all guests will be considerate enough to ask, so be prepared to receive some gifts. Reconcile yourself to receiving three pressure cookers, five mixer-grinders, dinner sets, etc.

Dealing with family troublemakers

Sometimes you would rather leave out people who we feel would get too inebriated and create an embarrassment of themselves. But you feel obligated to invite them, as they are family. You would rather conveniently leave them out of your guest list, but you run the risk of offending your other family members.

If such family troublemakers are invited and do eventually turn up, you could have someone keep an eye on them, preferably someone known to them, who they would listen to.

Make sure a good time is had by all

Finally, remember that though you may be the bride and the groom, it is your duty to make sure that the waiters attend to each and every one of your guests and that they are well looked after.

At Christian weddings where dancing is a part of the reception, it has been seen that even those who know how to dance feel shy to display their prowess on the dance floor. This is where the bridal couple, or members of their family should insist by pulling people onto the floor and arranging partners for them. Your guests will be glad you did so and will remember your wedding years later.

Thank your notes

After the wedding, thank you notes, informal gift acknowledgment cards and calling cards may be used to thank your guests for their presence at the function.

The wedding anniversary party

While wedding anniversaries are observed every year, major celebrations are usually reserved for the twenty-fifth, fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries.

Formal invitations to wedding anniversaries should be tastefully done. Avoid boring black ink and opt instead for colored lettering; silver for a twenty-fifth anniversary, red for a fortieth anniversary and gold for fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Invites to wedding anniversaries are usually extended by the couple’s children and their spouses. But rules here are flexible and sometimes friends, grandchildren, and even the couple themselves may issue the invitations. The years of their marriage is often highlighted at the top of the invitation.

A line reading, “No gifts, please” may appear near the lower right-hand corner or better still one saying, “Your presence is the only gift we request” may be included in the invitation.

A COUPLE OF DO’S AND DON’TS FOR THE GUESTS

Proper etiquette regarding formal RSVP wedding reception invitations R.S.V.P. is the abbreviated form of the French term ‘responde sil vous plait’, which translates as, ‘reply if you please’ and calls for a formal reply indicating your presence at the wedding, or your inability to attend the function. The response card may have become standard for most modern wedding parties, but they aren’t a traditional part of the wedding preparation. Use of the response card has now become a trend simply because most guests don’t have the courtesy to let the hosts know if they are coming, or not.

The bridal receptions cost a ton and expenses can be cut, if you know exactly how many guests will be present. So if you didn’t receive a response card (where you could simply fill in and check either “accepts” or “regrets” and return it to the sender), then you should write a note to the hosts stating whether or not, you accept the invitation to the wedding ceremony/reception, or both.

Proper attire at the religious ceremony

At most religious functions, there are certain items of clothing that are better avoided. Some religious places have policies against certain types of attire and many simply frown on women wearing revealing, or provocative clothing.

Remember the wedding ceremony isn’t a beach party. Caps are not appropriate for men, even at outdoor weddings, unless these functions are extremely casual.

At all Hindu weddings, it is considered improper to wear white, a colour of mourning.

Cell phone good etiquette

Switch off your cell phones at the marriage ceremony, out of courtesy for the couple exchanging their vows. Remember that the wedding ceremony is a religious function that often takes place in the ‘house of god’. The incessant ring of the cell phone is a positive distraction certain to make many disapproving heads turn your way.

Wedding gifts

You are not required to carry a gift for the engagement ceremony. But if you are invited to the bridal shower (the party thrown for the soon-to-be bride by her female friends and relatives), a gift is expected, though it needn’t be too expensive. So, save the expensive gift to be presented at the wedding.

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