The New Wedding Etiquette
Changing times mean changing etiquette, right?
Because the answer is a decided “sometimes yes and sometimes no,” here's some expert insight into what's en vogue in wedding etiquette today.
Despite the dominance of electronic communication in our society, if you want to avoid looking tacky, it appears that the classic paper invitation, reply card and especially the thank-you note are still a must, even for less traditional weddings, says Sharon Naylor, author of “The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette” (Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2005). If your concern is the environment, there are plenty of recycled paper options, or if you're on a tight budget, check out discount online retailers or pick up affordable DIY materials from a local store.
It doesn't matter if it's your third time down the aisle - any bride may wear white if she wants, says etiquette expert Anna Post. And this has always been the case. The tradition of wearing white dresses developed out of the desire to show off pristine fabric (a sign of wealth), not pristine virtue. That said, the bridal veil both was and remains a traditional symbol of virginity. At the very least, second-time brides could probably skip the blusher.
Hotel Welcome Bags
In days gone by, people grew up and got married in the same area, thus most of their guests were local. Now the majority may be out-of-towners. Providing a gift bag isn't a requirement, says Post, but it has become a common generous extra.
Presents for the Wedding Party
Giving bridesmaids and groomsmen a gift wasn't especially common in the past; but today, thanking them for their work and the expense with a small token is “about as close to a wedding 'must' as you can get,” says Post. Bridal magazines may suggest fancy gifts like iPods, but these pricey presents aren't required. More affordable options include a framed picture from the wedding or even just a heartfelt note and flowers.
These formal meet-and-greets used to be a pre-reception must, says Naylor, but now couples have options. “If you'd rather skip the receiving line, the new must involves visiting each table of guests and personally thanking them for coming,” she says. “Some couples find that it feels more natural and can be a lot more fun.”