The dos and don'ts of proper wedding etiquette

By: Christa Connell

© Wragg Author: Canadian Living Credits: © Wragg


The dos and don'ts of proper wedding etiquette

By: Christa Connell
When it comes to planning a wedding -- or even just attending one -- there are many elements you have to think about, and proper etiquette is a big one.

While fashion and decor trends change over the years, the art of etiquette is timeless.

We turned to Melissa Andre, the founder and creative director of Melissa Andre Events and an expert in the tricky world of wedding etiquette, for the dos and don'ts of proper wedding etiquette.

1. Don't tell your wedding guests what gifts to get you
There are two big no-nos when it comes to wedding gifts: Specifying what it is you would like to receive and asking for cash-only gifts.

After all, if you invited someone over for a dinner party you wouldn't ask them to bring you $50, explains Andre as a comparison.

"You cannot do that, you can never do that -- there's no right way to do that," she says. "If your guests are bringing gifts, that's lovely, but you shouldn't expect them."

The bridal shower is the event that is really meant for gifting, Andre explains, and it is the point where you should let your guests know where you are registered. You should never do so in your wedding invitation, she advises.

2. Do wear white if the bride encourages it
Is it appropriate for anyone but the bride to wear white? This question would have been answered with a resounding "No" only a few years ago, but there are some new trends that may say otherwise. From last year's royal wedding where the bride's sister, Pippa Middleton, wore white to Kate Moss' all-white nuptials, the taboo seems to be fading.

Our expert's opinion? When it comes to wearing white you must take your cues from the bride. "It would have to be specified somewhere or encouraged that you wear white," says Andre. "You shouldn't just opt to wear white if you haven't heard it's going to be a white party."

Page 1 of 2 -- How long after the wedding do newlyweds have to send out thank-you notes? Find out on page 2.
3. Don't RSVP for uninvited guests
When an invitation is addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," it means that it is Mr. and Mrs. Smith who are invited, not their three children and their neighbour.

Although this may seem like common sense, Andre says the belief that you can RSVP for more than the names listed on the invitation is a frequent problem.

"Guests need to understand how invitations are addressed and keep that in mind when they RSVP," she says.

"I think a lot of people RSVP with the names of who they think should come, but you need to actually read the invitation so you understand who is actually invited."

In addition to being dismissive of the bride and groom's request, bringing uninvited guests can also leave wedding planners scrambling for extra chairs, linens and food.

4. Do send out personalized thank-you notes to your wedding guests
After the wedding, newlyweds have three months to get their thank-you notes written and delivered. Any time after that would be considered late, says Andre.

"You should thank everyone who came just because they came," Andre explains. "If they brought you a gift then you should also specify in the thank-you note how you intend on using that gift. You always want to personalize the note and thank everyone. If they didn't bring a gift then simply thank them for coming and for their love and support."

5. Don't make things inconvenient for your wedding guests
It may be your big day, but your guests are also going out of their way to ensure you have a wonderful time.

"You need to remember that you are inviting hundreds of people, potentially, who will all have to get a new dress, find transportation and take a day out of their lives. They're going to get you a gift and they're going to need a babysitter for their kids," says Andre. "You want to make it as painless and as fun for them as possible. You never want people to be inconvenienced by your wedding."

Weddings are joyous events, and while you don't want to spend all of your time obsessing over each and every little detail, it will reflect well on you if you know your etiquette. With a little bit of research -- and perhaps some guidance from a wedding planner -- navigating the waters of wedding etiquette can be a breeze.

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The dos and don'ts of proper wedding etiquette