Oh wedding etiquette. Here at Bayside Bride we are all about the modern, non-traditional weddings, but of course there should always be a level of etiquette a bride (and groom) should follow when planning for their big day! We reached out to you through our social media and asked for those etiquette questions that had you stumped and boy did you have some good ones…
“How does one gracefully handle the “Backup Guest List?” A backup guest list sounds like a bit of a sticky situation to me. I completely understand the reasoning behind the backup guest list, but I think it’s important to realize and be prepared that you may have some hurt feelings on your hands if a “backup” guest realizes they weren’t a first choice. If you believe a backup list is important to your wedding, a general rule should be as the declines come in, the invitations go out. Set a cut off deadline – no more backup invites go out after such and such date. Also, take time to think about why you have a backup list – is it to meet an ideal number or is it because you have so many loved ones that it just isn’t in the budget or the venue has size restrictions? If it is the first, maybe that list isn’t such a good idea. Your wedding is about sharing your day with the people that mean the most to you after all.
“If I’m invited to theirs, do I have to invite them to ours?” I don’t believe you should ever feel obligated to invite anyone you do not want to to your big day, however, I understand the dilemma. If you’re asking yourself this question, it’s likely that the person (or people) in question are more of an acquaintance rather than close friend or family. Consider your relationship with this person now and in the future. If the bride (or groom) is your great aunt’s grandchild that lives across the country, I personally wouldn’t feel too bad leaving them off the guest list! However, if it is a new acquaintance whom you see yourself becoming closer to in the future, you may want to include them.
“We have a professional photographer that is taking care of the entire ceremony. How do we ask guests to not take pictures with cell phones and digital cameras?” Having “guest photographers” (provided they stay seated and are completely out of the way of your photographer) can help flood social media with #hashtags and pictures of your big day. However, I understand that some people like to have an “unplugged” wedding, the idea that phones and cameras are completely shut off and the pictures are left to the professionals. If this is the case, I suggest including a quick note in the program or a sign near the entrance asking your guests to enjoy the moment through their own eyes and not through the screens of their smartphone. We even have some free downloadable inserts already available for you. After all, they’ll be able to enjoy professional quality images of your day without seeing the glow of iPhones in every shot! Regardless, we encourage you to read this article from the perspective of Natalie Franke Photography to help inform your choice.
“What is the deadline for thank you notes? I always heard one year.” Contrary to popular belief, you do not have one year to send your Thank You notes. The idea of one year stems from the rule that technically your guests have one year to send a gift (though that custom has it’s own rules). Your Thank You notes should be sent in a timely manner after the gifts arrival. Need time to get settled after all of that hustle and bustle? Three months, tops, should be your maximum.
“How do we request an adults only reception?” While it seems like the easiest way, marking “Adults Only” or “No Children” on your invitations is actually not the way to go as it can seem a bit harsh. When addressing your envelopes, leave children off both the front and inner envelopes. Let your close friends, family, and your wedding party know of your request so in the case that your friend Jane misses the subtle hint, they are able to pass it along to her or whomever else on your behalf. If you believe for any reason that a majority of your wedding invitees may need a not-so-subtle hint, think about adding checkboxes labeled one or two guests attending instead of your typical “M” line to your R.S.V.P. cards.
“If you’re inviting children to your wedding, should their names be on the front envelope?” Children typically should be left off the front envelope and should be placed on the inner, more informal, envelope. You should also avoid adding “and Family” as it is too simplistic for formal invitations. An outer envelope should be thorough and complete with no abbreviations.
These questions are just the tip of the etiquette iceberg! Etiquette can be tough, but remember this is your big day. If you feel that something is right for you and your wedding, don’t let the “rules” deter you. Have fun and start your own traditions!