Although the engagement ring has been a long standing wedding tradition, thee sign of a pledge to marry, it is certainly not necessary to have a ring in order to be engaged. Some forgo the ring altogether and just have a wedding band, while others wait until after their marriage, when they’re more settled to purchase the ring.
This leads me to an area for discussion. One of the most commonly asked questions I get as a CT wedding planner, usually starts with “is it proper to do ___?” or “is it okay to do ___?”. Ahh, the inescapable wedding etiquette question. Funny how in our modern times, somehow brides are still interested in maintaining a bit of tradition….Good for you!
There is actually, a distinction between “Tradition” and “Etiquette”. Traditions evolve and change with the times, etiquette simply holds firm to the notion of how we interact with each other. Sure, maybe someday soon it will become common for brides to send save-the-dates and wedding invitations via Facebook or Instagram (tradition), but publically discussing invitees on social media may be hurtful for some was not invited (poor etiquette).
Below I’ve outlined 5 Effortless Ways To Maintain Wedding Etiquette And Tradition when planning your wedding:
1. The Tradition Of Announcing Your Engagement
You said yes! It’s traditional to inform the bride’s parents first of the engagement, then others. It is proper etiquette that if you have children from a former relationship/marriage, you should share the news with your ex before he/she finds out from someone else.
2. Hosting A Reception
It is traditional to host a post-nuptial celebration (reception) and invite guests. Divvying-up and trimming the guest list are a completely separate discussion, but I can tell you that it is appropriate to be sure to invite these 3 groups of people:
- The officiant who performs your vows and his/her spouse
- The parents of your youngest bridal attendants— ring bearers and flower girls
- The spouse, live-in partner, or fiancé of each invited guest (regardless if you’ve never met them before)
3. Use The British Spelling For Formal Invitations
A long-standing wedding tradition dictates the British wording and spelling for a formal invitation. When a ceremony is religious or held in a house of worship, the phrase “the honour of your presence” is used. Also keep in mind that your invitation sets the tone for what guests expect, so it is recommended etiquette to be sure all your wedding elements should be consistent (a handwritten invitation would not be suitable for an ultra-formal wedding).
4. The Wedding Toast
It’s so exciting to have so many parties and events to attend in your honor (or is it “honour”?) and one of my favorite traditions at the reception, is the toasting of the bride and groom. Usually the host of the event (bride’s father) is the first person to give the toast, followed by attendants and anyone else wishing to give one. Etiquette suggests that the person giving the toast should welcome the guests, keep it light and courteous, and express their pleasure for the future newlyweds—raunchy humor, attacking rants, or overly-embarrassing details make guests uncomfortable. Oh, and a tip for the bride and groom: since you are the ones being honored, you DON’T take a sip from glass, but simply raise them.
5. The Hand-Written Thank You Note
Okay, I hope this last one is obvious, but just in case, always, always, always send a hand-written thank you note to each and every guest who comes to the wedding thanking them for attending and their wedding gift (if you are given cash, it is proper to list how much in the note). And contrary to the wedding tradition rumor that has somehow surfaced in our generation, you don’t “have up until a year” after the wedding to write a thank-you note—just get to it sooner rather than later!
Need more ideas and wedding advice to keep you on the right etiquette path? Reach out, we’d be glad to help!