Wedding Etiquette

Know How to Entertain Your guests the Right Way

wedding invitation etiquette
It's your big day, and it's all for you -- isn't it? Not exactly. It may seem like just one more thing, but part of planning your wedding should be learning the proper etiquette. It's your job to make your guests feel comfortable and welcomed to this special event. Likewise, it is important to observe correct etiquette when receiving, opening and thanking loved ones for gifts.

Using appropriate silverware and inviting the right person to dance isn't so hard once you have the rules down. Use these tips for a flawless day.



By Invitation Only

Start out with your invitations. The addressee, and only the addressee, is invited to your wedding. If you wish to invite only one person and not his or her significant other or friend, address the envelope "Mr. John Smith.Â" If you would like both Mr. and Mrs. Smith (or a Mrs. Smith hopeful) to attend, write "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" or "Mr. John Smithand Guest." Have a space for the number of respondents on your RSVP cards to avoid confusion.

You can also write "We are looking forward to the two of you joining us" for clarification.

Enclose return envelopes for RSVPs, and put a stamp on each so your guest need only fill it out the card and pop it in the mail.

The Gang's All Here

You may or may not want to invite children to your nuptials. This is entirely up to you. Make sure you are clear on this issue. You can avoid hurt feelings by wording your wishes diplomatically. "We would love to invite everyone, but due to space constraints, we must limit our celebration to adults only" is a nice way to put it.

The Extended Family Tree

Parents, step parents and significant others can make things tricky. Be careful with the seating. Even if your divorced parents are on good terms, don't put them at the same table. You can't be sure how a new spouse or guest might feel, no matter how comfortable he or she has seemed at other less emotional events.

It can be difficult and emotional to decide which parent or parents will walk you down the aisle. If you're very close to one parent but not the other, have the former walk you, and give the latter a leading role in your nuptials. For example, he or she can stand up with you during the ceremony.

If all else fails, have two or even three parents walk you down the aisle -- or none. You have a variety of choices nowadays as to how your parents will be involved in your wedding. A very close uncle or your grandmother are other possible choices depending upon your relationship with them.

If you were adopted and know your birth parents, you are perfectly within social rules if you have them walk with you, too.

Dainty Dishes

It may seem confusing to know which fork or spoon to use for a given dish, but in reality, it's all set up for you. Just reach from the outside in. As each course is finished, lay your silverware on your dish. Don't reserve cutlery; one fork or spoon is assumed to be used for one course only.

Gift Etiquette

You needn't open your gifts during the reception; in fact, most couples wait to get home, or even until after the honeymoon, to open their wedding gifts.

It is NEVER appropriate to request "cash-only" gifts. Have a registry available to all attending guests, but don't ask and don't hint. Ask a few close family members to spread the word and to give information on how to access the registry, and then leave the matter alone.

If you do not have a honeymoon, write and send your thank-you notes within two weeks following your wedding. If you do go on a honeymoon, try to send thank-you notes within one week of your return; two weeks from that time should be the maximum. You can make things easier on yourself by pre-addressing envelopes and writing "Dear --" on the inside of each. After you have received your gifts, write something personal but brief. "Thank you for the serving fork. We know we'll be using it often."

May I Have This Dance?

The bride and groom will be announced and called to the floor for the first dance. Next, the bride's father will be called out to dance with her, and the groom with his mother.

In the old days, an extremely complex partnering scheme would ensue: the bride's mother/groom's father and bride's father/groom's mother, for example. Today, most couples allow cut-ins and a free dance as soon as they have had their first dances with the opposite-sex parent. You may want to have a brief dance with your step parent first so that each parent figure gets a turn.

Put a few wedding and gift etiquette rules into place, and you can be sure of a seamless celebration.

Try it Free

Written by: The Printable Wedding Team