Wedding etiquette to the rescue

  • 2 min to read
Their own spin

Many brides and grooms want to put their own spin on the traditional wedding.

Traditional standards eliminate the guesswork

Many brides and grooms want to put their own spin on the traditional wedding, and for them, following century-old rules of etiquette can seem a bit much. But planning a wedding is always a challenge. Competing opinions and influences from family and friends can  overwhelm any couple. When issues arise, established etiquette applied diplomatically can actually serve as a trusted guide rather than a nagging nuisance, and steer the couple toward their very own dream-come-true wedding day.

When considering wedding etiquette standards, for many of us the name Emily Post comes to mind. Today, the Emily Post Institute continues its work, safeguarding and updating standards created by the First Lady of social etiquette nearly a century ago. In keeping with three essential Emily Post wedding planning principles — communication, consideration, and compromise — here are some words of advice the Emily Post Institute offers couples to help make their special day blissful.

Announcing your engagement

Bride: She wants to shout out the news.

Emily Post Institute: News can spread fast via word-of-mouth, so the No. 1 step is to tell your closest relations. If divorced, any existing children of the engaged couple should hear the news first; then comes closest family members, such as parents and siblings, grandparents and best friends; followed by aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and anyone else close to you.

Planning the engagement party

B: With all the excitement, the bride’s party list takes on a life of its own, multiplying each day. Is it okay to invite some people to the engagement party and not the wedding?

EPI: Everyone invited to the engagement party (or any pre-wedding celebration, such as a shower or bachelor/bachelorette party) also must be invited to the wedding. But the engagement party itself, having no requirements, offers a chance to create your own type of event, catered or casual. An announcement and toast is customary and usually given by the father of the bride. Bringing gifts to the party follows local custom and is not always mandatory.

Sending out invitations

B: She realizes her guest list is too long and thinks about waiting for initial responses, then sending out another round of invitations.

EPI: No. Definitely not… ever. Be focused and straightforward with your guest list from the start. Make choices together. Don’t put people on standby. Remember that typically ten to 20 percent of invited guests cannot attend.

Making it your own

B: So many details. She doesn’t know where to start.

EPI: As you navigate picking a venue, and all the details involved, keep in mind that weddings bring together two individuals and their two families. Find your own way to honor specific rituals and traditions while moving forward with the times. Most important of all, enjoy the beautiful event you created — your wedding day.

For more information: Emily Post Institute,

Same principles, new world

The Emily Post Institute, based in Burlington, Vt., recently released the sixth edition of “Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette,” a 360-page hardcover book that covers every aspect of wedding planning for 21st century brides and grooms. Although the world has changed dramatically since Emily Post first published her book “Etiquette” in 1922, manners still matter. Especially when you’re planning the biggest event of your life. Using their great-great-grandmother Emily Post’s basic rules of etiquette as their guide, co-authors Anna and Lizzie Post help modern-day couples navigate the increasingly complicated wedding planning process, from planning the guest list to using social media to personalizing the reception. The book is available online and at local bookstores.

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