WEDDING ETIQUETTE FOR 2019, 2020 & BEYOND
Are you attending or hosting a 2019 wedding, a 2020 wedding or pretty much any wedding in the future? Well there are some new rules in wedding etiquette for wedding couples, families, bridal party and wedding guests. Over the last 10 years and 250+ weddings, we've seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly at weddings. For the most part, things go well, but there are just some things we are SHOCKED to see at weddings. We also polled our Instagram followers and asked a few other couples for their input on what should be updated in the wedding etiquette world. We hope you enjoy. Remember, some of this is subjective and may not matter to some couples or guests. The photos used below are good examples of what to do! No shaming wedding guests or couples here! ;) BUT I do lace a little bit of it with snarky humor.. so laugh!
And we totally won't judge you for not knowing some of this before!
1. RSVP and other attendance issues.
This is pretty much the number one thing you can do to make sure that everyone hates you is to mess with the guest list. I mean kind of joking about the hating part, but people will definently be upset. So I'll to my best to explain why... Weddings are EXPENSIVE. So let's say you don't RSVP and then you show up... most caterers and rental companies will charge the couple for you AND THEN they will add a fee on top to punish them for you. OR let's say you RSVP and then you NO SHOW! *We polled our instagram fam and found out that it's pretty average to have 10 no-shows a wedding. (Those are people who CONFIRMED guys.)* So let's find out how much that would cost our average couple. So let's say the wedding was 80 guests and 10 no - showed. (Yes, we know this can be cheaper or more expensive, this is just a guess-timate at the average.) Rentals:
Tableware + Flatware - $9 per setting x 10 = $90
Chair (ceremony and reception - yes, usually you need both) - $8 per x 10 = $80
Wasted Table Rental (yes 10 guests = an entire table) - $12
Table Linens (cloth + napkins, no extras) - $14 + ($1 x 10) = $24
One centerpiece from extra table - $50 (+$12 for candles, table number + escort cards)
Food: Here's the pricing from one of our FAVORITE and most common caterer's Buffalo Gals for their BBQ Tri-tip dinner with sides:
*50-99 Guests: 20.00/pp - our example wedding size* $20 per x 10 = $200 We haven't even included cocktail hour, cake/dessert or open bar and we've already spent $456 on 10 people who said they were coming and didn't show up.
Obviously if there is an actual EMERGENCY or you are actually sick, don't show up and try to let the couple know ASAP. If you RSVP early and change your mind later, you can always let them know and most of the time the caterers, rentals and others will let them adjust their final numbers prior to the wedding. But seriously, DON'T NO SHOW! Finally, the last attendance annoyance... DON'T bring EXTRA people! Chances are with the prices you saw above, the bride and groom had to be VERY choosey about who they invited and frankly, they probably couldn't invite some people they really wanted to come. So showing up with an extra guest who wasn't invited just cost them $40 plus the extra fees that the vendors tack on for unexpected guests. Not to mention they probably wouldn't have it arranged to just randomly have an extra chair at your table... people spend a lot of time on seating charts people. So don't invite someone to someone else's wedding without asking! Bottom line: RSVP, SHOW UP and DON'T BRING EXTRA PEOPLE or you will cost the couple a lot of money and weddings are already expensive as it is!
2. Elopements and Travel Expectations
Guests: Honor the Bride + Groom's wishes - Couple's be realistic about your expectations.
For the most part, this stuff goes without saying, but if the couple wants to elope in Switzerland, let them elope in Switzerland (and don't give them grief). BUT Couples, if you choose to get married in Greece, DON'T EXPECT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO COME! Elopements: Some people just want to elope. Some couples cannot afford to have a huge wedding. Some couples would rather spend that money elsewhere. Some couples want to have an intimate memory rather than a huge production. Some couples want to go somewhere that they know their guests won't be able to. Some couples want to hike up to an alpine lake at in the dark to get married in the Alpenglow. Some couples are just elopement people. It's not bad. Actually it's really good that they are doing something that they truly enjoy, instead of something society says they need (some couples do dream of having a big wedding for their entire life too, it's just personal preference). Just be happy for them and ask how you can participate. Don't make their marriage about you.
Travel to Weddings: Approx 40% of our instagram fam said that more than 30% of their guests traveled more than 60 miles for their wedding. People live all over the place for a million reasons. You meet friends at college or in the military, people move away, couples have different hometowns, couples want to get married in the place that they live, not the place that they grew up. And that doesn't even include destination weddings.
Guests: Don't get mad at the couple for getting married somewhere you don't want them to get married. Just be realistic about what you CAN do and be honest with them. If they are rude past that point, you did the right thing. And if you do decide to go, don't complain about it.
Couples: Don't expect out of town guests to make it. It's not that they don't love you, they just can't and you need to respect that. If there is someone that you really, really want to make it, talk to them when you are making plans before they are final and adjust accordingly. Sometimes it can be money, time off work, health or personal issues. Just let it go and move on. This pressure is part of the reason people bicker at weddings and RSVP's turn into no-shows. I struggled with this at my own wedding. It wasn't that I expected it or was mad when people couldn't come... it was actually the opposite. It was that people THOUGHT that was what we thought. They thought we expected them to. They thought we would be upset. They thought we were unrealistic. But honestly, I needed to express that I was okay with whatever they could do.
3. Overbearing 'Planners' and Traditional Expectations
One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is having all the voices in the background. More than 60% of our Instagram fam said their families were more overbearing during the planning process than on the wedding day itself. Now 9/10 this is NOT a couple being ungrateful. The couples I work with are not dramatic or definitely do not fit the 'bridezilla' persona... but I often hear that they are completely overwhelmed by everyone inserting their opinions and expectations into their wedding day. I absolutely come from a family with opinions and expectations, so that is NOT at all a bad thing. But generally the opinions and expectations that were given to me during my wedding process were HELPFUL, CONSTRUCTIVE and TRUE TO US AS A COUPLE. The expectations we tried to follow were definently not the societal norm of 'you need to get married here', ' you need to wear this', etc... our expectations were about being good people, gracious hosts and considerate to our guests. That's it.
And at times when a family member disagreed with me, they simply asked me WHY I wanted something and were satisfied with my answer. For example, my Nana asked me why I didn't want to get married in a church (instead of a ceremony overlooking the ocean)... my response was I didn't want to get married in something man-made, I wanted to get married where I could see what my Creator blessed me with. She totally understood when I put it that way and LOVED seeing the dolphins in the background of our ceremony.
So family - when you are helping plan a wedding... remember it's not YOUR wedding. Keep your suggestions helpful, constructive and true to the couple. DO NOT pressure the couple to impress someone for you. Do not expect them to invite people that they don't know or have a relationship with. OBLIGATION is spoiling weddings. It should be about celebrating a marriage, not impressing your boss or your friends by inviting them to your son or daughter's reception... because like I said earlier in the extra guest part, they probably had to cut their guest list to accommodate budgetary concerns or venue size. Obviously some of this changes based on who is funding the wedding, but for the most part.. just try to keep your motives pure and really just don't stress out the bride and groom (or the parents! - I've seen some grandparents, aunts and uncles stress out the bride or groom more than ANYONE.)
And remember, there are a lot of things that are just not worth ruining relationships over.
4. Bridal Party Issues
There are so many issues that surround the bridal party itself... because
1. choosing favorites causes drama
2. all the stuff adds up
3. no one wants to spend the day with a fussy bridesmaid or plastered groomsmen