Tried and True Wedding Etiquette

By: Lynne Marks | 12 Apr 2016

Wedding season is upon us and along with it the inevitable butterflies. What do I wear at a casual wedding on grass in a rustic setting? My mother and father haven’t spoken since the divorce, how do I handle the seating? I love hats, how do I wear them? What happens if nobody replies to the invitation?

Tips For the Bride and Groom
The traditional formal wedding has a top table for the wedding party and adjoining long tables for guests. The top table seats the two immediate families and other special guests. However, these days there are many variations on the family and as we all know, they don’t necessarily get along. If the top table can accommodate everyone, all the variations on parents could be seated with people they like. Don’t force the issue that ex-spouses have to sit together and get along.

Just in case this arrangement would create tension, split the whole wedding party into smaller units and seat people with their families or friends. To facilitate seating, place name cards in front of each place to prevent musical chairs. Round tables are perfect for smaller groups and nobody feels offended because they were left off the top table. The rationale here is to ensure that the guests mix and mingle and get to know each other. You, the bride and groom spend time walking around to each table and are gracious to everyone.

Explain well in advance in a positive, upbeat manner to all the sensitive parties how you have decided that the seating arrangements will work. It’s your wedding and your prerogative to have what you want, without apology.  Conversations appealing to everyone’s sense of good manners and civility on such a meaningful occasion will prevent upsets on the day.

Tips for the Guests
Once you receive the invitation please be gracious and reply. A formal invitation includes a reply card and envelope to make it easy. It is considered the height of bad manners to leave your hosts guessing if you intend to show up. In addition, caterers, hotels and even home cooks need to know a number of guests.

Ladies, never upstage the bride’s appearance. She is the belle of the ball.  Leave the backless or plunging necklines to the navel, thigh-high slits, trains and white Cinderella gowns for your big day. In fact, don’t wear white or black for that matter. Beige, deep cream, and other beautiful shades are more appropriate.

Choose an outfit that flatters your shape in a lovely fabric that doesn’t crease and takes you through to the evening if necessary. Dresses with cotton or silk jersey, spandex, elastane or Lycra are wonderfully comfortable. Slip a silk pashmina over the shoulders if it gets cold.

In a more rustic setting, on grass or sand for example avoid the stilettos and slip into a wedge, sandal or ballet flat. A metallic is a neutral and will go with most color outfits. A long summer dress or tea length full skirted dress in a lovely ethnic print, moire or floral are more casual than dresses in brocade, silk, satin or formal lace. Gypsy skirts have been popular for years but palazzo pants make a nice dressy-casual change with a tucked-in camisole or blouse and a sizzling belt. Flowers in the hair are adorable. A shorter and fitted sheath dress or wrap dress is beautifully feminine and alluring but still tasteful.

Chatting and Cell Phones
Frequently at weddings and formal events there are toasts, religious ceremonies, speeches, awards and other formalities. This is NOT the time to chat with your friends, text or have a phone conversation. Be polite and listen. Turn the phone off, (not on vibrate), for the whole time. Handle any emergencies by quietly leaving the main guest area and after the formal part of the event.

Plan ahead, have contingencies and have fun as the host or guest at your next wedding or formal event.

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