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Weddings 101

There is a hint of spring in the air, the daffodils are blooming and the mail brings tidings of impending nuptials. The wedding season is upon us! And the wedding season brings, of course, wedding questions. This month's article is a compilation of your most frequently asked etiquette questions about weddings.

One Wearing White — I have seen them too... the fashion aficionados proclaiming that white is the "new black" this season as a wardrobe staple. This may be true, but for weddings and showers, leave the solid white to the bride.

No Guessing Guests — Unless the invitation specifically states "and guest" or "and family" you can presume only the people named on the invitation are invited. You may want, feel, think, and be sure others should be invited, but only those issuing the invitations can make those decisions. For you singles out there - weddings are great places to meet potential significant others!

Pay the Price for Postage — Wedding gifts should be mailed to the bride (and/or her parents) in advance, not brought to the actual wedding. Gifts are easily misplaced during the festivities and can be damaged in transport. Even a check should be mailed to ensure the bridal couple receives it. And, whenever possible, put the card for the gift inside the package or wrapping for easy identification.

Ceremony and Celebration — I am always surprised to hear that some people feel attending the marriage ceremony is optional. The whole point of a wedding is to watch the actual event take place. It is rather tacky to skip the ceremony and attend only the celebration. The bride may not notice, but the other guests will.

Arrive Before the Bride — Ok, ok, this seems like the most obvious advice, but for some reason there are always stragglers. Make every possible effort to arrive at the wedding ceremony prior to the bride walking down the aisle. This means that if you are not familiar with the route to the affair, leave lots of extra time.

Clicking Cameras — Pictures may be taken at the beginning and at the end of the ceremony, but only the photographer hired for the event should be clicking away during the ceremony (this includes the vows, ring exchange and kiss). The clicks, flashes and sound of film rewinding can turn a serious and (usually) religious event into a paparazzi-fest.

Until They Cut the Cake — Hopefully you are able to relax and enjoy the wedding festivities. If you have accepted the celebration invitation, you should remain at the party until the wedding cake has been cut. Once the cake cutting has begun, if you must leave, you may.

Gracious Good-byes — Before you leave, be sure to wish the wedding couple well, congratulate the families of the bride/groom, and thank the wedding hosts (i.e. whoever paid for the wedding!).

First Year Fallacy — Someone somewhere began a vicious rumor that a guest can wait up to a year to give the wedding couple a gift. The twisted reasoning states that the guest can then be sure the couple will stay together before having to give a gift. This myth is simply not true. Ideally, gifts should be given before the wedding. If the wedding does not take place, the gift will be returned.

Smile, Smile, Smile — My strongest advice to bridal couples is to remember that when you turn to face your guests to walk back down the aisle after the ceremony, turn, pause, smile, and then walk smiling the whole way. Too many times the couple races back up the aisle with a look of dazed confusion. The smiles set the whole tone for the celebration.

Etiquette Inquiries...

Dear Ms. Smith,

My wedding invitations have just arrived from the printers. Now comes the tricky part of actually doing the addresses... HELP!

Addressing invitations these days has become quite a challenge. Here are some of the more typical scenarios:

Married couple:

Mr. and Mrs. Allen Smith

Married couple, each keeping their own name:

Ms. Stacy Jones and Mr. Allen Smith
Or
Ms. Stacy Jones
and Mr. Allen Smith

Married couple, doctors:

The Doctors Smith
or
Doctors (Drs.) Stacy and Allen Smith

Married couple, only husband is a doctor:

Dr. and Mrs. Allen Smith

Married couple, only wife is a doctor:

Dr. Stacy Smith and Mr. Allen Smith
or
Dr. Stacy Smith
and Mr. Allen Smith

Married couple, wife is doctor AND kept her maiden name:

Dr. Stacy Jones and Mr. Allen Smith
or
Dr. Stacy Jones
and Mr. Allen Smith

Living together, but not married:

Ms. Stacy Jones
Mr. Allen Smith

Gay couple:

Mr. Jeffrey Jones
and Mr. Samuel Smith

Dear Ms. Smith,

I have been invited to a summer wedding, called for 1:00 in the afternoon, in a garden. The invitation states "black tie." For a garden wedding, I would usually wear an elegant sundress. And for a black tie wedding, I would wear a gown. But I am not sure what to wear to this affair!

A black tie, afternoon event is certainly an anomaly, but since you are not the bride, I will not explore that issue. As for what you can wear to this wedding, a gown in the middle of the afternoon would be a bit much. I suggest you search your closet for a very formal summer suit or elegant sundress. With pearls, spectator pumps and matching hat, you cannot go wrong. If you are close with the bride, you may want to ask her what she envisions the women wearing. Her answer may help to guide you.

Dear Ms. Smith,

I have been invited to a number of weddings this summer and am looking forward to attending as many as possible. I am on a tight budget and have heard that the gift or check to the couple should be approximately what they paid for your meal. Is this true?

No. A wedding is not a money making proposition and gifts are not the price of admission. Your wedding gifts should be what you can afford, along with your well wishes to the bridal couple.

Courtesy of Jodi R.R. Smith Copyright © 2000-2006 Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

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