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Something old & new for wedding etiquette.

Weddings and etiquette go together like flowers and perfume. If there were ever a place to “get it right” this would be it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of opportunities for embarrassing blunders. Below I am going to answer some FAQs on how to be a lovely wedding guest.

What should a guest avoid wearing to a wedding?

The wedding is about the bride and groom. Guests should show respect by making an effort and dressing appropriately. While attempting to look your best is important, the goal should never be to upstage or detract attention from the happy couple. Avoid wearing white, which is an old tradition but it still holds true today. Here are a few other items to never wear to a wedding: plunging necklines, all-over animal prints, over-the-top make-up, and anything too short or midriff baring. You also don’t want to draw attention by dressing overly casually. If there were ever a time to make the effort, it’s for a wedding.

Is it in poor taste to have your gift shipped (think Amazon) instead of hauling it to the venue?

For many years, the expectation has been that guests should bring gifts to the reception. However, with the rise of online registries, the trend has shifted. An added bonus of having your gift sent directly to the couple’s doorstep is that it circumvents the couple or their family the hassle of having to transport everything home at the end of the night. It’s still acceptable to take a gift to the wedding, but it’s definitely kosher to have one delivered as well.

What should a guest wear to different types of weddings? Are rompers OK?

When deciding on your wardrobe for the occasion, take into consideration the venue and time of day the ceremony is to be held. Generally, the more formal the wedding, the later in the day it is set. Your attire should be in alignment with the overall formality of the festivities. For example, a floor-length gown would not be a good choice for a rustic outdoor wedding. You shouldn’t wear a breezy sundress to black-tie-required nuptials. It is OK to wear black but remember, it’s a wedding not a funeral. You want to avoid wardrobe selections that look too stuffy. What about rompers? My personal opinion is that dressy pant rompers are an acceptable choice. I would not opt for short rompers, even for a laid-back wedding; they’re typically too casual and too revealing for the occasion.

What should you do If you want to bring a significant other to the wedding but the invite only has your name on it?

If the envelope does not include your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s name on the invitation, or specifically state “plus one,” they’re not invited and you should not plan for them to accompany you to the festivities. The exception is if you’re engaged or married. Weddings can be costly, and having to pare down the guest list is often one way couples try to keep expenses from becoming too exorbitant.

Who traditionally hosts bridal showers?

Historically, throwing the bridal shower has been the responsibility of the maid of honor or bridesmaids. However, that is no longer the case. It can be hosted by whomever really wants to host it. Oftentimes, it’s a combined effort. It’s definitely helpful to have multiple parties involved to break up the responsibilities and expenses. Also, having others outside of the bridal party help host can be born out of necessity. This is especially true if the attendants don’t live near the bride and groom. For example, my best friend and maid of honor lived in Waco, Texas, when I got married. She coordinated efforts with my aunt to host a shower in her home. It would have been unrealistic to expect her to plan the event without help from someone local.

What about wedding gift selections and how much to spend on a close friend or relative vs. not so close?

I say stick to their registry, or give money. There was a reason they spent time identifying things they want and/or actually need. If you decide to go with a monetary gift, the amount to give is a widely debated topic. Traditional etiquette says it should be equivalent to the estimated cost of hosting you at the reception. However, modern resources such as The Knot believe you should spend what “is appropriate to the relationship to the couple and also consider what’s reasonable in your city.” The Knot suggests these gift amounts: “Coworker and/or a distant family friend or relative: $50-$75. Relative or friend: $75-$100. Close relative or close friend: $100-$150. Urbanite: $150-200+.”


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