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The New Rules of Wedding Etiquette

From the RSVP to the reception, the rules are changing. So what should good guests know before they go?

Old: Guests shouldn't wear white or black to a wedding.

New: In most circumstances, either is acceptable.

Peggy says: Yes, you can wear white, just as long as it doesn't look remotely bridal. And if you wear black, it should look chic, not funereal. Other consideration: time of day, location, and any rules of attire specified by religion (no bare shoulders, low necklines, etc.).

Old: The bride's family pays for the wedding.

New: The bride's family may pay; or the groom's family, the bride's family, and the couple may share the expenses.

Peggy says: Today, just 27 percent of weddings are paid for solely by the bride's parents. With costs through the roof, it's not unusual for families to pool resources, It's important for the couple and their families to discuss the budget early, so the bride and groom don't overspend.

Old: The bride's attendants must be female; the groom's must be male.

New: A man can be a member of the bridal party; a woman can be a groomsman.

Peggy says: A man or woman can serve as an honor attendant for the opposite sex, if duties are adapted appropriately. (For instance, a guy shouldn't help the bride get dressed!)

What to Do When You're Invited:

When should I RSVP? Immediately. The couple is holding a spot for you. If you can't attend, they may want to invite someone else. Most invitations include a pre-addressed, stamped envelope, leaving you no excuse for not responding pronto.

Are my children invited? The names on the outside envelope indicate who's invited. If your children's names aren't there, don't take it personally -- and don't try to bully the couple into including them by writing their names on the RSVP care or by simply bringing them along to the wedding.

Can I change my "yes" RSVP? "No." "Yes." "No." See how confusing it can be? Once you accept, you're obliged to attend. The only excuses: There's a death in your family or you've taken suddenly ill. In these cases, call the bride or groom to apologize. Needless to say, don't pull a last-minute no-show.

Sticky Wedding Situations:

Dilemma: You've been invited to three showers for the same bride. Yikes! This is going to cost a bundle.

Solution: It's perfectly acceptable to attend one shower and politely decline the other two. Or, if you like, attend all three, but give only one "serious" gift and spend less for the others.

Surviving the Receiving Line:

This is an old custom that nowadays makes some guests feel awkward. Here's how to greet with grace:

  • Know who will be in the lineup. Typically, it's bride and groom, moms and sometimes dads, and the best man and maid of honor. Bridesmaids are optional.
  • Avoid carrying food or drinks through the line.  Give your full attention to your hosts.
  • What will I say?! This is actually easy. Offer a quick "Congratulations" or "What a beautiful wedding" with a handshake or a kiss to the couple and their parents.
  • If you don't know one of the greeters, introduce yourself.: "I'm Jane, from Susan's office."
  • If the person ahead of you is 'Chatty Cathy,' be as brief as you can to keep the line moving along smoothly. There will be time for real gushing later on.

Referenced from Peggy Post, May 04

Missy, a St. Marys bridesmaid wearing her Trousseaux bridesmade gown
St. Marys Bridesmaid

The staff at Trousseaux take time to get to know you as a friend not just as a customer. They offer a wonderful selection of gowns for all occasions. I recommend Trousseaux for all your special occasion needs!