The thought of “wedding etiquette” often brings to mind unspoken rules for wedding guests to follow — RSVPing promptly, showing up on time, never wearing white, and so on. Yet, while guests do have certain expectations, couples must also follow certain etiquette stipulations to ensure guests’ comfort and convenience.
However, wedding etiquette has evolved over the years, and the modern couple’s planning process looks notably different than couples of the past. From who to invite and how to invite them, today’s weddings prioritize the guest experience by pairing digital solutions with good, old-fashioned communication.
So what does modern wedding etiquette entail? Read on to find out.
Forego paper invitations, if preferred.
That’s right — there’s no need to go the whole nine yards with an elegantly crafted invitation suite! While some couples may want to go the traditional route, bringing the invitation process online for simplicity’s sake is more than acceptable.
As A Fresh Event’s Jen Ganson explains, “more couples are looking for ways to make their wedding weekends friendly to technology and the environment. Couples today have no problem sending off electronic invitations, even for the most formal of affairs.”
Ganson adds that “even those who choose to mail invitations the “old-fashioned way” are asking guests to RSVP via their wedding websites, helping to keep this process more organized and streamlined for busy couples who rarely check their mailboxes.”
Today, paper invitation suites are an option, not a requirement — so pick the direction that makes the most sense for your preferences, budget, and wedding style.
Take advantage of wedding websites.
As previously mentioned, wedding websites are an excellent way to collect RSVPs, as it’s easier for you and your guests. But that’s not all — websites can also serve as a primary channel for communication details and updates with loved ones.
“Wedding websites have come a long way and are now easy to build and accessible to couples with so many free options,” assures Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs. “The sites are very comprehensive, offering guests the ability to have information at their fingertips. That being said, couples no longer need to outline every last detail in their wedding invitation, and instead can direct their guests to visit their wedding website.”
Bonus: Your website is also a great place to tease your wedding theme, share engagement photos, and tell your love story for all to read. (Don’t worry — you can protect your website with a password so only invited guests can access it!).
Be mindful of health and safety provisions.
It’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room: COVID. While the pandemic continues to impact the way couples plan weddings, it is not a reason for undue stress or confusion. Instead, it simply requires a bit of extra communication to ensure everyone remains safe.
“The easiest way to get any information across when it comes to the wedding weekend is to include it on the wedding website,” states Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “The site has never been more important as mandates have required couples to get certain details across prior to the event date. It’s imperative that this website is included in the save-the-date and invitation suite so guests are as educated as possible pre-wedding.”
And, to top it off, Timeless Event Planning’s Sandy Brooks recommends making the most of COVID precautions. “If you are choosing for guests to wear masks, it’s polite to include masks at your wedding as “favors” for those who may have forgotten to bring theirs or if their mask breaks,” she suggests.
Be consistent with “no kids” policies.
Many couples choose to host an adults-only wedding, as it prevents kid-related mishaps and allows their guests to engage with the experience. Yet, despite the common practice, it continues to be a sticky subject to broach with guests.
Brooks suggests, “If you are opting to not have children attend the wedding be sure to address the invitation to only the parents this way there is no confusion as to who is invited. If you know many friends have little ones that will not be able to be left behind, it’s nice to set up a room at the hotel and hire a babysitter to look after the children.”
And how you present the message can have a significant impact on how guests receive it. As Tricha Pike of Meadows Event Center explains, “[t]here are several polite and to the point ways of passing along this information, starting with the invitation. However, avoid making it sound like you are doing them a favor by leaving their kids behind with a babysitter. Invitees may consider that condescending.”
If you have a wedding website, it also helps to add the no-children policy there!
Don’t bring up gifts.
Although it is the norm to bring a gift for the newlyweds, it can come across as wrong to request them outright. That’s why Nudo advises against listing gift information, explaining that “requesting specific gifts or listing registry information is really taboo for the formal wedding invitation, instead it is traditionally reserved for the bridal shower invitation where gift-giving is a big part of the event.”
“Rest assured it is a well-known fact that if you attend a wedding, a gift is given to the couple, so no need to add an air of greed to your invitation, don’t mention the gifts,” Nudo says.
The proper “etiquette” of modern weddings is to follow your heart and do what feels right so long as it doesn’t disrespect guests. And in case any doubt should arise, lean on your wedding planner and team of vendors for support to ensure you’re making the best choices for your big day.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.
We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.