Dear couple about to be married. I need to tell you about something really important. You are going to think I am really old fashioned and set in my ways for bringing this up, but everything I am about to say to you is true, and still relevant, even though you’ll assume I was married decades ago (it was actually a decade and a half ago, but still). You probably think you have all this wedding planning business covered, but I am here to tell you that unless you have checked “attend to matters pertaining to etiquette”, or what I like to call Wediquette, off your list, your work here is not done.
According to the queen of all things proper, Emily Post, etiquette is about the rules that guide behaviour. “Manners are common sense, a combination of generosity of spirit and specific know-how. Rules of etiquette are the guiding codes that enable us to practice manners.“
Following etiquette rules will help to make your wedding day an enjoyable experience for all. As weddings are not just about two people coming together. No, they are multigenerational events that bring together two families, two sets of friends, two sets of coworkers or classmates, and so on. A wedding does not need to be a stuffy, formal affair, but there is a sense of tradition and occasion about them that needs to be respected.
I can’t impart all my wisdom on you in one blog, but I can give you three Wediquette biggies to consider:
- Picking your wedding date. Sorry brides, I know it’s your big day, but keep in mind that you are not the centre of the universe. Please don’t make your wedding a summer long event that prevents others from making vacation plans, or maybe even planning their own weddings. Inviting people to join you for one weekend is plenty, so please don’t spread showers, brunches, and bachelorettes out over every weekend leading up to your big day. If you can’t spread them out, at the very least, try to vary the timing of each so that you are not asking people to give up every precious Saturday in July. You also might want to think long and hard before planning your wedding on a holiday or long weekend.
- Kids or no kids? This really is a matter of personal choice and no one should object to your decision. However, if you choose to have a kid-free wedding, you need to treat your guests with respect. For example, when inviting out-of-town guests with kids, don’t expect them to arrange their own childcare, even if the hotel they are staying in offers this service (Most parents are uncomfortable with total strangers watching their kids). Instead, use your network of friends and resources and arrange babysitting for your guests for all wedding weekend events.
- Wedding speeches. Please don’t lose your sense of audience just because you now have an audience! I strongly and emphatically encourage you not treat this portion of the event like an open mic night in a pub. No one wants to hear hours worth of speeches, especially if they involve long, drawn-out stories about drinking escapades in university that no one else was involved in. Save that for the hen do, stag and doe, bachelor party, or whatever you choose to call it. Ask a few key people to speak, and give them a suggested time frame (short and sweet is always the best guideline). If you have a friend who has questionable judgment and says cringe-worthy, embarrassing things or a relative who makes unintended sexual innuendos (no joke, this is based on one of the best/worst wedding speech stories I have ever heard), don’t give them a microphone! Or if you have no choice for speakers, at least have them run their speech by someone else first.
So there you have it, a brief introduction to Wediquette 101. This might all seem a little overwhelming right now, but I guarantee that if you pay attention to etiquette, you will have a much less stressful wedding and have much happier guests.
For more of my sage advice, you can find me at www.simplysociablekate.com.
Kate is an Ottawa based party planning and social etiquette blogger. She is also an event planner, fundraiser, community volunteer, and neighbourhood advice giver; in addition to being a school teacher on hiatus. You can read more of her work at www.simplysociablekate.com. If you would like to contact her for wedding etiquette advice, use the “Social Questions” form on her blog.