This ain’t your mama’s wedding. It’s 2017, and times have changed dramatically since the days of your folks’ traditional celebration, thanks to new trends and modern technology. While many of the old rules of wedding etiquette remain unchanged – wearing white to a wedding remains a major no-no, and it’s still not OK to ask for a plus one – the modern era has dictated quite a few new ones. Read on for all you need to know about our changing times, and the new rules of wedding etiquette for both the couple and their guests.
Modern Wedding Etiquette: A Complete Guide
For the Couple:
Think Before You Tweet
You’re newly engaged, completely drunk in love, and so happy, you want to shout it from the rooftops – or more likely, from your social media accounts. As tempting as it may be to share the news in an instant with anyone and everyone, it’s just not the same for those closest to you to read about your big news in a social post, and older family members without social media access may miss the memo altogether. Share the news of your engagement privately with family and close friends before hitting Instagram with those shiny new ring pics to show your nearest and dearest know how important they are to you.
Rethink the Registry
Back in the day, most couples were likely to marry young, leaving them to create a life together after tying to the knot, hence the gift registry. But since couples are now marrying older and older, they’re likely to have already built a life for themselves – and that includes the stuff. Receiving kitchen appliances and linens isn’t necessary for the couple that has already set up home together, which is why asking for monetary gifts has become de rigeur. Just be sure to let guests know what it’s being put toward – for example, a honeymoon or a home upgrade – so they can be sure their money will be handled with care.
Stick to Paper
Traditional paper is still the gold standard as far as wedding invitations go, even in the age of digital everything. In a time when email has become our go-to form of communication, a physical invitation to your wedding celebration offers a special touch, letting it stand out amongst the hundred of digital communications your guests wade through each day. That said, digital invites are just fine for all of the pre- and post-wedding festivities, including the rehearsal dinner and morning-after brunch. Some couples may also opt to collect RSVPs through email or a dedicated website, rather than by paper return cards.
Share the Wealth
Once upon a time, it was common practice for the bride’s family to absorb the entire cost of the wedding, no questions asked. But weddings today can be quite pricey. So while it’s perfectly fine for the bride’s family to accept the responsibility, but it’s no longer a must. Instead, many couples are opting to let the bride’s family foot the bill for just a portion of the wedding festivities, or have the groom’s family chip in if they so choose. Alternately, some couples opt to forgo the inevitable family drama entirely, instead paying for the whole shebang themselves.
Boys vs. Girls
Gone are the days of bridesmaids and groomsmen, divided strictly by gender on either side of the altar. Couples everywhere are embracing co-ed wedding parties with open arms, inviting their bridesmen and groomsmaids to share their special day right beside them as they recite their vows. After all, it’s about sharing the moment with those closest to you, regardless of gender.
Dress Outside the Box
Did you know that wedding gowns weren’t always traditionally white? Until Queen Victoria walked down the aisle in a white dress in 1840, brides wore gowns of all shades, with red being a particularly popular choice. In the modern age, it’s easy to kick it really old school, what with the variety of colorful and printed bridal options available. Have a little bit of fun in a lavender frock, like the Ashley & Justin 10466, or rock a bold floral print like the David Tutera for Mon Cheri Orabelle to really wow the crowd!
Let’s face it – we’re in the golden age of the hashtag. It’s all but guaranteed that guests will get to posting from the start of the festivities right through the last dance, so why not give ‘em an easy way to contribute their snapshots to one cohesive feed? Create a wedding hashtag, and share it early and often for a one-click way to capture memories of the big day.
For the Guests:
Keep it Private
As excited as you may be for your newly betrothed pals, it’s never a good idea to scoop the couple. Rather than taking to Facebook, congratulate the couple privately, and be sure to wait until they’ve announced their engagement news publicly to post anything to your social media feeds. They may be holding their posts for any number of reasons, like sharing the news with family first, so beating them to the punch is a major faux pas.
You’ve received your wedding invitation in the mail. You’re excited. You instinctively reach for your cell phone to shoot your pals an “I’ll be there!” email or text, reply card be damned. Why make the couple wait forever for your response when they can have it in an instant? But hold your horses – they’ve enclosed that reply card for a reason. Collecting responses from hundreds of invited guests is a carefully cultivated art, and you’re throwing a big ol’ wrench right into it. Send your reply in whatever form it’s requested, whether it’s by snail mail or otherwise, to help your pals collect replies all in one place.
Back in Black
Wearing black to a wedding used to be a no-no, as wearing the mournful hue to an affair that’s intended to be joyous was once considered taboo. But the rules of dressing have become a bit more lax, so unless the couple has specifically requested that guests leave the black duds at home, feel free to rock ‘em. Just stay away from anything funeral, and be sure to wear a style that’s appropriate for the specific occasion. Still not sure if your all-black ensemble is kosher? Just liven it up with a brightly hued shoe or a bold piece of jewelry for a playful pop of color!
To Post or Not to Post?
As we’ve already covered, many couples today embrace the wedding hashtag as a quick and easy way to aggregate dozens of photos, and encourage their guests to snap away. That said, not every couple welcomes social media on their big day. Perhaps they prefer to be the first to post wedding news, or it could be that they simply want their guests to remain engaged. Either way, respect the couple’s wishes regarding photos and social posts, and if you’re not sure, just ask the couple or a close family member.
Be in the Moment
Unplugged wedding or not, the couple has invited you to share their special day with them, not to tap away on your phone all day. Posting a few pics here and there is fine (with permission from the couple, of course), but for the most part, you should be ditching the devices and enjoying the celebration that the couple has planned. Odds are, you’ve been seated with guests with whom the couple thought you might click, so keep your phone in your purse or pocket and start socializing!
When in Doubt, Don’t
You’re channeling your inner Gisele, but the bride looks like she’s holding in a sneeze. No matter how much you love a certain photo, don’t post an unflattering pic of the couple or any of their guests. The newlyweds want to remember every picture-perfect moment. As much as you may be feeling your look in that one snap, keep it to yourself if you think they may not be into it.
Stay Out of the Way
Even if the couple welcomes your amateur photography skills with open arms, don’t forget that they’ve likely hired a professional as well. So be mindful of him or her, and for god’s sake, stay out of the way! Is there anything worse than a sea of cell phones ruining the beautiful professional shots of the big day? Sure, weddings today can be far more relaxed, but there are still rules that apply. Just follow our advice, and you’ll be fine!