Wedding Etiquette In A Modern World

By Kristen Castillo

May 1, 2013 5 min read

Everything about wedding planning is stressful, but it gets even more complicated when you have to factor in etiquette.

Think about it. You have to juggle the guest list and worry about hurting the feelings of the uninvited; you're overwhelmed with the need to write thank-you notes; and what's so bad about posting your wedding plans on social media?

"The rules for etiquette have changed over the years and most brides have decided to toss their etiquette books," says Gail Johnson of Gail Johnson Weddings and Events.

Times and etiquette have changed, so what's rude? What's right?

*The Uninvited

Your budget and your guest list are limited, so how do you politely tell friends they're not invited to the party?

"The most polite way to let your close friends know that they are not invited is to call them and let them know that due to budgetary reasons you are limited to the numbers of guests you can invite to the wedding," says wedding planner Tiffany Chalk of Tiffany Chalk Events. "If the person is not a close friend or someone you haven't talked to in years, no real explanation is due."

Just because family and friends know about the wedding doesn't mean they're invited, either.

"You have to be invited to a wedding," says Johnson. "The rule: If you haven't received a formal invitation, you aren't invited."

*Asking for Cash

When it comes to gifts, is it OK to ask for cash instead of more kitchen appliances or bath towels?

"Cash gifts for weddings have become very common," says Greg Jenkins of Bravo Productions, who advises couples to consider the financial background of your guests before asking for money, since many guests could be turned off by your request.

"My suggestion for asking for cash is as follows: 'We ask only of your love and presence at our wedding and reception; however, if you desire to give us a present, we would be honored with a cash gift to help us save for our (fill in the blank),'" indicating what you're saving for, such as a new home, planning for a family or paying for education.

If you want cash, it might be a good idea to avoid a wedding registry, which only encourages guests to buy you gifts or give you store gift cards.

*Polite Use of Social Media

You use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all the time, so is it rude to detail your wedding plans on social media, even if all your "friends" and "followers" aren't invited to the ceremony?

"Even though all your Facebook friends are not invited, they will enjoy hearing the details leading up to the day and feel like that shared in the details of your special day," says Chalk.

Still posting your wedding plans and photos to social media could be awkward for uninvited "friends." That's why Jenkins recommends setting up a separate website "for those special individuals to view pictures and information about your special day."

If you still want to post your wedding to social media, follow Jenkins' tip, and, "let everyone know that 'due to space and budgetary limitations, we were unable to invite all of our close friends; however, we would like to share our special occasion with you on Facebook.'"

*Handwritten Thank-You Notes

Once the wedding is over, you still have work to do.

"Yes, thank-you notes are still necessary," says Chalk. "This is a old tradition that will never go out of style. In this day and age, when people communicate more through text and email, it is truly a treat to receive a handwritten note in the mail."

You need to formally thank guests, which means no emails or texts, which Jenkins calls "impersonal."

He says handwritten notes "are a pleasant gift to receive in the mail. And it's personal -- something that each person can keep for many years to come."

*Gracious Brides and Grooms

Figuring out what's polite and what's not can take some work, but it's possible.

"Although wedding etiquette has gotten a little more relaxed over the years, thus allowing couples to personalize what they want for their special day, it is still important to remember that balance is key," says Chalk. "Tying in timeless traditions with the couple's personality and culture is a surefire way to keep the balance."

So use good judgment, consult an etiquette book if necessary, and always try to be gracious to your guests.

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