Etiquette Tips

Bridesmaids' Dresses

  • Take the wedding dress with you when you pick out bridesmaids' dresses to ensure the dresses match.
  • The bridesmaids' dresses should have the same degree of formality and be a complementary color.

Bridesmaid's Duties and Responsibilities

  • Help the maid of honor in anyway they can and to take care of their dress and accessories fittings.
  • May help with a shower for the bride, optional
  • Attend as many prenuptial events as possible
  • Assist bride with errands
  • Contribute to Bridesmaids' gift to the bride; usually give an individual gift to the couple
  • Are expected to attend the rehearsal and are included at the rehearsal dinner
  • Arrive at dressing site promptly
  • Walk in processional and recessional
  • Possibly participate in receiving line
  • Dance with ushers and single male guests
  • Help gather guests for the first dance, cake cutting, and bouquet toss; participate in bouquet toss, if single
  • Looks after the couple's elderly relatives or friends
  • Pay for their dresses and transportation to the wedding
Courtesy of Emily Post


  • A budget is absolutely necessary. Having a set amount of money will simplify making important financial choices, such as handmade invitations versus a trousseau.

Calling It Off

  • If this is not the happiest time in the bride's life something is very wrong.
  • A bride-to-be should be absolutely certain she wants to marry this person. Even on the day of the wedding she should be assured the wedding can be called off.


  • When you meet with a caterer, determine the appropriate gratuity and the latest possible time you can confirm the final cost. The percentage of gratuity could exceed your budget.
  • Ask whether or not the food remaining after the reception will be left for you.
  • Also ask the caterer how the number of guests served is determined.


  • If there are children in the wedding, they should be old enough and comfortable enough to participate. Crying babies and fidgeting children can disrupt the ceremony and distract the guests.
  • It is usually best to dim lights during the ceremony to provide a more beautiful ambiance.

Final Decisions

  • The person or persons responsible for the wedding should ultimately make all final financial decisions. Traditionally, the wedding is in honor of the bride, but if she is not paying for the wedding, some decisions may have to be made that she may not like.

Getting Ready on the Wedding Day

  • Hire a hairdresser, a nail technician, and a makeup artist to come to the mother of the bride's house for the bride, bridesmaids, and other wedding party members (but remember - time is a factor). Friends of the mother of the bride can provide food and drinks. Having all the "girls" together on this special day is a lot of fun. The conversation alone will make it a memorable occasion.
  • Ask whether or not the food remaining after the reception will be left for you.
  • Also ask the caterer how the number of guests served is determined.

Groom's Best Man: Duties Checklist

  • Organizes a pre-wedding party for the groom, if there is one
  • Coordinates the usher' gift to the groom; usually gives individual gift to the couple
  • Is expected to attend the rehearsal and is included at the rehearsal dinner
  • Gets the groom dressed and to the ceremony on time
  • Makes sure the groom's wedding-related expenses are prepared (clergy fee)
  • Delivers any payment to officiant, sexton, and ceremony musicians as prearranged
  • Enters the sanctuary with the groom
  • Takes care of and holds the bride's wedding ring
  • Makes sure all ushers are properly attired and in place on time
  • Walks in recessional
  • Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate
  • Drives the bride and groom to reception if no driver hired
  • Helps welcome guest at reception
  • Offers first toast to the bride and groom at reception
  • Dances with the bride, maid of honor, mothers, and single female guests
  • Helps the groom get ready for the honeymoon
  • Gathers up and takes care of the groom's wedding clothes after he changes
  • Has a car ready for the bride and groom to leave the reception or perhaps drives them to their next destination
  • Pays for own wedding attire and transportation to the wedding
Courtesy of Emily Post

Guest List Survival Guide

Magical number of family and friends: Suits size of ceremony and reception sites, corresponds with the level of intimacy desired for the wedding, and can be accommodated within your budget. The quickest way to cut the budget is to reduce the number of guests. Yet sometimes, it is better to invite someone you are not sure about than to apologize later for not including them. The number of guests each family can invite is determined by the person hosting the wedding. Guests not to forget:

  • The spouse, fiancé , or live in partner of each invited guest even if you have never met.
  • The person who performs the ceremony and his or her spouse
  • The parents of the ring bearers and flower girls.
  • The parents of the bridesmaids, but not necessary. This is just a nice gesture.
  • Counselors, advisers, or mentors to the bride or groom who are not close friends, but an important part of their lives. This is not necessary, but a meaningful gesture.
  • Do you plan to include children or allow single friends to invite guests? Is it a destination wedding?
  • The bottom line is that this is the hardest part of any wedding.


  • It is always best to include future-in-laws in some part of the ceremony (lighting the candles, performing music, reading a poem, etc.). Being involved helps them feel they have been able to contribute to the event.


  • Children over 17 should receive their own wedding invitation.
  • "Mrs." is always an appropriate social title, even if she is a professional woman. A professional title is not necessary, particularly is she is attending an event with her husband.
  • For wedding invitations to military personnel:
    • Military titles should not be abbreviated.
    • Officers in the Army, Air Force, and Marines with a rank of captain or higher and those in the Navy and Coast Guard with a rank of Commander or higher use their military titles before their names.
    • Junior officers do not use their title before their names. Their military title appears on a second line before the name of their service branch.
    • Army first and second lieutenants just use "Lieutenant".
    • Air Force and Marine Lieutenants use "First" and "Second".
    • Everyone else in the military uses only his or her branch of service on a second line, not his or her rank.
  • If a smaller number of people are invited to the wedding ceremony and a larger number are invited to the reception, the larger invitation should be used for the wedding reception and the smaller enclosure card should be the invitation to the wedding ceremony.
  • The phrase "The honor of your presence" is reserved for weddings held in a house of worship. "The pleasure of your company" is used in innovations to weddings in other locations.

Invitation Don'ts

  • Registry or gift information should never be included with the invitation.
  • All names and addresses should be hand written with black ink and never printed.
  • Do not ever include “No Gifts” on the invitation.
  • Never include “No Children” or “Adults Only” on an invitation.
  • Never post invitations on a bulletin board, Facebook, or any social media sites.
  • Never dictate dress on the invitation, but may be added to the invitation to the reception and is placed in the lower-right-hand corner.
  • Never use labels to address wedding invitation envelopes.
  • Do not put choice of entree on the response card or the envelope.
  • It is not necessary to put “alcohol-free” or “wine and beer only” on the invitation.
  • Don't mix typefaces.
  • Don't underestimate the time it takes to order invitations and mail.
  • Invitations should never be mailed more than two months in advance. Six weeks is the optimum time.
Courtesy of Emily Post

Matron/Maid of Honor

  • The ideal situation is for the matron or maid of honor to be with the bride-to-be as many days as possible before the wedding. She can help entertain the bride and facilitate the wedding plans. It will also be a time together they will always cherish.
  • When choosing the wedding party, remember that family is the most important. Friends will come and go. Years later when you show your wedding pictures, you may find that among the pictures of your sister or cousin, you will see a picture of a friend that you have not seen since the wedding.

Matron/Maid of Honor: Checklist

  • Helps the bride select bridesmaids' attire
  • Helps address invitations and place cards
  • Attends as many prenuptial events as possible
  • Organizes bridesmaids' gift to the bride; usually gives individual gift to the couple
  • Makes sure that all the bridesmaids, the flower girl, and ring bearer are at fittings, the rehearsal, and the ceremony on time
  • Is expected to attend the rehearsal and is included at the rehearsal dinner
  • Walks in processional and recessional
  • Holds the groom's wedding ring
  • Helps with the bride's gown
  • Arranges the bride's veil and train before the processional and recessional
  • Makes sure the bride's gown is “picture perfect” throughout the day
  • Holds the bride's bouquet during the ceremony
  • Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate
Courtesy of Emily Post

Organizational Tips

  • Purchase 2 card boxes for 4 x 6 cards.
    • One box is for those attending.
    • One box is for those not attending.
  • Print 4 x 6 cards from the program using Avery 5389.
  • Purchase colored dots: blue, red, baby blue, yellow, green.
  • Attach a blue dot to the top of the card for those attending.
    Attach a red dot to the top of the card for those not attending.
    Attach a baby blue dot to the top of the card for out of town guests.
    Attach a yellow dot to the top of the card for those who have sent a gift.
    Attach a green dot to the top of the card for those gifts that have been acknowledged.

Parties for the Bride

  • When listing the host and hostess, always list the wife's name first. Etiquette requires that ladies should be listed first and the man's first name should never be separated from his last name: Jane and John Smith.
  • Remember to carry a hostess gift to all parties given for the bride.
  • Many people may ask if they can give a party for the bride. Ask anyone interested in giving a party to coordinate with others who are offering so the number of parties can be limited.
  • Please limit the number of showers. Two should be the maximum amount.
  • Etiquette requires that immediate family members and members of the wedding party should be included in the invitation list of every party.
  • Guests invited to multiple showers may feel obliged to bring multiple gifts. Etiquette does not require them to do so. This issue needs to be personally addressed by the mother of the bride in advance of the parties.
  • The major parties that should be given for the bride are an engagement party, a bridesmaids' luncheon, and a wedding day brunch for out of town guests. These parties will require multiple hosts or hostesses.
  • Other examples of showers are a linen shower, a kitchen shower, and couple's shower with kitchen items for the bride and tools for the groom, an around the house shower, an around the clock shower, a spice and recipe shower, a tool and garden shower, a lingerie shower, or a miscellaneous shower.
  • Other ways to help are to provide a hospitality room and/or baskets of goodies at the place where out of town guests are staying.


  • Have someone who is a close friend of the bride or groom at the wedding reception to point out special photos to the photographer that the bride may like later.
  • If you are having photos taken before the ceremony, pick-up food should be provided at the site for the wedding party.


  • After the wedding list, the most difficult part of organizing is scheduling - where the limousine should be and when it should be there, times for photos to be taken, etc. A typed list is very helpful to communicate to everyone the time frames.
  • In planning the wedding, the comfort of the guests is top priority. A lot of time and effort should be put into making the guests feel comfortable. Try to anticipate areas that might get crowded, such as the cutting of the cake, the receiving line, and the seating availability at the reception.
  • It is very important to carry personal checks to the ceremony. Someone may need to be paid the day of the wedding.
  • The process of planning a wedding is stressful for the whole family since it is disruptive to everyone's normal, everyday activities. Keep a sense of humor and all will go well!
  • Be prepared for family and friends to act emotionally. Expect some conflicts. It is your wedding. Make your own choices and everyone else will have to adjust.
  • If something is not planned by the wedding day, it will not happen. The day of the wedding is too late to make last minute changes, so relax and enjoy it as best you can.
  • Things going wrong make the occasion more memorable!

Priority Decisions

Who you marry is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your lifetime. If there is any doubt, do not marry that person. Marriage is hard work and there are no vacations. A called off wedding is far cheaper than a divorce. Marriage is like the last six miles of a marathon. It takes all the determination that you have to finish a marathon and all the determination and forgiveness that both people have to stay married.

The Top Six of Priority Decisions

  1. The Guest List determined by the Budget
  2. The Budget (be realistic)
  3. The date: time of year, day of the week, and the time of day
  4. The Style of your wedding (formal vs. informal; religious vs. civil)
  5. The availability of your wedding Officiant
  6. The Locations for both the ceremony and the reception

The Second Level of Decisions

  1. Shop for and make decisions about clothing and accessories - for the bride, groom, and attendants
  2. Visit stores and list gifts you wish to receive with bridal registries
  3. Begin reviewing reception menus
  4. Interview and listen to bands or Djs, or start listing songs you would put on tapes for the reception
  5. Interview and talk to florists
  6. Interview and look at portfolios of photographers and videographers
  7. Order invitations, enclosures, announcements and other printed material
  8. Rentals: tents, silverware, plates, tables, chairs, linens, etc.

Third Level of Decisions

  1. Listen to and choose music for your ceremony
  2. Select readings for your ceremony
  3. Make lists of music choices for your reception
  4. Plan special events you want to include, such as your first dance at the reception, a bouquet toss, or a party for your attendants.
  5. Begin to chart seating arrangements for your reception
  6. Incorporate family and cultural traditions into your wedding
Courtesy of Emily Post

Reality Check

  • If there are steps at the wedding site, make sure the bridesmaids and groomsmen practice negotiating the stairs with their heads up. Looking down at one's feet does not make for a graceful ascent. On the way down, the bridesmaids should kick their dress forward and step down with their head up. Nothing is more awkward than bridesmaids stumbling on stairs.
  • If you are having photos taken before the ceremony, pick-up food should be provided at the site for the wedding party.

Response Cards

  • People are more likely to respond when a response card is included with the invitation.
  • With response cards you will have a more accurate RSVP count.


  • Check the temperature and weather conditions before the wedding day to anticipate any problems that my arise. Consider any coat that may be in storage, or the need to purchase more umbrellas, etc.

Wedding Cake

  • When you talk with wedding cake providers, get a list of ingredients. These ingredients could make the difference between a good cake and a great cake (for instance shortening versus butter).
  • Some wedding cake preparers will allow you to taste samples of the cakes they offer.

Wedding Consultant

  • Helps you decide on ceremony and reception sites.
  • Helps you select all the suppliers and vendors you will hire, such as the florist, the caterer, musicians, the photographer, the videographer.
  • Coordinates communication between and among vendors, suppliers, and sites, so that, for example, the florist knows when and how to obtain access to the ceremony site to decorate.
  • Serves as a referee, friend, budget adviser and watcher, etiquette adviser, shopper, detail manager, and organizer.
  • Coordinates your rehearsal with the officiant.
  • Supervises all the last minute details of your wedding day.
Courtesy of Emily Post

Wedding Gown Preservation

  • The Wedding Gown Preservation Company (1-800-305-3108) will guarantee the gown's cleaning and storing. The gown is mailed in a box provided by the company and then returned to you quickly cleaned and prepared for storage.