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The One Thing You Need To Know About Proper Wedding Etiquette

When it comes to planning your ultimate celebration of love, you don’t need to follow any rules but your own. Learn how our societal traditions surrounding wedding etiquette can impact your plans for an unconventional wedding. Saying no to the status quo of yesterday's traditions, and saying yes to today's age of unique wedding planning for you, the unconventional bride.

Bride says no to wedding etiquette


The One Thing You Need To Know About Proper Wedding Etiquette

When it comes to planning your celebration of love, the only wedding etiquette rules you need to follow are your own.

I’m guessing you, the savvy individual that you are, began your wedding planning journey with the vision to create a unique celebration. Something that truly represents you and your partner.

Excitedly you began to explore what that might look like – reading various wedding blogs, researching ideas and of course, spending hours on Pinterest.

But before long your spidey senses started tingling; even though you’re searching for “unique wedding ideas,” the results returned kinda feel the opposite, with a subtle but undeniable sense of uniformity, as if there are certain wedding “rules” that must be followed in order to do a wedding the right way.

Now, it feels like you must send paper invitations with matching hand-addressed envelopes. You must invite all of your cousins and anybody who ever asked you to their wedding. Open bar? Non-negotiable. And don’t even think about not giving every single one of your guests a “Thank You For Coming To Our Wedding!” gift for them to take home, it would be rude not to.

There’s also this overwhelming feeling there’s a lot of stuff you have to do to get your wedding right.

What is Proper Wedding Etiquette, Exactly?

Do you ever find yourself wondering where these so-called “rules” came from?

Yeah, me too.

In fact, when I worked as a wedding planner I began to question who the real wedding authority was. It definitely wasn’t me. But that didn’t stop couples from looking to me for permission to break away from these “compulsory” wedding details, like wearing a white wedding dress.

I was left thinking, “Who the hell made up these ridiculously over the top set of wedding norms anyway??”

Like, is there some kind of Illuminati wedding counsel that gathers annually in secret to discuss important matters such as when the bouquet toss should take place?

Don’t Confuse Wedding Etiquette With Manners

Manners are polite behaviors that reflect an attitude of consideration, kindness, and respect for others. V important.

Etiquette, on the other hand, is about following social convention and rules.

You can think of etiquette as the rules put in place to create order in society, they tend to focus on the elite or those who fit into the mold of what our Western world determines as “normal.”

When really, the only person who gets to decide what’s normal is you.

“It’s etiquette that points out to the girl next to you that she’s drinking from the finger bowl; it’s manners that insist you drink from yours to put her at ease.” –  AA Gill, The Sunday Times, 2008

Where Does Wedding Etiquette Come From?

The rituals of etiquette are sometimes so ingrained in our lives that they become second nature. We don’t often question where something comes from or why you feel the need to do it.

Perhaps you participated in cotillion or a debutante ball in your youth, and you kinda enjoyed it (what teenager doesn’t love getting dolled up for the night?). But if you had stopped to think about the origins of such events, you may have reconsidered joining in.

Although debutante balls used to be “considered…a family’s announcement that their daughter was of good breeding and marriageable age,” today we’re told they are “more about fostering community, supporting charity, and appreciating the maturation of teenagers into young adults.” And yet young women are still presented by their fathers.

Oh yeah, and the young men are not presented at all. Go figure.

The same can be said for many wedding customs and rituals we practice today.

We’ve accepted them as the status quo because we have developed a sentimental attachment to them, but we don’t always question why we do them.

The result is a feeling that wedding traditions are mandatory and must be followed. After all, it’s not really a wedding unless your gift registry includes fancy new dinnerware, right?


The One Thing You Really Need to Know About Wedding Etiquette

When ported from one generation to another, the rules of etiquette re often meaningless and don’t really make sense with our modern culture.

And yet, leaving out some of the more sentimental wedding moments we’re so used to seeing can be challenging, especially if you fall on the sentimental side.

But the point I want to make is that whenever you feel pressured to do anything that’s “proper wedding etiquette” (think: having a bridal party, being given away, sending paper invitations), you can, and you should question it.

This is the only thing you must know about proper wedding etiquette.

On your journey through planning an intentional wedding celebration, it’s OK to forget traditions that have no meaning to you.

It’s OK to create new rituals and ceremonies that speak to your souls.

It’s OK to resist the pressure to please other people.

Because this is your opportunity to plan a celebration that reflects the two of you and your purpose for why you’re even having a wedding in the first place.

Easier said than done? Maybe. But my money’s on you, friend.

Your wedding, your rituals.


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