The thing about etiquette is that there are now thousands upon thousands of “rules,” and all of them have precedent. With many ceremonies we rely on “tradition,” and though that’s a fleeting and ever-changing thing, you can always reach back to something a specific group of people did a few times 200 years ago and say “well, it’s tradition!” and everyone will take you at your word. The flip side of this is that, during the ongoing pressure of planning a wedding, people will insist on traditions you have never heard of, and you may feel forced to comply just because you’ve been convinced said-custom is indeed a tradition.
Recently, I received a copy of the 6th edition of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, a lovely hardcover filled with tips on seasonal flowers, invitation wording, and updated text about same-sex marriage and having a “man of honor.” (It does still say that “men may choose not to wear a ring” but makes no mention that women don’t have to wear rings either. Ugh.) But looking through, there were a number of things that I realized I have never seen in person. I have been to 15 weddings in my lifetime (18 by the end of the year, including my own), from Catholic to Polish Orthodox to secular, Indian to Jewish, formal to garden party, and none of these things has ever happened. That doesn’t mean they never happened, or don’t still happen, or that you shouldn’t do them; this is just a reminder that you do not have to take every bit of advice given to you.
- Having a separate “bridal bouquet” and “tossing bouquet.”
- During the Best Man’s toast, it used to be customary for him to read any congratulatory telegrams. I’d actually be cool with bringing this back, so someone send me a wedding telegram.
- Seeing the bride and groom serve cake to their parents. “Tradition has it that the bride serve the groom’s parents, and he serves hers.”
- We knew it was tradition for the bride’s family to pay for the ceremony and reception, and the groom’s family to pay for the rehearsal dinner. However, the groom’s family is also apparently supposed to pay for the engagement and wedding rings, the officiant’s fee and transportation, and all the corsages. This seems complicated.
- “Always address wedding invitation envelopes by hand, even when inviting hundreds of guests.” I have received plenty of wedding invitations with our names printed on the envelopes, and the world kept spinning.
- Checking whether throwing rice/confetti/etc is allowed with your venue. Does anyone actually throw rice anymore???
- The groomsmen also serve as ushers and show the guests to their seats.
- Technically, this is from the 5th edition of this book, but traditionally, the couple was supposed to pay for the accommodations of their bridal party.
- One of the groom’s traditional duties was to plan the whole honeymoon, often not telling the bride where they were going until they got there.