How To Announce You Aren’t Changing Your Name

Your DJ works for you and should follow whatever script you give them. [Via ]

Your DJ works for you and should follow whatever script you give them. [Via]

Recently, A Practical Wedding had a question for a reader about how to let her vendors know she wasn’t changing her name and how she and her husband should be announced at the reception. And like so many etiquette and wedding questions, the solution felt obvious to me. For the vendors, you simply tell them (although, most of them won’t really need to know as they are doing most of the work prior to the wedding?). They are people you have hired and should therefore address you as you prefer.

For the wedding and reception itself, during the ceremony, you can always skip the “I now present Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName” part. And as for the reception, personally I find the big boxing match style introduction with much clapping of hands and stomping of feet to be tacky (especially when you pair up the bridal party and announce them as couples when they are not and make them run in doing some stupid dance or cheer…), but that is a personal preference and it certainly not wrong by etiquette, so you can skip it if you want to skip the whole issue. If you DO want to do a big entrance to the reception, you can have the MC say something like “the happy couple!” or “the Bride and Groom!” or just your first names. It’s your wedding, everyone knows who you are, so no need to get formal with last names!

Of course, none of these options are informing your guests that you are keeping your last name. You don’t HAVE to make an announcement, simply just keep using your name they way you like it. You can give strong hints by using a return address sticker or stamp with your full names on it. Or perhaps include a little card with your thank you notes that says something like “our marital address” with both your full names and your address (this is especially good if you weren’t living together before the wedding or if you are moving shortly after.) You can also just correct people as things come. Like, getting a check addressed to Jane HisLastName when you are Jane YourLastName- call them back and be like, oh, by the way, I’m keeping my last name, luckily the bank was very understanding about depositing the check.” Or just be a little abrasive and say, “Hi Grandma, I’m soooo sorry, but since my last name is Jones not Smith, the bank won’t take the check you sent…”

Now, the be perfectly honest, you are probably going to have to fight assumptions for a few years unless you happen to have really awesome friends and family. Just be firm and consistent with correcting your name and they should get it down eventually. (And you will definitely still get junk mail addressed to the wrong name, but just throw it in the trash and get your anger out!) Or not- my grandma still calls my mom by her childhood nickname that she hates even though she has been going by another name for 30+ years, so.

More Wedding Guest List Woes

Not everyone wants a 500 person wedding!

Not everyone wants a 500 person wedding!

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

My son and his fiancé are adamant about keeping a tight rein on their guest list. They do not want a large wedding and they have a finite number they want to invite.  My husband and I agree and support their decision. 

One of my cousins desperately wants her son to attend and he’s just not on the list.  Now the suggestion is that he’s a substitute for someone else in the family who can’t attend.  How do I politely say there’s no substitution.  My son and fiancé have other friends they want to move up to fill the spot.  They are not giving automatic “plus 1” invites.

Groom’s mom


Victoria: As a person who has planned a wedding, why don’t you start?

Jaya: So, I think we can all agree that, while you might be disappointed at not receiving an invitation to an event, trying to coerce your way in, ESPECIALLY after one of the planners has said no, is just not a good look. And kudos to this mother of the groom for supporting her kid and backing them up on this.

Victoria: Yes!

Jaya: It’s hard, because it’s family so you really don’t want hurt feelings, but I think reiterating that they’re keeping the wedding small, and that while you’re very sorry, the answer is no, is about all you can do. And you may just have to accept that the cousin is going to be pouty about it for some time.

Victoria: Yeah, I think you don’t want to try to explain or make excuses. Just keep repeating, “I’m sorry, but we can’t accommodate him.”

Jaya: Right, making excuses just opens up more negotiating.

Victoria: Yeah, and hurt feelings of friends being invited over family, etc.

Jaya: And you want to make it clear this is non-negotiable.

Victoria: Aaybe once you repeat it a couple of times say “Cousin, I’m sorry, but I have already explained multiple times that we will not be able to accommodate your son. I will not discuss the subject further.”

Jaya: Yes. And yeah, weddings make emotions run high. You may be risking pissing this cousin off a lot, or the cousin holding a grudge for a very long time, but if your son has made that choice and you’re supporting him, that’s how it’ll be.

Victoria: Yeah

Jaya: It always baffles me, the lack of self awareness some people have about this stuff.

Victoria: I know.

Jaya: I obviously don’t know their family situation, but I’m not super close with most of my parents’ cousin’s kids!

Victoria: Hahaha yeah, me either.

Jaya: And just, the reaction that not getting invited to a wedding is the end of the world. And begging to get in.

Victoria: I’m interested to see if there is a shift when our generation are the parents of the couple, since we have seen a shift in weddings from being about the whole extended family and kinship/business circles to being more centered on the close relationships of the couple/the couple paying for a bigger portion vs the parents of the bride being the sole payers and hosts.

Jaya: Yeah, that will be interesting. Because right, for so long it was a party thrown for the bride and groom, not by them, and thus usually up to the parents who to invite.

Victoria: Yep, so all the aunts and cousins and stuff expected to be invited. Whereas when we are the older generation, we might not be as focused on that (but maybe it’s an old people thing, who knows?)

Jaya: Even within our generation it’s interesting to see the breakdown, between weddings where it seems like the couple got to invite a lot of their friends, or weddings where the parents got control of the guest list and there weren’t many friends.

Victoria: Haha yeah.

Jaya: It’s still such a cultural difference, depending on where you were raised, whether your family is all in one area, and your religions/traditions.

Victoria: Yeah, and even just individual family traditions.

Jaya: But even then, even if you grew up down the street from your 2nd cousin and have known him all your life, you’re still not obligated. This question is really sticking with me. I cannot fathom a situation in which, after being told that there is no room for me, I try to continue to make room for myself.

Victoria: Yeah, it’s absolutely mind boggling. Like, you just don’t try to negotiate invitations.

Jaya: Because then what, you’re there, and the bride and groom have in their mind everything you’ve done to get there when they’re interacting with you.

Victoria: I do kind of feel like with unreasonable people its probably better to just separate yourself from them, even if you are related. I mean, it depends on your family and blah blah blah, but by the time you are old enough to have a kid who is getting married, you probably aren’t going to be forced to interact with your cousins that much! Like, your grandparents and parents/aunts/uncles are probably dead or about to be, and those family ties tend to be easier to sever the farther apart everyone gets.

Jaya: Right. At some point those relationships pass to the next generation. And at this point, you’re talking about the relationship between your son and your cousin’s kid, who I’ll assume are closer in age. And if they haven’t forged that relationship on their own, that’s their business. This is also an instance where I hope, going forward, weddings become less of a *thing*. Treating them like the MOST IMPORTANT EVENT EVER makes people act crazy when they’re not present.

Victoria: Haha yeah, it’s weird, I feel like for a loooong time they weren’t a big thing. And then they became a HUGE thing.

Jaya: Right! Maybe that’s just because we’re in the thick of wedding age right now? But yeah, not getting in invitation turns into this huge personal affront instead of like, just not being invited to one thing.

Victoria: Yeah, I also have found it so freeing to turn down invitations. I have a rule that I am not getting on an airplane for someone I wouldn’t get on an airplane to see just for a visit.

Jaya: That’s a good rule!

Victoria: Yeah! So like limited to really close friends and my cousins/sister (who are awesome). Although, I suppose if it was a cool destination and a lot of other people I knew were going, that might make it worth it.

Jaya: Yeah, I mean obviously use your discretion. If it’s someone you like reasonably well and you can afford flying to Hawaii, go for it!

Your Ultimate Guide to Plus Ones

Bring a boy band to a wedding

People are really opinionated about plus ones (+1s, whatever) at weddings. I’ve heard that it’s mandatory to give every single guest a +1. I’ve heard of friendships torn apart because a guest didn’t get one. I’ve heard of people having an awful time at weddings because the couple told them they had to bring a date and they spent all night babysitting a stranger instead of hanging out with their friends. Like many etiquette issues, it’s a place where people assume there is one rule and that they know what that one rule is.

You do not have to offer +1s to anyone at your wedding–that is a rule. But if you want to, it can get tricky to figure out who should and should not get one. I’ve found that it helps to have a few things in mind when offering +1s to your guests.

  • Is your guest dating anyone? If they’re dating someone seriously, they shouldn’t get a +1, but rather an invitation to their actual significant other. Where to draw the line on significant others, though? Only married couples? Engaged? Living together? Dating for over six months? Whatever you decide, be consistent. No one will appreciate if they couldn’t bring their boyfriend of a year and find another guest got to bring someone they met on Tinder the week before.
  • Does your guest know other people? One of the biggest arguments for +1s is for guests who may not know anyone else, as it’s no fun to show up to a giant party by yourself. Sometimes you need a buddy, and offering a +1 to that friend you know from work who has never met any of your other friends before is a great way to ensure they’ll have someone to talk to. On the other hand, if you have a group of single friends who’ve all known each other since high school, it may be more of a burden for them to bring a date and make sure that date is having a good time than to just come alone and hang out with their friends. This goes double for a destination wedding. It’s one thing to drive an hour to a party where you don’t know somebody, but quite another to fly to Mexico for it. If you’re friend’s not the solo adventurer type, offer to let them bring a friend and make a vacation out of it.
  • How many people are going to be at your wedding? If you’re having a 500 person wedding, you probably won’t a few +1s you’ve never met before. However, if you have a 20 person ceremony and an intimate dinner, cousin Betty’s girlfriend of two weeks might be an awkward addition.
  • Are you comfortable with strangers around? Offering +1s means you’re giving your guest sole discretion as to who they bring. You may give one thinking your college friend will be bringing her new boyfriend, but she may bring another friend, or her mom, or her yoga teacher. The nature of the open offer is that it’s up to her, so make sure you are comfortable with that.

Similar consideration should go into choosing whether or not to bring a guest if the invitation is extended. Is your guest the type to mingle and make friends quickly, or are they going to need to have you by their side all evening? If ten of your best friends will also be at this wedding, is a guest necessary? If you know nobody else there and are bringing a guest, are they a person you can have fun with?

Remember, you should not stand for people demanding to bring guests, or demanding to bring more guests than they were allowed, or asking to swap out one guest for another. And if you RSVP for yourself because you don’t have a plus one, you’re not allowed to add one after the fact, even if your original invitation offered you a guest.

How To Help Shop For A Wedding Dress

say-yes-to-the-dressWhen I asked my mom and stepsister to go wedding dress shopping with me I specified that they should absolutely be honest with their opinions, but refrain from calling me ugly or anything of that nature. They looked at me like I had two heads, because obviously, normal people do not need to be told not to call someone ugly. However, I had been spending most of my Sunday mornings watching Say Yes To The Dress (I still do), so I was under the impression that “normal people” morph into heinous bat creatures upon entering a wedding dress store.

There is something about shopping for that dress that brings out weird things in people. It’s held up as this “moment” that should be savored and remembered, the pressure of which automatically sets everyone on edge, and the stakes are somehow seen as higher. This isn’t just a flattering dress, it’s THE dress, which will be immortalized on film and passed down through generations so why on EARTH would you want to buy that one when it makes your hips look so huge? (Thankfully, a lot of people are realizing that no, you do not have to spend $5k on a dress if you don’t want to, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t even have to be from a bridal store. You can just wear something that makes you feel pretty and happy and that’s it.)

There’s also a lot of pressure because if someone chooses you to help them pick out their outfit, they’re saying they trust you, they want you to like it, and they want your honest opinion. But too often people mistake “honest” for “mean,” so here are a few tips on how to make sure you don’t end up on SYTTD’s “10 Worst Bridal Entourages” reel.

1. Talk About It Before: Talk to your friend/daughter/sister/whoever about their tastes before you go shopping, just so you don’t spend the entire time pulling stuff they hate. Ask them how they see themselves, what they want to highlight or hide, or just how they want to feel in it. That way, while shopping you can ask them these questions in return to help them see how they feel.

2. Forget About Your Own Tastes:  It should not have to be said that you are not the one wearing this outfit but, you know, YOU ARE NOT THE ONE WEARING THIS OUTFIT. Thus, it does not matter if you would not personally choose to purchase it, or if you hate lace, or you think tea-length dresses are “tacky.” If the dress is five sizes too small then yes, that’s an issue, but it not being something that would match your closet is not. This also goes for general expectations. While wedding planning, I always heard the argument that parents had been dreaming of their children’s weddings longer than their children had. Which, yes, I guess my mother had the capacity to think about my wedding before I did, but that doesn’t mean her opinions trump mine. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always envisioned your daughter/niece/cousin in a satin ballgown if that’s not how they envision themselves.

3. Give Your Opinion…Nicely: My grandpa had this saying: “Eat what you want to eat, but wear what other people want you to wear.” I don’t entirely believe that’s true, but I do believe in getting a second opinion. That’s why you’re there in the first place, right? So what if you think there is a problem with the outfit that the bride just doesn’t see? Try to go about it in the nicest way possible. A good strategy is to ask some questions and let them decide.Your first question should always be “What do you think?” instead of throwing all your opinions out there. Then, based on their answer, you can help them figure out if they’ll be happy or not. Are they comfortable in a corset? Do they think they’ll spend all night pulling up a strapless dress? Will those sleeves and satin make them hot? While shopping, I tried on one dress that was beautiful, but my mom mentioned that it probably wouldn’t match with the jewelry I was planning on wearing, which was something I honestly hadn’t considered!

Also, take a moment to figure out if your judgments are about the bride or about the dress. If you think the bride looks bad in everything because she’s not a size 2, that’s on you, not them.

4. Take The Bride’s Lead: Presumably, this is someone you know well, so you know what they look like when they’re excited, confused, upset, etc. Pay attention to that. If they look uncomfortable, tell them they look uncomfortable. If they look puzzled, ask them what they’re thinking about. And if they look overjoyed and say this is the prettiest and happiest they’ve ever felt, for god’s sake, tell them they look beautiful.

5. A GIFT IS A GIFT, OMG: You may be in a situation where you’ve offered to pay for all or part of the dress as a gift to the bride. All too often, on TV shows and in real life, I’ve heard of people using this as a threat, saying they have ultimate power over choosing the dress and that they won’t pay for something they don’t love. I’ve never understood this, especially here. Do you want your loved one spending the entire wedding hating how they look but grin and bearing it because they wanted to make you happy? Because that certainly wouldn’t make me happy.

I Thought We Weren’t Friends, But I’m Invited To The Wedding

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Today I got an email from a person from college I’ve “broken up with,” by which I mean I haven’t talked to them in years and de friended them on Facebook because they are generally a NOPE person these days. This person just sent an email asking for my address to send their wedding invitation.


I mean, there’s been no contact at all and I was sort of hoping they’d get the picture by now. Do I send my address and then decline the invitation to not ruffle feathers at this junction, or will that just seem to invite them to try to rekindle the relationship which DO NOT WANT. Or can I ignore it and hope I don’t have to ever deal with it and they get the picture without me having to be like “we’re not friends anymore please stop.” Because clearly I’ve been avoiding that talk.




Miss Manners says that declining an invitation needn’t include any explanation as to why (for instance, because you do not want to be friends any more), and Emily Post agrees. However, most of the advice is for after you’ve received an invitation, and assumes you have slightly-fond feelings toward the person sending it.


Jaya: I know this is why the “friendship fadeout” is bad, so let that be a lesson to us all. Even though I’ll probably keep doing it.

Victoria: Man, this type of person will just not give up. I have someone like that from High School. He just repeatedly tries to get in touch and I am not having it.

Jaya:  I think the lowest-impact option is to just send your address (plainly, with no “oooh congrats, so exciting!” or anything), and decline the invitation when it comes. As much as you might want to, a wedding is not the time to have the “actually we’re not friends” talk. Though, if this behavior continues post-wedding, that may have to happen.

Victoria: I’d also consider not sending a gift or card.  Although, that might be a good reason to advocate emailing a “thanks but no thanks” since a wedding invitation generallllly requires a gift.

Jaya: A gift is a gift, not a requirement!

Victoria: Yesss, but in our culture there’s an idea that you should send a gift even if you can’t attend. The couple shouldn’t EXPECT it, but it’s a firm Miss Manners rule that invitation=gift.

Jaya: Yeah but that’s why we’re here, to discuss and dispel these rules. Anyway, I do think not sending a gift sends the intended hint that the friendship is over.

Victoria: Though it’s less strong if the person hasn’t been picking up on these hints in the first place.

Jaya: Right? It feels weird to say this, but in our modern times I think de-friending on Facebook is a pretty accepted hint.

Victoria: Back to the fadeout. I think it’s good for friends who are far away who you don’t want to keep in touch with. As much as it’d be nice to end things cleanly, those sorts of conversations can be really hurtful. But if it’s someone you see all the time, a direct conversation needs to happen.

Jaya: I don’t know about living far away. I have a lot of friends from college who live in different cities now, and sometimes we won’t talk for a while, but then we’ll see each other and it’s like nothing has changed. I think it would be easy to mistake an intentional fadeout with “oh we just don’t talk sometimes but we’re still close.”

Victoria: Yeah, although I think the de-Facebooking would be a pretty big hint. Ideally you can tell the difference with a fadeout in that the person will just not respond to you.