Wedding Etiquette Advice from Peggy Post

by Ryan Conner | October 24, 2012

dallas weddings, dallas brides, bridal dallas, weddings in dallasWe have a very special “Ask the Expert” today. Peggy Post was in town last week for an event we co-hosted with The Adolphus and Paper & Chocolate. Peggy, Emily Post’s great-grandaughter-in-law, is the director of the the Emily Post Institute. She is the author of more than a dozen etiquette books, including the new 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. She publishes her advice in a biweekly online column for the New York Times called “The Well-Mannered Wedding” and a monthly column for Good Housekeeping.

At the tea, Peggy answered our burning etiquette questions including “How do I choose my wedding party?” and “Do I have to invite every cousin in my family?” She has graciously offered to recap some of the most popular questions and answers from the event. Read the advice after the jump.

I’m currently working on the guest list for our wedding. Who deserves “plus one” status? Does every guest? No, if a guest is married, engaged, or seriously dating someone, it would be appropriate to invite them to bring a guest. However, if your guest is not in a serious relationship, you are not required to “and guest” this person. Keep in mind that weddings are often wonderful places to meet people! This question also brings up seating those who do not know anyone at the wedding. Make sure to seat those with similar hobbies and interests at the same table. Have fun with mixing up the party!

How do I encourage people to RSVP? What if they don’t? Unfortunately, this has become an epidemic. People are getting invited to so many events and some people just toss the invitation aside and forget. Others say they don’t know what “RSVP” means, and some are just waiting to see what other events may pop up. You may find that putting an “RSVP by” date on the invitation helps to encourage your guest to respond. If they still don’t, it is absolutely acceptable to send the person a note—or call them—to ask (politely, of course!) if they plan on coming to the event.  Also, always graciously make room for those who may show up to your event, but didn’t RSVP.

My stepfather and I are very close. How do I choose who walks me down the aisle and blesses the marriage? My father or stepfather? People are coming up with all sorts of creative ways to incorporate multiple family members. You can have both fathers walk you down the aisle, or perhaps your mother and father. You could also have your mother walk down the aisle with you instead. Always have open communication with your family members to alleviate stress and an uncomfortable situation.

If I send a save-the-date, and a guest tells me they can’t come, do I still follow-up with an invitation? Generally yes, but it depends. First of all, a save-the-date is not a requirement. However, in the last few years it has become much more popular, especially if you’re planning a destination wedding, or a wedding in a busy tourist attraction. If you send a save-the-date, and a guest responds that they can’t come, it is still courteous to send a wedding invitation. However, if a guest you don’t know very well lets you know they can’t come, you may opt out of sending an invitation, especially so that it does not look like you’re asking for a gift.

How many gifts do I have to buy? If I take a gift to the shower, do I still have to bring one to the wedding? Showers were once small affairs with a gathering of the bride’s closest friends and family. Usually the gift was small, like a recipe card or hand towels. These days showers can be larger parties with multiple hosts and a very large guest list, so guests feel it more appropriate to bring a larger shower gift. If you go to the shower, you should bring a gift and also send a wedding gift. If you do not attend the shower, you do not need to send a gift to the shower. Also, if you attend more than one shower, you may either cut way back on gifts to the subsequent shower(s) or take none at all to those. I always tell people to take in account how close you are with the bride and groom and your personal budget when purchasing gifts-and, of course, select something you think the couple will like (whether or not it’s from their registry).

Do I have to have a receiving line at the wedding reception? If you feel you can make it around to greet all of your guests without a receiving line, it is fine not to have one. However, if your reception is large (with more than 75 guests) and you know you won’t have time to say hello to everyone, a receiving line is the right thing to do.

3 Responses to “Wedding Etiquette Advice from Peggy Post”

  • J | October 28, 2012 | Reply

    How do you handle it when someone has come to the wedding but no card or gift was found to be from them yet you don’t want to overlook them if something got lost or misplaced? You don’t want to imply they should have given a gift but you want make sure they are thanked if they did?

  • Ryan Conner | October 28, 2012 | Reply

    This question came up at the tea. Peggy had a wonderful idea. You can send a thank-you note for coming to the wedding, but don’t include a thank you for the gift. This usually spurs conversation if the guest realizes you didn’t thank them for the gift. Many registries keep track of who purchases a gift, so you can call them and ask , too. I hope this helps!

  • Trac | November 10, 2012 | Reply

    What should one do regarding thank yous when one is divorced 3 mos after wedding and had not completed all thank yous at that point? How should the thank you read in leu of these sad and unforseen circumstances?