My Take on 'Wedding Etiquette'.

Monday, 17 March 2014

A slightly different one for you all today. During my time spent doing research for my wedding I have come across so many "dos don'ts and must never dos", it eventually starts to make your head turn and essentially question everything you have done or planned to do. The difficulty is is that there is so much conflicting advice, it's hard to know exactly what to listen to, so I thought I'd throw my twopenneth in the pot, about some of the things I have come across and my views on this.

Asking for money as a gift
Woah yes I went there! It seems that for our American cousins this is the ultimate in poor etiquette. Asking for cold hard cash is a big fat no no. Yet for us Brit's asking for money towards a honeymoon or towards home DIY seems to be becoming more and more common and, I think, socially accepted. I can't recall going to a wedding as an adult and not being asked for money or vouchers in some way shape or form, usually through the medium of some well sourced, slightly adapted poem, to suit the couples needs. In modern day society when so many couples live together before getting married, I almost question the purpose of the old 'gift list'. Americans see asking for money as extremely rude, yet the way I look at it, asking for a £60 toaster from John Lewis, which looks exactly like the one I already have in my kitchen and which still works, seems well just a bit cheeky really. It seems like asking for something for asking's sake. Some people suggest that if you don't want anything, then don't ask, but from the minute we started planning our wedding, people were already asking and thinking of what to give us as gifts. If everyone on my guest list finds a gift they want to give us, great, but if they are struggling, and really want to get us something, a fiver in a card towards our honeymoon will suit us absolutely perfectly thank you very much.On a side note, it is also frowned upon to even include the afore mentioned gift list within the actual invitation. So am I expected to post all these separately?? 
(And yes, for the record, I did put a honeymoon money poem in my invites.)

Inviting people to the reception only
Again, the American law of wedding etiquette states specifically that it is just not proper to invite anyone to the reception who hasn't been invited to the ceremony. No wonder American weddings are always portrayed as big lavish affairs, as you have to invite everyone to all of it! There doesn't seem to be the concept of an 'evening do' like there is in the UK, as the reception is the meal immediately followed by drinking and dancing, without the slight lull in between that you tend to get a British weddings. We have so many friends between us that we want to involve in our special day, it would financially ruin us to include everyone at the wedding breakfast. We are getting married in Church, and if people want to come and see the ceremony, well they are of course more than welcome, but we have limited our wedding breakfast to around 70 guests. (70!! Sounds huge, I wanted 40 originally!) When you consider that our evening list, combined with our day guests, reaches almost 250 people, you can kinda see how this would have been just impossible.

Hen Do/Stag Do.
Ahhh the ritual humiliation associated with marriage. In  the US, if you believe Pinterest, bachelorette parties, are to be beautifully styled, sedate affairs, where everyone has just the acceptable amount of wine and cake, brings the bride gorgeous presents, and everyone has gone home by the evening. In comparison, the British version involves an inordinate amount of pink, plastic willies, L plates, and the expected stripper. Rest assured, my hen do will be neither of these, but a 'perfectly' orchestrated version of the two. I'm certainly not a plastic penis person, but I also anticipate getting properly sozzled with my best girls during a night on the town, and going home before nightfall is just not allowed!

So many websites will tell you not to DIY things like your cake or your bouquet, as they are just "too precious" or "too important". Really? This is what is important? No it's not, the person your marrying is what's important. If you want to DIY some, all, or none of your wedding, let that be your decision. This seems to be a marketing ploy to worry you and therefore pay other people to do things you felt perfectly capable of doing yourself. 

When we first considered having a buffet for our main wedding breakfast my future mother in law looked at me in horror. We had been going over and over menu choices for weeks, but were struggling to come up with something that we suit most people, and the high number of children we have attending our wedding. (Yes we are having kids, kids make a wedding as they are quite frankly bloody hilarious by the end of the night - who else would get Granny on the dance floor?) There was one hairy moment when tomato soup followed by chicken dinner was suggested - I was honestly expecting a Black Forest Gateaux for pudding! It seemed logical to us, that a hot buffet seemed the easiest compromise, and offered a wider selection for our large guest list. We agreed that the top table would be served their meal, and all other tables, after being served a choice of starter, would be invited up to make their selection from a hot servery counter. Our venue was really happy with this, as it mean they needed less staff, less food, and  they passed the savings on to us!  I struggle to see the difficulty with this one.

Save the Dates 
Yes the little magnets are cute, but its just something else to make/pay someone else to make. Just send out your invites extra early and be done with it.

Rehearsal Dinner
Nice idea, absolute disaster the night before the wedding, involving a large amount of Scottish people and alcohol. There would probably be no actual wedding

Going first or last down the aisle. Honestly,this is apparently a big deal in wedding etiquette circles. In the US, the bridesmaids go first, so the bride is the last person they see, in the UK the bride goes first with her bridesmaids behind. I've seen comments about this such as "well they will get their turn when they get married." Seriously? Does it matter? I'm tempted to go in the middle of my bridal party, you know, just to mix it up a bit. Although one idea I would have liked to adopt is the concept of the bridesmaid paying for their own attire. Just saying.

Cash Bar
As in a bar that you pay cash at. As in a bar that you expect your guests to pay cash at. Yes in  the US this is strictly not acceptable, and you must provide all the booze free of charge. What is this lunacy?? I cannot think of a single wedding where it has been a free bar, and the OH was best man at a multi-millionaires wedding! (I thought that was a bit tight though if I'm honest!) Honestly, its a wonder anyone ever gets married in America!!

Finally I will leave you with my favourite quote regarding US vs UK wedding etiquette from A Practical Wedding
"What the hell is a Mason jar and why did everyone lose their shit over them?
I HAVE NO IDEA. Just use a jam jar. Done"


  1. The more of my friends that get married, the more I think I'll elope if my relationship ever gets to that point. It's a minefield!

  2. My sister got married last year and my parents hit the roof when they discovered she wanted to ask guests for money rather than presents. They thought it was really rude and embarrassing. She ignored them and did it anyway though .. I think it's maybe a generation thing! Nowadays it really is the norm!

    Hen dos and Stag dos have definitely changed since our parents days. I think it all started off as a quiet drink in the local before your big day but has now escalated into all kinds! I like a good hen do but they are annoying when they're abroad and cost loads and loads of money!

    I'm not getting married at the moment - waiting for a proposal ;) but this was a really interesting read x

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
      I agree they always used to be the night before too they are now such big affairs they happen months before

  3. i love this. i work in the wedding industry and I feel it's TERRIBLE that there are so many "implied" rules!! My attitude is, DO IT HOWEVER THE HELL YOU WANT TO! don't be swayed by silly websites which tell you what to do. I mean, aren't rules meant to be broken? i'm all about this with my styling business :)

    hope you're at least having some fun with the planning!! xxxx

    1. Exactly! That's my attitude to it all now too lol

  4. Some of this made me smile; I think you should do whatever makes you happy. Its YOUR special day. You should have it the way you want it, who are other people to judge.

  5. Haha! This post is brilliant, and so funny! I can't even begin to imagine how stressful planning a wedding is. And expensive too! I mean, how does anyone ever afford it all! Stress!

  6. I've been to a wedding with a hot buffet and it was brilliant! I'm not a fan of 'posh' food, so being able to have a good choice was definitely a plus for me. I agree with the presents too - no one needs that many household items at once. Like you said, most people already live together and will have that sort of thing. I wouldn't want someone to pay a lot of money for a 'luxury' version of something that I don't need.
    I always thought the bridesmaids did go first though? When I was a bridesmaid (oh 10 years ago) we went down first xD

    1. Im so glad you've said that the hot buffet ting worked well! That's made me feel better lol

  7. Brilliant post. I spent so much time in the run up to my wedding reading all the etiquette. There really is a big difference between US and UK weddings. We didn't invitekids except cclose family, gave our guests a menu to choose their own dinner choices from, and we got away with not having to pay for two meals by getting married at 3 and having the meal at 6. I think at the end of the day it's your wedding and you should make it how you want. Don't worry about the so-called etiquette or traditions. It's your day. Enjoy it!
    Rachel x

  8. I'm a new reader and I'm so in love with your blog! <3

  9. Found your blog today and I absolutely loved this post - why do people feel the need to impose so many rules on a wedding? In my opinion it's your fabulous wedding and you can do whatever the heck you like. I personally love it when people do things differently and DIY stuff because to me it looks like a part of them rather than this cut out idea of how they think it should be - it shows their loves, passions and personality and afterall it's their wedding!
    I actually like the idea of giving money at the wedding like you said who wants five of something they have already and what's with the picture frames? You only need so many photos of your wedding around your hourse right?!
    Hope it's ok to share this post on my weekly faves :)

  10. You definitely have the right idea - at the end of the day, the wedding is simply a marriage between two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together. Other than the legal/church fees, anything else people choose to spend their money on is extra and people can do it however they want.
    We organised our wedding in 4 months (not for any dodgy reason, that's just how we planned it!), had handmade invites, my wedding dress was a from a charity shop (a designer catwalk piece from an Oxfam Bridal Boutique), had a buffet, no seating plan, went straight through the whole day with no gap, didn't have an official first dance and had friends and family do the flowers, make-up, church organ, disco and cleaning up. It cost about £3500 and everyone said it was one of the most fun weddings they'd ever been to! :-) x

    1. Your wedding sounds perfect! If I had a smaller family and a pretty church hall lol I would have done something very similar I think lol


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