In today’s anything goes world, brides to be may find themselves wondering if wedding etiquette that their mothers and grandmothers considered to be gospel is even relevant any more. After all, isn’t it better to just do what works rather than worry about sticking to all the rules?

While freedom and creativity are just a few of the wonderful benefits awarded to women living in the new millennium, I would argue that traditional wedding etiquette still offers some important guidelines for today’s brides to follow.

I choose to use the word “guidelines” rather than rules because in most cases, the underlying principle is what should be followed, rather than a rigid rule that may not be suited to a variety of circumstances.

Below are three topics where brides often experience confusion and even sometimes conflict regarding expectations and bringing their own vision to life.

wedding things to do

Bridal Etiquette Rules

1) Who pays for what?

Before a bride and groom can even develop a wedding budget, they first will need to determine who will be able to contribute financially, in what ways, and of course how much will be contributed. This can be incredibly stressful as finances for many people have become strained due to the current economic crisis.

Hearts may often be much bigger than wallets and a bride and grooms dreams, bigger than their bank account. In cases such as this, I believe creativity and sensitivity should be the guiding principles at work for brides and grooms.

Extensive lists of rules have been created to state who is responsible to pay for different aspects of the ceremony and celebration, but it’s not always possible for these to be followed to the letter. It’s more important to keep in mind that these rules were created because someone at some point in time decided it would be kindest for the bride and groom to have financial support in their marriage endeavor.

When you think of it that way, any help offered is a really an act of love from friends and family members. So, brush up on your Emily Post etiquette and sensitively approach the family members who are traditionally responsible for aspects of the wedding with an open mind, asking if they would like to be involved and how. This will help to start an open dialogue about your big day with a firm grasp on what type of support you are being offered.

If a family member or friend offers financial support for specific parts of the wedding that they would not normally be responsible for, don’t turn them down for the sake of etiquette. After all, will anyone really complain if grandma wants to pay for the reception hall even though that normally falls to mum and dad?

Probably not.

Just be sure sensitively let mum and dad know that grandma has offered to help and that you are very touched that she is demonstrating her love and support in this way. That’s pretty hard to argue with.

Finally, if you have big plans or specific things you’d like to see happen, save a little money of your own to supplement where it is needed, just in case the traditional financiers can’t afford to provide these things. It’s better to do this than to create strain on your important relationships on your big day.

Besides the cost of holding the wedding ceremony, the next biggest cost of the wedding will come from the engagement ring. If you want to learn how to reduce costs and get better value for a diamond ring, this guide to diamond pricing is probably one you want to give a good read. Many brides and grooms are even choosing to finance the majority of their wedding these days which is also perfectly acceptable.

marriage preparations

2) Who do I consider in the style and preparation of my wedding?

Although most brides have been dreaming of their big day for their whole lives, chances are, other people in their life have been dreaming of that big day too. While the day does belong to the bride and groom it’s still important to let honour and grace be your guiding principles when it comes to decision making and planning. While etiquette states rules on who should sit where, stand there, wear this, or say that it’s important to remember that these rules only came to be so that certain people could give or be given honour on this very important day.

If you are having a wedding celebration, chances are it’s because you want to share your special moment with those who you love and who are committing to support your marriage. If friends and family feel honoured, the day will be just as precious to them as it is to you. At times, this might mean making a compromise on something you envisioned.

In five years, you probably won’t remember that you wanted pink corsages for the parents while your mum wanted cream. Even if you’re not a dancer, a father daughter dance might mean the world to your dad. The best weddings are ones that bring everyone together to celebrate the love of the couple and the love between family and friends through the lens of the bride and grooms vision.

cake cutting wedding

3) Who do I invite to my wedding?

Etiquette generally states that family should receive first priority, followed by friends and other loved ones. However, sometimes budget constraints or family dynamics can cause a couple to wonder if it’s really necessary to follow this rule. A classic case might go like this; “I haven’t seen cousin Ginny since I was twelve years old, I’d much rather invite my university room mate. Is that really so wrong?”

The principle to stick to here is strength of bond. This rule was likely created in a time when people tended to have the strongest relationships with family members rather than with friends. It was only natural to assume that these relationships should get preference over others.

Now, however, it is probably more likely that a bride would be much closer with a former schoolmate or even a co-worker than a cousin who lives far away and she hasn’t seen for years. While there is no right or wrong answer, do your best to consider the feelings of all people involved and in the end, try to err on the side of having your closest and dearest there to share your day with you. This will ensure that your day will be filled with all the love and memories you are hoping for.

In a nutshell, educate yourself on what proper etiquette should be and why. Then allow yourself to bend the rules as you need to. And trust me, you will need to. If your day is focused around making sure you and your husband are celebrating your love and commitment with those who are nearest and dearest, you can’t go wrong – regardless of which rules you choose to follow!