10 common wedding etiquette dilemmas


10 common wedding etiquette dilemmas

The world of weddings is an exciting and ever-changing one. This is great news for couples that want to get innovative with their nuptials but it can throw up a few tricky questions in terms of etiquette. There aren’t many events with such a generationally-diverse guest list and because of this, anyone organising a wedding needs to be aware of which traditions have stood the test of time and which ones have been adapted for the 21st century.


Should we have an engagement party?

It’s totally up to you. It’s not a necessary part of the wedding journey, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re over doing it if you want to throw one. Presents aren’t usually given and there aren’t any rules about the invite list, so just go with what feels right.


How many bridesmaids should I have?

It’s usual for semi-formal weddings of less than 200 people to have between one and six bridesmaids, although many brides feel four is the highest number they feel comfortable with. (This doesn’t include flowers girls.) It’s common for more mature and second-time brides to either have no bridesmaids or just a matron of honour.


Do we need to invite partners?

Traditionally if someone wasn’t known to the bride’s mother, they didn’t get an invite. These days, the generally accepted rule is that if they are a long-term partner or engaged or married to your guest, then they should be invited. It’s also accepted that single guests don’t need to be offered a ‘plus one’.


Is it okay to ask people just to the evening do?

Yes. Lots of couples do this as numbers are often limited for the ceremony and the meal. Just make sure you don’t divide ‘groups’ of family and friends up. For example if you’re inviting work colleagues, make sure they are all on the same invite list. The same goes for family, treat both sides the same. It’s also a good idea to have two separate invitations so there can be no confusion about who is invited to what. Ask your venue how they can help you welcome evening guests and make them feel their arrival is the start of a big part of the celebrations. At Merchant Taylors’ Hall, lots of our guests choose to save the cutting of the cake, the first dance and sometimes even the speeches until later so that evening guests get to be a part of important parts of the celebrations.


Who pays for what?

Tradition dictates that the bride’s parents pay for the lion’s share of the wedding, with the groom covering a handful of costs including the first night hotel, his outfit and the ceremony fees. But these days this is rarely the case. As modern weddings are far from the intimate affairs of previous generations this is reflected in the bill. Many couples are making significant contributions themselves and the groom’s family often chip in, too. To ensure people know who to address their thankyou cards to, make it clear who is hosting the day on your invitations.


Is it okay to ask for money rather than gifts?

This is a relatively new dilemma, so it’s hard to apply traditional etiquette to the problem. The general consensus is that it is okay to ask for cash, so long as you tell your guests what it’s going to be spent on. Make sure your guests are clear that buying a present is entirely optional, whether you opt for a gift list or cash request.


Can the bride make a speech?

Yes, although traditional wedding etiquette would see the father of the bride, the groom and the best man speaking only. As with all areas of wedding etiquette, the best thing to do is to check your decisions aren’t going to cause offence. In this case, it’s highly unlikely to, so a bride who wants to say a few words shouldn’t hold back!


Who sits at the top table?

The top table should follow the format; chief bridesmaid, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom, bride, groom’s mother, bride’s father and then the best man. With divorced parents it’s appropriate to customise the seating plan as it’s far more important all of your guests feel comfortable and to involve step parents if you want. Speak to your venue as they will have lots of advice and suggestions. A new trend amongst couples getting married at Merchant Taylors’ Hall is to use an oval-shaped top table. It’s a less-conventional option, but with guests having someone to talk to on each side and the opportunity to chat with people across from them, it lends itself well to groups who might need a little help with the flow of the conversation.


Should we have an open bar?

It’s not entirely necessary. Lots of couples opt for a few glasses of Champagne for guests on arrival, beer, wine and soft drinks at the table and a pay bar after dinner. If you want to offer an open bar, you shouldn’t feel obliged to let your guests have access to the full range of drinks like sprits and cocktails. It’s perfectly acceptable to select a range of drinks for your guests to choose from.


Are you engaged or do you know someone who is? Merchant Taylors’ Hall is a beautiful, historic venue in the heart of the City of London. It boasts a stunning Great Hall and a pretty Courtyard Garden – the perfect combination for a London dream wedding. The building has seven other sensational spaces that can be incorporated into your day, either as reception rooms or for your photographs. The choice is yours as you will have exclusive use of the entire venue on your wedding day.


Our 2016 wedding offer

Book your wedding at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in 2016 and receive your champagne reception for free. This offer includes 2 glasses of house champagne per adult guest. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and is non-transferable. No cash equivalent will be given. Minimum spends apply for weekend bookings.

Call now on 0207 450 4445 and speak to one of the team.

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