{ this is not your mother’s wedding…literally…}

Friday, April 6th, 2012 | etiquette, Q&A



Q. We’ve recently started planning our wedding and it seems like everyone has an opinion about how everything is supposed to be done. No one really agrees which one is the “right” way, but I’m fairly certain a lot of them are definitely the wrong way. I really like my future in-laws, but their ideas are making me cringe. I don’t want to offend them – but how do I tell them that their plans are way off base?

A. Getting everyone to agree on details when planning a wedding can often require more tact and patience than a UN peacekeeping summit. You want to make sure that you’re following protocol, and do not offend your guests. However, while you are planning your wedding you are also establishing a relationship with your future in-laws and don’t want to cause hard feelings that may still be lingering when it comes time to plan your 25th anniversary party.

If the details in question are small (your future mother-in-law wants programs that include all the readings for your ceremony and you don’t), the best idea is to let them go – by letting her take charge of something you don’t care too much about – it might take the attention off a more contentious issue. If they’re a big deal like she is determined your wedding colours should be purple and green (or some other combination you find equally distasteful), or she decided she didn’t get to invite enough people and has had her own invitations printed (even though you’ve already invited more people than the venue will hold) – then something should be said – but not by you. It will make for far less hurt feelings to always have your fiancé deal with issues involving his family, and you with yours (bringing in those UN peacekeeping forces might be a wise idea also).

Here are a few tried and tested rules of etiquette that will help the bride and groom, their families and the guests from pulling their (or anyone else’s) hair out:

• The mother of the bride or mother of the groom should never host the bridal shower.
• Don’t invite 400 people if you can only afford to host 100 – and similarly don’t invite throngs of people you know cannot attend in hopes they’ll send a gift.
• Make sure your guests feel welcome – think about details like parking and dietary restrictions – and don’t expect them to pay for anything at your wedding.
• Don’t refer to gifts or gift registries with the wedding invitations; however it is ok in the bridal shower invitations as the bride or bride’s family is not hosting (see above).
• The rules of “who pays for what” are traditional – but don’t be unreasonable: don’t ask the groom’s family for money – but don’t be shy about discussing the realities of the financial situation and accepting help or to split costs.
• The bride and groom must send a written thank-you note for every gift (yes, even those crocheted place mats!) – and do so in a timely manner – aim to get them out in a month – but absolutely no later than three months after the wedding.

Good luck with your in-laws…but don’t let anyone make you lose sight of the fact that the day is about you and your fiancé…enjoy!

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