Wedding Etiquette
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Wedding Etiquette

Money Money
There are no longer any hard and fast rules as to "Who Pays for What", but a general guideline follows as to the traditional breakdown.  Expense list

Working out a budget for your wedding is one of the first things that should be done once the date is set. Will the ceremony be formal, semiformal or informal?  A formal wedding, of course, will be the most expensive and the informal, the least. Nothing is set in concrete.  Who pays for what? Unlike a decade ago, the lines are no longer so rigidly drawn. The burden of paying for the wedding has shifted in recent years from the shoulders of the father of the bride, to include the groom's family.  Also, with many couples marrying later and having money of their own, they are sharing in the expenses. Expense list

Tipping has always been a personal expression of gratitude for service given and appreciated. The question of tipping those persons responsible for assisting you in your wedding planning is one of obvious importance and concern.

Gratuities are almost always added into the final bill, whether you have hired a private catering company or are using one of the finest hotel facilities.  The question has been asked, "Is it proper to tip the servers, when I have already paid a gratuity in my contracted price?"  The answer is, of course,  "tipping has always been a personal expression of gratitude for service given and appreciated."  For instance, if a particular server has spent his evening providing you service, over and above your expectations, and you choose to give that individual a "tip," that choice is entirely up to you. It should be given for extra special services only. It is not required, as the gratuity has, as noted, already been paid.  The customary amount would be up to 15%.

Others falling into the above category, include catering managers, hotel banquet managers, waiters, waitresses, bartenders and bridal consultants. Tipping a hostess or captain would fall in the 1% to 2% range.  Remember, this has already been added to your final bill and additional tipping is just that. Additional tipping!

Coat Room Attendants
It is customary to give fifty cents per guest. However, it may be to your advantage to arrange for a flat fee prior to the event. 

Limousine Driver
A tip of 15% is the appropriate amount to be given to your limo driver.  Be sure to read your contract, as the tip has often already been added into the final bill.

Florists, Photographers, Bakers, Musicians
Tipping only for extra special services, up to 15%.

Civil Ceremony Officials: (Judge, Justice of the Peace, City Clerk) 
In years gone by, it was considered improper to "ask" a set fee for services rendered. However, today, you may find a "suggested" donation for those in public service. In a recent survey, it was found the average gratuity was between $50 and $75.  If travel is involved, an additional gratuity is expected.

Clergymen, Rabbis, Priests
No less than a $75 donation is considered proper and it is rare to find anyone giving less than a $100 gratuity for the wedding officiate.   This donation should be given to the best man prior to the ceremony. Following the proceedings, he will then give it to the officiate. If travel is involved, an additional gratuity is appreciated.

Organist and Musician
Fees for church organists and musicians are often included in the rental fee for the church.  When this is not the case, a gratuity of no less than $35 is appropriate, but in a recent survey, the average was $50 for each person. When the organist and musician (soloist) are close friends of the couple or family, the gratuity averaged $75.

Mother of the Groom Responsibilities
The following rules of etiquette are shared to increase the joy and fulfill the traditional responsibilities of the mother of the groom.  Responsibilities include:

The first rule of etiquette to be followed upon receiving news of the impending nuptials is to initiate contact between the families. Introducing herself and her husband to the bride's parents is her first responsibility.  This may be as simple as making a call to the bride's mother and telling her how happy she is about the engagement or an informal invitation to dinner at their home. If preferred, dinner at a nice restaurant is always in order. This may be with or without the couple in attendance.  If the parents live far away, a friendly letter is appropriate. A snapshot of the family and maybe even one of her son as a small child is always welcomed by the bride's mother and is a kind gesture.

The importance of providing an accurate and timely guest list can neither be over emphasized, nor the importance of sticking to the guidelines given her as to the number of guests she many invite.  Remember to include zip codes.

It is the bride's mother who will first select a dress for her daughters wedding. A gown of complimentary color and similar styling is then chosen by the mother of the groom. She must wear long if the bride's mother wears long or short if she wears short.  The color should not match the bridesmaids, nor the brides' mother, but compliment both.

Reservations for out-of-town guests, invited by the groom's family, are the responsibility of the mother of the groom. It will be much more convenient if a block of rooms are reserved at a nearby hotel, which is near her home. 

It is the responsibility of the groom's parents to host the rehearsal dinner. This can be as simple as a salad potluck with paper plates in the backyard or as elaborate as an exotic dinner with live entertainment in the finest restaurant.  Everyone who takes a part in the ceremony is invited to the dinner.  It is proper etiquette to invite the spouse or significant other of those participating, and the parents of children in the wedding. 

Scheduled family photographs, prior to the wedding, will dictate the groom's parents time of arrival. If photos are not scheduled to be taken before the ceremony, the arrival should be no less than one hour before the appointed time

As the wedding begins, the groom's mother will be escorted down the aisle, to the first pew, right-hand side, by the head usher or a groomsman who is a family member.  A nice touch includes the groom escorting his mother down the aisle. As the groom's mother is escorted to her seat, her husband will follow along behind.  However, if the parents are divorced, the father of the groom will have been seated previously, two pews behind the mother. 

The role as mother of the groom, in the ceremony, may include lighting the family candle on the altar, along with the mother of the bride.  Family candles are lit after the candle lighters have left the altar area, and prior to the entrance of the wedding party.

The first official duty of the mother of the groom, during the reception is to stand in the receiving line greeting guests and introducing her friends and family to the bride and her family.    Traditionally she stands between the bride and her mother. If the fathers of the couple choose to stand in the line, she will stand between them.

Mother of the Bride Responsibilities
The Primary responsibility of the Mother of the Bride is to see that the bride's wishes are carried out the bride's way.  It will be your responsibility to help the bride plan here wedding her way´┐Żnot yours, unless, it is the true desire of the bride to "let mom run things." primary responsibilities:

Help the bride select her wedding attire. Remember, this is not your wedding.  If you find yourself talking the bride out of a gown she loves, you may be overreaching.

Help the bride and groom decide on a wedding budget.  Settling money issues upfront is always best.  A good clear budget will help everyone with their expectations. 

In the event that the Mother of the Groom does not contact you, you will make the first contact.

See that the guest lists are put together. The invitations must be ordered as soon as possible, and the guest list will be critical in making your invitation order.

Reservations for out-of-town guests, invited by the bride's family, are the responsibility of the mother of the bride. It will be much more convenient if a block of rooms are reserved at a nearby hotel, which is near her home. 

Choose your gown for the wedding day. Immediately tell the Mother of the Groom the colors and style so that she may begin looking for a complimentary gown.  Send a swatch of material to the Mother of Groom if possible.

See that instructions for the actual ceremony are given.  This includes the seating schedule and the receiving line at reception, as well as any special touches the bride may choose to have at her wedding.

 The role as mother of the bride, in the ceremony, may include lighting the family candle on the altar, along with the mother of the groom.  Family candles are lit after the candle lighters have left the altar area, and prior to the entrance of the wedding party.

Find a trusted friend or family member who is not in the wedding party to assist you throughout the wedding.  You are the hostess for the entire event!  Find someone who will help you with some of the details´┐Żsometimes a professional is best.

The Wedding Invitation
Helpful hints and examples. Wedding Invitation Wording

Writing Thank You Cards
A personal thank you is the only appropriate way to say "Thank You!" At one time, notes were not considered necessary when you thanked someone in person. Today, with guest lists being longer and guests busier, a personal note is the only way to make sure sincere appreciation is expressed. Just telling someone who has given you a gift, how much you appreciate it, does not "cut the cake!".  Wedding Invitation Wording

The Wedding Dance
Dancing at your reception is a lovely way to bring an air of elegance and family togetherness.  Traditionally, the bride and groom will be the first to dance as their special song is played softly. Lights dimmed low create a romantic atmosphere.

As the music continues to play, the father of the bride will cut in on the groom and dance with his daughter. The groom asks the bride's mother to join him in a dance and together they grace the dance floor.

The groom's father then cuts in on the bride's father and dances with the bride himself. The bride's father will then cut in on the groom and dance with his wife.

The groom will then ask his mother to dance. Following this, the parents exchange dances with the other couple.

The best man then comes out to ask the bride to dance and the groom will dance with the maid or matron of honor. Finally, the entire wedding party, ushers and bridesmaids join in the festivities. Once the entire bridal party and their parents are on the dance floor, the other guests are invited to dance.

The "money dance" originated as a custom in Poland, and is a popular tradition found celebrated in the weddings of today. It takes place sometime after the first dance and is usually announced by the DJ. It is customary for the best man to begin dancing with the bride, pinning money onto her gown or putting it into a satin bag carried by the bride, especially for the money dance.  A newer rendition of this money dance includes bridesmaids and other ladies dancing with the groom, pinning money on his lapel.

Calling the Wedding Off
You have heard it said on more than one occasion, "better a broken engagement today, than a broken home tomorrow." At some point during wedding planning, many couples have normal doubts and last minute jitters. After all, it is only natural. The importance of choosing a mate cannot be over emphasized.  There are few decisions in life so important and of such lasting consequence.

A broken engagement is painful for everyone involved.  If the engagement has not been formally announced, the word can be simply passed to a few friends who will tell other people.  When passing along such sensitive information, it is important to maintain the privacy of those involved. 

If the engagement has been announced in the papers, a brief announcement to the effect that it is now broken is in order.  The announcement should read something to the effect:

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald  C. Smith announce that
the engagement of their daughter
Kristine Marie and Mr. Kevin Allen White
has been ended by mutual consent.

If the wedding invitations have been sent, a printed announcement is the proper way to make the broken engagement known.  However, if the engagement is broken only a few days prior to the wedding, the news must be passed around as quickly as possible.  To do this, the family may have to resort to the telephone, as well as printed announcements. Suggested wording for the announcement:

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald  C. Philips
announce that the marriage of their daughter
Kristine Marie to
Mr. Kevin Allen White
will not take place.

Occasionally, there may be reason to postpone a wedding due to a death in the family or serious illness. In the case of a postponement, it is important all guests be notified as soon as possible. Remember, some guests may have plane reservations to cancel and reschedule.  In the event of a postponement, an explanation is proper, whereas in the case of an outright cancellation, no explanation is given. If time permits, formal announcements may be printed, however, handwritten notes are also appropriate.  Suggested wording  for a notice of postponement may read as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Smith
Regret that they are obliged to recall
The invitations to the marriage of their daughter
Kristine Marie to Mr. Kevin Allen White
Due to the death of Mr. White's father
James Edward White

If the wedding is still to take place, the following can also be added to the above announcement:

The ceremony will be held privately
In the presence of the immediate family

The occasion may also arise when the invitations to a reception must be recalled.  The following wording is appropriate in the instance where the ceremony will take place, but not the reception.

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Smith
Regret that owing to a death in the family
They are obligated to recall the invitations
To the marriage reception of their daughter
On Saturday, the first day of October
Nineteen hundred and Ninety eight
The marriage ceremony will take place
As originally planned

Traditional Expense Obligation

Wedding Gown/Headpiece/Accessories
Wedding Ring for Bride
Wedding Ring for Groom
Wedding Gift for Groom
Wedding Gift for Bride
Bridesmaid Gifts
Groomsmen/Usher Gifts
Bride's Bouquet
Bridesmaid Bouquets
Mother's Corsages
Grandmother Corsages
Groom's Boutonniere
Groomsmen Boutonnieres
Usher's Boutonnieres
Ceremony/Reception Flowers
Alter Baskets/Arches
Kneeling Bench/Candelabras
Rented Items for Wedding
Rented Items for Reception
Wedding Programs
Napkins/Matches/Printed Items
Marriage License
Medical Visit for Bride
Medical Visit for Groom
Church Fee
Clergyman/Officiate Fee
Church Janitor
Reception Hall Fee
Catered Reception/Professional Services
Wedding Photography
Video Photography
Wedding Favors
Groom's Cake
Rice Bags
Rehearsal Dinner
Bridesmaid Luncheon
Bachelor Party
Wedding Breakfast
Bridal Brunch
Bridesmaid's Gowns
Maid of Honor Gown
Matron of Honor Gown
Best Man Formal Wear
Usher's Formal Wear
Groomsmen's Formal Wear
Gloves/Ties/Ascots for Attendants
Father of Bride Formal Wear
Father of Groom Formal Wear
Children's Formal Wear
Limousine Service
Honeymoon Arrangements
Travel Expenses to the Wedding

Accommodations for out-of town Guests
Gifts for the Couple

Bride's Family
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Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
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Bride's Family
Bride's Family
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Bride's Family
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Bride's Family
Groom's Family
Bride's Family
Grooms Family
Best Man/Groom's Attendants
Bride's Family
Bride's Family
Maid of Honor
Matron of Honor
Best Man
Bride's Family
Groom's Family
Children's Parents
The Out-of-town Attendant 
or Family Member
Guest, Attendants and Family

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