Wedding Etiquette

In our fast paced, modern world we tend to think of etiquette as an antiquated concept. But good manners, and knowing appropriate protocol, never go out of style. Understanding what to do, especially in unfamiliar situations, helps us all enjoy ourselves, knowing we will avoid embarrassment.

Who pays for the beautiful cake?


Especially for weddings we want to know what’s expected. The bride and groom and their respective families, have traditionally accepted roles. It is perfectly ok to stray from those protocols and customs – but knowing them to begin with certainly helps. For example, modern couples often pay for their own weddings, when historically it has been the bride’s family’s responsibility.


Which leads us to one of the biggest questions: ‘who pays for what?’ Here is the traditional answer, but remember, it is always entirely up to you. Since the bride or her family do often still pay for almost everything, it’s easier to say what the groom or his family traditionally pay for. It is the following:

Wedding Ring for Bride

Wedding Gift for Bride

Groomsmen/Usher Gifts

Bride’s Bouquet

Mother’s Corsages

Groom’s, Groomsmen, and Usher’s Boutonnieres

Marriage License

Officiant Fee

Rehearsal Dinner

Father of Groom Formal Wear

Limousine Service

Honeymoon Arrangements

Another frequent question is: what are the responsibilities of the mother of the groom? Her first order of business is to initiate contact between the families, if they don’t know each other. Call and invite the bride’s family for dinner at home or a restaurant. If they live far away, reach out – a letter is always appropriate. Provide the bride’s family with your guests list in a timely manner and inquire about dress selection and color.

One of the most important rules of etiquette involves the thank you note. Sadly, the art of the personal note is being forgotten. I’m the first to go to my email whenever possible, but for a wedding gift you really should write a personal thank you, and in a timely fashion! A printed note just won’t do. Include in it:  thanking the person for attending (if they did), mention the gift specifically, possibly how you will use or enjoy the gift, and reference any other specifics, such as a toast, or tidbit from the wedding. Three weeks post celebration is the perfect timing, but even six to eight weeks is still within reason. Please do not mess this one up – of all the etiquette rules to be broken, this is not one of them. And please don’t ask your guests to address an envelope for you to use for the thank you note.

Customs, traditions, and etiquette all play a role in our lives and are especially important at life’s milestones. Knowing what is expected helps make things run smoother, and helps one decide which rules are right for you, and which you will decide to change.


Traditionally the groom's side pays for the boutoniers.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the wonderful photos

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