Wedding Etiquette - The Do's and Don'ts

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Wedding bells round the corner? As you get into the nitty-gritty of planning your big day, you have probably realized that there are numerous aspects of wedding etiquette that must be considered to ensure a hassle-free and enjoyable event .Here’s a ready reckoner of wedding etiquette, to help you plan out a wedding that is special not just for your spouse-to-be and you, but for everyone else associated with it. 

Who pays for what? Sort out wedding-related expenses well ahead of the event, to avoid misunderstandings between the two families. Usually, the bride and her family are responsible for the groom’s ring and gifts, church fees, reception-related costs such as flowers, food and music, and wedding invitations. The groom and his family traditionally pay for the bride’s ring, her bouquet, the rehearsal dinner, transportation and accommodation for groomsmen and gifts for the bride. However, since  wedding etiquette norms keep evolving, it is best for the two families to sit down together and divvy up the costs in a rational and equitable manner.


There are various seating options you can consider. You could seat people in groups (all uncles and aunts together, all cousins together) or according to their age (all kids together, all teens together). Number the tables and place name cards on them. Common sense dictates that warring relatives should not be seated close to each other!

The wedding invitation

Your invitation plays a crucial role in wedding etiquette. If you intend conveying a specific message, tactful communication is of paramount importance. For example, if you are inviting only three members of a family, you could say “Three seats have been reserved for you.” Remember to ask for RSVP and do include return postage to your invitation.


It’s your prerogative to invite whoever you want. However, do remember these simple rules:

  • Guests over the age of 18 should ideally receive their own invitations
  • The person officiating at your wedding and his/her significant other should receive an invitation.
  • Your parents, maid of honour, bridesmaids, and groomsmen should also be sent invitations as souvenirs.

Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the ceremony rehearsal is attended only by the couple and the wedding party. Friends and extended family join in for the rehearsal dinner that follows. If the number of guests is large, do send out printed invitations . For a smaller get-together, an informal communication will suffice. The rehearsal dinner is usually the responsibility of the groom’s family.

Bridal Party Attire

There are no hard and fast ‘rules’ concerning bridal party attire, but here are some traditional norms you could bear in mind:

  • Outfits for the maid of honour and bridesmaids are usually coordinated with the bride’s gown. You can coordinate colour, cut, design, or even one element such as gloves or lace. Remember, your bridesmaids must pay for their own outfits.
  • Mothers of the bride and groom usually pick outfits that complement each other.

Cash Bar

Traditionally, wedding cash bars are considered tacky and are hence a big no-no, especially in families where propriety matters a lot. Increasingly though, cash bars are catching on because they reduce costs. Some guests could get offended, so go for it only after a lot of thought. While you don’t have to have an open bar at your wedding, you could try a mixed approach: allow two to three drink stubs for each adult guest (you can even insert them in the invites). Guests will be responsible for paying for any additional drinks that they consume at the wedding.


If you have registered for gifts, it is acceptable to informally let guests know. But it is not okay to include that information on your wedding invitation. Also, you don’t need to open your gifts in front of guests.

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