As wedding designers, we get asked wedding etiquette questions, ALL. THE. TIME. e.g., how to address invitations, how to approach in laws during the wedding planning, who should pay for the rehearsal dinner, and the list goes on and on. So we thought it would be helpful if we laid out the most commonly asked invitation, attire, and wedding day ground rules. Thank us later!
Have more etiquette questions? We'd love to hear from you! Or just buy Emily Post's etiquette book (a great asset and an even greater coffee table accessory).
- Married couple: Mr. and Mrs.
- Married couple but wife kept maiden name: Ms. and Mr. Wife addressed first.
- Single guests, different last names: Address female first. Write out full names. (no "and" in between names).
- Judge and Doctor: Always addressed first because their title outranks Mr. or Mrs. Judges - The Honorable Alex Smith. Doctors - Dr. Alex Smith. If both husband and wife are doctors - The Drs. Smith.
- Young woman under 18: Miss
- Young woman over 18: Ms.
- Young boy under 13: Master not Mr.
- Outer Envelope v. Inner Envelope: Inner envelope embellishes names, families and unnamed guests. For instance, it's proper to include first names on the inner envelope (Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Mr. Alex Smith, Mrs. Annabel Smith); when inviting a family, only include parents on outer envelope while inner envelope can include names of children or simply "and Family"; if guests are not named on outer envelope, then include "and Guest" on inner envelope only, not on outer envelope. Key - outer envelopes are reserved for more formal addressing.
- When to give a guest a plus one: If married, engaged, living together, or in a relationship for more than six months.
- Invitation Requirements: All guests invited to engagement party and/or bridal shower must be invited to wedding.
- Timeframes: Save the Dates - at least 4 months before wedding date; Invitations - 6 to 8 weeks before wedding date; RSVP - 2 to 3 weeks before the wedding date.
- Save the Dates: Must include wedding location on save the date.
Wedding Guest Attire Etiquette
- White Tie: Most formal attire. Men to dress in white tie and coat tails (not common in the U.S.)
- Black Tie: Men required to wear black tuxedo or black evening jacket with matching slacks. During summer, appropriate for men to wear a white dinner jacket and black trousers. Women are required to wear long formal dresses (some might argue dress should be black but not required).
- Black Tie Optional: The middle point between formal attire and black tie attire. Men required to wear either black tie attire or a dark suit and white shirt. Women are required to wear either long, more formal dresses or short dressy cocktail dresses.
- Formal Attire: Men required to wear a dark suit and white shirt (no need for black tux). Women are required to wear short dressy cocktail dresses.
- Semi-Formal: Men required to wear a dark suit and white shirt (khakis allowed). Women are required to wear a cocktail dress.
- Casual: Men required to wear either a button-down shirt and tie or a button down shirt and sports jacket. Khakis are also allowed. Women are required to wear less formal cocktail dresses.
Miscellaneous Etiquette Pointers
- Always RSVP on time.
- Never add a plus one.
- Don't assume kids are welcome.
- Do NOT wear white to a wedding.
- According to Emily Post, you have three months to send a wedding gift.
Bride and Groom
- Greet each guest personally.
- Do not send thank you cards with pre-printed messages.
- According to Emily Post, you have three months to send your wedding thank yous for received gifts.
- Cash bars are frowned upon.
- Feed your vendors!
- Choose a convenient date and time for guests, i.e., Friday weddings should start later (around 7 or 8pm) since majority of guests work a full day on Fridays), Sunday weddings should start earlier (around lunch time) since most guests work a full day the next day.