Last week, we covered wedding etiquette 101 for guests, AKA how not to act a fool on your best friend’s big day.
But not to worry, ladies who are taking the plunge this year, there are rules for you, too. Here, etiquette expert Myka Meier of Beaumont Etiquette offers up her 15 crucial wedding etiquette tips for brides that will have you poised like your name is Kate Middleton on the day you say “I do.”
Dining & Reception
1. All about napkins. “Napkins should be folded in half and should go in your lap as soon as you sit at the table. The crease of the napkin should face toward you. Dab (not wipe) your mouth on the inside corner of the napkin so that no food or lipstick gets on your dress when you lay it back in your lap. If you need to use the ladies or leave the table for any reason, simply pinch the napkin in the middle and lay it on your chair (do not place back on the table for everyone to see stains).”
2. Put place card in an obvious spot. “When guests arrive to the wedding reception, if you have a seating chart or table numbers, they should be clearly displayed near the entrance of the venue to avoid guest confusion.
3. Be a lady about it. “To maintain elegant dining throughout your meal, take small bites and rest your silverware between every 3-4 mouthfuls.”
4. The proper way to hold a wine glass. “Always hold your wine glass at the stem – no matter if it’s red wine, white wine, champagne or a cocktail. If you are wearing a colored lipstick or gloss, make sure to drink on the same spot of your champagne or wine glass so that you do not create the ‘lipstick ring’ around your glass… it’s one sure way to ruin a great photo.”
5. The gluten-free posse. “Ask ahead of time what dietary restrictions your guests in advance have so there are no surprises day of the wedding.”
6. Make sure guests can see each other. “Ensure your table decor (including flowers and tall candles) do not block the view across the table so conversation can flow freely.”
7. Go Boy-Girl. “No matter if you have round or rectangular tables, seating should be man-woman-man-woman when possible. If you have rectangular tables, couples should not be sat directly side by side or across from one another, but instead catty corner to each other.”
8. Hors d’oeuvres Rules:
“Serve passed hors-d’oeuvres and drinks upon guest arrival. If you don’t have service staff available, lay out a buffet table of drinks and snacks to tide appetites before the meal.”
- Hors d’oeuvres should always be served with small plates or cocktail napkins.
- Hors d’oeuvres should always be able to be eaten in one mouthful
- Never serve greasy or oily finger foods. If there is the slightest chance of oil or grease, be sure to offer guests tooth picks to help them eat without having to go wash their hands afterwards.
- Always have at least one vegetarian option.
9. Kids first. “If you have service staff, children and elderly should be served food first, followed by women, then men.”
10. Be over prepared. “Weddings tend to be an over indulgent and celebratory day. Plan for plenty of food and drinks where possible, so that if someone wants a second helping or additional drinks, you can be a gracious host or hostess.”
Guests & Invites
11. Plus ones. “A topic of every wedding: ‘did you get a plus one?’ The general rule is if you have the ability to offer a plus one to all guests, you should. Never invite someone without a plus one who you know has a significant other. If for financial or space restrictions you are unable to offer all guests a plus one, always prioritize offering out of town guests a plus one as well.”
12. Dress code. “Always specify on the wedding invitation or website what the dress code of both the wedding and reception will be. It will avoid confusion among guests and prevent multiple calls and emails asking prior to the big day.”
13. Tell ’em when to leave. “Put departure timings on the invitation so guests know when they should not only arrive, but what time they should leave by too … it will help decrease the chance of an overstayed welcome.”
14. No kids allowed. “If you do not want to invite children to the wedding, make sure this is communicated clearly, gently and early on. You may phrase the wording delicately and offer to help find childcare “While we love your little ones dearly, the wedding reception will be for adults only. Childcare suggestions from the hotel are included below…”
15. Don’t ask for cash. “Modern registries now include honeymoon sites such as ‘Honeymoon Wishes’- whatever you do, never ask for cash. If you wish to have a registry, subtly include it on your website so guests do not feel obliged to purchase something from your choosing.”