Upon your engagement, you’re bound to get a flood of well wishes, logistical questions, and nuggets of advice. This barrage of opinions can get very old, very fast. But a practice such as a wedding deeply steeped in tradition and etiquette is bound to draw out staunch opinions—not all of which will be applicable (or even preferable) to your big day.
Don’t get me wrong; wedding etiquette is important. For the modern bride and groom, it’s more of an adapted guideline of “how to avoid being a jerk to your friends and family without realizing it.” However, some wedding traditions are entirely outdated (and sometimes downright offensive) while some pieces of advice may not gel with your worldview. Family members and friends are bound to share loads of suggestions for and objections to your wedding plans and they’re not all going to be winners. Here’s a list of 10 popular pieces of advice you can feel free to avoid taking while planning your wedding.
1. “Hold a fundraiser for all the extra money you need for the wedding!”
Websites such as GoFundMe.com are set up to help people raise money for unforeseen medical expenses and disaster relief. Plan the wedding you can afford (and don’t go into debt to do so). Don’t ask your guests to pay for your big day. If people offer money, such as parents or grandparents, that’s great and generous of them. However, you’re not entitled to request this from anyone.
2. “Having uneven sides of the wedding party looks weird—you should add/subtract people.”
People aren’t props. No matter how tempting it may be to have even sides in pictures, selecting the people who will be standing by your side at your ceremony should be based solely on your closest relationships, not what’s going to look good in photos (and trust me, you can make any number of people look good in photos).
3. “Don’t worry about food—splurge on your dress and venue!”
Unfortunately, people love telling others how to spend their money. However, neglecting hospitality elements of your reception in favor of beauty (outfits, an expensive venue with a view, etc.) is not the way to go. A reception is held to thank your guests for attending your vows: having decent catering (not a potluck, not food that just sits out in the weather, not friends/family cooking and serving the day of your wedding) is essential.
4. “You can’t get married that month; your brother’s getting married then!”
Happiness and celebration do not exist in a vacuum; there is plenty of love to go around. Unless you’ve planned your wedding on the same weekend (especially far away) as a sibling, cousin, best friend, etc., there is no rudeness here. Couples don’t get to claim a “wedding month” (or, heaven forbid, a “wedding year”), and the spotlight will not dim on one couple or the other. That being said, I strongly recommend you check in with your VIPs before securing your venue, just to ensure their availability.
5. “What?! No bouquet or garter toss?! But you must!”
Some relatives will question the absence of any and every reception tradition you may be excluding. This advice also stands for parent/child dances, cake cutting, and any other event that you and your sweetie may not want to include in your celebration. I promise—you don’t have to have them.
6. “You can’t wear a white dress; you live with your fiancé / you have children.”
Despite popular belief, a white wedding dress does not symbolize purity. It was popularized by Queen Victoria, as she wore white to her wedding in 1840. The color was an uncommon choice for a wedding gown up until this point, and it merely became a long-standing fad. On top of this, you can wear whatever the heck you want to your wedding despite your “virginal” status.
7. “Giving your bridesmaids personalized getting-ready robes is enough for their gift.”
See my “people aren’t props” comment above. Giving your gals (or guys, or whomever!) gifts to thank them for being in your wedding should be personalized to them. A present that’s meant to play a part in your wedding isn’t much of a present to them—even if they get to keep it afterward.
8. “Even if they aren’t invited to the wedding, you can invite them to the bridal shower!”
Barring a surprise party from work colleagues or something of the like, everyone invited to the pre-wedding events should also be invited to the wedding.
9. “Having a destination wedding of any kind is rude.”
You can expect more declined invitations, of course, but don’t let anyone tell you your nuptials in Hawaii are a direct slight to them personally. Unless you’re aware of a medical condition or a pregnancy that would prevent a VIP from attending your wedding, you should feel just fine about your far-away fête.
10. “Just pick and choose the children you want to invite. Other parents will understand.”
You’re welcome to have a kid-free wedding, but this is an “all or nothing” type of decision. The only exceptions to this rule are pretty fair: if you only plan on having children in the wedding party invited to the big day, that’s alright, and newborn babies really should be accepted to a kid-free wedding. However, if you and your beloved decide not to include children at all, stand firm on your decision. You may receive some declined invitaitions, which is your guests’ right, but stick to your guns on this one.