Meadow Brook Wedding Blog: Wedding Etiquette

Wedding Etiquette: Things to Keep in Mind When Planning

Whether your ceremony is a traditional church wedding, barefoot on the beach, or on the top of a mountain, weddings come with etiquette rules all couples should know. Yes, some of these “rules” are hundreds of years old, and they may seem silly. But skipping these can result in some very angry great aunts or some offended friends.

We are here to help you know what is expected according to proper etiquette.

Photo courtesy of Theresa Finck Photography

Date or No Date?

You want to invite all of your friends, but when you add plus ones, the guest list can get out of control quickly! You don’t have to offer a plus one to everyone on the list, but you should include a date for anyone in a long-term or committed relationship.

It’s also polite to offer a date to everyone in your wedding party. After all, they are spending extra time and money to be there for you on your big day!

On your invitations, be sure to include “and guest” after your loved one’s name so they know they are allowed to bring someone.


Not everyone wants children at their wedding, and that’s okay! Just make sure your invites clearly indicate who is included. A simple “Robert and Megan Smith” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” let the parents know that the kids should stay home that night.

If you are including some children, there should be a firm rule to decide which kids are in. It could be only your nieces and nephews, or maybe only kids over the age of 13. If you have guests traveling a long distance to come, you could consider inviting their children as well. Be firm but polite in explaining to guests who is invited and who is not.


There are a couple things to consider with invitations.

First is timing. You should plan to send invitations at least 6 weeks before your wedding, and guests should have at least 2 weeks after receiving the invitation before they need to respond so they can coordinate their plans. If your wedding is out of town, you may want to send them earlier so guests have time to book hotels.

The second thing to keep in mind is wording of the invitation itself. Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for most or all of the weddings, so invitations said, “Tom and Mary Green invite you to the wedding of their daughter . . . “  These days, the couple often pays for the wedding themselves, or both sets of parents help. Check out this article on The Knot about the best way to word your invites depending on who is hosting (aka paying for) the wedding.

You can customize the language of your invitations to match the style and theme of your wedding, but you should give credit to your parents if they are paying for your dream wedding!

Thank You Notes

While fewer people are writing thank you notes these days, a wedding is one time when you CANNOT skip out. Your friends and family took the time to come to your wedding, buy you a gift, and often even traveled and paid for hotels and flights. They deserve and expect a hand-written thank you note.

Etiquette dictates that you have 3 months from your wedding to send your thank you notes. However, any gifts receive beforehand (including at your shower) should get thank you notes within two weeks of when they were received.

Many couples opt for custom thank you notes with a photo from their wedding day, and that can be a nice touch, but don’t forget to write a thoughtful note with your signature. Even if someone attended but didn’t give a gift, you should thank them for being part of your special day.


Photo courtesy of Justine Castle Photography

Yes, some rules are made to be broken. But in this case, your wedding guests will really appreciate you following through with those simple etiquette rules. Feel free to put your own spin on these traditions – this is your day, after all!

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