Wedding Reception Etiquette.

Emily Post Wedding Ceremony and Reception Etiquette Guide

Etiquette fundamentally prescribes and restricts the ways in which people interact with each other, and show their respect for other people by conforming to the norms of society. In the world of Wedding Etiquette some things to consider are: Greet friends and acquaintances with warmth and respect, offer hospitality equally and generously to all guests, wear clothing suited to the occasion, contribute to conversations without dominating them, eat neatly and quietly, avoid disturbing others with loud music, follow the established rules of the location or venue, arrive promptly when expected, and respond to invitations promptly.

These are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding wedding reception etiquette (click here to see complete wedding etiquette guides):

1. Can the host/hostess of the reception ask the caterer to wrap up all the leftovers?
You better believe you can!!! After all, you paid for it - it's yours and it's a very common (and a proper occurrence). Be sure to let the caterer know ahead of time that you will want to take some leftovers so he/she can have the proper contains ready for you.

2. Is it proper etiquette to give a gift if a couple is renewing their wedding vows?
Absolutely! Usually, if the couple has not stated otherwise through the rumor mill, the guest would give life style gifts, such as certificates to spas, or a certificate to a favorite restaurant. Many times, guests will purchase a joint gift, such as a vacation package, or a night in a nice lodge. Often, though, many couples ask for no gifts and request donations to their favorite charity.

3. My brother is getting married in July. Both he and his bride live here. However, the bride is from another town, about 5 hours away. The wedding will take place in her home town. We (my parents & I) have some questions regarding the rehearsal dinner. 1) Is it proper to have the rehearsal dinner at the bride's parents' home? 2)Who is usually invited to the rehearsal dinner? 3)What part does the brides' family have in the planning of the dinner? 4) What are the responsibilities of the groom's family for the rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner is a part of turn-of-the-century proper wedding etiquette and the responsibility of the groom's family. In the past this was not an obligatory item - but - that was then and this is now. The rehearsal dinner is attended by the wedding party - those participating in the wedding - often including the officiant and spouse of the officiant - the spouses and/or live-ins of participating members of the wedding party - grandparents and a few other "favorite" relatives are generally welcomed.

click here to see complete wedding etiquette guides

The bride's family generally helps the groom's family (particularly when the groom's family is from out-of-town) in finding an appropriate location and with the names of special members of the wedding party to be invited. Is it proper to have the rehearsal dinner at the bride's parents' home? Well, it isn't improper - maybe a little unusual, but not improper - I think it would depend on how the groom's family felt about it - and, perhaps, financial considerations. If the bride's family was kind enough to offer (for the right reasons) then there's nothing wrong with it. If the groom's family elects to take the bride's family up on the offer then it wouldn't hurt for the groom's parents to offer to pay for the caterers

4 . My fiancé and his mother don't really get along. In fact, they are not close at all. He does not want to have to share a special dance with her at our wedding. I know she will be very hurt if he doesn't. Is there any way to get around this?
If your fiancé's mother is coming to the wedding and to the reception, do you think it may be to try and be a "party-pooper" - if the answer is YES then you have a bigger problem than just a dance - if the answer is NO then your fiancé should consider doing the dance - after all, regardless of what the rest of the family thinks, it IS polite, it IS etiquette and it IS something that will only be "once in a lifetime". Now, from another angle, why "hurt" anyone - regardless of how they may have hurt you in the past - when it's not necessary to do so??? This wedding isn't about "getting even" or "not sharing" a special moment ... this is about TWO OF YOU ... tell your fiancé to go ahead and be a hypocrite this once ... your marriage should be joyous and wonderful - not only for the two of you but for EVERYONE involved; and if they don't feel it is joyous and wonderful - well - at least you both made the effort and that's all that can be expected of you; and you both can start your lives together without ANY hard feelings. Look at this situation not as "the glass is half empty" and being a hypocrite - but - "the glass is half full" and the word to go with this view is magnanimous -- your fiancé can be magnanimous and not hypocritical -- and still do the dance. The alternative (etiquette-wise) is to opt for having just the bride and groom do the special dance (in this case it usually follows immediately after the toast). When the only special dance is the bride and groom the attendants join them after a minute or so and then (after another minute or so) the remainder of the guests are encouraged to join the dance. While this solves the problem, and is proper etiquette, it also eliminates the tradition dances of the bride with father-in-law, bride with father. So - if you want to do it right - one of the two of you will have to sacrifice: You sacrifice the dance tradition of being able to dance with your father and father-in-law (at the traditional time); or, he can find a way to be magnanimous enough to take on a short (but not too short) dance with mom.

5. The Top Three Wedding Etiquette Dilemmas:
#1 - Including the Partners of Wedding Guests
Partners of invited guests must be included in a wedding invitation, whether or not they are married, engaged, or living together and whether or not anyone in the wedding party knows them. Suggesting that single guests who aren't attached to a significant other bring a date is a thoughtful gesture, but one that is certainly not required and often not realistic. A single invitation addressed to both members of a married couple, or a couple who live together, is sent to their shared address, while invitations to an engaged or long-standing couple who don't live together are sent separately, to each address. Envelopes addressed to a single friend may include "And Guest," indicating that he or she may bring an escort or friend. If it is possible to obtain the name of the guest, the name would be included on the invitation to the friend, or a second invitation may even be sent directly to the date at his or her home address instead.

#2 - Guests Who Ask To Bring A Guest of Their Own

The answer is straightforward: It is impolite of a guest to ask if he can bring a date -- but it is not impolite of you to refuse. You may certainly answer no. However, if you do discover that they are engaged or living together, the thing to do is invite your friend's partner, whether verbally or by invitation.

click here to see complete wedding etiquette guides

#3 - Sending Invitations to Out-of-Town Guests Who Can't Possibly Attend

Apply careful thought. Many people prefer not to send invitations to those friends and acquaintances who they feel cannot possibly attend the celebrations. They believe that doing so makes it look as if they are merely inviting those friends in order to receive a gift. In most cases these friends should receive a wedding announcement instead, which carries no obligation whatsoever.

There is the flip side to this dilemma. Some good friends who live far away might actually be hurt if you do not send invitations, even if your intent was to spare them from feeling obliged to send a gift for a wedding so far away. These friends, upon hearing news of your engagement, may actually have been making plans to travel to your wedding. In general, always invite truly good friends -- even if they live far away.

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