5 New Etiquette Rules for the Modern Wedding

It’s no secret that weddings have changed drastically over the past several years. With the rise of the digital era, it’s likely that your Facebook friends might find out about your engagement before your grandmother will, and you might have a wedding guest live-tweeting every “aw”-inducing moment of your special day. With the difficult economy, you might find yourself having to adjust your plans to suit your budget, especially if your parents are also struggling and can’t afford to foot the whole bill for you. And as couples are now usually waiting until their late-20s and beyond to tie the knot, the dynamic of the typical wedding has shifted, including things guest list expectations and decisions on the location of the wedding.

Although the landscape may be changing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules—it just means that they look a lot different than they used to. Here are 5 new wedding etiquette tips to keep in mind while you plan:

1. Tell your close family and friends before you socially announce your news. It’s just not the same for your loved ones to read about your engagement on Facebook or to see a photo of the ring on your Instagram as it is to hear you say it yourself, either in person or over a phone call. Have the courtesy to share your exciting news in a personal way with those who are closest to you before you tell the whole world in 140 characters or less.

2. The bride’s family doesn’t have to pay for everything. Weddings can be extremely expensive these days, and it’s pretty archaic to expect the bride’s family to pay for the whole thing. Unless you’re exchanging a flock of sheep for their daughter’s hand in marriage or some other antiquated tradition, it’s polite to offer to split up the costs between yourselves and your families.


3. You don’t have to invite everyone in your parent’s address book. First, you and your fiancé should decide on how big you want the wedding to be. If you’re having a small wedding with only, say, 150 guests, you’ll have to be very selective with who you choose to invite. Problems may arise when your parents get involved and insist you invite a slew of relatives you haven’t seen since you were 10—so it’s important to sit down with everyone who’s involved with the planning and let them know up-front what your desires are for the guest list. This whole process is easier than it used to be because of Rule #2. The more you spend on the event yourself, the less obligated you’ll feel to make the wedding about what everybody else wants.

4. You can ask for non-traditional gifts. The modern bride and groom are often individuals who have already lived on their own for a while and have all the typical household items people traditionally purchase as wedding gifts. Hence, it’s perfectly okay to ask that your wedding guests just bring gift cards or cash. If you do have items in mind that you would like your guests to purchase, a registry is definitely the way to go (and this is now even easier than ever to compile with the availability of online shopping). If you simply can’t think of anything you need as a couple, you can ask that your guests donate to your favorite charity in lieu of a wedding present.

5. Your wedding can be as whatever as you want it to be. Gone are the days when it was necessary to hire a snobby wedding planning company to design everything for you. With the rise of popular creativity-inspiring websites like Pinterest and Etsy, it’s become very acceptable—even encouraged—that you get creative with your wedding. Whatever your style, taste or special interests are, there’s no reason not to incorporate them into your wedding. It’s your day, so why not make it as you as you possibly can?

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