The NEW Wedding Etiquette Guide: Everything to Know About Invitations and Guest Lists

Etiquette, Invites & Stationery

Can you really register for a mortgage? Send digital wedding invites? Say no to a bridal shower? Many of the old wedding rules have gone the way of the dowry. No longer is Emily Post dictating every step of your journey to the altar. In fact, engaged gals around the country are re-writing the rule book when it comes to nuptial protocol, so we're here to give you the low-down on the wedding world's new etiquette guide on every aspect of your big day. You'll be the new and approved soon-to-be Mrs. Manners in no time. Read, adjust accordingly, and if Grandma gives you grief, tell her BRIDES said so! Next on our list, we're tackling all your invite inquiries, from guest list questions to deciding who gets a coveted plus-one...

Who absolutely, positively has to get a plus-one?
"Any guest who is in a long-term, committed relationship," which should be determined on a case-by-case basis, says Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions in Washington, D.C. "And if a single friend is going through a tough time, like a divorce, and might feel better bringing a friend, be sensitive to that." Todd Fiscus's (of Todd Events in Dallas) rule? Anyone who is part of a couple, singles in your bridal party, and immediate family members get plus-ones; fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and large groups of friends or coworkers don't, since they can hang out with one another.

Are digital invites ever okay?
Most experts say no on this one. "Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding style," says Jackson. "A formal affair calls for a formal invitation, which is a printed one." That said, under some circumstances — a short engagement, a very international guest list, or if you're techies — it's acceptable (not to mention ecofriendly, cost-effective, and convenient) to go digital. "It can be stressful to worry that everyone has received the invitation or RSVP'd," says Brooklyn-based planner Xochitl Gonzalez. "I just did digital invites for the first time, and honestly it made everything easier."

Should we send an invite to someone we know can't come?
Send it. "If you don't, it could lead to hurt feelings," says Jackson. "Call to say you understand they have a conflict but that you wanted to include them." Warning: Do this only for the people you'd actually want to attend, because they may move mountains to get there if they think it's important to you.

See More: Wedding Invitations with Gold Foil Details

How close to the wedding can someone bail, and what am I supposed to say if they do?
"Two weeks before is usually when you have to give your head count to caterers. After that, they'd better have an emergency," says Misty Damico of Portland's Luxe Event Productions. As for what to say, "You can express that you're disappointed, but make sure you follow it with 'But I understand and I'm grateful you told me,'" suggests Tamra Sanford of NYC's Ever Swoon. If they've already made up their minds, just be gracious and move on.

Pick up the BRIDES April/May 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here. And subscribe now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

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