Wedding Etiquette

The Engaged Girl's Guide to Wedding Etiquette

How to navigate the trickiest wedding planning snafus and awkward social situations so you can have a smooth engagement and enjoy your time as a bride!

Photo: Getty Images

No, you don't have to ask your estranged sister to be a bridesmaid. Yes, there are people you won't be inviting to the wedding who deserve a call. As you spend the coming months walking on air while planning your wedding, here's what all engaged girls should know about wedding etiquette so you can navigate the trickiest (and most common) social situations, avoid any bridal buzzkills, and waltz through your engagement like the graceful lady you are.

Spreading the word, part one: telling the masses
Before you use social media to blast your happy news to all of your friends and all of their friends, tell your family and your besties about your engagement first in person or, if they're long-distance, by phone (or Skype so they can see the ring and your massive grin). "Don't feel each conversation needs to be epic. It's fine to keep it to a few minutes," says Calder Clark, a wedding planner based in Charleston, South Carolina. Then you can switch your Facebook status, and after the outpouring of congrats, be sure to post a quick thank-you to the well-wishers.

Spreading the word, part two: telling the tricky ones
Got a friend who always thought she'd be the first to get married or a cousin going through a divorce? She should be happy for you regardless, so don't feel you need to tamp down your excitement when sharing the news. Just be sure any sensitive sorts hear it from you first, then try to go light on the wedding talk with them for a while. As for frenemies offering backhanded comments ("Took him long enough!"), smile and ignore. You've got too much love to hear the haters.

Saying "thank you" over and over again
Get ready to utter those two words more than you ever have in your life as your loved ones shower you with money, parties, and gifts. To keep it meaningful, says Clark, compliment the giver or ask for advice. When Aunt Sue tells you you'll look great in a white gown, say, "Thank you! How did you pick your dress?" When your BFF offers to host your engagement party, try "Thank you! You're an amazing hostess." As for notes, send them within three weeks of receiving an engagement or shower gift and within three months for a wedding gift (you get an extra cushion for your honeymoon)—and always handwrite them.

Asking for money
If you're expecting your (or his) parents to contribute to the wedding, have the talk early on. Do a sit-down (without the fiancé, so nobody feels undue pressure) and be clear about what you want, with a ballpark figure in mind. Then accept what's offered with gratitude—including their planning suggestions because, yes, if they pay, they do get a say.

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