Can you really register for a mortgage? Send digital 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! First up, we're tackling all your pre-party questions — from all your engagement soirée concerns to your rehearsal dinner Q's...
We want to have an engagement party, but who should throw it?
Whoever wants to — even you and your fiancé. In the past, it was the duty of the couple's parents, but "those days are long gone," says Misty Damico of Luxe Event Productions in Portland, Oregon. "Couples are now more financially independent, and it's become the norm to host your own party." (Just make sure that all of the attendees are also invited to the wedding!)
My mom wants to throw me a shower filled with dorky games. How can I make it feel more me?
Anyone who throws you a shower should know you well enough that you can be honest about the look, feel, or theme. Give her a sense of the vibe you're hoping for, and "then you can give input and assist but not take over," says planner Tamra Sanford of Ever Swoon in New York City. And if games are not your thing, just ask up front that the bingo cards be left at home.
Can I have more than one shower?
Yup. Often your work friends will want to throw you one, as will your mom or sister or bridesmaids. Be sure the guest lists don't overlap so no one feels she has to come to multiple showers and buy multiple gifts.
Can I say no if someone offers to throw me a shower?
Yes, but give a good reason (you don't like the attention, someone else is already planning one and you don't want to burn people out, et cetera) and then suggest something else she can do to help, like making a wedding playlist or browsing invitation options with you.
Do I have to open shower gifts in front of everyone? No.
Showers are now more about celebrating the milestone than gawking at your loot. Tell the hostess in advance that you'd prefer to open presents later, says Damico. "It's less boring for guests, and it's kinder," she says. "No one has to feel like her gift was modest compared to the one before it." Plus, many will have your gift shipped directly to your home.
Is a rehearsal dinner mandatory?
Not a big traditional one, but you should host something the night before the wedding. "We're seeing more people have a cocktail party with whomever arrives early," says Sanford. However, you should always be sure to invite "the parents, all the bridesmaids and groomsmen and their partners, and the officiant," according to Allison Jackson of Washington D.C.'s Pineapple Productions.
Can the rehearsal dinner be way more casual than the wedding?
Yes, there's been a spike in super-laid-back rehearsals, especially for destination weddings. "It kicks off the weekend in a fun way and doesn't overshadow the big day," says Sanford.