The rules have been thrown out. You want what you want, and why not? But don’t forget everyone else. Herein, the new etiquette.
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Once upon a time, wedding invitations came in white or ecru, the groom did not see the bride before the ceremony, and everyone knew and obeyed wedding etiquette. Times were simpler then.
Planning a wedding is more complicated these days. The traditional way is still a cultural touchstone, but brides-to-be feel freer to express their individual styles and tastes, and there is no longer any such thing as the “typical” family to accommodate.
Faced with competing tastes, financial needs and a strong desire to “do things right,” brides are increasingly turning to etiquette resources and experts to help tailor the rules in appropriate ways.
“It used to be everything was cut and dried. You had these etiquette books and you stuck to it,” says wedding planner Litzie Clayton of Especial Day in Wilmington. Today etiquette is largely a matter of what the bride wants, she says.
Adding to the confusion is the plethora of etiquette resources. Emily Post became the guru in 1922 when her book, “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home” was first published. Since then, the industry has ballooned. Coordinators, vendors, bridal magazines and Websites all provide different takes on such questions as who gets invited, who pays for what, how to introduce stepparents and can you use paper napkins with linen table cloths?
Be Our Guest
One of the greatest sources of anxiety is invitations, which form a perfect storm of propriety because they require deciding most of the big questions in one fell swoop: who to invite, who gets credit, how to address people, and whether to go traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between.
It’s a wonder a bride’s head doesn’t explode just thinking about it.
For better or worse, “Invitations set the whole tone for the wedding,” Clayton says. Does the event require formal dress? Are children invited or is the reception for adults only? Who is hosting the event? The invitation should say.
Blended families can pose the biggest dilemmas, says Erin Proud of Proud to Plan in Wilmington. Modern brides must contend with multiple divorces and remarriages when figuring out who to honor and how to avoid hurt feelings. The biggest complication Proud ever handled was the decision to put five different names on an invitation to recognize all financial contributors, including parents, stepparents and ex-stepparents.
Page 2: Tweaking Tradition, continues...