We're coming back to another season where we will be attending a number of weddings during the fall. There are a number of things to consider as a guest from gift giving, attending events and more. Regardless of the type of wedding you're attending there is still an etiquette to be aware of. We sat down with Lizzie Post, great-great granddaughter to the iconic Emily Post, to find out what we need to know about wedding season as guests as well as those that are in the bridal party. In addition, she shares some great ideas on the rules of attending a wedding even in an age of social media where we're eager to post our best wishes to the happy couple.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Can you tell our readers a bit about your background and your connection to Emily Post?
LIZZIE POST: I have been working at The Emily Post Institute (the business Emily founded in 1946 to allow her work to carry on through her family) for the past 11 years and Emily was my great-great-grandmother.
AM: What would you define as expected elements at a wedding whether for a casual or a glam affair?
LP: No matter how you get married, there are usually two people making a promise and some form of a celebration. Whether that’s a big party or the couple driving around to their friends and family and showing the marriage certificate from the courthouse, it matters not. What matters is that two people have made a commitment to one another and how they want to share and celebrate that is up to them.
That being said, most people have an exchange of vows followed by a party and that party has a typical routine of a cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. (Speeches and toasts, first dances, bouquet tosses, and cake cutting are all typical elements, but not mandatory by any etiquette standard. Cutting the cake does carry with it the traditional rule that once the cake is cut, guests may leave. If you leave this element out of a wedding it's nice to have
something in its place to let guests know it’s okay to leave. (Though, most guests will simply do so once they are ready to end the night.)
AM: What are people doing now to add their own touch?
LP: Pretty much any and everything! Whether that’s a grand entrance to the ceremony, or labeling the tables at the reception (themes include: superheros, cocktails, authors, movies, destinations, foods, books, bands…) you name it and a couple can personalize it to their style and needs for their big day. One piece of advice: Ask yourself if this element of your wedding is necessary to you feeling married on your big day. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when planning a wedding and feeling like every decision has to represent you and your partner and be an amazing expression of the two of you. It doesn’t. Pick and choose what will really make you feel married and let the rest of it (maybe that’s napkin colors, or the variety of appetizers, or the size of the lights hanging in the garden bar area) just be whatever works.
AM: What are great wedding gifts to give?
LP: So many ideas! Mainly, keep the couple and their interests in mind. I partnered with Marshalls this wedding season because I absolutely love getting inspired to give a wedding gift off the registry. (I usually look at the registry to get an idea of color or style.) At Marshalls I often put together a basket of things for the couple. If they like to cook, some cookware and specialty ingredients or a set of serving ware (platters, trays, plates, bowls – choose what works! - and serving utensils) and one of my favorite recipes written out on a nice card – which you can also find at Marshalls! They have great stationery for thank you notes too! Picking out the items is fun – and I'm always pleasantly surprised by what I find!
AM: Times change but what wedding etiquette stands the test of time from the bridal side and the attendee side?
LP: The couple should always spend a moment with each guest. Whether it’s a receiving line, or visiting tables during the meal, or just making the rounds and being diligent about it, it’s important that the couple gets to connect with each guest and thank them for coming.
For guests, RSVPing appropriately is one of the most important things. RSVP. Period. Whether you are attending or not you must let your host know. Most hosts are trying to figure out headcounts for vendors and it’s crucial to get the right number both for financial and logistical reasons. Guests should never add plus ones or extra guests (children included) to their RSVP unless those people have been specifically indicated on the invitation. (“Ms. Christine Williams and Mr. Kamal Metta & Family” means the kids are invited. “Ms. Christine Williams and Mr. Kamal Metta” with no indication of family are being invited as a couple not as a family.)
AM: Are there new rules regarding etiquette?
LP: No, there really aren’t many “new rules” in wedding etiquette. While it’s not a rule, one thing that is emerging is phone-free weddings and not posting tons of wedding pictures before the happy couple has a chance to.
AM: Tell us about your partnership with Marshalls and how this is fitting for wedding gifting?
LP: I have been very excited to partner with Marshalls this wedding season because it is one of my go-to places for wedding gifts. Everything is always new and fresh when I go in and with all the different departments it’s easy to find something special for the couple that I’m excited to give. One of my favorite gifts this summer has been luggage and travel accessories! Everyone thinks to give to the honeyfund, but luggage ends up being a real lifesaver when it comes time to pack!
AM: Does Marshalls have a registry and if not how can brides be kept in the loop on items that they can cross off their list?
LP: Marshalls does not have a registry, but it’s perfectly appropriate to shop off registry (the registry is there as a suggestion and to help guests who might have a hard time thinking of a gift). This is one of those awkward etiquette places where practicality tries not to step on the toes of surprise. If you don’t send the gift immediately, you can always let someone close to the bride know that the item has been purchased at another store and therefore to remove it from the registry. It’s a little awkward telling the couple themselves and then not sending the gift until after the wedding (or bringing it to the wedding). Instead it’s fine to the let the mother of the bride (or the appropriate alternative) or a member of the bridal party know, and ask that they let the bride and groom know the item has been taken care of.
If you send the gift immediately after purchasing, then the couple will receive it and know to cross it off the registry list. You can add a note with a gift receipt if you’d like letting them know it was purchased off registry, that way they know to remove the item from the registry.
Don’t worry too much about repeated gifts, the couple will likely have to deal with a few returns anyway.
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