Beginner’s Guide to Wedding Etiquette: 50+ Tips and Resources

After announcing your engagement, the kudos and the parties have subsided and you’re ready to get down to the business of planning your wedding. One thing you will have to think about as you order your invitations and choose your DJ is how certain traditions should guide your behavior and shape your special day. That’s because like all most rites of passage, weddings require certain etiquette. Read up for a quick Manners 101 crash course that will help you become a savvier bride.

Meeting and Introducing Family

Unless you and your intended already have a super tight-knit family and group of friends, you may be stressing over meeting your in-laws, introducing them to your parents, and how everyone will get along in the process. Here are a few tips to help make the introductions effortless.

  1. Groom’s Parents Responsibilities: According to this article, traditional etiquette decrees that it is customary for the groom’s parents to call on the bride’s parents after an engagement is announced. Stressing this point could help assure that your parents meet before the wedding and that the burden for introductions is off of you.
  2. Meeting the In-Laws with Comfort : If you haven’t met your husband-to-be’s parents, read this article with great tips on how to make it less awkward. This author suggests tips like learning about your in-laws interests before you meet to help conversation flow smoother.
  3. Emily Post : According to Emily Post, your parents should meet his parents in the spirit of friendship – no matter who initiates the conversation. She recommends that even if distance is prohibitive these introductions occur before the wedding and occur in a casual setting.
  4. Hundreds of Heads: A compilation of advice from married couples who have already gone through the initial parental introductions. One woman recommends preparing a list of topics for each set of parents to review as conversation pieces.


Yes, there are even rules about who to invite to your wedding and how to address the envelopes. Maybe not the most fun part of your wedding etiquette research, but definitely a must-know.

  1. Engagement Party Guests : Do you have to invite everyone from your engagement party to your wedding? According to this wedding expert, yes.
  2. Wording Your Invitation : Yes, we’ve already mentioned that there are even etiquette rules for wording your invitations. Find out where to use formal and informal language on all your Save the Dates and official invites.
  3. Invitations for Divorced Parents: If your parents are divorced, you may be wondering how to word your invitation to reflect all of your parents and stepparents. Crane & Co. has some tasteful suggestions on how to handle a difficult situation.
  4. Wedding Paper Divas: Wedding Paper Divas tell you everything you need to know about who to invite to your wedding and how to invite them.
  5. eInvite: Along with wording, there are certain rules to keep in mind when you are addressing the envelopes. This article covers that topic and also gives tips for creating a guest list.
  6. Wedaholic: Figuring out how to whittle your wedding list down to an acceptable number can be a difficult and stressful task. But following this advice will help you create your wedding list with ease.

Table Manners and Place Settings

Conducting yourself and your loved ones at the dinner table will be a major consideration when planning your wedding reception. Find out how to best seat your guests and how to correctly hold a knife in the process.

  1. American Table Manners : A basic primer on the rules that govern table manners in America, including what foods are acceptable to eat with your fingers.
  2. Table Manners for Guys: Is your fiancé a little unruly at the dinner table? If so, give him this primer to make sure he’ll be on his best behavior at your reception.
  3. Wikipedia : Table manners are so important they have even earned a spot on Wikipedia. This entry covers the basics in table manners in pretty much every culture, helpful if you plan to wed in Peru.
  4. eHow: A resourceful article on how to create your very own seating chart. It states that when doing this your family should always be your number one consideration.
  5. Simple Seating: Simple Seating is a no frills, free service recommended by the people at Life Hacker for its usefulness.
  6. Expert Village: A short video that covers the proper way to hold a knife continental style.
  7. Perfect Table Plan : According to this site, 51 percent of wedding guests prefer having assigned seating. Follow these tips and create a seating chart that will make your guests happy and comfortable.
  8. Documents and Designs: Create a custom seating chart to match your theme by using this service.

Financial Concerns

“Who pays for what?” This might be the most common question you and your fiancé ask when going over your wedding budget. Here are some guides that will help you split up the costs without any bickering.

  1. Who Pays for What : Confused about what your family is responsible for payment-wise and what falls under your fiancé’s purview? Then you need this terrific checklist that tells you who pays for what. Not surprisingly, the bride’s family gets the majority of the bill.
  2. Who Pays for What II : Cross-reference your wedding etiquette facts on footing the bill with this simple list from Top Wedding Links.
  3. Who Pays for What III : Another handy resource for dictating the rules of check writing complete with suggestions on how split thing up if conventional rules about payment don’t mesh with your financial plan.
  4. Transportation Costs: Having an out of town wedding that requires your guests to incur some transportation costs? Find out whether you’re expected to pay for any of it.
  5. Bridesmaids Dresses: Feeling guilty about those pricy bridesmaids dresses you’re asking your girls to wear? Then compensate with a nice gift, because according to this source bridesmaids pay their own way.
  6. Honeymoon: Before you go demanding that your parents or your husband’s parents pay for the honeymoon, read this article, which states that there are actually no set rules for who pays for honeymoon expenses.
  7. Asking the In-Laws for Help: If you and your hubby-to-be need some extra help from his parents, but they haven’t offered to pay, what can you do?


Dancing is the most fun part of your reception, so follow the simple advice below for a lively and enjoyable night.

  1. Wiki Answers: This source says every reception should begin with the wedding dance. Eventually the bride’s father will cut in with the groom then asking the bride’s mother to the floor.
  2. Buzzle: This article says that despite the traditional rules governing the first dance, the main point to remember is that dancing at a wedding is a time for everyone to let loose and have fun.
  3. Buffalo Bride: A thorough guide to wedding dance etiquette.
  4. Cape May Wedding Guide: Cape May has listed some terrific suggestions for how to pick your wedding songs, how to structure the dancing at your reception, as well as a long list of popular wedding songs for the dances that matter most.
  5. Most Popular Wedding Songs: An extensive list of song recommendations for not only your first dance, but for the processional, bouquet toss, and the cake cutting.
  6. Wedding Wire’s Picks: Wedding Wire is a fun site that provides you with a list of songs for each part of your reception and even lets you listen to the songs online. Maybe you already know what your first dance will be, but what about the last song? Wedding Wire has got you covered.


We’ve all heard about the dreaded drunken best man toasts and the bridal attendants who just couldn’t get the wording right. These tips for you and your “toasters” will help iron out the awkward bumps in the road.

  1. Wedding Toast Etiquette: Who toasts who and when? Here’s a definitive guide for all your toasting etiquette, as well as tips on how to make the toasts one of a kind.
  2. Proper Toast Etiquette: This article covers the particular timing of each person’s toast – a definite boon to helping you plan your reception to a T.
  3. Free Wedding Toasts: If your “toasters” have a case of nerves, or if you just don’t trust them to give a non-awkward speech, refer them to this site for guidance and a list of already-written speeches. While they won’t want to copy one verbatim, they could definitely use the templates for inspiration.
  4. Toast Quotes: Another great resource for your toasters — a site with touching quotes suitable for romantic occasions.
  5. Worst Wedding Toasts: Learn what your family and friends should avoid with this humorous list of the worst wedding toasts ever.


Want to skip all these rules and regulations and just get straight to the business of marriage? Then eloping might be the answer for you. But before you pack your bags, know there are even etiquette rules about running off to marry.

  1. Aisle Dash: If you want to skip the big ceremony and fancy details, you might be thinking of eloping. But still – do you have to tell anyone? Check out what this article has to say.
  2. Wedding Gazette: You may want to elope, but feel like it’s too much of a slight to the people in your life who love you most. This article will help you decide if eloping is right for you, and, if so, how to do it with grace.
  3. Utterly Fabulous Network: Being able to elope in a stress-free manner is the key to a happy wedding, according to this article. So read up on ways to handle the feelings of your loved ones who won’t be attending.
  4. Celebrating After Elopement : OK, so you’re bent and determined on eloping, but want to be able to celebrate with friends post-wedding. Find out all the etiquette rules for after parties and announcements.
  5. How to Elope : A helpful site for all your eloping needs and questions, including a detailed section on eloping etiquette.

General Tips on Wedding Etiquette

  1. Frugal Bride : If you are planning your wedding on a dime, Frugal Bride is a great resource to check in on frequently. And this handy article is a great, succinct list of the dos and don’ts to follow when planning your wedding.
  2. Top Wedding Questions: Find the answers to all of your wedding-related questions on this thorough site maintained by a wedding expert. The forums are packed with good information.
  3. Etiquette Checklist: Another resource to help clear up financial confusion and help you get stuff done on time, this article comes with a complete timeline and checklist of tasks.
  4. Pocket Idiot’s Guide: The Idiot’s Guide gives you all the wedding etiquette rules you can fit in your pocket in this compact and resourceful book.
  5. Wedding Coaches: If you feel too nervous to rely on conflicting advice and your inept instincts to navigate wedding etiquette, you can always seek the help of a professional and hire a wedding coach.
  6. Gift Etiquette: While the gift giving is not your responsibility, know what you should and shouldn’t expect out of your guests. Figuring out what people will be spending might help you create a diverse and reasonable registry.
  7. Cake Cutting: Surprisingly, even the cake cutting portion of your reception has rules and regulations. This article will tell you where to place the cake and when to cut it.
  8. Wedding Channel: The Wedding Channel is a great one-stop resource for all your wedding etiquette questions. From invites to whether or not you can ask your bridesmaids to not get a tattoo before your big day, the Wedding Channel has got you covered.
  9. Etiquette Hell: Etiquette Hell is a great, fun site that goes over all of the worst faux pas that can happen at a wedding. The site’s owner has even published a book called “Wedding Etiquette Hell: The Bride’s Bible to Avoiding Everlasting Damnation,” which focuses on the etiquette that means the most to those closest to you and not the traditional rules guiding ceremonies and receptions.

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