Wedding Etiquette For Brides

When people think of etiquette, they often imagine stuffy grandmas and repressive Victorians. But wedding etiquette isn’t there to stifle you— it’s there to make sure everyone is still speaking to one another after the big day. As you prepare for your wedding, it doesn’t hurt to remember a few simple social rules.

Gifts Are Gifts, Not Fees

Registries are a great way to let people know what sorts of things you’d like as wedding gifts. But remember gifts, while they are often given and very much appreciated, are never mandatory for wedding guests to bring. Never demand gifts or ask a guest why they didn’t purchase you something. Gifts are gifts, not entrance fees.

When registering at specific stores, it is never appropriate to list your registries on your wedding invitations, even if you only include this information on an insert. This information should only be passed on by word-of-mouth via your closest friends and family members or through shower invitations. In fact, the Emily Post Institute suggests that registry information should only be included in an insert to the shower invitations, and never on the actual invitation.

Never specify on any invitation that you would prefer money instead of actual gifts. If you really would rather have the cash, casually inform the people close to you (your parents, your siblings, your close friends), so they can mention it if anyone asks.

Every single gift received must be acknowledged by a written thank-you note— no verbal substitutes allowed! For gifts received before the wedding (including at the shower), thank-you notes should be sent at least two weeks after receiving the gift; for gifts sent after the wedding, you have three weeks after you return from your honeymoon.


When you invite guests to your wedding, specify exactly who is invited on the envelope. Don’t write “Mr. Will Watson and Guest” if you really wanted to invite Mr. Watson and his girlfriend. It’s not that hard to pick up the phone, call Mr. Watson or someone close to him, and inquire as to the name of his current squeeze.

Address envelopes using your guests’ preferred titles— not as you think they should be known. Don’t write “Mr. And Mrs. Will Watson” if you know Will’s wife goes by “Ms.” and her maiden name.

Your wedding party should all receive actual invitations to the wedding, even if they already know all of the details.

Relatives and Money

Contrary to popular belief, etiquette does not demand that certain people pay for certain things, with the bride’s parents paying for the wedding and the groom’s parents paying for the rehearsal dinner. These are common situations but are not mandated by etiquette. The wedding should be hosted by whoever would most like to have the honor— and that means either set of parents, the couple themselves, or even other family members or close friends.

However, etiquette does demand that, should you have a bridal shower, that shower is not thrown or hosted by a member of your immediate family (such as your mother or sister). Future family members (your fiancé’s sister, for example) are acceptable, but friends are the most palatable choice.

It’s Not All About You

Brides today say an awful lot of silly things: “It’s all about me,” “It’s my day,” or even “I should be able to have [object] at my wedding because I’m the bride.” Etiquette does not recognize bridal tyranny, no matter how temporary. It demands that you take into consideration the feelings of your guests, your family, and your friends, not just your own whims.