Friday, April 4, 2008

Wedding Etiquette: Ceremony and Reception

  • How does a bride-to-be decide who should walk her down the aisle if she is close to both her father and her stepfather?

    It's her choice. It's fine to select either one, though generally better to ask the one to whom she's closest. If she's equally close to both, she might find it most diplomatic to fall back on tradition and ask her biological father to escort her.

  • If a bride prefers to omit the traditional phrase "Who gives this woman. . . ?" from the wedding ceremony, are there any acceptable alternatives she can request?

    Yes. The officiating clergyman may say, "Who will support and bless this marriage?" or "Who represents the families in blessing this marriage?"

  • What are the guidelines these days for the bride who wants to wear white even if she has been married before or has a child?

    Since white is considered to be a sign of joy, it is perfectly appropriate for second-time brides and those with children to wear it. But the tradition still stands that these brides not wear veils (unless required by religious custom), gowns with trains, or carry orange blossoms.

  • Is it written that the bride's parents have to foot the entire bill? Isn't that an unfair burden for one set of parents?

    The traditional division of wedding expenses has undergone a big change in recent years, and there are now several acceptable versions. It's now considered perfectly all right -- and often makes much sense -- for the bride, the groom, and/or the groom's parents to offer to share the costs of a wedding with the bride's parents. One option gaining some popularity: the bride and groom paying all expenses themselves. No matter how, or if, the costs are divided, keep in mind that the simplest wedding is often the most beautiful.

  • How would one arrange church seating for a wedding where the groom's parents are divorced -- his mother is now remarried and the father is currently engaged?

    The groom's mother and her new husband should sit in the front pew on the right side of the aisle. Other members of the immediate family should sit in the pew immediately behind. The groom's father and his fiancé should sit in the next pew, along with their family members.

  • My stepdaughter, who's been estranged from her father for the past five years (he was divorced from her mother years ago), is now asking him to pay her wedding expenses and offer his country club facilities for the reception. Yet she doesn't want him to walk her down the aisle or have any say about the guest list. Is this fair?

    No. Your stepdaughter can't have it both ways. If her father is willing to pay expenses, he becomes the wedding host and has a say about the guest list. However, if his daughter feels more comfortable walking down the aisle alone or with her mother, that's her choice.

  • My fiancé expects to be involved in all aspects of our wedding, but my mom doesn't think it's proper. What do you say?

    Tell your mother your fiancé is right in line with the growing trend of today's grooms being actively involved in their weddings. Many men are having their say in everything from choosing items for the gift registry to selecting music or readings for the ceremony; some even attend wedding fashion shows and are honored at "couples showers."

    There are several reasons why: Grooms these days are apt to be older and better established and so may be paying some or most of the expenses. Divorce can be a factor too: A man marrying for a second or third time tends to know what he wants; also, if his children are participating in the ceremony (often the case), then he's more interested in what's going on.
    What I'm hearing from women is that they love having their fiancés involved. Certainly, there are more than enough duties to share — including writing all those thank-you notes!

  • I've been invited to my friends' renewal of wedding vows, which will be followed by a small gathering at a restaurant. Do I bring a gift? If so, do you have any suggestions about what's appropriate?

    A reaffirmation of vows almost always coincides with the couple's anniversary, so, yes, take a gift to your friends' gathering (unless the invitation specifically states "no gifts"). If they're celebrating a milestone anniversary, you might select an item made of the material associated with that year (e.g., silver or pewter for a twenty-fifth). Other suggestions: an item for their home or hobby, such as a picture frame, a special book, a bottle of champagne, or bulbs or tools for their garden.

  • Are the bride's parents expected to pay most of the wedding costs if the engaged couple have already lived together for two years?

    When a couple have lived together for any length of time (certainly for as long as two years), they're usually expected to pay some or all of their own wedding expenses. Of course, the bride's (or groom's) parents may pay or help pay if they wish.
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