This post was published in June 2014 and updated March 2020.
You’re engaged, now what? Maybe you’ve dreamed of planning your perfect wedding day as long as you can remember. Or perhaps you break into a cold sweat just thinking about it. Either way, it is possible to make it a fun and exciting experience as long as you avoid any potential pitfalls along the way. So without further ado, here is our list of top dos and don’ts to help guide you through proper wedding etiquette.
And when you’re ready to register, consult our handy registry checklist.
Do share your good news with close friends and family before broadcasting your engagement across social media. But you knew this, right?
Don’t expect gifts at your engagement party, although many guests will bring a small gift as a heartfelt gesture. And FYI — a good bottle of wine or a cookbook is always an appropriate gift for the occasion.
Wedding Registry Etiquette
Do register for a variety of items at different price points to steer guests in selecting a gift you not only want, but need — and avoid getting five crystal vases you’ll never use.
Don’t include registry info on your wedding invitations. Rather, spread the message by word of mouth, a personal wedding website or on bridal-shower invitations.
Do have more than one registry. It’s okay to have up to three registries to give guests options.
Guest List Etiquette
Don’t invite anyone to your engagement party or bridal shower who won’t be invited to the wedding. An exception is if your co-workers throw you a shower at work.
Do be clear on the invitation who is invited, and by omission, who is not invited. Generally speaking, you should extend a plus one to guests who are in a committed relationship, even if you haven’t met the significant other. However, you aren’t obligated to give single guests the option to bring a date. If children are invited, include their names. An omission signals an adults-only affair. (You can also enlist the help of your parents to spread the word on your wish to have an adults-only event.)
Don’t invite anyone to your wedding you don’t want there. Give parents the option of providing a guest list in order of preference for you to work from. As for guests who ask to bring an uninvited date, you are not rude for saying no. It’s impolite to even ask.
Do require guests to RSVP and give them a 2-week window. When it’s time to give a head count to vendors, follow up with a phone call to the slackers who haven’t yet replied.
Don’t have a cash bar. If you’re on a budget, it’s okay to only serve wine and beer or a signature cocktail. Hopefully, your guests are savvy enough to know they still have to tip even at an open bar.
Do take the time to greet everyone at your wedding and thank them for coming.
Don’t forget to give your wedding attendants a gift to show your appreciation. Anything monogrammed with their initials makes for a special memento of the big event and your friendship.
Post Wedding Etiquette
Do send a handwritten thank-you as soon as possible and no more than three months — tops! — after receiving a gift.