Modern Wedding Etiquette

If you’re wondering what to stick to, follow this simple guide to modern wedding etiquette…

The budget

  • Speak openly with both sets of parents to find out if they would like to contribute &, if so, how much. Many families will have an element of pride when it comes to paying towards the wedding. Remember also that whoever contributes has some say in how their money is spent.

The reception

  • Spend time organising your seating plan, always looking after any guests who are attending on their own.
  • If you’re having photos immediately after your ceremony, don’t let it last for longer than about twenty minutes. Continue photos at your reception venue where guests can relax more comfortably.
  • If you’re having separate guests for an evening party, make sure they don’t feel like they’ve just been invited to the end of an all day party. Reset tables & be on hand to greet them.

Food & drink

  • If you find that you can’t afford to feed & water your guests on your budget, you’ve invited too many people. Make sure guests are always well-looked after, particularly if they have travelled a distance.
  • Try to make sure that the wedding breakfast coincides with a logical meal time.
  • Make sure you ask people whether they have any dietary requirements. This can be done easily by putting a note in their invitation.
  • Always spare a thought for people who aren’t drinking alcohol. Provide plenty of water throughout the day & some interesting soft drinks.


  • Send invitations 8-12 weeks before the wedding (even to people who you know can’t make it).
  • If you receive a number of refusals, it’s fine to send out another batch of invitations. Just don’t leave it so late that the recipient realises they are on the ‘b’ list!
  • Even if you want your guests to wear morning dress, it’s not correct to refer to it on the invitation. You can, however, include ‘black tie’ if you want them to wear evening dress.

The gift list

  • There’s nothing greedy about writing a list. Strictly, your list shouldn’t be mentioned in the invitation. Keep the mention simple & discreet.
  • Every present should be acknowledged with a thank you letter. This should be handwritten & personal. It’s fine to send it as soon as you receive the gift - even if this is before the wedding.
  • Asking for money shouldn’t really be done. If you don’t need anything, don’t ask for anything. However, again, times are changing. If you’re saving up for a new home or organising decorations, you could ask close friends or family
  • If they would like to contribute. Accept that some guests will not appreciate being asked for money, so compile a general gift list as well.

Remember, it is your big day & you should do whatever makes you happy.

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