• By: OLM Staff

Bette’s Etiquette Beat: Do’s and Don’ts of I Do: Wedding Etiquette

Welcome to old and new friends. Make yourself at home. I trust all had a good start to the New Year, practicing your impeccable manners, and are eager to climb aboard as we resume our etiquette journey for 2013.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this is a busy time of year for a particular demographic: the recently engaged. Many are turning their attention to planning the perfect wedding, so if you will soon be wearing something sparkly on your ring finger, then this blog’s musings are for you.

I am sure many of you have noticed that when browsing news racks of late, much of the content is geared to the recently betrothed. While summer is the busiest time for all things bridal, such a blog has merit for brides, grooms, family members, guests and first-time wedding planners.

In Ottawa during the first week of February, The Globe and Mail and Metro featured wedding-related stories. The Globe claimed that a six-figure wedding is not such a rarity, while Metro chronicled country singer Kelly Clarkson’s “meltdown” during her recent quest for the perfect dress. With bridal shows happening almost every weekend in the National Capital Region of late, I was reminded that Randy Fenoli was the special guest at a bridal show last September and the city was abuzz about his visit. Who? Allow me to tell you a little more about this revered “guru of the gown” with whom I have recently become acquainted.

Many reality TV show watchers will recognize the name, but for those who do not, Fenoli is the fashion director at Kleinfeld, a high-profile bridal atelier in New York City. He is also the effusive star of Say Yes to the Dress, the wedding-themed reality show on The Learning Channel (TLC) that has taken the airwaves by storm for seven seasons, gathering a huge cult following. One friend is a rabid Say Yes to the Dress devotee, and my recent visits to her home have included three or four back-to-back episodes of the show. I can see the allure: 365 days of the year, brides and their entourage flock to this shrine of satin, tulle and lace to consult with this marriage maven in a no-holds-barred quest for the perfect dress and one single goal: Say yes to the dress. Why? The shop claims to have the largest collection of bridal couture on the planet. A kind of wedding-themed West Edmonton Mall, dare I say?

Ergo, this blog of Bette’s Etiquette Beat is cheekily titled Do’s and Don’ts of I Do. I humbly suggest if you take heed of what follows, you may just have the wedding of your dreams. And your guests will feel so honoured and comfortable, they will gladly accept an invitation to your next wedding!

Now first off, I should say I’ve never been married, so I don’t assume to know what it is to walk in a bride’s shoes. I have been to enough weddings as a guest and as an events planner, so witnessed up close and personal my share of joy and a few bridal blunders and wedding woes thrown into the mix.

So with that introduction, I share with you the first of my encounters, which hopefully will prevent the same situation befalling you. Please enjoy and don’t be surprised if the following tales ring any (wedding) bells.

Please pass the potatoes and the… pabulum?

As those of you who have attended many weddings know full well, there is usually a seating plan. For weddings, seating plans are a must. I don’t know about you, but I always find this practice a little stress-inducing. Am I going to be at a fun table? Will I know anyone?  If I am on my own, will they put me at the kid’s table? Be honest, how many of you faced this last situation? (My hand is way up). Over 15 years later, the memory of this experience still makes me wince. Suffice it to say this social situation tested my etiquette élan to the absolute max. I still cringe, remembering the pit in my stomach when approaching my assigned table only to be greeted by not one, but three high chairs. Let’s just say out of a table of 10, three of us were able to take advantage of the host bar and wine with the meal, which by the way we did quite lavishly!

My point here is that while the focus of the day is the bride and groom and their enjoyment of the celebration, making guests feel welcome and valued is equally important. When one places priority on making others feel comfortable, regardless of the situation, then one truly understands etiquette.

This one’s on me!

One sure-fire way of ensuring your guests feel welcome and comfortable is to have a host bar. Whatever you choose to serve, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic, put your guests’ drinks on your tab. This etiquette rule applies to all celebrations where you have invited guests, with such expenses being a part of your hosting obligations. Would you charge people for drinks in your own home? I think not. And a cash bar at a wedding – never.  As an attendee at such a special (if sometimes stressful) occasion, I am always grateful to the bride and groom for paying the bar bill. It tells me they value my attendance and friendship. And what better reason for a toast – Cin Cin!

And with that anecdote, I’ll sign off for this blog and look forward to resuming our journey through the maze of decorum do’s and don’ts next time.

Glad you dropped in. You are always welcome.


All Photos: Alison Fowler- Alicat Art Studio