Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wedding Rules According to Jean

A number of people have asked me when I was going to blog about the wedding rules. I have been reluctant because weddings are so personal and I am so opinionated. So I'm going to give this disclaimer: It is (was) your wedding. Regardless of what Emily Post or I think, you should do what makes you happy. I will not judge you. Okay, I might. But I'll keep it in prospective and respect that you are true to yourself. I even understand it. I drink white wine with red meat because I don't like red wine. I don't care what any snotty waiter thinks—though he is welcome to blog about correct wines.

First off, any couple willing to put themselves or their families in debt for a wedding hasn't got enough sense to get married, let along stay that way, so just forget the whole thing. Get married within your means. Be proud of what you do. Just don't try to pretend that piped in music is a string trio.

The invitation. It should be white or ivory engraved in black. The wording should be basic, starting off with something like "Mr. and Mrs. Bride's Nervous Parents request the Honor of Your Presence--or Pleasure of Your Company if the wedding is not being held at a house of worship. There must be no talk of celebrating love, pictures of the couple, or pop out bells and doves. Address them by hand with real black ink. These days, that doesn't have to be a fountain pen. Gel pens are real ink but get a nice one. Spell out Mister, Avenue, Doctor, etc. If you want to hire a calligrapher, that's fine but not necessary. If you want to print out mailing labels on your computer, that is not fine in any universe. No, not even in a cursive script.

Wedding Party Attire. Those who sell wedding dresses and rent formal attire will lie to you. I will not.

The Bride-- If you want to drag a twelve foot train down the aisle, that's great but don't do it at two o'clock in the afternoon. The most formal dress must be worn in the morning or at night—before noon or after six. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.

Female Wedding Party members. No black, no white. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.

The Groom. And really, all males in the wedding, apart from the ring bearer. (I'll get to him.) Morning formal weddings means morning suits—cutaways and striped pants. Afternoon means dark business suits. After six, means black or white tie, depending on the formality of the bride's dress. This means no tuxedos before 6 p.m. Now, about that ring bearer. Regardless of the time of day, preschool boys do not belong in morning suits, business suits, black tie, or white tie. They belong in Eton suits and knee socks. This brings me to the next subject.

Children in the Wedding. There are differing views on this. I didn't want any. They steal the show and I didn't want any competition. Truly, I'm not usually that full of myself but this was my day and I figured there might never be another when everything was all about me. And there hasn't been. Still, I have since come to regret this, mostly because Baby Girl simply will not let it go. She was five at the time and was not one bit happy about giving out rice bags. She felt she had been robbed of her rightful place at the altar with a basket of rose petals. She has reminded me of this at least twice a month for twenty-two years and four months. So if you're going to have a ring bearer and flower girl, bear in mind that they might refuse to do it at the last minute and if they don't, they are probably going to raise hell. Of course, as I can attest, the children in your life might grow up and raise hell because they didn't get to do it. So decide what you can live with and go with it.

Though I've not witnessed it myself, I hear that in the last few years there has been an unfortunate trend toward having something called a miniature bride and groom. Avoid this. There is supposed to one, and only one, person wearing white and that is not some eight-year-old intent on stealing your thunder.

Wedding Director. In the name of all that is Holy, hire yourself a wedding director. This is not to be confused with a wedding planner, who helps plan the whole thing and charges a lot of money. A wedding director meets with you a couple of times and is on hand for the rehearsal and the big day to, well, direct. She will make sure everyone has the right flowers and is wearing/carrying them correctly. She will get everyone lined up and down the aisle at the right time. She will boss the photographer around. In other words, she will save your fanny. If you think your aunt, ex stepmother, or 5th BFF, who didn't make the bridesmaid cut, can do it, you are wrong. The wedding director is not emotionally involved and doesn't care if she sees you go down the aisle or say I do. Hence, she can be somewhere else—like making sure the cake has arrived and that your drunk ex boyfriend is escorted off the premises without much ado.

Photographs. Remember that the wedding is not for the benefit of producing pictures. The photographer is meant to record your day as it unfolds. Do not let him dictate to you. He will try. If you don't want the groom to see you before the ceremony, do not be bullied into having group shots done before. Please do not leave your guests to cool their heels for an hour between the ceremony and the reception. Go stand in the receiving line so that the people who cared enough about you to come to your wedding can offer their good wishes. Get the party started and then go back for those pictures. The photographer will not like this. He wants to go home. If need be, have the wedding director whip his butt. She can; she's seen worse.

The Guest List. Where do you draw the line? That's hard. I didn't draw a line; neither did I spend a lot of money. It was more important to me to celebrate with my friends and family than to have a sit down meal and an open bar, which we don't really do here in the south much anyway. There is no shame in a punch, cake, and finger food reception at the church. But if you draw a line—say family only—stay within that line. Or don't—if you don't care what it's going to cost you and I'm not talking about money.

Random Thoughts

  • Don't sing to each other. Just don't. Please.
  • No programs.
  • No unity candle.
  • If you want a power point presentation of your childhoods and courtship, do it at the rehearsal dinner. Also, don't include any naked pictures of yourselves.
  • No silk flowers. If you can't afford a lot of flowers, don't have a lot of flowers. But what you have, needs to have , at some point, been alive.

I could go on but I've already gone on too long.

And this bears repeating: It is (was) your wedding. Regardless of what Emily Post or I think, you should do what makes you happy.

What's the worst thing you've ever seen at a wedding?


  1. I can't think of the worst thing I have seen at a wedding; it simply escapes me. BUT I do have a BIG beef to add to your list. Recently, there seems to be a trend of having a small "family only" wedding in some exotic locale. That's fine, I don't really like going to weddings any way. However, the bride still sends out those shower and tea invitations to everyone in the phone book - even people she hasn't seen since she was a toddler. Proper etiquette is - IF YOU'RE NOT INVITED TO THE WEDDING CEREMONY YOU DON'T HAVE TO GIVE A GIFT! I hold firm and fast to that rule, going so far as to tell the bride's mother that when she asked why I wasn't at the tea (Everyone was told that the couple was getting married in Savannah and only in front of close friends and relatives - such gall). I think it is rude and grasping to just invite people to a tea or shower but not the wedding. So don't do that. If you're going to have a wedding far away or closed to everyone except family, don't invite people to a tea just to get gifts. There, that's my pet peeve these days.

  2. The worst thing I've ever seen was at a local church wedding (denomination will not be named) where the minister gave a thirty minute sermon on how the wife was supposed to submit to the husband anytime he wanted "it." I was disgusted and I couldn't imagine what the bride was thinking.
    I hate those unity candle things too. It looks silly to watch the bride and groom struggle to stare at each other for the length of some cheesy song.

  3. Okay, you have got to be kidding Debra! I swear....

  4. Cheryl--I think a gift if something to give because you want to, no matter the occasion.

    Debra--Oh, my word. That might top the Bad Wedding Hall of Fame list. I have heard the submit sermon at a wedding, but "it" was not mentioned. The minister of Baby Girl's wedding gave the submit speech. Later, someone asked me if that was her philosophy! I said, "Are you kidding? She had no idea what he was saying. She was too wrapped up in her 42 bridesmaids and 73 groomsmen and ushers." As she should have been.

  5. I think there are a lot of people violating that no bare shoulders in the House of the Lord rule.

    The priest and I had a discussion about that obey thing before we ever got to the day. He knew better than to say it. :) But it was an Episcopal priest, so he probably wouldn't have anyway. ;)

    I hate how the emphasis today is on spending so much money. Look, use that money to put a down payment on a house! Don't go into debt (as you so very wisely said, Jean!). The house will serve you a whole lot better than will the bills for that outrageous wedding, which you didn't enjoy anyway because you were stressed about all the details.

    I know it's a reception thing, but I can't stand the smooshing cake into faces thing. My husband and I had an agreement beforehand that we weren't doing that to each other. And we didn't, much to the disappointment of a few guests. But we showed each other respect and refused to bow to pressure. I think that was a pretty good sign for how our marriage would go.

  6. I went to a wedding where the pastor said the same stuff to the bride -- submit submit submit no matter what! Must be the same denomination.

    I had a small bbq wedding. We didn't break the bank holding it.

    I was in once in a wedding where I had to wear a LIttle House of the Prairie looking type of bridesmaid dress. It was hideous. I've never been a brides maid since that fateful day.

    Oh, I gave you all a versatile blogger award. Come visit my blog to get it!


  7. Ha. Love your rules. The worst thing I've seen at a wedding? It's a tie. One involved an open bar (Cajun wedding) and a brawl in the parking lot. The second -- the minister was elderly, and he forgot not only the ceremony but the bride and groom's names. A sister-in-law had to stand right beside him and feed him lines. And she was winging it. At least that one was entertaining? What's your take on thank you notes? Is there, should there be a time limit? And yes, there IS a reason I ask.

  8. Lynn--I didn't promise to obey either. I was married in the Methodist church by a woman. We didn't smash cake into our faces either.

    Emile Charbonnet (guess his heritage) was seven years old with a powerful throwing arm. I know because he threw a rice bag down the front of my dress. I laugh every single time I think about it.

    Christine--Haven't we all worn a hideous bridesmaid dress or six? Thanks for the VBA!

  9. LJ--I think as long as it is within the first year, it's fine. They have usually gotten lots of gifts and are trying to make a marriage. I had rather get a heartfelt note 11 months after than a scribble that doesn't mention the gift in two weeks.

    But it does worry me sometimes that, in all the chaos, the gift didn't make it. I once had a groom say to me at the wedding, "We got the dinner plate you sent. That was so generous." His wife sent a note several months later. I didn't care much for her. In the end, neither did he. I hope he got the plate.

  10. Jean, what about two years? I won't say anything more, since this is a public forum. Ahem. :-) -- LJ

  11. No. Two years is not okay. One year means, "I'm busy. I'm trying. And I am thankful." Two years means, "You owed me a gift and I don't have to care."

    No baby shower gift.

  12. Thanks Jean...you have allowed me to "laugh out loud" today....you crack me up!!! So true....and for goodness sake....if there is a reply card in the invitation....reply! Also ....if any invitation says RSVP.....do so!! People are so RUDE these days!!

  13. Very interesting rules, Jean. I can see many that are constantly broken at one time or another.

    What's the worst? I guess I've been fortunate to have been to few weddings and even fewer faux paux.

    My wedding was a military wedding, held at 6 p.m. I had a wedding planner and crossed sabers. We had a unity candle. We took pictures after the wedding and then drove to the Polo Club for the reception, which consisted of punch, cake, mints and nuts. Very simple and 29 years ago, last month.

    Here's a big rule: If the waiter comes to tell you a tornado is headed your way during the rehearsal dinner, head to the basement!

  14. Amy--Thanks for stopping by! We need to have lunch while school is out. I miss you.

    Kathy--Is there anything more magical that a military wedding? I've never been to one but I've seen them on TV since all Royal weddings are military weddings. Walk in a commoner, walk out a Princess! I need to see those pictures.

    A tornado? Really?

  15. Worst wedding: it was held in a trailer, and the "decorations" included Christmas lights strung across a loaf of bread. And, unfortunately, the happy couple went forth and multiplied.

    What really ticks me off: getting shower invitations from people I don't know. I get one at least once a year.

  16. Maven Linda--Christmas lights and bread as a decorating medium. Hmm.

    I, too, have been invited to showers and weddings by people I don't know. I figured if I saw them I might know who they were but that isn't good enough. I decline or ignore depending on if there is an R.S.V.P. or Regrets.

  17. I just want y'all to know that as a single girl I have used this blog to get some GREAT ideas for when I have my next wedding!

  18. but I promise not to send anyone an invitation to a party that isn't invited to the wedding at the trailer park, with Christmas lights, bread center pieces, an open bar, a unity candle, butterflies in a brandy sifter, unity sand, and lots of children. I also promise that should I receive any gifts I will write a heart-felt thank you note as soon as I get back from submitting to it on the honeymoon but I do not promise to obey!

  19. Stephanie - I highly recommend municipal nuptials. My favorite so far. Short. Sweet. Straight on to the honeymoon (which in my case, after 5 years, hasn't ended)

  20. I'm late replying. Crazy day yesterday!

    Debra--No fuss, not bother. Happy forever. What else is there?

    Stephanie--Are you going to wear a train at 2 o'clock?

    Do you have a picture of Precious Angel in that green velvet Eton suit? When he was three and raised hell in that wedding? I couldn't find one or I would have posted it. Since he's a Annapolis this week, what could he do?