Answers To Your Burning Wedding Etiquette Questions

I received a question from a Clise Etiquette Facebook fan about wedding etiquette. It’s that time of year when many people get engaged. So, I asked my Facebook fans if they had other questions they wanted me to answer in a blog post. I got quite a few good, sometimes shocking, questions.

I hope these questions and answers help you get your wedding planning or attending off to a good start. 

Q. I once had a girlfriend invite a few women to her wedding shower, who then found out (at the shower) that they weren’t invited to the wedding. Ouch. What’s the protocol for who gets invited to wedding showers?

A. Ouch is right! The only people invited to a wedding shower are those who are invited to the wedding. However, sometimes a friend or coworker wants to host a shower and not knowing who is and isn’t invited to the wedding plans to invite both groups. If the bride is aware of the shower she should be sure only those who are invited to the wedding are invited to the shower.

Also, showers are given by a close friend or family member, other than the bride’s mother or sister. The bride (and groom) never hosts her own shower.

Q. How do you politely tell a guest that they cannot bring three of their pals to your event? This happens a lot to my bride friends.

A. I’m surprised people would actually think they could bring uninvited friends to a wedding. If their friends didn’t receive a wedding invitation they are not invited. But for those friends who don’t understand this, the bride would simply say “I’m so excited to have you attend our wedding but I’m afraid we can’t accommodate anyone who wasn’t invited. Our venue and catering are based on a set number of people attending and unfortunately we can’t exceed that number. I’m sure you understand.” And, leave it at that. Your friends do not need to feel badly for saying no.

Q. If the bride is paying for the pictures how do you go about negotiating and making sure that the groom’s family has pictures taken too.

A. No matter who is paying for the photographs, the photos should include shots of both the bride and groom’s family and friends. According to Leticia Baldridge, etiquette expert and former social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy, her book New Manners for New Times states, “the bride’s parents are supposed to make a gift of eight to ten photographs to the groom’s family.” Whether the bride’s family does or does not make a gift of photos, the groom’s family should purchase any (additional) prints they want.

It’s important to discuss any details such as this in advance so that there are no surprises.

Q. When I get married I want my best friend there, but I absolutely hate her husband and don’t even want him in the same city as me (they live out of state). How do I put that nicely?

A. There is no way to put that nicely. Therefore you wouldn’t say a word and you would invite both of them. You will damage the relationship by trying to explain why you don’t want her husband at your wedding. She married him and he is part of her life. Grin and bear it.

There were other questions, but they will have to be answered in subsequent posts. If you have any marriage etiquette questions feel free to ask them in a comment.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Carole on January 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Like you Arden, I was very surprised people would think they could bring extra, uninvited people (who I had never even met) to my small, intimate, out-of-state wedding.

    When I called and told him that I was sorry, but the venue was small and could only accommodate those who were invited he said “no problem–you’ll just get a smaller wedding gift from us, then”.

    Can you imagine?

    Needless to say, after the wedding, I cooled this relationship and we speak rarely speak now. I think it was mutual that we just weren’t very good friends after all.

    My best advice is to be organized, thorough, and direct. As wedding issues arise–and they will, simply deal with them directly and immediately. And tactfully, of course!

  2. Arden Clise on January 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Carole, I just had to pick my mouth up off the floor. Really, someone said that? I am beyond shocked! Truly, not only was he rude to ask in the first place but to then “punish” you for saying no by stating he would give you a smaller present. I say good riddance to somone so petty and rude. Truly unbelievable!

  3. cmg14 on March 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I have a unique (annoying) situation. My fiance (Chris) recently asked his uncles (Tom & Charlie) to be in his wedding party; Tom as the BM & Charlie a grooms man. (They all work together in a family business, by the way.) Tom is Chris’s godfather & they had been close for a very long time until a couple years ago due to Tom’s girlfriend, she keeps him away. Chris has had his heart set on Tom being his BM since we got engaged 8 months ago. So Chris asked Tom to be his best man, Tom said “yes” and that was that. Not even a month later, Tom & Charlie had a “meeting” with Chris where they attacked him. They accused him of only asking Tom to be in the wedding for financial gain. They also said it was inappropriate to ask Tom to be his BM at a family dinner in front of everyone! After the huge fight, Chris told Tom not to worry about being BM, that he’d find someone else. Well, the next day everyone makes amends, and Tom & Charlie remain in the wedding party. I’m so disgusted with these two grown men, and cannot believe Chris kept them in the wedding. I thought being a BM was supposed to be an honor! I won’t be comfortable with them being in our wedding party, period. Is there anything I can do in this situation??

  4. ArdenClise on March 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

     From the many questions and comments I get about weddings your situation is not unique. Weddings and funerals tend to bring the worst out in people.
    It’s understandable that you feel uncomfortable having these two men in the wedding party. They acted very inappropriately. But, what’s done is done. Chris obviusly feels close to both Charlie and Tom, especially Tom. What I suggest you do now is seek to understand what transpired between the three of them. Ask Chris what made him feel comfortable having Tom and Charlie in the wedding after they had attacked him the day before. Do this to learn more about the situation, not to try to make Chris change his mind. Perhaps Tom and Charlie came to their senses and realized they were being petty. Men are typically quicker to forgive then women.
    If after learning what transpired does not make you feel better about the men being in the wedding party, let Chris know you feel uncomfortable with it because of how they treated him. Ultimately it is Chris’ decision on who gets to be by his side in the wedding. If he feels comfortable with them in the wedding party, you won’t have to love it, but you will need to let it go and trust Chris’ decision.
    Good luck.

  5. Joy on October 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Arden,
    Love your blog!! I always either learn something new, or get reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten.
    Question – My husband & I have been invited to an Engagement Party ~ can you please comment on the protocol for gifts. I’m not sure whether to bring one or not.
    Thanks again, Arden.

  6. ArdenClise on December 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    @Joy I apologize for the delay in responding to your question. It seems I’m not consistently getting notifications of my comments.
    Thank you for reading my blog. I’m going to imagine the Engagement Party has taken place since you asked in October, but in case not, here is the answer to your question. A gift is not necessary. You’ll most likely be invited to the wedding so that will be the time to bring a gift. If you’d like you can bring a card congratulating the couple on their engagement.
    I hope that helps. Thank you for asking.

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