Nicest of Them All….Weddings Decoded

Alright, so earlier this week I asked the question of which type of wedding would be considered the most formal – morning church, evening church, at-home or venue. The answer? It’s actually an at-home wedding. Let’s jump into the “why” that y’all know I’m so eager to always explain?

Now, remember, this is for the USA, and this is actually the traditional etiquette answer, per Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post. Weddings, by definition, are formal events. This does not equate to formal attire, though. While weddings have been held in churches for centuries, in the USA, it was more common until about the 1950s for weddings to be held at home, provided the bride’s family was wealthy enough to do so. It was considered a very formal affair. Full meals would be provided by servants for hundreds of people. After about the 1820s, families who could afford it went all out for weddings. A minister would still perform the ceremonial part of the wedding, and the reception would commonly follow.

In the 1950s, the USA experienced a religious resurgence with a big push to hold wedding ceremonies in a church building, such as a sanctuary. Still, even then it was popular for the bride’s family to host a full meal and reception at their home or at a family home. As peoples’ homes have decreased in size, the idea of having a receptions at a venue has increased in popularity. In Amy Vanderbilt’s 1954 etiquette book, she declares home weddings “nicest of them all,” showing a preference for tradition over trend. Think plantation home size.

Going by this etiquette precedence, the “nicest” type of wedding and reception a couple would most likely have today would be to have a church wedding and an at-home reception, provided the home is large enough to accommodate a large number of people. It would include a full meal with people serving the meal. An alternative that would be considered just slightly less formal would be a church wedding with a reception at a venue.

Now, if you choose to have a venue wedding, does any of this mean it’s not ok or “nice?” Not even in the least. It is, however, stating that there are certain expectations for choosing a more formal wedding type. That may rub some people the wrong way, but in all areas of life, there are expectations. I have a certain level of expectations when I come to work. Never feel obligated to host any event, including a wedding, that you can’t afford.

Now, going off of the comments, someone mentioned the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess. That, in my opinion, was a perfect combination of old and new. It was a morning church wedding, followed by a luncheon reception. Finally there was an evening “home” reception. The duchess also changed dresses between the events. It was elaborate, but it had an element of youth to it that I loved. She also kept in mind appropriate dress for both venues. As we’ve talked about, the later in the day it gets, the more formal your attire would be. You’d never wear an evening gown to a church, regardless of time, so she kept it before 7 (well before, as it was morning). Prior to the evening event, many of the guests had also changed clothes into more formal threads.

Etiquette helps us to better understand others’ expectations. I hope you enjoyed this post! As always, thank you for reading.

 

The Two Epiphanies

Today I had an epiphany. Not like the one that will take place on January 6th. The lower-case kind. Ironically, it had to do with the 12 days of Christmas. A little backstory on me. Growing up, my dad was Catholic, and my mom was United Methodist. We’ll just say “Methodist” for short. We’d attend Mass at 9am, head to eat breakfast, then go to Wesley for the 11am service. Suffice it to say, I got a double dose. Most Sundays, the readings were similar, if not the same, at both churches. Until I was about ten or so, I thought boys were Catholics and girls were Methodists. I don’t know. I just did.

When I was 14, I made the decision to join the United Methodist Church. Prior to this conviction, though, I spent a lot of time researching the different denominations, including others I wasn’t raised with. During this time, I really explored the different seasons of the church. If you haven’t been able to tell, I absolutely love traditions, and the seasons of the church are quite traditional.

While I had always known that the Christmas season starts on December 25th and lasts for the next 12 days, I had NO idea (truly, no idea until this morning), that this wasn’t common knowledge. So, I decided to dedicate today’s blog to being the 10th day of Christmas and to promote the idea of traditions and celebration of Christmas.

My husband and I haven’t taken down our Christmas decorations. Now you know we’re not lazy (at least not about this). We just are choosing to celebrate all 12 days of Christmas. If you choose to not, that’s completely ok. I just posted the meme as a humorous aside. 🙂

So, a little 12 days of Christmas etiquette and traditions.

  • Traditionally, the tree and nativity scene remain until Epiphany. We elect to keep all of our decorations up since we keep our decorations in the attic. One trip is much better for me. 🙂
  • On the Twelfth Night, there are oftentimes parties to celebrate Christmas.
  • Each day of Christmas represents a day honoring or remembering different people/events. Several of the days honor a saint.
  • Here is another reference for your convenience! http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/12daysofchristmas.shtml 

Thank you for reading and Merry Christmas!

I truly did not know that people thought the 12 days of Christmas started BEFORE Christmas day instead of beginning on Christmas day, as is correct. I wouldn’t have known people did not know when the 12 days began if I hadn’t wished someone a Merry Christmas today. Please email me any etiquette question you’d like explained! 🙂 etiquettebyemily@gmail.com

Also, I know the dessert forks are facing the incorrect position. 🙂 My daughter helped set the table, and I didn’t catch the mistake until after the picture had been taken.

     

 

 

Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 2

I hope the first part in the series wasn’t too off base for you. This part may not be what you’re expecting, either.

qtq80-xVTiFS

We, as adults, have an obligation for setting standards for our youth. At an age that is appropriate for the denomination, older youth should have ways to help the church, whether that is being part of the choir, an acolyte, an usher or whatever job is age appropriate. With proper adult guidance, these youth will become the active part of the church. Without them, the church is literally dying.

Kids are much more capable than we often give them credit for. Unless it is against the rules of a particular church, it is proper etiquette for adult church leaders to offer roles to youth. It is important to get parental approval first, though.

Adults, give the same respect to a child participating in a worship service as you would give another adult. If an acolyte is walking down the aisle, don’t cut them off to rush out, unless it is truly an emergency. There is a sacredness to each act, and if we want our youth to respect it, we should, too.

Adults and older youth – if you see a parent with his or her hands’ full, please open the door for them.

Adults – please do not touch young babies without the parent’s permission. If you are sick, wait until you are well.

Now we’re about to get into some grayer area.

As mentioned in a previous post, kids should be dressed respectfully. If they are not walking, though, there is no need for shoes other than parents’ choice. If an outfit is extremely uncomfortable for a child, please don’t dress them in it. It is unlikely they will be still, and they will probably try to escape out of it.

Parents, it is your responsibility to only take your children to worship services when they are well. Just like babies are susceptible to illnesses, the elderly are, as well.

I hope these two posts will help adults and children have more grace and respect for each other. Life isn’t a Pinterest board, and things will not be perfect all of the time. However, through etiquette, we can feel more comfortable in knowing what expectations are set for us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you for reading!

 

Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 1

In this day and age, churches overall have become more casual. That being said, this post may be slightly skewed, as I truly enjoy the formality and ceremonial part of a church service. My apologies in advance if this doesn’t apply to you. Also, this will be from a Christian point of view. If visiting a synagogue or attending any other religious service not affiliated with Christianity, the etiquette tips mentioned may or may not apply.

Now that the disclaimer is done, this post will focus primarily on church etiquette for youth. The underlying tone is about respect of a place of a worship.

qtq80-CikWjQ

There are a few rules that are universal for both adults and youth.

  1. No hats inside of the building (sanctuary, nave, etc.) unless on a female. The hat must not be for practical purposes (baseball cap) if it is left on, and it must not block another person’s view.
  2. Electronic devices should be muted during the worship service.
  3. A person may elect to not participate in any part of the worship service that conflicts with their personal beliefs. By this I mean if you are visiting another church, and you do not wish to partake in Holy Communion, you do not have to. However, you do not have the right to interfere with the integrity of an event.

qtq80-5I4VlW

For children, the old adage of “they are meant to be seen and not heard” is quite antiquated. There is, for Christians, one God. Not one for youth and one for adults. If a baby is crying nonstop, it is best for the parents or guardian to take the baby outside until he/she has calmed down. However, it is ok for coos or noise to be made. Also, it’s ok for the parent to quietly explain to his or her child what is taking place during the worship service. It’s how they learn.

Overall, children should remain in the pew. I’m a believer that kids should be in the sanctuary, but that is a personal choice, not an etiquette choice. That being said, it is perfectly fine if they stand, provided they aren’t blocking anyone’s view. Especially for young toddlers, a worship service is a long time to not be active. Alternative activities could be coloring, drawing, etc. I know some parents and grandparents may wonder if the reason they are taking kids to church is still applicable if the kids are just coloring. My answer? Yes. I know adults that will appear to listen in church and are really just thinking about football, and I know adults who draw the whole time because their mind goes a millions miles a minute. The same is true for kids.

I feel that kids should be respectfully dressed. The interpretation is up to the parents. However, as a few guidelines, nothings vulgar, nothing obscene, nothing excessively revealing. Also, keep is appropriate for the particular church you attend. Some churches are more casual. Some are more formal.

Children should be incorporated into the service, not excluded from it, to the extent that is appropriate for that denomination. I’m a United Methodist. For us, it is the parents’ decision on when a child receives communion. For other denominations, it is age-based. We allow both of our children to receive communion when we do; however, it would be inappropriate for us to do so at a church of another denomination.

Finally, it is appropriate for young kids and babies to be allowed to eat/drink in the sanctuary, provided they use spill-proof bottles and/or cups, unless noted otherwise. Likewise, it is perfectly fine for a mother to nurse her child in the sanctuary. Hungry babies simply don’t wait. I know some of these etiquette guidelines may be a little different than you expected. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, check back for Part 2: Etiquette for Older Youth.