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.


Events You Should Never Miss

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin

I find the above quote to be true, but the romantic in me would add something else – weddings. 🙂 Yes, I know that 12383034853% (or something like that) of weddings end in divorce. In my mind, though, they are one-time events in regards to how special they are.

My pastor has always talked about non-recurring events. These are the events in peoples’ lives you shouldn’t miss. I’m taking this from an etiquette approach today, and I fully agree with his statement.

Regardless of how important you are or how busy your day is, the two events you should never miss are weddings and funerals. Seriously. If someone thinks enough of you to want you there when they are making a sacred vow to someone they have chosen to spend the rest of their life with, please take that to heart. Little Johnny’s soccer game dims in comparison. And it should. Recognizing the importance of other events, and, in part, recognizing the insignificance of some of our own events, such as a soccer game, is very healthy for us. It’s a needed dose of reality.

When someone you or your family knew passes away, honoring their life is important. Even if you have to take your lunch break in order to do so.

More important than which fork to use is respect of others. Pausing in our fast-paced world for a moment of honor for them. They’re not a burden on us but a blessing we can be a part of.

I would encourage all of you (and myself, of course) to make time for these non-recurring events. Thank you for reading!


For the Bride

I know the picture doesn’t go along with the title, as the book is a guide for bridesmaids, but in all honesty, they actually go quite hand-in-hand. I received this book from my mother-in-law as encouragement bridesmaid1for this blog. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. There were a couple of modern twists mentioned, though, I wish would fall by the wayside, particularly regarding money.

For a bridesmaid, there will be a lot of costs involved with being in a wedding. If you’re unable to incur these expenses, you should politely decline far enough away from the wedding the bride is able to find a replacement. The costs range from a wedding gift (no, not required, but it is more than polite to get one for the bride and groom) to travel expenses, which can add up quickly if you don’t live in the same town as the bride. However, anything required by the bride beyond travel is on the bride, regardless of she’s actually the one writing the check. In short, the dress, required shoes, any required hair-do is all footed by the bride. This is where I get a little old-timey.

I just believe people should have a wedding they can afford and not expect others to pay for their wedding for them. Traditionally, this is what occurred. However, in keeping with the trend of placing more emphasis on the wedding than the marriage, expectations have grown to unattainable heights. At least they’re unattainable if you’re the one footing the bill. So, in order to achieve more with no more cost, the trend leaned towards having your guests pay to be part of the wedding.

Don’t want to pay for the bridal party’s attire? That’s no problem, actually. Simply don’t require a specific outfit for them to wear in the wedding. Another way to cute costs: pay for a dress, but let them wear shoes they already have. Don’t have them style their hair a specific way. There are plenty of ways to cut costs, if that’s the concern. Remember, though: anything you require should be paid for by you. This extends to the groomsmen’s tuxedos or suits, the flower girl’s dress, the ring bearer’s suit, etc. There is 100%, absolutely NOTHING shameful in having a wedding you can afford. In fact, I think you’ll find people think more of you for doing it.