Your wedding is unique and individual to you however here are some general etiquette rules and traditional ideas to help you along with your planning process.
Save the dates are becoming increasingly popular especially when you have a high season (June -August) wedding or holding it on a week day. Send 9-12 months before the big day to allow guests to ‘save the date’ and book time off work or refrain from double booking with a holiday. Only to be sent to those guests you are intending to invite to the whole day.
Invitations are sent around 3-5 months before the big day; It is customary to leave 1 month RSVP time for guests to reply, this allows you plenty of time to chase any stragglers before your venue/caterer need final numbers. Adding a pre printed and pre stamped RSVP card in the invitations will help to get final numbers together more quickly and helps with stress levels leading up to the wedding.
On the day
The table plan/seating plan can be a real headache for some especially if there are some family or friends who do not get along. Many couples are moving away from the traditional ‘top table’ and seating all guests around round tables. This allows special members of the family who would prefer not to be seated close to each other (divorced parents for example) the opportunity to host their own table. Traditionally round tables are seated boy girl boy girl and so on; this helps with the flow of conversation.
If you are a traditionalist and would like a top table, the correct order is below, from left to right;
Chief Bridesmaid: Grooms Father: Brides Mother: Groom: Bride: Brides Father: Grooms Mother: Best Man.
Speeches can be nerve racking for some, traditionally carried out after the wedding breakfast, some are now holding them before to allow those giving a speech to then sit back and enjoy their meal. In my opinion speeches can be given at any time after the ceremony, speak with your venue and caterer on options for this and how they can slotted into the running order of the day, just make sure toast drinks are available when required.
The Cake cutting ceremony is typically a signal to guests that it is OK to leave without being rude. If you are not having a cake so no ‘cutting ceremony’ have an alternative, for example cup cakes or a candy bar. Make guests aware when they are available for them to enjoy and as an indication that the evening reception is soon to start. Be mind fall that some guests, elderly members of the family for example, may wish to leave earlier than most so have a clear defining moment from when the day celebrations have finished and the evening celebrations are due to begin. Your DJ/ Master of Ceremony or venue representative can help with this so speak with them and get them involved.
A written thank you note should be sent to all guests ASAP after the big day, usually within 3 months, to express gratitude. A generic e-mail or social media post does not replace a handwritten note.
This is a tricky one, you are either really relaxed about guests posting and twitting pictures of your day before you have seen them and whilst the event is taking place or you are not. If you are not a polite message perhaps on the order of service/ceremony requesting guests refrain from posting pictures to social media until after the big day and after you have posted a picture of your choice, for example;
‘Snap and post away but not until another day’
‘We love facebook and twitter and cannot wait to see all your lovely photos you will have captured, however we would like to be the first to post a picture from our big day’
Thank you x
Alternatively embrace social media and encourage guests, who love to post, to post away as much as they like but to a dedicated hashtag that you have set up. Perhaps have a large sign or a chalk board at the ceremony location with you Hashtag details for either Twitter or Instagram, this will keep all the photos together and a great way for all guests