Etiquette FAQ

Divorced Parents: Where Should Everyone Sit in Church?

My son is getting married soon. His dad and I are divorced. I’ve remarried. His dad has not. Where should my husband and I sit in the church? My ex-husband does not want us in front of him. He says that makes my present husband more important to our son than he is, which of course is not true. What to do?

There’s no reason all three of you can’t sit in the first row, as long as you are all comfortable with it. The rule of first and third rows is just one possible solution to the question of where divorced parents sit. Go ahead and invite your ex to sit in the first row with you and your husband. It may not be the most desirable situation in the world, but it’s only for the ceremony. And your son will be happy.

Wedding Consultants

We’re not sure if we can afford the services of a wedding consultant, but we desperately need help — we both work full time and our jobs require frequent travel on the weekends. What are our options?

The good news: Skilled wedding consultants are trained to work within a variety of budgets. While it’s true that many are hired on a soup-to-nuts, start-to-finish basis (which can get expensive), wedding consultants can facilitate wedding planning in other capacities, too. For example, you can schedule a consultation where the consultant provides a “blueprint” — usually a preparation guide and a list of trustworthy, talented vendors to check out. You can also hire a wedding consultant to oversee things on the evening before and actual day of the wedding. Or you can contract a wedding consultant to work with you on a freelance basis (to scout out a location, and advise on catering firms and florists, for example), in which case they’re paid by the hour. These selective services should run quite a bit less than full-service help. Note that the billing process depends on your coordinator: Some consultants charge by the hour, others charge a flat fee depending on what you need them for. So make a list of things you know you want the consultant to handle, then call a few to see what they charge

Hotels & Out of Town Guests

I keep hearing that when you block a bunch of rooms with a hotel you should receive a discounted rate. So far, with the few hotels we’ve checked, this hasn’t been the case. What’s the story?

It really varies from hotel to hotel. Some hotels offer a percentage off when a certain number of rooms are reserved. Some hotels charge regular rates, but give the bride and groom a free room. Some just allow you to reserve in advance and don’t offer any discount at all. Do your homework and choose the hotel that offers the best deal overall. Your guests will certainly appreciate the fact that you made it easier for them to make their travel plans.

We are having our spring wedding at an out-of-town location. How do I forward accommodations info to my guests? Instead of sending it in the invitations, could I send a second mailing?

You certainly can. In fact, since by the time the wedding invitation is sent it may be too late to book hotels, most couples are sending this information in their save-the-date cards. These are sent as early as six months before the wedding, so it’s perfect timing to not only get the wedding date on guests’ calendars but also to allow them ample time to make their travel plans.

Last Name Issues

Why not just add your husband’s last name at the end of yours?

That way you could legally retain your middle name and your given last name, plus add his, but you wouldn’t have to write out the entire thing every time, as you would if you hyphenated. So if your name was Jennifer Ann Jones, you could become Jennifer Ann Jones Smith. You could then shorten that to Jennifer Smith, or you could go by Jennifer Jones Smith. You would still have your middle name — you don’t have to lose it just because you decide to keep your given name as part of the overall name. That’s at least one way you can have it all!

Which side of the church do I sit on?

Left side of the church is the bride’s side.
Right side of the church is the groom’s side
If the two sides look uneven it’s perfectly acceptable for the ushers to escort guests to the side that has less people. If it’s a Jewish wedding, switch sides…bride on the right, groom on the left

What is the correct order for the attendants in the processional?

There are many variations to the processional, we have only given you one.
The groom and best man are already at the altar
Groomsmen first
Bridesmaids follow
Maid of honor
Flower girl and ring bearer
Bride walks with her father, other escort or by herself.
If you have a big wedding party your groomsmen and bridesmaids can walk in pairs

Which side of the church does the bride walk up the aisle with her father?

Traditionally, the bride walks on her father’s left side. If the bride has a long train, you might want to consider being on your father’s right side so that he doesn’t have to walk around your train to take his seat.

What is the order of the recessional?

Bride & groom first
Flower girl & ring bearer next
Maid of honor & best man
Bridesmaids & ushers in couple pairs
If you have an attendant without a partner they walk alone

What do I do with my veil at the ceremony?

Your maid of honor will help you put your veil over your face before you walk down the aisle. After you father walks you down the aisle he will turn your veil up and give you a kiss. Your maid of honor will fix the veil so that it’s in place and looks nice.

What do I do with my engagement ring?

Before the ceremony put your engagement ring on your right hand. After the groom puts your wedding band on, you can slip on your engagement ring. Your wedding band should be worn first so that it’s closer to your heart.

I’m wearing gloves … what happens when we exchange rings?

You can buy gloves with a pre-sewn slit on the ring finger or you can slit the seam of the glove yourself allowing easy access to your ring finger without having to remove your glove.

When do I give my bouquet to my maid of honor?

After your father has kissed you and your maid of honor fixes your veil, you can hand her your bouquet. Your maid of honor will bring your bouquet up to the altar with her when your marriage certificate is being signed and will hand it over to you after you have finished signing. Remember to place your bouquet with the heads of the flowers outwards for the photographer.

I have children, can I wear a white dress?

Etiquette states that you shouldn’t wear white but choose off white or have colored accents sewn into your white dress.
Etiquette also states that you can’t wear a veil, choose a tiara, floral head piece or hat. If you want to stick to etiquette those are the rules. If you don’t care about rules then by all means wear whatever you want.

Who sits in reserved seats and how can I reserve seats/pews in the church?

Reserved seats are for immediate family and anyone else that is important to you. These seats are up front…best seats in the house.
Use bows, decorations or rope off the seats/pews that are reserved. Let your ushers know who will be sitting in the reserved sections. You can also in “Within the Ribbon” cards. These are little cards sent with the invitation to your VIP guests that will be seated up front. These guests will bring this card and show it to your ushers.

Who walks me down the aisle my father or my stepfather?

If you are very close to both men your father is the one who gets the privilege. Emily Post says it’s a no-no to have both men walk with you but if they get along and you want it that way…go for it! We won’t tell.

Should I have a receiving line at the church?

If you are not having a reception or a receiving line at your reception location, then yes. Ask the church if they will allow you to have a receiving line on their property first. If there is another wedding immediately following your’s, the church may require you to leave the premises.

What order do people stand in for the receiving line?

We will give you two examples of receiving line order:

Line Up Example #1:

Bride’s Parents
Groom’s Parents
The Bride
The Groom
Maid of Honor
Best man
Groomsmen, etc.

Line Up Example #2

Bride’s Mother
Groom’s Mother
The Bride
The Groom
Maid of Honor
Men can mingle *

* This same setup can be used for the receiving link at your reception

What happens if I forget what I’m supposed to do?

Not to worry, the minister/priest will guide you through the ceremony. He will tell you where to stand, what to say and what to do. Making mistakes and forgetting is a normal occurrence at every wedding.


I don’t want Children at my Wedding. What do I do?

When addressing your invitations, leave the children’s names off it and also don’t mention them in the invitation. Have friends and family pass the word around that you don’t want children there.

You can also add something like this on your reception card.
Adult Reception
We hope that the (# of) of you will be able to join us
(# of) seats have been reserved in your names

If someone hasn’t responded to your invitation, 1 week past the “Reply by” date, call him or her and confirm over the phone.
Children over the age of 16 get their own invitations.
Your officiant and their better half get an invitation.
Send your parents and wedding party invitations, as a keepsake. They don’t have to reply.
You have to put return postage on your RSVP’s.

Can I ask for specific Wedding Gifts Like Cash-only? How do I tell people where I am registered?

It is considered rude to put “cash only gifts”, or other wording meaning the same thing on the invitation. You’re not supposed to put registry information on your wedding invitation. It’s left up to friends and family to inform everyone. However, you can put gift information on an insert in your bridal shower invitations. If you have a personal wedding website with info for bridal party and guests (and gift registry info), you can include an insert with the link to your website in your wedding invitation. You’re not required to open your gifts at the reception or in front of anyone.

What Happens if I cancel or postpone my wedding?

You’re supposed to return the engagement ring (now that’s hilarious!!!) You have to send back all the gifts with a brief explanation why it was canceled. (So don’t use anything until you say, “I do”.) It’s written that if a gift is engraved or personalized, you don’t have to return it. Don’t speak poorly of your ex because somewhere down the line you might get back together. (Darsi added this one all by herself.) You should inform out-of-town guests first so that they can change or cancel their travel and lodging arrangements.
If you’re postponing your wedding, of course every guest has to be contacted. Etiquette pros say that you have to send another invitation with the new date.

It’s my Second Marriage, what now?

The second time around, your parent’s are not obligated to pay for anything. If you get along with your ex-husband and his family and it’s fine with your fiancé, then it’s acceptable to invite them to the wedding. (why you’d want to is another story)
Card at the parents seats. They are the only ones that need preferred seating.

What do I do if I Have Gloves on?

Gloves give your wedding attire such an elegant look. You can take them off sometime before you put on your wedding ring and hand them to your maid of honor. She’ll give them back to you at an appropriate time.

It’s appropriate to wear your gloves in the receiving line and the first dance. When it comes time to eat and party, the gloves come off.

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