Wedding Etiquette Tips?

April 27, 2011

Wedding PhotoMy 21 year old son is newly engaged. I am so new to wedding information. Please help me! I know we have to pay for the rehearsal dinner, but don't agree with what her family includes in that. Help!


By karen zetzer from Port Clinton, OH


April 27, 20110 found this helpful

When our son got married, we paid for the rehersal dinner. They had a large wedding party and asked if they could all bring a guest, then all the out of town family members, more on her side,got invited kids and all. We ended up doing a buffet at our home. It was much nicer than at a restaurant. We were also in charge of the drinks at the reception. This could be tricky. Some places charge you for an entire bottle even if only a few drinks were used from it. We paid by the eighth of the bottle, and the soda was done by the glass and not can. To many people get a can and leave it half to almost full, walk away to talk to someone then just get another. If you're getting beer, make sure they clear it with you before they open another keg. We only had 1 hour left to the reception and they wanted to tap another full keg. I said no, because I would be charged for the whole keg even it was still full. Everyone survived and the wedding reception was a great time. You can also have them quit serving alcohol during the dinner meal. That will save you some money too. Just don't announce that the bar is closing during that time, the guests will stock up and not drink all they get. That happened to a friend of ours and at the end we found alot of drinks full.


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April 28, 20110 found this helpful

The rehearsal dinners that I have heard of where I live is limited to members of the bridal party, parents. The members of the bridal party didn't bring their significant others.

April 28, 20110 found this helpful

I don't remember the exact "rules" of who pays for what, but regardless, don't agree to pay for anything (like feeding everyone in the county), if you can't afford it. Get an bridal book at library or look online ( or for example)...and see what you are officially supposed to pay for.


Don't be intimidated by her family, that is. The other posters here had some good thoughts. Good luck.

April 29, 20110 found this helpful

The groom's family traditionally hosts the rehearsal dinner but what that consists of should not be dictated by the bride's family. We attended a wedding recently where many of the guests were from out of town. Our cousin who had the rehearsal dinner invited the parents, the wedding party and out of town guests to her home where she served pizza and salad. Relatives/friends who lived nearby brought desserts. Everybody had a great time.

April 29, 20110 found this helpful

As tradition goes, it is the grooms family that pays for the rehearsal dinner, bridal party and parents, some will include the spouses of bridal party. The liquor and dj (music) at the reception. But now days with the economy the way it is, bridal couples and their families are sharing a lot of the expense of a wedding.


Sometimes we can't always live by tradition and certain standards One family may be able to afford more than the other, and that is ok. Something that each bride and groom should discuss with their families and with each other. You do what you can afford, and the couple should understand that.


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April 29, 20110 found this helpful

Many years ago when I got married the grooms family paid for the rehearsal dinner. I did not want a rehearsal dinner so my husband's family paid for all the tux's in the wedding party. I guess I am odd but I have always felt when you ask someone to be in your wedding then you should pay for their things. I paid for my Bridesmaids dresses and the grooms family paid for all the tux's.


My wedding party did not have to go in debt to be in my wedding. Giving up the rehearsal dinner was to help me because I had so much more things to do before the big day. I also checked with my wedding party about it and they were happy with it also because they had things to do also. We did do the rehearsal just not the dinner. I one month I will be married 36 years.


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May 3, 20110 found this helpful

Traditions aren't as rock-solid these days and in this economy. The groom's family paid for most or all wedding expenses when my daughter married two summers ago. We could never have afforded it! And since they were paying, they chose: invitations, rings, food, although I believe since the bridesmaids paid for their own dresses, they had some input there.


The community got involved, since my son-in-law's family is well-known in that small community. In short, the wedding was a homey but classy affair!

May 3, 20110 found this helpful

So much good advice. Thank you all. I still am at such a loss. His dad is paying for the dinner. I don't really have the money. I think her family will pay for the venue as they are members of the yacht club they want to hold it at. They want to invite every out of town guest also. I really have no say. Just trying to help do what is right. Thanks again!

July 22, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks for all the advice. Haven't been here lately but you all have good comments. I have reached the point the bride's father has.


Go to Vegas and we will give you money. So much money spent for 1 day and then you move on~!

November 27, 20130 found this helpful

This brings back a lot of memories - My wedding never happened as my fiance was killed in the line of duty, but we had planned much of the wedding. The two of us decided who we would invite and we made his parents stick to that list. They wanted to do the invitations as his father owned a print shop, and could do them at wholesale.

The rehearsal meal was set to be potluck. Everyone would bring a dish according to their last names. Alcohol was not going to be allowed. Soft drinks were fine - we were going to have tea, coffee, and sodas - cola, root beer & 7Up only.
Reception would be split 50/50. James & I were going to pick up the tab for the cake. We wanted a specific design and again had someone that would do it wholesale for us.

Traditions are just someone's thoughts for their event that other people like and start using as well. We were going to break that mold and include both families.

We also limited our guest list to 20 people on both sides so this also would help with the costs.

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4 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

November 27, 2010

My brother has been dating a woman for 5 months (kids involved both sides). I just found out they are getting married in 1 month. Do I have to attend it? It is his and her 3rd wedding. The 1st 2 wives were awful. I am not saying this one is awful, I have never met her. What is the protocol? My husband thinks it's goofy to attend when it is the 3rd time around. Ideas? Suggestions please.

By Lisa R


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November 27, 20100 found this helpful

Unless you happen to live in the same city as your brother (which you probably don't because you mention you've not met future wife #3 yet) I agree with your husband that it would be a goofy idea to attend. If you think it will upset your brother if you don't attend simply let him know you love him, wish he and his new bride the best and hope they come to visit you soon. ;-) Don't forget to send a nice card and, in my humble opinion in this case, a small gift is optional.


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November 27, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with Deeli, however, there are some families that unless there is a really good reason to not attend, like illness, being housebound, etc., it could cause major problems in the family. I wouldn't approve of having a large, fancy wedding, after that many marriages, but for the sake of family harmony sometimes a person has to grin and bare it.

November 27, 20100 found this helpful

Why wouldn't you support your brother? Isn't that what Family is for? if I had a brother, no matter what the circumstance are, I would attend and so would my husband and my kids.

November 28, 20100 found this helpful

Hum, lots of things to consider in these circumstances. First of all, is it a hardship (health, travel distances, finances) to attend this wedding or merely a hassle? I would certainly understand the hassle aspect, but if that was all it was, a hassle, I'd "grin and bare it", too. ("redhatterb's" comment.)

Otherwise, send a nice card and as "Deeli" suggested, tell them you love them and invite them for a visit. Whether you attend or not (assuming you've already given a wedding gift or two to your brother) offer a modest, yet heartfelt gift to the new couple.

Even if your brother is okay with you not attending his third wedding, I would seriously consider how not doing so would affect your relationships with his children and your future sister-in-law. Just be sure to weigh that thought against the goofiness of attending a couple's third wedding. Hey, sometimes, third time is the charm! :-)

It's a delicate dance, one I'm certain most of the original etiquette authors didn't consider. My suggestion is to think of the long term consequences of attending or not and act accordingly. Good Luck!


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November 29, 20100 found this helpful

Is the wedding in town? Would you have to drive far? Even tho it's a third wedding. It's your brother after all. Maybe you could put your feelings aside for one day to be there for him. Are you two close? Will there be others there from your side of the family? His first two marriages didn't work out but that doesn't mean this one won't. Why not just go and perhaps you'll even have a delightful time. Oh and I don't know if there's any protocol. I think you should do what your heart tells you to do.


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November 29, 20100 found this helpful

As one who has married for the third time, I think your brother's expectations should be low, and the guest list should be small. Or anyway, that's what we did. We had a minister, a few friends and our children. I made the cake and a friend decorated it. My husband made the wine. That was 29 years ago, and it just keeps getting better!

November 30, 20100 found this helpful

If you intend to have any kind of a relationship with your new sister-inlaw you should attend the wedding.
Eight years ago I attended my son's second wedding to a woman whose third marriage this was. This was the wedding that succeeded, they are both so happy. Maybe this will be true in your case. I hope so.

December 2, 20100 found this helpful

Absolutely attend [3rd wedding aside]! Unless you and he are estranged, and do not have contact, or you are physically or economically unable to attend, I see no other reasons to refrain from going. To not be in attendance, in my opinion, could or would be the start of bad feelings all around. Remember foremost, he is your brother, and I am sure he wants his family around him to meet his bride, and for you to meet your new sister-in-law.


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December 6, 20100 found this helpful

I wanted to add something regarding posts about how if you don't attend it will cause family strife. Embarrassed to say I have been married three times but such is life. Anyway, my brother didn't attend any of my weddings because we didn't live near each other and he couldn't afford to go and I couldn't afford to pay for him to come.

He has also been married three times but I only attended his first wedding because I could afford to do so at the time. My brother and I are as close as any siblings could be even though we have lived long distances away from one another for nearly four decades.

If not attending a wedding of any family member is going to upset someone then there is not true love and understanding by the members it upsets. And everyone should keep in mind that besides the cost, traveling is stressful these days even in good heath and not everyone can risk losing their job by taking time off to travel. Just my humble two cents worth of thoughts and personal experiences.

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March 21, 2005

I am getting married June of next year and am trying very hard to get together a budget for my wedding which I am planning myself. I have been doing research after research and can't come up with one answer. My mother is going to be my maid of honor, but what about his mother? I have heard that you have to get the mother(s) dresses and such... is this an absolute necessity? I just can't find enough on the subject and would really appreciate the help. Thanks much.

Ashley from Kentucky


March 21, 20050 found this helpful

I have been to weddings where the mothers light the candles before the ceremony begins. Just an idea for both of them to do. I wish you the best with your planning.

March 21, 20050 found this helpful

Since you're paying for the wedding, I think the mothers should get their own dresses. So should the bridesmaids. Then, you should get them all something small as a thank you for being there for your special day. If you buy their dresses, then that is their thank you... Since your mom is your maid of honor, you can still have the mothers light the candles together, then your mom will just stay up there while his mom sits down. Then, you can walk down the aisle and meet your mom at the alter! :)

March 22, 20050 found this helpful


I am getting married in 3 weeks!

We're paying for the wedding and both our mums are buying their own outfits.....BUT we are buying corsages for both of them and a special gift, to be given on the day.

Don't feel it is all your responsibility. They will be happy to help and honesty is important from the word go...especially if you're on a budget!!

Good luck to you and hubby to be! x

By Erin (Guest Post)
March 22, 20050 found this helpful

I got married in June 2002. We split the cost of the wedding with my parents.
I have never heard of the bride buying the mother's/inlaw's dresses and I read and TON of wedding etiquette books. I just got them small gifts and corsages, not dresses. The only thing I did for them as far as the dresses go was to tell them what my colors were in case they wanted to match. That's it.
Hope your big day goes smoothly!

By Trix (Guest Post)
March 22, 20050 found this helpful

From what I read during research for my own wedding and my sisters, everyone is responsible for buying their own wedding outfits. Sometimes the bride and groom may want to buy the bridesmaids their dresses (or the groomsmen their tuxes etc.) but it's not required. Usually their flowers/corsages/buttonnaires are paid for by the bride and groom, but anything else is a gift.
The important thing is to make sure that everyone involved knows how special you are to them and that doesn't require a lot of money.


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March 22, 20050 found this helpful

Maybe you need to sit down with both families and decide who is paying for what. You obviously want a special personal wedding as you are doing it yourself so I don't think 'etiquette' comes into it. You and your fiance sit down and make a list of what you want and what you think the expenses will be and then discuss it with your families and see what they expect/will be responsible for and then everyone will be 'on the same page' in the preparations.



By Eric (Guest Post)
March 27, 20050 found this helpful

I am getting married on April 2nd, 2005 (a few more days!) and this is how ours broke out:

Photographer - 31.2%
Catering & Reception - 18.2%
Flowers - 16.5%
Attendant Gifts (we had a lot of people involved in this wedding) - 11.8%
Church/Officiant - 6.8%
Hair and Makeup (we paid for all the girls) - 5.5%
Videographer - 4.1%
Cake - 2.9%
Musician (Harpist, no DJ) - 2.7%
Rings - 2.6%

I guess ours is unique because she already had the dress. If I didn't list something, it was 1% or less.

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August 15, 2005

My best friend asked me to be her Matron of Honor. She emailed me today and said she would like to buy my dress and shoes. I am kind of stuck. I would like to buy it but is it ok if she does? She already will have enough to pay for. Any thoughts?



August 15, 20050 found this helpful

Pay for the dress & shoes, but tell her that is your wedding present to her. She's your best friend - don't be a cheap skate. (But, she can't expect more than that from you!)

August 16, 20050 found this helpful

Sounds good..yeah I don't really like the idea of her buying it for me anyway.

August 16, 20050 found this helpful

When I got married, I asked 3 girls to be in the bridal party. I paid for their dresses and hair accessories and gave them each a bone china cake plate to their china pattern. I did not expect gifts from them but they did so. As they also had to go to all the wedding showers (5) as well, I felt it was only right for me to pay for their outfits. I do feel that if a bride asks someone to dress up special for their wedding, that they need to consider the incredible expense each of the bridal party will have.

By SNIGDIBBLY (Guest Post)
August 17, 20050 found this helpful



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August 17, 20050 found this helpful

See if you can pay for half of of the dress and the accessories.


By Mary (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

You have a very nice friend indeed! I have been in many weddings and have always paid for the dresses myself. Believe me, it would break the bank if they were all totaled it up! Offer to buy the shoes or go half and half. If she still insists, let her pay. But be sure to give the couple the loveliest gift you can afford and remember to keep your friendship alive over the years. Your friend obviously cares very much about you.

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March 4, 2011

My son has just become engaged to a girl with a wealthy family. I am not wealthy and am also divorced from his dad. What are my obligations, as I know they will be putting on a huge wedding. I love my son dearly, but don't know what I can do!

By karen zetzer from Port Clinton, OH


March 4, 20110 found this helpful

When I got married (over 15 years ago), the only thing I told my mother-in-law she was responsible for was the rehearsal dinner. My husband's parents are also divorced, and I don't recall his dad helping with the dinner. She decided to have an informal meal at her home for the wedding party plus a few relatives who came from across the country.

But my wedding was relatively small. Our reception site had a very strict occupancy limit, so we invited only 100 people to the wedding. When I hear that his fiancee is from a wealthy family, I want to assume that the wedding will be big and expensive (but I know that this is not necessarily true). If it is a very big wedding party, it might be more difficult to have an informal dinner at home.

The rehearsal dinner doesn't have to be a huge, expensive affair. Try to find out as early as possible how many people will be in the wedding party (and consider that their spouses will also be there), so you can plan. If you have to do it at a restaurant, hopefully you'll have enough time to research and make arrangements that will work with your budget.

Try to relax and enjoy the occassion. Best of luck -- both with the rehearsal dinner and your son's marriage. I hope both are very happy!


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March 4, 20110 found this helpful

I have seen where a lot of rehearsal dinners now are picnic type ones, where you grill burgers and hot dogs, and then have salads, chips, etc. Some people even make them a pot luck deal, especially if the people attending are local.

March 4, 20110 found this helpful

I don't have an "etiquette fail safe" answer, but generally speaking, the groom's family is usually only responsible for the rehearsal dinner (wedding party and dates, only) and maybe the tux rental cost for the groomsmen and ushers.

However, if you can't afford this, you can't afford it and I don't think you should go in great debt to do so. Will your son's father be helping at all? Do you know your future daughter-in-law's parents well enough to talk to them about the potential financial impact of your contributions? Is the young couple (as adults, I'm assuming) chipping in monetarily to help pay for their preferences?

I would just figure out what you can contribute, have a heart to heart with the couple and see what might work for all of you. Just keep reminding yourself (and others if necessary) that the wedding is just a day and the marriage is a lifetime: Invest accordingly! :) Good luck and best wishes for all.

March 5, 20110 found this helpful

Your son, surely, knows your financial status! You do what you can & he should pitch in! Most of the people in my family pay for their own wedding, 'cause most of us are not in a position to go "all out"! We do as much as we can for the bride & groom, but they pitch in! My husband & I paid for our own! I think the etiquette books need to be thrown out the window!! After all, this is the 21st century & also, most people are having financial difficulty at present!

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