modern ms manners: a note on wedding etiquette
As a cake-loving, romantic sop, it should come as no surprise that I love weddings. They are like childhood birthday parties but with fancier lolly bags. I love everything about them, from the concept of love and commitment behind them, right down to the finer details that make a wedding day unique. So when I found out earlier this week that Keira Knightley is getting married I naturally was inclined to make a noise that resembled some sort of excited squeak. I readily concede that the similarities between Ms Knightley and myself are slim (e.g. her getting paid to be Elizabeth Bennett whereas I simply do that for free) however, listening to her interview about her engagement, I could empathise with her confusion about what to do next.
Despite the wedding industry making billions of dollars in Australia each year, there is very little guidance for a newly engaged couple as to the process of getting married. After getting engaged to Modern Mr Manners, I found myself asking, ‘So… now what?’ and thought that I should suddenly commit to making some wedding decisions. Being a marriage first timer, I Googled something like “wedding” and was suddenly overwhelmed by details of venues, jewellery, photographers and the like. It was as if Google had vomited a wedding whirlwind on my page and I was lost somewhere inside. Thankfully, Mr Manners, being the calm and lovely man that he is, was able to reassure me that the process could still be enjoyable and with the support of key people in our lives, we were able to have a beautiful and simple day.
Now with some friends of mine getting engaged (including Ms Knightley, even if she is not aware what great BFFs we will be) I do feel like I can offer some insight on wedding etiquette and how to keep the process of planning your big day enjoyable.
Remember what you are committing to is a marriage and not a wedding
Yes, the actual wedding day is a fantastic celebration of your relationship. However, it is also going to be the first day of your married lives. If you are then going to have to spend that day frantically running around like crazy people, it might not be the best way to start this new chapter. Always keep this in mind when making any wedding day decisions. Think about what you both want out of this day and try and keep coming back to that idea.
Think about your budget and stick to what is reasonable for you
You and your partner may want to spend the national average of $36,000 on your big day. Or you may just want a simple affair. If you find yourself experiencing “champagne tastes on beer wages” you might want to think seriously about some of the decisions you are making. You do not want the process marred by financial concerns about things that in the long run, may not really matter.
Recognise that people do not change
This sounds somewhat philosophical but it is an important lesson to learn. If you are stressed out that your normally unreliable friend is not being as forthcoming with the RSVPs as you would like, you must consider that for better or worse, people will continue to have the same personality traits during your planning as they did prior. Similarly, if you have any concerns that your aunt may drink too much, or that the best man’s speech will be inappropriate, trust your instinct on this and remove the opportunity for that situation before it arises.
Surround yourself with supportive people
I read somewhere that the idea behind having bridesmaids and groomsmen was to protect the bride and groom from evil spirits. Whether or not you believe in such things or even if you choose not to have a bridal party, make sure you can rely on good friends and family for support.
Remember the wedding day is about you as a couple
You may find that upon your engagement, people come out of the woodwork and start to offer opinions on what your wedding day should entail. If you find yourself being encouraged to make decisions based upon other’s ideas, do not be afraid to politely decline their suggestion. More often than not, people just want to help. Perhaps consider delegating a different task in that person’s direction to make them feel included. If they continue to push the point, a more forceful approach may be warranted. It is useful to remind yourself that you are not marrying those people; you are marrying your partner.
Most importantly, remember that you and your partner are having this day to celebrate your relationship. So have fun! You only get one wedding day so make it a great one (okay so you can have more than one but at least this one might be your favourite!)
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My partner and I have been skirting around the idea of marriage for years, not because we aren’t already completely committed to each other, but because wedding planning seems like such a scary, unruly, expensive beast.
One website I’m obsessed with is A Practical Wedding – they really focus on the relationship stuff rather than the decorations!
Weddings are a huge party that reflect the personalities of the groom and bride! It may be easier on the planning side to follow convention and tradition – but if you’re doing something because it’s ‘what you do’ at weddings, it can be missed.
My husband and I had so much fun at our wedding day. We had a bouncy castle, self-serve delicious Indian food, no cake, and the bridesmaids and I held enormous helium balloons Instead of flowers. We are lucky to know a bunch of brilliant people who were all generous enough to give their time in stuff like bar tending, djing and setting up and decorating. We had a fairly traditional ceremony, because it seemed to fit.
Let your imagination go wild and throw expectations to the wind!
Louise your wedding sounds lovely! To be honest, I am kind of wishing I had a bouncy castle at my wedding 🙂
I think you offer some great advice about having the wedding reflect the couple’s personalities.
Thanks for offering your advice too Johanna, there are some really great websites out there. I think you and your partner should do whatever feels right for the both of you.