By Hayleigh Gowans
This week I want to discuss common pre-wedding rituals and the manners associated with them, including engagement parties, bridal showers and bachelor or bachelorette parties. The topic this week was inspired by a recent bridal shower I attended as a member of the bridal party, and I plan to write another column associated with the actual wedding day and ceremonies.
Just a note: the rituals I will be discussing are more commonly associated with “Western” society traditions, but weddings and ceremonies can come in all shapes, sizes and extravagancies based on differing religions, cultures or personal preferences. For example, a traditional Hindu Indian wedding commonly lasts for several days and has different ceremonies from a traditional Christian American wedding. I also will use the terms “bride” and “groom” when referring to a marrying couple out of simplicity, and do not mean to exclude same-sex couples — all of these events can be celebrated by all marrying couples!
There are so many pre-wedding rituals, and I’m only going to talk about a few of them. There are no “mandatory” events you have to throw and you can have as many or as few as you would like.
There are plenty of online blogs and websites dedicated to the manners for wedding events, but I got much of this information from the chapter dedicated to weddings in the 18th edition of “Emily Post’s Manners” (which is very lengthy, more than 100 textbook sized pages).
Here are some pre-wedding rituals, and the manners and traditions associated with them:
Traditionally, a man will select a ring for the woman, but in today’s society it is common for couples to pick out rings together or talk about their price range and style ahead of time.
An engagement party is usually hosted by the bride’s parents, but can fall to other family members or close friends. If a couple lives in another place from their family, it is okay for each side of the family to throw an engagement party.
Gift-giving is not traditionally part of an engagement party, but a small gift like a bottle of wine or a cookbook is a good gesture to congratulate the newly engaged.
There really aren’t many rules associated with bridal parties or groomsmen, you can have as many or as few as you’d like. Typically the bride and groom will pick a group of women and men to be part of their entourage to support and bare witness on the wedding day.
Maids of honor or best men are typically chosen as the main forces in helping plan for the wedding and pre-wedding events, and you can have a member of the opposite sex be a member in either side’s attendant group — commonly called an “honor attendant.”
When asking someone to be one of your attendants, it is best to do so in person and be open to their response. It can be costly and a big time commitment to be part of a wedding party and you should not have hard feelings if someone politely declines.
A bridal shower is for the bride, and common today are “Jack and Jill” parties, which is a shower for the couple. These gathering are thrown for a couple to show support for them as they begin their lives together, and should be hosted by the attendants, family or close friends as to throw one for yourself is seen as a tacky solicitation for gifts.
A couple can have multiple showers thrown by different people in their lives, but under no circumstance should a person not invited to the wedding be invited to a shower.
Gift giving is a large part of these parties, and can include gifts from a registry, or more personalized gifts that will prepare a couple for the wedding. (For my friend’s recent bridal shower I got her a bathrobe that said “Bride” on the back and some spa products so she can relax before her big day.) And yes, you also need to get a gift for the couple on their wedding day even if you attended a shower.
After the party, thank you cards should be sent from the couple to all of the guests.
These are typically thrown to treat the bride and groom to one last night out as a single person, and are typically thrown by the wedding attendants. While they can be entertaining, you should never try to embarrass or endanger the person the party is for.
In my opinion, you don’t have to feel the need to stay in accordance with all of the rules of pre-wedding events if they don’t fit your lifestyle, there are just too many and you will never make everyone happy. Overall, you should stay polite and confident in your decisions for your wedding, and be grateful for anyone who has contributed to taking part in this special time in your life.
If you have an etiquette question or would like to submit a topic for discussion, please email me at email@example.com. Until next time, mind your modern manners.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.
Nov 20, 2017
Nov 20, 2017
Nov 20, 2017
Nov 20, 2017