Photo courtesy Red Gallery Photography
At 16, all Adrianne Mellen Ramstack wanted was the latest outfit off the Gap mannequin. Instead, she got a hard-covered edition of Emily Post's Etiquette from her mom. "It's one of the best gifts anyone's ever given me because I reference it constantly," Mellen Ramstack admits. A few editions later, the German Village wedding planner who runs Adrianne Elizabeth, stays on top of what's proper and what's just plain rude when it comes to good wedding manners-on both sides of the aisle. She writes about etiquette on her blog, under the guise Ask Ady. We asked her some of our top questions:
If you are the bride and groom, what is one wedding etiquette rule you should never break?
Greeting all of your guests. Plan your wedding so that you have time to appropriately greet everyone. It doesn't have to be five minutes with every guest. But touching someone on the arm and saying, 'Thank you for being here on my special day,' goes a long way. I prefer greeting during the lull during a sit-down dinner. That way, you don't need to kill yourself after that. Guests want you to have fun, too.
What about during a receiving line?
I think that's a really good example of an old etiquette tradition that just doesn't work in modern society anymore. It just doesn't' have that same personal affect-and that's what etiquette's all about.
What is a rule a guest should never break?
There are so many. Absolutely RSVP by the time they ask you to. Without fail you must do that. If you have RSVP'd, you need to show up. Do not wear white to a wedding if you are a woman. That, to me, is still so very valid today. The only person that should be in white is the bride.
What are etiquette questions you hear all the time? How do you answer them?
The one I hear all the time is the one year rule. As in, "I've got a year to send a wedding gift," or "I've got a year to send a thank you note." I hear that all the time. I don't' know who set forth that rule, but I hate it. I think it's inconsiderate. Your notes need to be prompt and your gifts need to be prompt. If you are sending a gift, you need send it within six weeks. That's just my personal advice. You went and enjoyed a lovely evening; you need to send a gift.
What is the right amount to spend on gift?
The general rule is to cover the cost of your attendance at the wedding. That's difficult to navigate through as it's dependant on your budget. If you are 22 and you make the bride a lovely wedding scrapbook and you put love into it, that's OK. It should be based upon where you are in your station in life. That aside, generally, giving for one person should be between $75 and $150. If you're a couple, it should be between $150 and $300. If it's a family invite, it should be higher. Each person should be covered.
What is guest-appropriate attire for a religious ceremony?
Don't wear anything the bride would not wear. If you feel she would wear that to church, you'll be fine. If you think it's too risqué, it probably is. Maybe, if you're wearing a strapless mini dress, cover up with a shrug or shawl, and then remove that for the reception.
What's an appropriate amount to drink at a reception?
You need to know your host, and you need to know your limits. If they are fun, party people and everyone's getting tipsy and it's a wild time, by all means drink to your fun capacity-but never to the place where you are sick. If there's not a ton of dancing or if it's a calmer atmosphere, you need to drink to the occasion. You need to stay lucid. You never want to be the guy (or gal) who's passed out in a bush.
Is it rude to not go to the ceremony, but attend the reception?
Yes, it's very rude-unless you've only been invited to the reception. The whole point of the wedding is not about the party. It's about the union of this couple. Skipping that important piece and just going to the party for the booze and food is horrible. And if you can only go to one or the other, you should go to the ceremony.
Have more wedding etiquette questions? Whether you're a bride, bridesmaid, guest, or just downright curious-send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.