Your Etiquette Questions, Answered

Emma Frankart Henterly
Emily Webber gave her father a sentimental note along with a thank-you gift on her wedding day.

It's a rare bride or groom who doesn't have at least a few questions about what to do (or what not to do) when it comes to wedding formalities. And even though modern weddings are throwing many traditions out the window, there are still some basic guidelines that couples should follow. We turned to Jamie Rapavy, owner of Columbus Bride & Groom, a wedding resource company, and Devoted to Details, an event planning firm, for answers to some common questions.

Q: How soon is “too soon” to update my Facebook status to “engaged” (and post all my ring selfies)?

A: It is too soon if you have not shared first with your families and loved ones. Once that announcement has been made, go ahead and change that status!

Q: Our church requires an early afternoon wedding, but our venue won't let us start cocktail hour until later in the evening. What should I do about the two-hour gap my guests will have between the events?

A: You can provide things to do and see around town. You can also provide a hospitality area at either venue, your hotel or another location where they can get light snacks and beverages.

Q: A very good friend of mine is getting married and has asked me to be part of the wedding party. I'm very excited and honored. They have a registry, but I'd like to give them traditional wedding items from my home country of Djibouti. I really want to share part of my culture with them. Is it rude to go off-registry?

A: Absolutely not! Meaningful gifts and gifts from the heart are too often forgotten these days. I think they will really appreciate your gift.

Q: What's the best way to bring up the delicate subject of who pays for what with my parents and future in-laws?

A: I would say to take them out to dinner and get them drunk. I kid, I kid! But I do think that a separate meeting or dinner with each side—so things are not awkward— is important to have right in the beginning, to clarify if and what they will be contributing.

It is tradition that the bride's side pays for the reception, groom's parents pay for rehearsal dinner and alcohol and groom pays for the honeymoon, to be very general. Today, more couples are splitting the bill with their families. Many couples also get dollar amounts for what the parents can afford to contribute, and then they are on their own for anything beyond that amount.

Q: How much should my fiancé and I budget for bridal party gifts? Is there anyone else we should give gifts to? Help!

A: Don't forget to get gifts for your parents! You should spend what you feel comfortable spending. Consider an average of $50 to $100 per attendant. You might adjust that according to how many attendants you have, as well.

Q: While I wish I could invite everyone I know to my wedding, it simply isn't feasible. How do I decide who gets a plus-one?

A: Typically the rule of thumb is this: If someone has been with his or her significant other for more than a year, they get the plus-one. And it goes without saying that any married or engaged couples should be invited as a couple, too.

Have an etiquette question of your own? Send it to and you could see it answered in our next issue!