When it comes to planning weddings or even attending one, there are some topics that aren't easy to bring up. Questions about money and what to wear can be awkward to discuss, especially when it seems like you're the only one who doesn't know the answers. But the truth is, there are lots of people out there who are in the same boat.
That's why we asked expert wedding planner Rebecca Chan to dispel the confusion and weigh in on the wedding etiquette questions that most people are too embarrassed to ask. These helpful tips will relieve you (and your guests) of worries and help you get you back to what's important – celebrating that special day.
Who pays for the wedding? According to Chan, this is one conversation that couples need to have before even starting to plan their celebration. "Who pays depends largely on the couple's culture and their preferences," Chan explains. "Some cultures have the groom's side pay, for others it's the bride's side who pays. The couple might not do either and opt to pay for it all themselves." There is no right or wrong answer, but it's a conversation that needs to be had from the get-go, Chan advises.
If parents are paying, they may have expectations on how involved in the planning process they will be and how much of a say they'll have in venue, food or guest list. Regardless of who pays, money is a sensitive issue that is crucial to talk about. "It's good to have a thorough discussion on who is paying and exactly how much, so there is a clear direction and expectation," Chan says.
Do you have to bring a gift to an engagement party? Generally, guests do bring a gift for the couple at an engagement party. "But it can be small or sentimental," Chan says. "If you're close with the couple and want to shower them with more love, go for it!" Otherwise, give a larger gift at the wedding.
How much money do you give as a wedding gift? There is no one set amount for a wedding gift, but Chan uses $150 on average per person. "If you don't know them well or you're a student, you can give less," she says. But above all, you should give what you can afford. "Your friends wouldn't want you to go broke from a gift!" Chan points out.
Do I have to invite my coworkers? "There is no 'should' or 'have to' in the planning process, and that includes who to invite," Chan advises. Start working on a preliminary guest list when searching for your wedding venue to see if you'll have room for coworkers or other friends. "If you're planning on inviting some coworkers and not others, it's best not to make it too public to avoid having some coworkers feel left out," Chan says.
What do I wear as a guest to a wedding? "Weddings are typically formal events, so dress to impress, unless otherwise noted," Chan advises. If the dress code is formal, that typically means a suit for men and pantsuit or dress for women. Never wear jeans to a wedding. "It's always better to be more dressed up than not dressed up enough," she says. When in doubt, it's absolutely fine to ask the couple for more details on attire.
What do you write in a wedding card? It's the thought that counts. You can't go wrong congratulating the couple and wishing them well for their journey ahead. Chan suggests writing some warm words of advice to the newlyweds. "As long as it comes from the heart, it will be appreciated," she says.
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