Wednesday, April 15, 2009

wedding day etiquette :: Emily Post

Upon a productive assembling day with the bride and groom (for this Saturday's wedding), a topic came up in our conversation: Wedding-day Etiquette (…or put simply, how to act on the big day). Sounds like a 5-yr-old hand-slapper sort of subject, but it was a valid one. For me, every time I visualize any kind of formal event, especially a wedding, I gravitate towards one word that always seems to sum up how a bride and groom should present themselves, and that word is: "graciously." But, I think it's more than just one word; there are actual ground rules for etiquette that are ideal to follow on a couple's big day. And one person who knew it all was Emily Post -- she revolutionized wedding-day etiquette.

Emily Post (1872–1960)

Today, the word, "etiquette," is still attached to Emily Post's name. Born in 1872, Emily was raised as an only child and attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York, a private educational facility that trained students in cultural and social activities. By the time she was an adult, she began to write, developing novels, magazines stories, and newspaper articles, but what really stood out was one book in particular, Etiquette (full title Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home), 1922. It was this book that would eventually become a best seller, proving its popularity over decades, and the initiation of The Emily Post Institute, founded in 1946.* Her family took over her business after she passed in 1960. Today, the institute is a renowned etiquette resource for major corporations and publications. They have enlisted in a number of subjects, including everyday etiquette, kids, business, and weddings.**

Her daughter, Peggy Post, is the recent author to the line of wedding related etiquette books. I have browsed through several of these books and found insightful messages. Some may seem a bit strict, but for me, I was able to understand clearly that the bride and groom are the focal point of any wedding, and that all eyes and ears are on them. Their books give insight to things like, properly greeting a guest, how to dine, how to verbally thank people. Awesome info!

"Wedding Etiquette" by Peggy Post, Emily's daughter

I'd like to share some notes:

  • "Gracious" is my key word. IMPORTANT! Be gracious in your tone of voice, what you say, your posture, how you move across the room, how the two of you communicate, how you dine and take a seat, say "hello," acknowledge an issue, etc. On your big day, the two of you are the King and Queen.
  • Greet your guests. IMPORTANT! Your guests saved the entire day for you. They made a decision to become part of your day by bearing witness to a milestone event. Exchanging a few words, or even a hand shake or hug, will be appreciated.
  • Try to stay together. I know, I know. You both have friends you'd like to say, "hi," to, but frankly, guests want to congratulate the both of you, and almost always want to sneak in a candid photo with the two of you. And I'm not being literal, eg, going to the bathroom together, but try to stay together during important parts of your reception events, like dinner, photo montage, toasts, etc. As a coordinator, trying to find the groom who went off to take a peek at his friend's new ride in the parking lot while the video montage is rolling, isn't fun. Another thing, let someone know (either your spouse or coordinator) your whereabouts.
  • Communicate with your coordinator/planner. IMPORTANT! While b&w works so that one coordinator personally helps out the newlyweds, it is still important to voice your needs and ask questions. If you're not happy with the food, are still hungry after dinner, want to take a restroom break, or want to know where your parents are, the coordinator is there to go find the answer. We're your personal concierge.
  • Posture and smile. It can be uncomfortable, but you are the stars of the show after all! You eventually become accustomed to all the camera flashes from the professional photographer and your guests, so a good piece of advice would be to stand tall and poised. Ladies, designate a "beauty" assistant from your bridal party to let you know when you need to touch up makeup, or when bobbi pins are falling out, or even if your dress is not bustled properly. Last thing, smile! Your photos are one of the only physical momentos you'll keep, and you'll def want to look stunning.
  • Try to minimize (or better, control) the alcohol intake on your wedding day. It's easy to become dehydrated simply by the effects of stress and being on your feet all day. (The drunken debauchery/wild night should have already taken place -- at the bachelor/bachelorette parties.) If you can't seem to hold off from your favorite cocktail, visit the bar some time towards the end of the evening, after the dance floor has opened. Ladies, using the restroom is challenging and requires addt'l help.
  • Send out "thank you" cards as soon as you have time. Ahh, the day after: opening the wonderful presents and cards and counting the honeymoon funds. So fun! In reality, some guests can't wait to hear your reaction when opening the gift they spent an afternoon trying to find. Though you may verbally thank them in person, it's still proper to send out a formal, written thank you note. Also, try to do this in a reasonable amount of time; the sooner (days or weeks), the better.
On a fun note, thought I would end with this funny photo I found on the web. This clearly had to be done on purpose.

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