Origin of the word Etiquette:
1740–50; French étiquette. Etiquette implies observance of the formal requirements governing behavior in polite society. Etiquette refers to conventional forms and usages: the rules of etiquette.
Where to Sit at a Wedding
I find that there still are wedding planners/advisers who hold to very old – some would call them “traditional Victorian” – views on where people should sit at a wedding. For example, the bride’s side is the left facing the front of the church/venue, and the groom’s side on the right. The challenge is that different religions have different traditions as to which side the bride and groom stand on and hence which side the guests sit on. This is sometimes presented as a rule to follow. Knowing what rule or custom to follow can get quite confusing!
Above: Photo on the left, a Christian ceremony. Photo on the right, a Jewish ceremony.
My advice, regardless of whether or not you are attending a ceremony in a church or other religious space, is to not worry or become obsessed with which side for which side! As for the couple planning their weddings, don’t stress out over where you guests sit! There really is no right or wrong way. What is “right” is having manners. Here is my advice:
Remember that close family will probably be seated in the front two rows on either side. These may be roped off as ‘reserved’. Leave the first two rows available for close family and make sure you follow any directions that have been laid out for guests.
When you arrive – and guests should arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony – seat yourself closer to the front. This will leave the back rows for the late comers and give the room a sense of fullness. Photographers love it when their pictures give the sense of many welcoming guests even if it is a small wedding.
If you are unsure, ask! There will certainly be someone from the wedding party or a family member who can help you out.
Last year, at the White Wedding Chapel, a couple had this sign printed up for their ceremony. I just love it! “Pick a seat, not a side!” Good advice for all marriages as two people and two families become one! Where you sit is not important. What is important is the continued support of family and friends in the years to come.
All the best!
Wedding Thank You’s
Unlike other things that may change in our society over time, manners and etiquette do not. When it comes to saying thankyou for shower or wedding gifts, the late etiquette guru Emily Post tells brides that they should have their handwritten thankyous out within three months of the event. For a Well Mannered Wedding from start to finish, this is good advice from Ms Post. Click here to see my comments on many thankyou cards and formats available on-line. While quick and easy may be popular right now, much of what is currently trendy would get a failing grade from Emily.
To Throw or Not to Throw? Etiquette around Confetti
I have a sense of urgency to write about the throwing of confetti following a query from someone at one of our chapels this weekend asking if we sell confetti! Yikes! Although there are still wedding blogs out there that tell you that the most wonderful thing that can happen to you after you leave the church is to be showered with confetti, basically it is inappropriate to throw confetti or anything similar. But why you might ask? Aren’t you going to spoil the day for every bride around the world with this advice?
First, most churches or other venues do not allow you to throw confetti. Plain and simple! Why? While you may think it’s great fun YOU do not have to clean up the mess and does confetti ever create a horrible mess. It is not easily biodegradable, it contains dyes and gets into sidewalk cracks never mind what it will do to a flower bed! You should always check with the proprietor of the venue before you or any of your guests or planning party suggest confetti. The answer will most always be a resounding NO! Just think of the mess you will create at a park or water front or church.
Second, years and years ago people saw the safety hazard in throwing confetti as it can easily be swallowed by your cheering guests, especially children, or get into people’s eyes, etc. I’ve had personal experience!
Third, as I mentioned above, confetti is not biodegradable and doesn’t look all that pretty once you have left the scene. What about plastic stars or other such dollar store item? Definitely not! What about real rose petals? Most places will allow for real rose petals outside only as they biodegrade. What about polyester rose petals? If you make arrangements with the venue before hand you might just be allowed to throw silk/polyester rose petals indoors only. But you may just have to make arrangements for a family member or friend to do the clean-up afterward. This kind of clean-up is not included in the cost of the venue!
What Can the Modern Bride Use?
Always check with the manager of the venue or your wedding planner or officiant.
Bubbles: Usually no problem using outdoors. Check to see if indoors is permitted.
Silk Petals: Indoors only, but check to see if permitted.
Fresh Petals: Outdoors only, but check to see if permitted.
Etiquette dictates that a bride and groom are “renting” the venue. You do not own it so you must follow the policy of the venue. Respect that and work within their policy and you are guarranteed to have a lovely celebration!
HAT ETIQUETTE FOR MEN
Men can look so dashing in hats and just looking at Frank Sinatra or Humphrey Bogart in a hat just really turns a girl on!
But poor hat etiquette can really be a turn off! So when I was purchasing a fascinator for my wedding at Hats Wear It’s At, I asked proprietor Suzanne Hampel for some tips for me that I could include on my blog.
Suzzane supplies a printed page of hat etiquette for each hat she sells to a man (ladies hats are always appropriate indoors or out!). Here is what she advises:
When a gentleman “dons” his hat to leave or “doffs” his hat to a lady, his actions are being described by two British colloquialisms that come from contractions of the phrases “do on” meaing “to do”, and the Middle English word “doffen”, which became “don off” meaning “to do off”!
Hats are tipped/doffed (lightly lifting the hat off your forehead) when meeting a lady or when saying thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye, you’re welcome or how do you do, to anyone, male or female. A man removes his hat when he actually stops to speak with a lady. Tipping of the hat is a conventional gesture of politeness. This hat tipping custom has the same origin as military saluting, which came from the raising of medieval knights face visor to show friendliness.
Hats are worn less now, but at the turn of the 20th century, all adults wore hats whenever they left the house. It was a matter of good personal hygiene, since hats were a protection from industrial dirt. For men, hats are removed when inside, except for places that are akin to public streets, like lobbies, corridors, and crowded elevators (non-residential). In a public building – where there are no apartments – the elevator is considered a public area. You may choose to remove your hat in a public elevator, but in the presence of a lady your hat must be removed. A gentleman takes off his hat and holds it in his hand when a lady enters the elevator in any building that can be classified as a dwelling such as an apartment house or hotel. He puts it on again in the corridor. A public corridor is like the street, but an elevator in a hotel or apartment house has the character of a room in a house and there a gentleman does not keep his hat on in the presence of ladies. Hats are removed for the National Anthem, passing of the Flag, funeral processions, outdoor weddings, dedications and photographs. Removed hats are held in hand in such a that only the outside and nver the lining is visible. If you are a man just starting to explore the fine art of wearing a hat, check out Mark Hornblower’s columns with Hamilton’s Men’s Magazine for some fine advice!