FOR THE HAPPY COUPLE                

So you’ve set the date to marry the love of your life – congratulations! Here are some tips for what you need to think about both before and after the wedding. 

Who pays for the wedding?

Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the bridal gown, the photographer/videographer, the bridesmaid dresses and the reception. It was left to the groom to pay the fees for the church, the honeymoon, buttonholes and his bride’s flowers. These days, it is quite common for the couple to pay for just about everything themselves although both sets of parents will often chip in to help.

Ceremony seating

Traditionally the bride’s family would sit on the left of the aisle and the groom’s on the right. However, with civil ceremonies a modern trend is for guests to choose where to sit for themselves and this enhances the idea of two families joining together.

Walking down the aisle

It is traditional for the bride to walk down the aisle with her father, but these days she can enter with both parents or if neither is available, a close family friend, brother or uncle is often asked. However, sometimes couples choose to walk in together and with a civil ceremony you can decide exactly how you wish to do this.

Reception seating

As in the past, today it’s still usual for the bride and groom to sit in the centre of a long top table, the bride’s parents on each side of them and the groom’s parents next to them. The most important guests – which should include the oldest family members – are seated closest to the top table.

Bar etiquette

It is usual to provide drinks for your guests while they wait for you to finish having your photos taken, and throughout the meal served at the reception. A free bar for afterwards is a nice touch, however this isn’t necessary these days if your budget is limited.

Gift list

Your guests will want to buy you a wedding gift and they will want to know what you’d like. These days most couples have been living together for some time before marriage and they will normally already have most domestic appliances, linen, vases, ornaments, etc. If you do have a definite list of things you would like, then it’s probably a good idea to set up a gift register with a local department store.

You might like the guests to contribute some money to your honeymoon or you could prefer to simply request their presence, rather than presents, and it is acceptable today to say that in your wedding invitations.

Thank You Cards 

When you receive gifts from your guests you may feel it’s enough to say thank you face-to-face at the reception. However, good manners mean that you should write a thank you card for every gift. It’s a good idea to try to send these as soon as you receive any gifts that arrives before the wedding. You don’t have to write a novel, just a simple, “Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift. We will really enjoy using it/the …”.  Make a list or spreadsheet with all your guests’ names, a column to write down what their gift is as soon as it arrives, and make a note when you’ve posted your thank you card.

If you simply don’t have time to do this or guests bring presents to the reception, you will have to write your cards after the event. You should plan on doing this as soon as possible after you return from your honeymoon, but definitely within three months of your big day.

Have a supply of cards enough to cover the number of individual presents you think you’ll receive.

If you’re only having a small wedding or want something really special for certain people (your parents/grandparents/best friend since childhood/favourite aunt or uncle, etc.), check out these beautiful hand-made cards.

Genevive Coulthurst designs and makes these. You can choose from a selection of designs or she will custom design something just for you:


It is still considered NOT okay for a woman to wear white or ivory to a wedding. You don’t want to steal the bride’s thunder because her gown will most likely be one of those colours.

Black is iffy, but if the bride isn’t wearing an actual bridal gown, it’s probably okay to wear something in a light breezy fabric, or add a pop of colour with your shoes, a fascinator, a belt and/or necklace. As long as you don’t show up as if you’re going to a funeral, you’re totally fine. And if you happen to be in love with the groom and it feels like a funeral for you, then you shouldn’t be there at all!


Please do not take photos during the ceremony on your smartphone unless specifically invited to do so by the bride and groom. You have been invited to share this happy occasion with them and they would prefer to have your full attention as they exchange their vows than have you trying to capture the moment digitally. Be in the actual moment with them.

If they are happy for you to take pics of the wedding please do NOT post anything on social media before checking with them if this is okay. They may be happy for you to do so after they have put their own photos up there, but always check with them what they want. After all, it is their wedding.

If they are happy for you to take pictures during their ceremony, whatever you do, don’t get in the way of a professional photographer. The couple will be paying good money for professional shots and it’s only polite to let him or her get on with their job.


Always respond to a wedding invitation the same way that you receive it. If you get a snail mail invite then you must reply the same way, i.e. use a card with your acceptance or regrets, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and drop it in a post box.

If you get an email invitation, reply that way; if you get an SMS, send your answer back that way; if you get a message on Messenger, reply to that.

The absolute golden rule here is – you simply must answer! And by the say, simply telling someone you’re coming when you run into them somewhere does not constitute an RSVP because they are likely to forget this with all the other things they have to think about.

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