A failure of wedding etiquette can ruin a wedding. It might cause some guests to decline to attend and put a bad taste into the mouths of other guests.
Worse, etiquette changes as the times change.
Here are the important points to consider for 2021.
Create a safe, healthy wedding environment.
The pandemic isn’t going away. It’s unlikely we’ll see a vaccine soon, and the healthcare workers will get it first. If you’re getting married between now and 2022, then it’s important to consider how you will keep your guests safe.
The easiest way is to have an outdoor, masked wedding with plenty of space for social distancing. You can also seat families who live together but create six feet of space between them and other families.
Another easy way is to limit your wedding to your current Covid-19 “bubble,” or to make part of the celebration virtual.
However you do it, keep plenty of wipes and hand sanitizers on hand, and don’t feel offended if someone tells you they just aren’t comfortable traveling or attending a wedding event while the Covid-19 threat is ongoing. Tell them you understand, and that there are no hard feelings…even if it’s someone you really wanted there.
Consider skipping the whole wedding party thing.
Wedding parties are going out of style. Some couples opt for a person-of-honor and a best person and leave it at that. Others opt out of having even those individuals. Why?
First, being a member of the wedding party creates extra stress and obligations on all involved. Right now most people can’t handle more stress and more obligations. Second, people can get their feelings hurt when they’re not included in the wedding party.
Cutting this tradition, or at least limiting it, can end up being a sigh of relief for everyone. It can also save you a lot of money as you end up having to dress up far fewer people.
Send save-the-date cards well in advance
The more advance warning you can give people in 2021, the better. This gives people time to ask for time off work, to consider how they can travel safely and whether they can, and to save up for travel costs. You can try a personalized wedding invitation website to invite and share your wedding details with your guests.
As a bonus, you might add that you are 100% okay with a graceful bow out if the intended guest feels they are not ready to travel at this time. Be as low-pressure and as kind as possible.
Specify whether the wedding is an unplugged event
People want to take pictures on their phones. You want the official wedding photographers to do their jobs without interference. You also don’t really want someone’s ringtone interrupting the ceremony.
The answer? An unplugged wedding, where guests are asked to turn off their cellphones and leave them at the door.
It’s perfectly kosher, but don’t spring the surprise. Note the “unplugged” status of your wedding on your invitations. Some of your guests may need to warn work or other individuals that they won’t be available for a few hours.
Be sensitive with your gift registry
Financially, this is a tough time for many. Try not to fill your registry with costly gifts. Add the option to contribute to gifts, or some gifts that are under $15. There are people in your life who will want to help you get started but who won’t have a lot of money to spend.
You should also consider adding a “gifts not required” line to your invitations. Gifts should be optional anyway, but many guests won’t feel comfortable celebrating with you if they can’t gift you with anything.
Don’t forget more traditional etiquette
These pointers are for what’s new and what’s changed, but keep in mind there are points of etiquette for the bride and the groom that don’t change much at all. It might be a good idea to get a book on traditional wedding etiquette just so you understand what some guests might perceive your obligations to be.
Some traditions may seem archaic, and that’s fine…you can always make a conscious choice to eliminate them. Know your audience and think about them before deciding to do so. In many cases you’ll be fine as long as you aren’t inconsiderate. Still, it’s better to be aware than to make an accidental faux pas.