Wedding Etiquette Questions Answered

What you need to know about invitation wording, how to wear your rings and more

I’m having a debate with my bridesmaids that I’m hoping you can settle: What is the proper way to wear a wedding ring set? And, how do I wear my rings the day of the wedding? Which goes first and how do they stay?

There is actually a wonderful sentiment behind how wedding sets should be worn. The idea is that you wear your wedding band closest to your heart – first on your finger – with your engagement ring closer to your knuckle – or put on above the band.

Right before your wedding ceremony, you should transfer your engagement ring to another finger –   I suggest the ring finger of your right hand – so that your fiancé can most easily slide on your wedding band during your ceremony. Then, as soon as you have a moment to do so, you can slide your engagement ring back onto your left ring finger.

If you have a full band set (or two bands, also known as a cage), then you should put the second band on top of the engagement ring – closest to your knuckle.

Who should be invited to our rehearsal dinner besides our wedding party and immediate families? The guest list for this dinner is growing almost as fast as our wedding guest list and I’d like to keep it small.

If you’re hoping for an intimate night, you can absolutely leave it at that. If you’d rather include extended family and out-of-town guests, you can do that as well. If you’re having a destination wedding, it’s a nice gesture to include everyone who made the trip to be with you.

That said, the rehearsal dinner isn’t a second wedding and shouldn’t be treated as one. The more relaxed the dinner feels, the more open and enjoyable your evening will be.

No matter which way you decide to take your evening, remember to keep things even – that’s the surest way to keep everyone’s feelings from being hurt. So if you invite your favorite cousin, you should extend an invitation to your fiancé’s favorite cousin as well.  

If you’re adhering to tradition and your fiancé’s parents are hosting (i.e. footing the bill for) the dinner, they may want to invite more of “their” people, even after a discussion with you about the guest list. If that’s the case, cut them some slack. No one’s really going to be counting each person and probably won’t notice if a few of your future in-laws’ friends join in the toasts.

I’m so stumped on how to word our invitations! My parents are divorced but they are hosting my wedding together anyway, and my mother has remarried. My husband’s parents are divorced as well, and his father has passed. How should our invitation be worded to express this without upsetting anyone and without it being 18 pages long?

Well you certainly have a conundrum on your hands, so let’s go step-by-step.

The traditional and “proper” way to word an invitation is to list the bride’s parents at the top. If her parents are divorced, then her mother is listed on the first line and her father on the second, but not separated with an “and.”

If either of the divorced parents is remarried, then you have another choice: whether or not to list their new spouses. Since your mother has remarried, you have the choice of either listing just her name, with her new married name: Mrs. “first name” “maiden name” “married name” –or including your step-father, i.e.: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Adams Barry.

Since your husband’s parents are not hosting the wedding, their names wouldn’t typically appear on the invitation.

If you choose to list everyone that way, the invitation would look something like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Elbert James Courtroy
Mr. Howard Allen Burnett
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Catherine Jane Burnett …

If no one wanted to be listed as hosts, or if you, your fiancé and your families agreed to do so, you could word the invitation as if you and your fiancé were the hosts.
For that, it would look like:

Miss Catherine Jane Burnett
and
Mr. James William Smith
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage …

I’m excited to be married for the second time, but I’m confused about how our invitation should look.

My parents are helping us pay for it, but we’re shouldering most of the costs. What options are there and do I have to acknowledge anywhere that this isn’t my first wedding?

You do have a few options. If you and your fiancé want to issue the invitation yourselves, it’s a simple invitation, but you should include your married name. It would look like:
Catherine Jane Burnett
and
James William Smith
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage …

Even if you and your fiancé are paying for the majority of your wedding costs, it would be a nice gesture to honor your parents by including their names at the top of the invitation.

This will look like the majority of traditional invitations, but you should include your married name. That would look like:

Mr. and Mrs. John Andrew Harold
Request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Catherine Jane Burnett

Either decision is valid; it just depends on whether you want to acknowledge your parents’ contribution and assistance – which, even though you didn’t ask me for my opinion, I’m going to give. My stance is that you should go with the second option. What may not be a big deal to you might mean so much more to your parents, and it’s always good to start what will be a joining of families off on the right note.

Our invitations are out and we’ve started to receive wedding presents from people who didn’t receive an invitation. Is there a proper way to handle this? Do we send them invitations? Do we send the presents back? Do we write thank you notes and not worry about it?

You’re going to like this answer. By all means send thank you notes for the gifts you have received. You don’t have to return the gifts and are not obligated to invite those people to your wedding. Just enjoy that they care enough to think of you.

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