Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)
Question: My niece is getting married in the fall. I’ve noticed several etiquette breaches since the wedding planning began in earnest. She’s a lovely, sweet, kind and giving person and I know these gaffs are not being committed on purpose. Anyone who knows her well will overlook it, but I’m concerned about our distant relatives and friends and those of her soon-to-be new family. I’d be remiss if I didn’t help and she unintentionally offended someone, which would certainly start a few new relationships off on the wrong foot. How do you gently correct innocent wedding etiquette mistakes?
Answer: You got to the heart of the matter: Relationships. At its core, etiquette is about relationships. It’s about compassion and kindness in those relationships, both those that started years ago and have had time to develop and new friendships and familial ties that come about during unions such as this one. Beginning with compassion in your heart is the first step. Then, start with a statement such as “There is something I’ve noticed and if the roles were reversed I’d want you to feel comfortable coming to me. Is now a good time?” This will prepare her and give her a chance to accept or reject the conversation before you open the can of worms. Mention that you’ve noticed a few innocent, but common etiquette oversights and ask her if she’d like for you to be her advisor on the subject. You might also want to gift her with your favorite etiquette or wedding etiquette book. Let her know how much you love her and that you care about her success in her marriage and want her to enter into her new family on a high note. If she refuses the assistance, don’t take it personally. At least you tried and as soon as her new family gets to know her, I’m sure they will grow to love her as much as you.
Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.