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: Whether a wedding reception lasts two hours or six, if a guest wants or needs to leave before it’s “over,” should she approach the bride and groom — or their parents, depending on who is hosting — to say goodbye and offer thanks? Or should she simply try to slip away from the venue unnoticed? This question concerns receptions of 50 or more people, not very small gatherings.

Answer: Traditionally, guests are expected to stay until after the cutting of the cake. This was usually the last thing the couple did before making their getaway. In our “anything goes” society however, couples are opting to mix up the traditional order of things (which is of course their prerogative) and might cut the cake first, then do the toast, first dance and so forth, or any combination therein. Additionally, a lot of couples are incorporating an after party, so the event doesn’t stop at the end of the reception. It’s certainly fine to leave before the end of the reception. If at all possible, stay until after the cutting of the cake. Regardless, simply make sure you get some face time with the couple to visit and offer your best wishes. If you’ve done this, it’s not necessary to say goodbye.


Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.