8 Old-School Etiquette Rules That No Longer Apply

Let’s break some rules, shall we?
by The Knot

There are a lot of old-school traditions and etiquette rules attached to the word “wedding.” But don’t worry, most of these so called “rules” were made to be broken (with a few exceptions, of course). Hey, times are changing and some stuffy old rules simply don’t hold up anymore. Here are eight wedding etiquette rules you no longer need to worry about—despite what your parents say.

1. The bride’s parents always pay for the wedding.

Today more than ever, couples fund their celebration in different ways. It’s true the majority of weddings are paid for by the bride’s parents (according to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study)—however, unlike in the past, where the bride's family was expected to foot the whole bill, they're in no way obligated to now. Grooms' parents and the couples themselves chip in nearly as often as brides' parents do. Many couples split costs evenly with both sets of parents or even pay for the entire thing themselves. It all depends on you two and your families’ financial situations and preferences.

2. Absolutely everyone gets a plus-one.

If you want and can afford to give all of your guests plus-ones, go for it. However, once you’ve invited all guests who must be considered package deals (a quick refresher: spouses, engaged couples and couples who live together, or have been dating seriously for a year or more), you aren’t obligated to offer other single guests dates. The only exceptions to this rule are members of your wedding party and single guests who are coming from far away or really won’t know anyone there.

3. An adults-only wedding is rude.

An adults-only wedding is completely acceptable, and it’s your prerogative to go that route if you prefer it. Leaving the kids at home will make for a sophisticated affair and can really help you trim down the guest list. What isn’t acceptable is to go about it tactlessly. (If you’ve always envisioned an adults-only wedding, here’s all the proper etiquette to follow so you don’t step on any toes.)

4. It’s tacky to ask for cash gifts.

This is one old-school wedding rule we couldn’t be more excited to rewrite. Requesting cash contributions instead of, or in addition to, tradition presents is not only acceptable but hugely popular among today’s couples. Thanks to The Knot Newlywed Fund, couples can ask for classy cash to put toward experiences (maybe a trip to Thailand) and big life milestones (like IVF). So while traditional retail registries aren’t losing favor any time soon, there’s definitely a new registry sheriff in town (and its name is cash).


5. The mother of the bride can’t host the bridal shower.

Traditionally, it was considered gift-grabby if members of the bride’s immediate family, like her mom, planned and hosted the shower, which is why you'd often see the maid of honor, entire wedding party, a family friend or the in-laws commonly play host. But that’s not really a thing anymore. Really, it comes down to who wants to throw the shower—the bride’s aunts, in-laws, family friends, college roommates or even coworkers—as well as who lives where.

6. You have to have a rehearsal dinner.

You’re going to want to rehearse your ceremony, but as for what you do before or after? Totally up to you. Traditionally, when most couples lived separately before tying the knot, and engagements were only a few weeks long, the rehearsal dinner would be the first time both sets of parents could meet. Having a rehearsal dinner is still a fabulous idea, but if there's no time or room in the budget, it's fine to skip it, especially if your ceremony rehearsal has to take place on a weekday or the morning of your wedding. And it also doesn’t have to be a dinner—ever considered a rehearsal brunch or roaming cocktail party including any early guests?

7. Only your wedding party can come to your bachelor/ette bash.

False! The only etiquette rule you have to follow at your prewedding bash is that anyone invited to it must also be invited to the wedding. After that, go nuts.

8. You have to leave for your honeymoon right after your reception.

It’s your honeymoon—you can leave whenever you want! Heading straight to your honeymoon can be very romantic, but it can honestly be a logistical nightmare. Whether you jet off immediately following morning-after brunch or wait six months, your first newlywed trip should be completely tailored to you two—not tradition.

Up Next
Bride and groom stand below a ceremonial chuppah
50 Wedding Traditions and Superstitions
See our list of wedding facts, traditions and superstitions about wedding history, wedding fashion and wedding traditions.
by The Knot6 min read