In honor of her newest installment in the Lowcountry series, A Lowcountry WeddingNew York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe has graciously gifted us with wedding etiquette tips. Not only will she teach you the do’s and don’ts, but she is also offering 1 lucky couple the chance to win a FREE WEDDING – this is not a joke!


While it can be exciting to be a guest at a wedding and even more exciting to be The Bride, there are always those etiquette questions that you’re not quite sure how to answer.  Mary Alice Monroe to the rescue!

4 Tips for the Bride


If I Know Someone Can’t Attend, Do I Need to Send an Invitation Anyway?

This can be a tricky question because although you would like to be polite, you also don’t want to put any unexpected pressure on the person. Because an invitation comes with the expectation of a gift, you don’t want people to think they have to give a gift even though they cannot attend. That being said, for very close friends and family, you may want to send an invitation anyway with a note that explains you are sending it as a token.


I’m Paying for the Wedding Myself, How Can I Tell My Parents I Don’t Want to Invite Certain People?

Although tradition dictates that the family of the bride pays for the wedding, modern times have led to the bride & groom paying for the wedding themselves.  This can often times bring up questions about the guest list, specifically, the 2nd cousin once removed on your father’s side. An easy solution is to give your parents an allotted amount of spots they can fill as they wish. If however, there are certain people you do not want in attendance, it’s best to have a private and honest conversation. Don’t insist your parents feel comfortable with the situation, but be clear about your wishes.


How Much Should I Tip My Wedding Vendors?

This is always an uncomfortable question. You do not have to tip vendors with whom you have a contract. Depending on service and relationship, a small gift or a cash tip is at your discretion. You should, however, distribute tips to non-contracted staff like musicians and servers.


How Long Do I Have to Send a Thank-You Note?

Though it’s best to send a thank-you note as soon as possible, you have approximately three months to express your gratitude. Sending an email or putting generic thanks on social media, your wedding website, or anywhere else does not replace a handwritten note.

4 Tips for the Guest


Am I Supposed to Bring a Gift to an Engagement Party?

Traditionally gifts were not expected at the engagement party but, some guests opt to bring a small token—like Champagne flutes or the ever popular ring dish—for the couple.


How Much Should I Spend on a Wedding Gift?

There is no minimum or maximum. When shopping for a wedding gift you should consider two things: your personal budget and your relationship with the couple. There may be some pressure or preconceived notion that you must pay for the cost of your dinner, but you should feel comfortable spending what you can afford.  Also, don’t be afraid to deviate from the registry if you need to.


I just started dating someone new but I don’t have a +1, can I still bring a date?

If your boyfriend or girlfriend’s name is not on the invitation, or if it doesn’t include a crystal-clear ‘plus one’, sadly they’re not invited.  This may be uncomfortable when you’re left to tell your significant other they didn’t make the cut. But try not to bug the couple about it. The exception is if you’re engaged or married. Benefit of the doubt, the lack of a plus one was probably just an oversight on the part of the bride or planner.


Can I Skip the Cake?

You’ve been standing all day and dancing all night and your feet are killing you.  Are you able to leave even though the cake hasn’t been cut? Traditionally, the cake cutting ceremony and serving of dessert is typically the signal to guests that it is okay to leave without being rude.  However, if you are close to the couple or have been involved in the wedding planning, it’s nice to stick around long enough to see the new-marrieds off.