Midwest Wedding Etiquette Including How to Handle “Adults Only” Reception Etiquette and Exes at a Wedding


Hitch Design Studio was honored when the top Midwest Wedding Magazine, Dainty Obsessions, asked us to answer some tough etiquette questions.
She said “tough”.
I thought “nothing we can’t handle.”
I must admit, it turned out to be an intense Q&A!

Here goes:

My fiancée is still good friends with his ex and wants to invite her to our wedding. It rubs me the wrong way. What should I do?

A: A great partnership always begins with honesty, so it’s important to address your feelings with your fiancé. Remember to be understanding of his feelings, as his ex is someone he considers to be a friend, so be delicate in your delivery. It’s okay to protect yourself from any negativity or anything that will make you uncomfortable on your wedding day. If she questions your fiancé about not being invited to the wedding, have him politely explain to her that you both wished you could have invited everyone on your list, but just couldn’t for space or budget reasons. Respect your fiancé’s relationship with her, but listen to your heart and stand your ground on this one.

Do we register for our wedding engagement party? Or, is this too soon?

A: We suggest saving your gift registry for your bridal shower and wedding. You can surely register for gifts as early as you’d like, but we recommend not associating your engagement party with a wish list. If you send out e-invitations or a Facebook event for your engagement party, guests are not required to bring a gift. If you send a traditional paper invitation for your party, do not print a gift registry on your invitations (which is bad etiquette). Your guests will surprise you with a nice, personal gift if they choose to.

Another option is to have the hosts of the party (traditionally, the bride’s parents or both sets of parents) throw you a themed engagement party — like a “Wine Swap” party! Then, it’s implied that guests will gift you with a bottle of their favorite wine. Indicate that they can also bring a second bottle for a fun swap, so they get to take home another guest’s favorite wine to try. No need to worry about a gift registry.

For more advice, when the time comes, read our other blog on gift registries!

This is my second wedding and my first was less than two years ago. I know I’ll be inviting a lot of the same people. Is it tacky to register again?

A: If it’s your fiancé’s first wedding, he may want the opportunity to register for the first time. His friends and family will be gifting you as the couple for the first time! And let’s be honest – your friends and family will be so pleased that you’re marrying the perfect guy this time, that they’ll be excited to gift you with some fun things to celebrate this new chapter of your life. If you have plenty of towels and dishes, consider registering for a few non-traditional items like a BBQ set, camping equipment, a patio set, board games, and other fun items to make memories with your new husband.

Read this blog on advice for couples planning their second wedding!

One of my best friends (and past bridesmaid) recently got engaged. She’s planning a destination wedding in St. Croix just six weeks after I am expecting my first child and has asked me to stand up with her. I feel obligated to attend, but am nervous about the timing. Is she expecting too much? Is it rude to decline?

A: We believe that only parents can make the best decision for themselves and baby, so we asked some our favorite mommies what they would do in this situation. Sixty percent of the new moms said they would not go, but would celebrate wholeheartedly when the couple returned – and hoped that their best friend would understand. Here is a collection of their responses:

G: “Baby always comes first. I would probably have to decline and stay home with my sweetie.”

B: “I would go, but would make sure my husband was coming to watch the baby while I’m performing my matron-of-honor duties.”

E: “I would gracefully bow out. You never know if you’d be overdue or have a baby with health issues and couldn’t travel even if you wanted to.”

M: “I brought my sister-in-law along when I traveled with my new baby to a wedding. In this case, I would go, but ask if there was something else I could do to be a part of her day that would be a little less intensive and easier to tend to baby.”

We are having a no-children policy at our wedding. How do I address this situation on the invitations?

A: Although we think those smiling faces can really make a wedding light-hearted and fun, here are a few ways to word that request: (It may be tacky to print your wishes right on your wedding invitation, so save it for your RSVP card or wedding website.)

On your RSVP card:

  • “We’d like our wedding day to be an adult-only celebration. Please plan to leave the little ones at home.”
  • “Due to the limited number of seats, we request that the reception be an adult celebration.”
  • “Sweet dreams for those under 12. Please RSVP for the adults who will be joining us!” (Use whatever the cut-off age would be for your situation.)
  • “We want you to enjoy yourselves at our adults-only celebration, so we have planned to have a babysitter available to you.”

On your wedding invitation outer envelope (and inner envelope if you have one), be very clear about whom you’re inviting. Using only the adults’ names is a good way to indicate who exactly is invited. Or maybe you decide that children over the age of 12 are to fine to invite. List their names individually and stay away from using “Judy and Gary Duffy & Family”. It’s too vague.

You may want to break the rules to allow your flower girl or ring bearer to be at the ceremony and reception. It would be nice to offer babysitting services and activities for those few kids to keep them occupied at the reception (play-dough station, crayons, toys) and/or a special kids room where they can have the time of their lives…while you do the same. Although each of your wedding reception cards will be printed with your no-kids request, do make phone calls to the “kid exceptions” at your wedding. Tell the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer what your expectations are for the day.

Not inviting kids to your wedding is a tough subject because people will secretly disagree with your decision. Whatever you decide, be firm. One exception for out-of-towners leads to another exception and then another. And then inevitably, feelings get hurt when your personal attendant sees kids at your wedding, but hers couldn’t come. Kindly say “no” and stick to your wishes. Word of mouth is probably the best way to pass along the information, but we hope these wording suggestions help!

If you need more advice and information on not including children at your wedding read this blog!

Whew. Bring on any more Midwest wedding etiquette questions. We’re ready! Do you have any you’d like to ask? Comment below.

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