The New Rules of Wedding Etiquette

09/10/2015 8:56 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
Kathrin Ziegler via Getty Images
wedding guests throwing rice at bride and groom

1. Isn't it tacky to just give cash?

Absolutely not. Times have changed and people don't rush to the altar like they used to. More often than not the modern couple has lived together for several years before getting hitched, so the days of picking items from a registry are long gone. In 2015 it's all about cash, cash, cash.

So, how much is enough? Unfortunately, there's no simple answer and no set amount you "should" give. One ancient myth that just won't die is the idea of buying a gift to match whatever the bride and groom have spent on food and entertainment. But choosing a gift using the price-per-plate method is very outdated, because you wouldn't give your best friend a less expensive gift just because she was having a more casual affair.

The best way to calculate how much you should spend is to consider the following:

· If you'll attend the wedding (can give a smaller gift if not)

· If you attend, how far will you travel?

· Will you have a +1?

· Have you helped with the wedding?

· What's your relationship to the couple?

Guests attending destination weddings, regardless of the travel costs, are still expected to buy the couple a gift.

2. If I didn't get a +1, do I have to come solo?

Once upon a time couples went to their local church to get hitched. After the formal part was out of the way, guests made their way to a hall or a house for the reception. It was a pretty simple affair, for family and a few good friends.

But in 2015, the fairytale has been rewritten. Thanks to modern wedding trends such as stylised receptions, drone photography and celebrity chef-designed menus, weddings have become expensive. I mean really expensive. According to the latest Bride to Be magazine Cost of Love survey, the average Australian wedding costs $65,400. In 2014, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission put the figure at $36,200.

And it's no surprise that the guest list has shrunk considerably. Young couples are drastically reducing the number of guests in order to cover the extravagances of the modern wedding. So if you're unmarried and receive a pearly invite in the mail addresses to you sans Significant Other, don't take offence. Even if you're in a serious relationship, there is a reason why you were invited on your lonesome, so don't ask if there was a mistake.

Thankfully, 'singles tables' are a thing of the past.

3. What's the deal with child-free weddings?

It's a subject that I imagined would be fairly clear cut, but since talking with many friends and acquaintances I've realised that this matter is an uncomfortable one, to say the least. It seems that for every person who coos over adorable flower girls and tiny men in tuxes, there's another that becomes incensed just at the thought of screaming and burping under-fives at a wedding ceremony.

While some mums and dads could think of nothing better than a single night of champagne uninterrupted by diaper changes, there are also the parents who feel legitimately outraged when they receive an envelope in the mail with that dreaded phrase in cursive print "CHILD-FREE WEDDING". Why shouldn't their kids be invited? How can a couple expect guests to shell out for an expensive wedding gift AND pay for a babysitter for the evening?

But child-free weddings are becoming more and more popular, because weddings are often lavish affairs in lavish settings, and tiny hands covered in butter cream frosting can become a very real threat. If you have kids and receive a child-free invitation -- from a mother of a six-year-old girl and four-year-old boy -- keep your mouth shut. Because whose wedding is this? The bride and groom are the only people that matter here, whether weddings should be thought of as 'family' occasions or not.

4. Do I still need to get involved in embarrassing wedding traditions?

Regardless of how much weddings have evolved in the past few decades, it's still very common practice for the bride and groom to incorporate at least a few age-old wedding traditions into their big day.

So while you might think that fumbling to catch a flying bouquet in the hopes of saving yourself from a life of spinsterhood is the epitome of uncool, just do it anyway. Some things never change, and this is likely one of them.

5. Be open to new things

It's 2015 and there are no rules when it comes to how modern couples decide to celebrate. If the bride and groom want to have an adventure wedding, they'll do just that. If the bride wants to wear a gown that's a bit sexier than the traditional wedding dress, she will. If the groom's dog trots down the aisle in a miniature tux, don't be surprised.


Weddings are growing increasingly personalised and guests are becoming privy to more unique and exciting experiences because of this. So prepare yourself for something different each time, keep an open mind, and I promise you'll be delighted by the outcome.

A few extra points to remember:

- 'Casual' weddings are increasingly popular (although contrary to the name they're still exceptionally expensive). Just because the wedding doesn't demand for black tie doesn't mean you can be completely slack when putting together an outfit and casual dress still means looking nice. Don't be lazy.

- Some might tell you otherwise, but wearing white to a wedding is still dangerous these days. Every bride is different, and while some might even dress their bridesmaids in white, others will be truly unimpressed. It's not worth the risk.

- Free booze and social media are a lethal weapon, and while we all know that 'gramming the bride's dress before the ceremony is a no-no, if the couple have requested guests keep off social, this includes cheeky snapchats too.


Rachael Bentick is a bridal coach and director of Inlighten Photography

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