Modern wedding etiquette

As someone who really enjoys attending weddings, and have attended close to 100 weddings over my career as a wedding photographer, I’m a bit of a sucker for some of the more traditional aspects of weddings. I’ve blogged in the past about the historic origins of some of the more well known wedding traditions, such as the origin of the best man and bridal party, even saying like ‘tying the knot’. But what I’ve noticed over the past few years are a few changes to modern wedding etiquette. Such things like smartphones, hash-tags and things like photo booths just are not steeped in tradition, and yet are fast becoming an integral part of the modern wedding.

Modern wedding etiquette

Unplugged weddings?

Your wedding photographs are going to be your lasting window enabling you to revisit the memories of emotion and joy that was your wedding day, which is kind of why having a professional wedding photographer there on the day is one of the most important additions to your day. Having a professional wedding photographer and videographer there on your day shows that you care about your images, and lasting memories, so chances are you’d like them to look your best right? A common form of modern wedding etiquette I’ve noticed is the rise of the ‘unplugged wedding’ whereby, the bride and groom instructs each of their guests not to use their own phones or cameras in order for their paid photographer to best do their job. This allows for better scenes from your wedding photographer not having to contend with ipads in their face all day, and also your guests can enjoy your wedding, without having to worry about getting their phone out to grab their own shots.

All hail the #hashtag!

If there is nothing else on this list, it has to be the hashtag, a lot of people reading thins may still not realise what a hashtag is, or even does. Basically, having a unique hashtag developed for your wedding allows your guests to share any photos, video or comments on-line, via any form of social media by adding your hashtag to the description section. This is of course if you’re not having an ‘unplugged’ wedding :). Then via the magic of the internet, all that content gets amalgamated for your viewing. It’s actually quite incredible, and insanely convenient as it saves you chasing up after every single guests for their photos. To make one, simply take say your names (ie Bob and Belinda) and stick a hashtag (#) in front of them so perhaps #Bobbelinda, or #Bobandbelinda. Anywhere you type that on social media, it will turn into a link, which you can press and see what other people have also used that hashtag for.

Either gender in the bridal party

It is entirely not uncommon these days for members of either gender to play a role in either the groom, or the bride’s entourage. Traditionally members of the grooms men were restricted to men, and the bridal party to women, however in the age of equality, it is quite accepted to have members of either gender representing either the bride or groom. Some weddings I’ve been to actually don’t differentiate the grooms men and bridal party at all, but rather have one big group.

Who pays?

With the cost of an average wedding in Australia being a very hefty $36,200, it’s usually  part of modern wedding etiquette to share the costs involved with hosting a wedding. Traditionally it was the bride’s family that foot the bill, however, with the average age of couples that are getting married nearing 30, they are usually living by themselves and financially independent. This said however, due to the modern huge expense a wedding can represent, often the parents of both sides of the family will chip in a decent amount, and then it’s also not uncommon for guests to contribute through wedding gifts that simply amount to cash.

Wedding gifts

Leading on from who pays for a wedding, it’s considered pretty standard modern wedding etiquette to simply ask for cash in lieu of more traditional wedding gifts to help pay for the wedding. This is usually done by placing a ‘wishing well’ or something similar at the wedding reception where guests can add a card, lined with cash instead of a gift. It was traditional that guests were to buy gifts to help the newly wed couple set up their home together, but it’s not not done as much.

Update that facebook status!

If you’re keen on social media, like the majority of young newly weds, then you’d better update that relationship status on the day of your wedding! If you don’t be prepared for all of your guests continually pestering you to do so. Facebook has become a website that contains all the information you’d usually find out through polite conversation, and relationship status is one of those pieces of information that has become something that everyone can know by looking you up first. This can be a good and bad thing depending on how you feel about sharing your information on-line. But if you do, you’d better update your status!

Listen to the couple’s wishes

Along this same vein though, perhaps the newly wedded couple are planning on keeping their new relationship status a secret, for whatever reason. In which case it;s not unusual for them to request no images or anything relating to the wedding be put up on social media until they say it’s ok. It’s a part of modern wedding etiquette that can have huge ramifications regarding relationships between friends, family and even media. So be sure to listen to their desires and perhaps hold off from congratulating the newly weds for a little bit until they say it’s ok.

There are plenty more aspects to modern wedding etiquette that I simply cant list in one article, including use of websites, clothing, bringing kids and dates. But I felt that what I’ve listed so far are perhaps the most modern of modern wedding etiquette trends that I’ve come across during my career. Feel free to discuss any of it in a comment below!

Engagement ring etiquette – How do you wear your rings?

As with many things at a wedding there are some things that people just don’t think about until they have to make a decision on the matter, in this case it’s engagement ring etiquette. When are you supposed to take it off, how are you supposed to wear it and do you switch hands it’s worn on once you’re married? There are a few different traditions people follow regarding how you place your engagement rings and wedding bands on your hands before the wedding, the day of the wedding and after the wedding. As a wedding photographer I’m often asked what is supposed to happen, so I thought I’d write a blog about it!

Engagement ring etiquette

During your wedding ceremony

On the day of your wedding, engagement ring etiquette dictates you should be wearing it on the third finger on your right hand (your right hand ring finger) – which is probably the opposite to what you’ve been wearing it on 😛 During the ceremony your husband to be should place your wedding ring on the ring finger of your left hand. At the end of your wedding ceremony you should have a ring on both hands – your engagement ring and your new wedding ring.

The history of the left hand’s ring finger being used dates back to ancient Egypt where people believed it contained a vein that linked directly to the heart – thereby linking your heart to the wedding band.

After your wedding ceremony

Once you’re married, you are supposed to move your engagement band back to the left land. In doing so your wedding band should be placed closer to your heart, or the closest to the base of your finger. This is where your husband placed your wedding ring on our wedding day. Dependant on the hand you wear your engagement ring on you’re supposed to tell if someone is merely engaged or already married if they choose not to wear their wedding band, and only their engagement ring for whatever reason.

You could also ignore tradition

As with many traditions, due to it becoming more obscure due to not many people knowing about it, people often not worry about them anymore. Much in the same way the traditional wedding dress colour was actually blue up until a few hundred years ago. But it’s always nice to know these traditions exist and revive them if you’re that was inclined 🙂

Some ideas of what some ladies do with their engagement rings include continuing to wear their engagement rings on their right hand or not even wearing it at all. Some people go for far as to combine the two rings together permanently by welding or adding molten gold. The most important thing is just so that you’re comfortable wearing whatever you want to wear 🙂