Monday 11 December 2017

I do, I don't: Modern wedding etiquette

There can be a minefield of wedding dilemmas
There can be a minefield of wedding dilemmas

From booze bills and seating separated parents, we asked wedding expert Blaithin O'Reilly Murphy ( to help us navigate the etiquette minefield of modern wedding dilemmas.

Is there a 'right' price to spend on a gift?

The average cost is about €100 to €150, but family members tend to give a little more if it's cash. However, if you go in with friends and club together to buy a big gift you can get away with €50 per person.

Is asking for money rude?

Cash is what most couples want but often guests want to feel they've bought a specific gift. A good compromise is a honeyfund, which gives a wish list of experiences - hot-air balloon rides etc - but is also a Paypal account.

In this age of equality, should guys still be asking dads for their daughter's hand in marriage?

I think it's a nice thing to do. It's not about asking permission but it's nice to inform the parents that a proposal is coming. I think it'll be interesting to see what traditions continue in same-sex marriages.

If the bank of mum and dad help fund the wedding have they bought the right to invite who they like?

Yes. If they've paid for the day, then it's understood they'll have a major impact in numbers and the size of do. If they've put €5,000/€10,000 in the pot, then give them a number they can invite.

Should the couple be paying for all the booze?

No. It's up to the couple but usually the bride and groom cover one drink for everyone at the drinks reception and/or the toast as well as two-and-a-half glasses of wine at the meal.

If the bride and groom split within the year should they hand back the gifts?

It probably depends on the nature of the split and how close to the wedding. Technically, it's the right thing to do, especially if they come home from honeymoon and it's all over. But money's hard to return and no one wants used bed linen back! The best option is maybe to offer to return gifts, the answer will probably be not to bother.

Mum's divorced, dad's remarried… who sits where?

Some will have everyone up there, others will have partners on a separate table. It can be challenging. International couples often opt for a 'sweetheart table' with just the bride and groom or the couple and their best man and maid of honour.

It's my second marriage, do I have to do the 'big wedding' again?

It depends on the circumstances. If you only had a small one the first time, then you might want to go big or vice versa. You can definitely get away with scaling it back, people tend to be more understanding if they don't make the guest list for second weddings. But be prepared for everyone to have a view on its appropriateness - I overhear a lot of conversations from nearest and dearest at weddings and everyone always has an opinion!

Irish Independent

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