Accountability: Offbeat Bride’s official stance on wedding etiquette advice

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Bride and Groom in New Jersey
Photo by Mike Allebach Photography

Not infrequently, Offbeat Bride will be criticized for supposedly telling couples to ignore certain kinds of wedding etiquette advice. Or we'll catch shit for sharing weddings where folks went way off the beaten track when it comes to what you might think of as acceptable wedding etiquette. Over the years, this has included everything from crowdsourced wedding invitations to potluck weddings to honeymoon registries.

Given that the “Offbeat Bride hates etiquette!” critique comes up repeatedly, perhaps it's worth capturing our official stance on wedding etiquette advice.

We strongly believe that couples should consider their guests' comfort, and that couples must always hold themselves accountable for their nontraditional wedding choices. This means that if you choose to do something you know isn't typical in your community, you don't then get to act mortified when your guests are surprised or even upset by your choice.

By all means: Make your own choices! But hold yourself accountable that people may not like your choices. That's their prerogative and something you cannot control.

Guest comfort and couple accountability in mind, we think couples should feel free to consider all the wedding choices they want, without us or anyone else giving advice about which choices are acceptable wedding etiquette. Here's why:

  • Traditions and etiquette vary widely by region and community. How are randos on the internet going to know what will make YOUR guests uncomfortable? Think of region-specific traditions like the Stag & Doe Parties! Only you know your community.
  • Etiquette shifts and evolves. The first time we wrote about honeymoon registries in 2008, readers foamed at the mouth. By 2011, The New York Times reported on the trend. These days, most folks don't care.
  • We believe in letting people make their own mistakes. As long as you make sure your guests know what to expect (overcommunicate, so guests can make an educated decision!) and hold yourself accountable for the decisions you make (and the hurt feelings or guest outrage that may follow), Offbeat Bride supports you in doing whatever you want.

All this means that no, Offbeat Bride is not anti-etiquette. Couples do indeed need to consider guest comfort when making decisions, and they absolutely are not off the hook for being responsible and accountable for people's reactions to those decisions.

We do not, however, believe that strangers on the internet (even awesome strangers on the internet like us!) can know what's best for you or your wedding.

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Comments on Accountability: Offbeat Bride’s official stance on wedding etiquette advice

  1. My husband and I got married ten years ago after a 3 year engagement where we tried all sorts of means to bridge a narrow but very deep cultural and religious divide between our families. Ultimately we got married on two weeks’ notice with immediate families only in attendance, without planning or a photographer or any of the normal accouterments, in a hailstorm of hurt feelings and mean comments.

    Having gotten married with nothing but bad memories (and a great husband!) has always been something a pain point for me. I love celebrating my friends weddings but I’m always a little bit sad that I never got the joy of planning my own wedding.

    When I’ve tentatively explored having a renewal of vows or something similar and putting together a wedding-like experience the other wedding websites have come CRASHING down on me informing me what incredibly poor etiquette it would be to do so. (The folks at IDoTakeTwo were so harsh that it basically terrified me into giving up entirely on the idea and I’ve just tried to resign myself to never having any experience that remotely resembles that type of happy celebration.)

    So, in short, thank you for being willing to say that etiquette varies. I tripped over this thread while helping a friend plan their wedding, and while I still don’t think I’ll ever have the confidence that I could celebrate my own marriage with family and friends it’s nice to know that maybe out there there are some people who wouldn’t judge me if I did.

    • I know this comment is SO LATE, but I hope you still somehow see it. I’m going to start with this: Fuck those bitches. You ABSOLUTELY deserve to have the wedding/marriage you always wanted, and if that means a vow renewal, then go for it! My god, vow renewals seem so commonplace, how can someone be so upset about it? And frankly, it’s not a decision that’s up to Internet strangers; it’s a decision that’s up to YOU and your husband and your family and about what feels right for you. That’s all you should listen to. I know it’s hard to build back up after someone tears you down so hard, but please, please, please try to push those spiteful strangers’ comments out of your mind and listen to the only voices that matter; yourself and those who love you. Please be happy! You deserve it! We all deserve it!

  2. When I first got engaged I made the mistake of going to a few wedding etiquette forums. I had never thought about getting married before and had only been to one wedding at that point so I was totally new to how weddings worked, and I figured it was just a big party with cake. Oh man, I had a total panic attack after seeing those brides tear each other apart over open bars, bridesmaid gifts, and even little things like table settings and invitation wording. I mean, I thought weddings were supposed to be fun, not a competition where the word “tacky” gets thrown at everything.

    Thankfully, my family and friends are super chill and non-judgemental. So I’m just doing my best to make sure my guests have a good time. And if I’m not sure about something I ask them if they would find “XYZ” uncomfortable or rude. So far none of them care what Emily Post and the Knot have to say. 😉

    • I had some less than positive experiences on etiquette forums. Apparently, I’m the rudest host who ever lived ever in the history of hosts because I told my guests to come in costume … on Halloween … to a costume wedding …

      Anyway! I stopped going to those sites, we went with our gut instincts, and everyone had a great time.

      • I guess I’m right there with you since I also asked my guests to come in costume, lol. Though it never occurred to me that any of my guests would be such boring stick-in-the-muds that they would get offended by the request! Though I did give people the option of wearing regular dress clothes, literally every response to my wedding (even from older relatives) has been “So cool, I can’t wait to dress up, I’m already researching my costume!!”

        • We did kind of the same thing! We had a few sticks-in-the-mud who aren’t so keen on Halloween so in the pamphlet we sent out with the invites we said something like “Don’t like Halloween? No worries! A mask with your evening wear counts!” Only one person took that route and he showed up in a gorgeous three piece suit with this awesome asymmetrical metal mask with tons of bling on it! Even my one aunt who by her own admission “hates Halloween” found a way to make it work with a red evening gown and devil horns!

  3. Honestly, I don’t care one bit about wedding etiquette. I’m having the wedding I want in the way that I want. I do, however, boarder on someone who would rather have no wedding and elope, but the place we wanted to get married is conducive of having people, so we’re going with it (not to mention the fact that our families would be sad if they weren’t there). So it’s just family and close friends who understand what we’re all about. It’s just my opinion, but if there are people on your guest list who are going to feel outraged about your choices and are determined not to have a good time, maybe they shouldn’t be on your guest list.

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