3 Simple Wedding Etiquette Rules for 2020 and Beyond

Being invited to a wedding is such an honor.  I come from a big Sicilian family and started attending weddings in NJ and all the boroughs of NY at a very young age.  It seemed I was at a big fat Italian wedding every weekend during the spring through fall for years and years. I saw it all in the 80s and 90s:  The poofiest dresses, the biggest hair with insanely long veils, the gigantic bridal bouquets. Looking back now, every wedding was opulent AF! The Italians really loved to party and it almost seemed as if they would compete on who would gift the couple the most money.  They didn’t want to make a “Mala Figura” (trans. ‘bad impression’) by giving too little. Truly, that was how they showed their love to the bride and groom. 

My mom would always do the math at every wedding.  She’d show up with cash in one hand and the empty envelope in the other.  She would calculate what the couple might have spent per plate at the event. Mom included not only the food and whether there was an open bar, but also the band or dj in that grand total.  The wedding with a band got more money.  It really is a scene out of a movie. She would pull me into the bathroom stall and say (with her thick Sicilian accent and smokey voice), “Ok Veronica, they had a nice band that plays Italian and American music, they served prime rib,  they had la tavola Veneziana (the Venetian table) filled with every dessert including the best cannolis … we’re going to give them $250 per person.”  This was the 80s! Mom put $750 in that envelope for her, my dad and me. We were not rich by any means, but mom knew it was the right thing to do and she’d get that money back one day when her kids got married – or so she wished. 

We would then walk over to the bride and groom and hand them that envelope with the deepest Italian pride. We’d end the night with saying goodbye to everyone in the room (which took forever) and we wouldn’t dare leave without giving the couple a warm heartfelt hug and kiss before walking out the door.    

When I moved to LA in ’99, I was invited to a few weddings.  I have 2 words: CULTURE SHOCK. Where I came from, there was no such thing as a ‘gift table’ at a wedding.  Wrapped gifts were only seen at the bridal shower. At weddings we had an envelope box or satin bag (like the one you saw Lorraine Bracco with in Goodfellas) filled with cards that were packed with cash or checks that didn’t bounce.  I was among the very few with an envelope for the couple. In LA, it was an entirely different vibe, so to speak.  Many didn’t have a gift or an envelope at all.  I thought maybe they mailed the couple a check or something 

I come to find out later from the (California) couples that so many people were a ‘no-show’ (which cost them thousands),  many guests never gave them a gift at all, people left without saying goodbye. This was really hard for me to hear and I was in complete disbelief!  But it’s true. I’ve been a wedding professional for 20 years now and I’m very close to many of my clients and I’ve asked a lot of them if they would share some of their thoughts and experiences from their wedding with me.  All too often the same topics would pop up.   

These couples’ stories led me to write this blog post.  I do have some strong opinions on wedding etiquette and I feel it’s time for me to share. 


Here are 3 Simple Wedding Etiquette Rules for 2020 and beyond: 



Please RSVP either way.  If you’re not going to the wedding, send your regrets and ‘decline’.  And please don’t just show up without having RSVP’d. Let the couple know.  Don’t leave them guessing. If you said ‘yes’ and suddenly can’t attend, be sure to let the couple know ASAP so they don’t pay for your plate!  It costs so much money to feed everyone at a wedding and the caterers charge for every single person. If you decide to flake and be the ‘no-show’, and you did not let the couple know (at least 1month ahead of time), you should send a gift and cover your plate.  That’s the right thing to do. You just cost that couple $100+ per person. Just sayin’! To me it’s equivalent to skipping out on the bill at a restaurant. I may sound harsh, but I just want to drive the point home. This couple loved you enough to invite you. If you say ‘Yes’, show up for them and revel in their magic.  If you can’t come, let them know with ample time to remove you from the total headcount so they don’t lose money. If you flake, pay up!   


Giving a gift feels really good to the giver and receiver.  No matter how small or large, you must bring a gift for the couple.  Times have changed and the old tradition of ‘you have a year to give them a gift’ has long died and it’s B.S.!  I’d like to keep this simple. This couple spent a lot of money and many hours putting this event together to show you a good time and invited to you to celebrate one of the most momentous and important times in their lives.  You’ve known about the wedding for a long while, I’m sure of it. You had plenty of time to think about a gift. If you are protesting and don’t want to contribute to their honeymoon fund or pick a gift off their registry, fine!  Bring a greeting card and a bottle of wine and perhaps a gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond or HomeDepot. If you offer a service in your line of work that they can use, give them that. Something!  It doesn’t look good and the couple may feel like you really don’t care about them if you show up with nothing.  Yeah, it’s true! Some of my couples have felt that way and I can’t blame them. You know what my mom would say? She’d say, “Don’t show up empty handed.  You will make a bad impression. I raised you better than that.”


Please say goodbye to the couple when you decide to leave the event.  Trust me, you are not bothering the couple. You may have to wait in line, but so what!  Just say goodbye and congratulate them one more time. They will love it. Even if you only make eye contact with them and wave from afar.  At least do that. Don’t ghost them! They will feel it later at the end of the night when the room is empty and they realize that so many people didn’t even say ‘bye’ or ‘thank you having us’ or ‘congratulations’ one more time.  Take it from me … It doesn’t feel good. Mike and I just got married October 13, 2019. No lie, about 85% of the people left without saying ‘bye’. So odd!

That’s my 3 cents of advice, beautiful people!  Do right by each other. Be generous. Show your love and respect to the couple.  It will come back to you ten-fold.


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