Summer weddings are always a special time. Our Ms. Modern Manners, Sharon Schweitzer, JD, loves them, too, and this month shares her insight on the do’s and don’ts for any wedding you may have on the horizon.

Dear Ms. Manners,

My long-term boyfriend and I are about to become engaged.  Who should be the first to know about my engagement?  

Excitedly Engaged

Dear Engaged and Enthralled,

I send my best wishes to the bride-to-be and her congratulations to the prospective groom. Sharing this important and exciting life event with immediate family first is wise. First priority, is your family and parents, and if it applies, your children (together or from a previous union). Then Godparents and special family members deserve an instantaneous visit or call. You and your fiancé’ may proceed to announce your engagement to BFFs and close friends. Posting on social media is a personal style choice.

Dear Ms. Manners,

If I know someone can’t attend my wedding, do I send an invitation anyway?

Inviting and Wondering  


Dear Invitationally Speaking,

Instead of sending an invitation, I recommend you send a wedding announcement instead, darling. Traditionally these cards are nearly identical in style to to the wedding invitation. Announcements are mailed a day or two after the wedding to distant relatives, far-flung friends, and business colleagues who are not invited to the wedding. They are mailed in lieu of an invitation, and gifts are not expected

Dear Ms. Manners,

How do I get my guests to RSVP to my engagement and wedding festivities? 

Repondez’ s’il vous plait That, of course, is French for respond if you please. Modern manners require that guests RSVP within 48 hours or a week at most. As you know, enclosing a self-addressed, stamped reply with the invitation is de rigueur. On-line wedding sites also streamline the RSVP process. You may also enlist polite family members or friends to gently telephone non-responsive guests 10 ten days prior to the final headcount due date. Be sure to make sure that the callers tone of voice is kind and warm.

Dear. Ms. Manners, How much should I spend on a wedding gift?  

Spending Sanely 

Dear Gift-Giver,

Ah, the search for the perfect gift. Please keep in mind that as a guest, it is your prerogative as to selection of a gift. A thoughtful couple will register together for gifts in various price ranges. If the gift registry items are out of your range, instead consider a store gift card. Stay within your budget and avoid overextending yourself. Also, remember to factor in the possibility of destination weddings, showers, engagement gifts, and bachelor and bachelorette parties to your expenses.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I have been a groomsman in many weddings. Do I have to ask those grooms to be in mine?  

Groomed And Present

Dear Groom-Adjacent,

I well understand your dilemma. No, serving as a groomsman is not an event with a reciprocating obligation. Wedding parties are often comprised of the bride and groom’s family members. Consider yourself honored to be a serial groomsman.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

How do I handle guests who ask to bring their children… even after we’ve made it clear they are not invited due to space and budgetary parameters?

Still Kid Loving

Dear Kiddie Loving Bride-To-Be,

Please advise your guest, with warmth in your voice, that while their children are precious, there have been no accommodations made for children to attend the wedding festivities. Express, in the nicest way, that you hope they can make other arrangements for the children so they will be able to attend. Remember, if you make an exception for their child, then you must do so for all children.