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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Unplugging Your Wedding + More

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Are you afraid this might happen at your wedding? This couple is... what will Didi advise? Photo: Nora & Troy Photography.

Fall weddings are all the rage but beware, unplugged wedding etiquette is on the rise. Do you know how to introduce someone whose name you don't remember? What to wear to a Block Island fall wedding? Not red. What to do when you've forgotten a milestone. All questions at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com this week.

Dear Didi,
Is it tacky and rude to ask guests not to take photographs or use cellphones during our wedding ceremony? Our friends' wedding photos showed the majority of guests either taking photos or with bowed heads texting. At our wedding in November we want everyone with us in spirit. We've got two professionals photographing our ceremony and reception and we're posting wedding photos in an album that guests can log onto and share. We don't want to sound like the smartphone police, but we want our guests and families in the moment. How do we go about politely saying 'no cellphones'?  Amy, North Scituate, MA

Dear Amy,
Add an "unplugged" page to your wedding website to make it crystal clear that camera and smartphone use is not allowed in the church. Add that you would appreciate guests restraining from taking photos altogether -- especially during the exchanging of vows, wedding kiss, cutting of the cake, first dance and throwing of the bride's bouquet. Let guests know that, your wedding photos will shortly be available to download and share from your wedding website.

There will always be those who will not unplug, and you'll have to put up with them. Nevertheless, gently remind guests to respect your wishes: Post a small 'no cellphone' sign inside the church door. Place a note in the program as a reminder that professional photographs will be available to download from the wedding website. Ask the officiant, or the best man, to invite guests to put down their cameras and smartphones and be totally present and in the moment. There's no way to guarantee that cellphones don't chime during the ceremony.

In his first toast at the wedding reception have the best man announce, "No cameras and phones." You won't be able to stop everyone, but the fewer guests plugged in, the less pressed the plugged will feel.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Without sounding like a fool, how do I introduce people at business functions when I don't remember their name?  C.G., Worcester, MA

Dear C.G.,
Google names of people on the invitation and colleagues whom you suspect might be there, to learn what you can about them and the culture of the event. In business and in social situations, when not sure about first and/or last names, ask, "You two have met, haven't you?" It's a great line because you're not stuck having to mispronounce or admit that you've forgotten a name and they are gently forced to introduce themselves to each another. You're off the hook! If it is a familiar gathering, one would say, "You two know each another, don't you?" Or in a group, "You all know one another, don't you?" To make sure you know their name next time, ask for the person's card and read it before tucking it into your pocket.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My oldest brother and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last month. His children had a small private party for them (none of us were invited). I sent a card to them but my other brothers and sister did not. Now we've found out they were very upset and hurt that none of us "acknowledged" their 50th anniversary.  We have never made a big deal out of any of our prospective anniversaries—not even cards. I feel badly that my brother is hurt but I also feel they are NOT justified in feeling hurt. I tried to explain that we have never made a big deal out of anniversaries. That only made him more angry—I didn't mean to imply that his 50th wasn't a big deal but we just considered it a private thing. He still is mad at all of us. What can we do?  K.D., Foster

Dear K.D.,
You have to admit fifty years is a long time. It's always nice to be remembered, but when you're not, you needn't hold a grudge. The older we are, the more self-absorbed we become. Your siblings might have forgotten—you sent a card. As you say, as a clan you're not big on celebrating anniversaries. Since you've already talked to your older brother about it, it's time to move on and forget.

It's never too late for your siblings to remember something important like this. Why not suggest they send their brother and his wife a belated anniversary card? Better late than sorry that they hadn't acknowledged the milestone. That said, keep in mind, your older brother might feel rather badly that he hadn't organized a larger party and included his siblings and their spouses.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I am attending a wedding on Block Island, Rhode Island, September 29th at 2:30 in the afternoon. Hopefully the weather will be perfect, because it is a lawn wedding and reception. I bought a sleeveless red ponte-knit dress. Now I must buy the accessories. Do you think a solid black sweater or jacket would be okay, or do you think I should try one with a pattern?  Should I wear sheer black tights with flat black shoes? I was going to add a nice black belt with silver buckle and a silver necklace and earrings. Do you have any suggestions?  G.J., Manhattan

Dear G.J.,
Traditionally, it isn't polite to wear a red dress to a wedding because red is the most attention-grabbing color. As the saying goes, "All eyes on the bride." If tradition isn't your thing, then by all means solid black would be the best color for ballerina flats and a cardigan sweater or fitted jacket. Sheer black stockings for an early afternoon September wedding on Block Island may be too dressy. If your legs are not tan, then wear legwear a shade lighter than your skin tone with a bit of glimmer to them. The black belt with silver buckle, silver necklace and earrings sound fine, however, remember this is an island-beachy-lawn kind of wedding, so you may want to take it down a bit with the accessories, especially if you go with the red dress. A double-knit dress with a nipped waist shouldn't need a belt.   ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, after reading her earlier GoLocalProv.com columns, some of which are listed below.

Photo courtesy of Nora & Troy Photography.


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