Newport Manners & Etiquette: Chic Non-Traditional Weddings

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


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What do bridesmaids wear when there's no stereotype? What is the etiquette when the groom's family are slighted by the bride? Do we have to send a wedding present for a destination wedding? All questions to Didi Lorillard this week at

Non-traditional bridesmaid dresses on trend

My fiancé and I are finalizing plans for a non-traditional wedding. We haven't chosen what are considered conventional wedding costumes, because I am wearing a below-the-knee silvery blue-grey dress and Tim will be wearing a Belstaff (British biking) jacket, as will his best man. He doesn't have groomsmen, but I have plenty of bridesmaids with a wide range of waistlines, heights, ages and gender (one of whom used to be a guy). Not your cookie cutter lineup. Needless to say, my ladies are looking for guidance as to what to wear. Please advise.  D.S., Malibu, CA

From what you've mentioned, relay the details of your dress, shoes, and accessories, then suggest, for instance, that an above the knee-length cocktail dress in the color (although not white) and style of their choice would look chic to you. Short and not white, because in photos you wouldn't want a lone bridesmaid in an ankle-length dress looking like a wanna' be bride. All eyes on the chic bride, you. ~Didi

Do destination weddings warrant a gift?

We've been invited to a pretty cool destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico, which means both of us taking off time from work and paying for airfare and hotel (that will give wedding guests a slight break in the rate). My question is this, do we still have to send a present from the bridal registry?  S.P., Manhattan

Yeah, you have to look at this as a vacation. They're providing you with a fun filled adventure. Not to worry, you'll have plenty of time to send a wedding present, because you've got a year from the date of the wedding to send a gratuitous gift from their bridal registry. ~Didi

Groom's family wants in on the wedding

My little brother, (9 years younger), is getting married in a few months. As his only sibling and older sister, I would like to assume some of the maternal roles of my Mom. Also, my father is very much alive. What is the best way to participate? The bride has essentially run away with the wedding. The groom's side is barely represented on the guest list or in the planning. It's a very lopsided wedding and I feel responsibility to at least assume some level of matriarchal support and representation on the wedding day.Thoughts and guidance please. Holly, Location withheld

It sounds as though you need to take the bride to lunch and ask her to tell you about her plans for the wedding. Find an opening where you can jump in and say, "How can I help?" Keep saying it, even switching to "How can we help?" 'We,' meaning your brother's family. Skip the part about filling in for your mother. Instead, say you and your father want to participate in a helpful and meaningful manner.

Traditionally, the groom and his family host the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding to introduce close family members and friends to one another, or get a chance to know them better. But first, find out from your brother what the plan is for the rehearsal dinner and ask him, "How can dad and I help?" Tell your brother that you are looking for an opportunity to contribute: the rehearsal dinner seems like the most obvious one. He may need your assistance with the planning and execution, from invitations to hostessing.

Alternatively, you could offer to host a bridal shower a few weeks before the wedding for close women family members and women friends, or a bridesmaids' luncheon the day before the wedding. Another fun way for your family to participate is to offer to host 'the post wedding brunch' the following day. Suggest it as a buffet brunch for out-of-town guests and family members. Having the groom's family more involved with the wedding festivities should help to increase the number of family members on the wedding guest list. 

In a perfect world you, your brother and his fiancée would sit down and have a conversation about how your brother's family can contribute to the festivities by suggesting the above four events. Find an opening and dive in, saying, "What can I (we) do to help?" Add that she can think about it and you'll get back to her for suggestions. ~Didi

Do you have a Question for Didi? Visit her at, where Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or address. Do explore Didi's earlier columns by typing Didi Lorillard in the upper righthand corner of this page. Or scroll way, way down below.



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