Newport Manners & Etiquette: Today’s Nontraditional Weddings

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


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Wedding couples are bending the rules of etiquette and doing it their way. Questions galore about slipping dress codes, bridal registries and inviting children, to Didi Lorillard at this week.

Today's bridal registry

We're looking for a way to politely tell wedding guests that we only want gifts from the one store where we are registered, and if that doesn't work for them, then money they would have spent could go to a charity we support. Not to be fussy, and I know I am, we don't want the requisite candy dish or wine cooler. Since we've been living together for a while, we already have much of what we need, and everything we buy is very well thought out in terms of functionality, design and color. Do we say, "In lieu of a boxed gift, please, send a check to ........? R.M., Manhattan

The more formal the style of the wedding, presumably the more sophisticated the guests and the less likely you would be to include a list of bridal registries along with your wedding invitation. On your wedding website under 'bridal registry,' list the name of the one store where you are registered and add this sentence: Alternatively, we ask that you consider a contribution to a charity we support. Then list the name of the charity and the address, along with any additional information you want people to know. Your wedding website address can be listed at the bottom of their reply card, wedding weekend itinerary, or not at all. ~Didi

Father-of-the-bride dress code

We are getting married in September and we decided to have a fairly basic wedding. We are renting a tent and having a buffet style dinner outside behind behind the house of my fiancée's uncle. We are having one of her cousins marry us. My fiancée is wearing a wedding dress but it's not white, which is fine. As you can see this will be a fairly laidback nontraditional wedding. I decided not to wear a tux but just wear a suit and the same applies to my groomsmen. My fiancée says that her dad wants to wear a tuxedo. I feel like he should not outdress me and just wear a suit like everyone else. Is that too much of me to ask? Please help. Name withheld, Concord, MA

No, it is not too much to ask. Let's hope that in person you can gently say to him, "Sam, this is not a formal wedding. Just wear a jacket and tie, because nobody else will be wearing a tuxedo."

Is it possible that he's retired doesn't doesn't have a suit that fits, but he does have a nice tuxedo or knows where to rent one? There may be more going on here. If he doesn't have a suit, he can wear a blazer or a nice jacket with a whitecollared shirt,his favorite tie, and trousers of his choice. Should he still not be convinced, because he's seen too many versions of "Father of the Bride," say to him, "Nowadays, even when the bride wears a long wedding dress, it doesn't mean that everyone else dresses formally. After all, she is the bride and she should wear any dress she chooses."

Be honest with him and simply state the facts. At the end of the day, since, as you say, it is a nontraditional wedding, guests will be wearing whatever they want. If he identifies with Steve Martin or Spencer Tracey as George in "Father of the Bride" and still insists on wearing a tuxedo, it should not be a problem. I'm sympathetic about you not wanting to wear a tuxedo, but when you set a laidback nontraditional dress code, you have to be flexible about what all your guests wear, even with the Father of the Bride. ~Didi

Accepting a wedding invitation addressed to your family

We've received a very formal black-tie wedding invitation in which our two daughters and son were addressed on the inside envelope as "the Misses and Mr.' How do I correctly respond on the RSVP card, do I use their names or repeat Misses and Mr.? Also because it is so formal would a note stating we will attend be more appropriate? C.D., Providence

Use their names with the honorific 'Miss' for daughters under eighteen year of age and 'Ms.,' if they are older. Use Master, if your son is under ten and Mr., if he is older. When the reply card is a fill in, then fill in the blanks. Draw an arrow to where you've spelled out your children's names at the bottom or on the reverse side. Otherwise, write your reply on the blank RSVP card or on your stationary using information from the wedding invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. George W. Smith, along with Ms. Andrea, Miss Georgina, and Master (Mr.) Douglas, accept with pleasure Mr. and Mrs. Donald Cabot Smith's invitation to their daughter Charlotte's wedding June 17, 2014.

Should any of the the children have different last names from a former marriage, you would add that last name after their first name: Ms. Andrea Darlington. ~Didi

Teenage boy vineyard wedding dress code

My niece (she's 30, a business woman in Manhattan) is getting married at 5:30 p.m. in the Hamptons this May 31. On her invitation, it says "formal" attire. I have two teen boys, 16 and 13, who will be guests at the wedding. The wedding is at Wolffer Vineyards in Sagaponack, followed by a sitdown reception at the vineyard. I'm talking to my boys about suits and I'm curious. Could my 16-year-old wear a traditional seersucker suit? He thinks they are very cool and of course we would dress it up, but do you think it's proper to wear? If you could get back to me soon, I would really appreciate it! Laurette, Location withheld

While looking at images of Wolffer Vineyard weddings on the Internet, I was reminded that vineyard weddings, in their very nature, are not very formal. The wedding party may be dressed in formal attire, but you'll find that many of the guests will wear cocktail attire, "Suits & Dresses." That's why I think it is fine for your son(s) to wear a seersucker suit. You don't want a sulking teenager at a wedding, so let them wear what feels comfortable. From what you've told me, and after the images I've seen of the vineyard wedding site, your son should be happy in his seersucker suit. ~Didi

Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette."


Related Slideshow: 5 Organizing Blunders

Avoid these mistakes and your project will take less time than you expected. You won’t be as stressed or as overwhelmed as you anticipated. You will be amazed at what you have accomplished. You will be motivated and energized to tackle another project.

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on Mondays at 8:30am on


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