Weddings in Utah can be tricky. So many people come to Utah to go to school and meet the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. As romantic as that idea can be, it can certainly be tricky to figure out who’s going to pay for what- especially if multiple receptions or open houses are concerned.
I get people asking me about different details of wedding etiquette all the time. The truth is, time has changed the importance of certain formalities. What was once considered proper might now seem a little strange. And to add to that, a lot of the weddings in Utah are often quite different than the ones featured in bridal magazines and websites. For example, LDS temple weddings are conducted for free, but because of the number of temples they often require more travel for those who would like to attend.
While I don’t pretend to be an etiquette expert, I have seen quite a few brides come and go. Here are some of the questions I have been asked and some great answers I have seen brides come up with.
Who pays for the celebration on the big day? This might not be a confusing question if both the bride and groom are from the same area. But if the bride grew up in Illinois and the groom grew up and Wisconsin and they’re getting married in Utah things start to get tricky. Will you have open houses in your home towns after the big day? Will you have a big reception in Utah after the wedding?
Typically the home town open houses are paid for by the families who live there. Tradition says that the bride’s family pays for the reception and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner. But here we see that tradition doesn’t help us much. How often do you see a rehearsal dinner for an LDS wedding? Instead, the groom’s family often pays for a luncheon the day of the wedding for the guests who were invited to the wedding ceremony. The bride’s family will typically pay for the reception that evening.
And what if the groom is from Utah, the bride from another state and they’re getting married in Utah? Another tricky one, especially if the bride plans on having a celebration in her home town after the big day. (and doesn’t want to have to pay for both) Here the rule of having each family be in charge of their own home town celebration doesn’t work as well. The groom’s family might be perfectly happy planning the event in a cultural hall while the bride might be from an area where a reception in a cultural hall isn’t as acceptable. I’ve seen this situation again and again.
Unfortunately, I’ve mostly only seen bad examples of how to handle it. The bride typically demands that the groom’s family pay for a reception center. And then the groom’s family typically develops very negative feelings towards the bride because she doesn’t understand their point of view. This is a situation where I’d have to say (and I don’t say this very often so listen up!) that the bride’s opinion is wrong! Sorry girls.
What would be better? Well, there are no real etiquette rules that I know of for this one. Just use common courtesy here girls! If your fiance’s family doesn’t want to pay for a reception hall then respect their budget. Offer to pay the difference to upgrade to a reception hall, or just suck it up and wait to have your Reception Hall Celebration when you go home for your own, home town celebration. The truth is, while having a wedding reception in a cultural hall might sound really weird to you (and I understand that, I grew up in Ohio and it still seems really weird to me!) the people who will be coming to your Utah reception will be from Utah and a cultural hall reception won’t seem weird to them.
Receiving Lines? Another Utah tradition that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It is true that etiquette says you as the bride and groom should greet each of your guests. The typical receiving line is a very effective way to do that and has in fact developed from an old tradition when the bride and groom would stand outside the wedding dinner and greet each guest as he took his seat. This tradition however, still allowed the bride and groom time to go eat, dance and enjoy their reception. If you are expecting a lot of guests at your reception you might want to make a plan so you won’t have to stand in line all night long on your wedding day. The formal line can be scheduled to end at a specific time (you can even put that on your invitation if you like) or you can choose an alternate route to greet your guests. Some ideas might include making a formal toast during your reception and thanking everyone for coming, making a special effort to go from table to table at your reception, or inviting guests to twirl you around on the dance floor for some one on one time. For more information on the exact etiquette of the receiving line (or if you have a mother who refuses to believe a reception can exist without a formal line) check out this article.
Who pays for the clothes? Ok, this is the last one for this post because, wow- this is getting long! I’ll have to end this with a ‘to be continued’! But I just wanted to briefly discuss who pays for bridesmaid’s dresses, groomsmen’s outfits etc. This is one area where I think tradition can sometimes be a little offensive. Tradition states that bridesmaids, flower girls and groom’s men are to pay for their own wedding attire (except the grooms men accessories such as a tie, which the groom is supposed to buy). That is tradition, and I think it’s just fine to a certain extent. But let me be the first one to tell you that if you choose a dress that your bridesmaids will never wear again and costs well into 3 figures… well.. let’s just say you’ll probably be better friends after the big day if you offer to pay for it. This advice given to you by a girl who has purchased her share of bridesmaid gowns. Just a little something to keep in mind. I don’t mean to say that you can’t have your big day just exactly how you want it. It can be! Just be thoughtful towards the situation of the people helping you out on your big day. After all, the bridesmaid dresses will always be less important than the girls in them!