Ask The Experts: Modern Wedding Etiquette Advice

Seven industry masters impart etiquette advice and tips for a nontraditional age
From: Spring/Summer 2015 edition


A Snapshot in Time

“When planning your wedding-day photo shoot, allow ample time for family portraits,” says West Seattle’s Carol Harrold of Carol Harrold Photography, “especially with parents and grandparents.” Today’s couples lean toward a candid style of photography—wedding photos should be fun and personable—but given that these photos will be viewed for generations, Harrold also urges couples to embrace traditional groupings. “When you look at your ancestors’ photos, there is a consistency of professional, well-composed family portraits to enjoy.”


photo courtesy of Baked.


Ace of Cake

The groom’s cake has evolved from standard, ho-hum white or chocolate into a spunky representation of the man it honors, showcasing a beloved football team, favorite hobby or even a video game system. Often presented as dessert at the rehearsal dinner or during the cutting of the cake on the wedding day, the groom cake is considered by Natalie Vorpahl and Kristina Serfass of West Seattle’s Baked. to be a special surprise for the groom and his closest family and friends. “The tradition appeals to us because it is a way to give the groom special recognition on a day when most of the attention lands on the bride.”


photography by Laurel McConnell Photography


Coming Up Roses

With mothers, fathers, grandmothers, bridesmaids, groomsmen and the rest of the wedding party, deciding who should wear flowers on your wedding day can seem daunting. Tess MacDonald of appointment-only July Floral Design in Columbia City understands that for the budget-conscious bride, blossoms all around can add up. “Between the parents, aunts, nephews, grandparents, ushers, etc., there is no clear rule as to who will comprise the greater wedding party,” she says. “While every family is different, I tell people that flowers are a way to honor those you love and to personalize the tradition.”


photography by La Vie Photography


Mum’s the Word

The individual who escorts the bride or groom down the aisle may change based on the family, but the procession itself remains an ever-present tradition in today’s weddings. According to Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events in Woodinville, order matters: The mother of the bride(s) should directly precede the wedding party when walking down the aisle, as it represents a place of honor. “I have had brides change to their adopted mom, stepmom or someone who represents that relationship if it is someone other than their biological mother,” she says. “They are considered to be the hostess of the wedding and should have the recognition.”


photo courtesy of Kevin Graham


Sealed with a Kiss

According to Kevin Graham, cofounder and creative force at North Seattle’s Of The Earth custom paper, proper wedding etiquette has everything to do with decorum. “Don’t mention a gift registry on the invitation,” he advises. “Having your family and friends witness your wedding vows has nothing to do with loot and everything to do with supporting the new couple from the very beginning of a marriage.”


photography by Crozier Photography


Good Taste

The desire to be unique has infused the wedding catering business with a new energy, according to Shubert Ho, cofounder of Edmonds-based Shooby Doo Catering. “The food has evolved from the fancy American meal to oyster bars, whole roasted pigs and comfort street food.” While the fare may be more relaxed, the caterer’s duty to provide enough appealing food in a timely manner is still as important as ever. “Hiring a reputable and experienced caterer will ensure that your evening is stress-free!” says Ho.


photography by Kristen Marie Photography


Dress Code

“The bride’s gown and the attire of the bridal party reflect the couple’s personal style and taste, and pay tribute to the relationship between family and friends, the tone of the venue and the couple’s spiritual beliefs,” says downtown-based designer Luly Yang of Luly Yang Couture. She recommends that each member of the bridal party wear something in which they feel beautiful and that best flatters their silhouette and personality. Wedding guests can also show special consideration to the honored couple in the selection of their apparel. “Take your cues from the wedding invitation and do your best to choose a style that compliments the significance of the special day and the preferences of the bride and groom.”