Q: My husband-to-be has a 9 year old daughter. I have no children of my own, but am very close to my 10 year old nephew and 10 year old goddaughter. I feel that both my step-daughter-to-be and goddaughter are really too old to be a flower girl and that my nephew is too old to be a ring bearer. What roles wou... read more

Q: My husband-to-be has a 9 year old daughter. I have no children of my own, but am very close to my 10 year old nephew and 10 year old goddaughter. I feel that both my step-daughter-to-be and goddaughter are really too old to be a flower girl and that my nephew is too old to be a ring bearer. What roles would you suggest for these very special people in our lives? Junior Bridesmaids and Junior Groomsman? We also don’t have any “younger” relatives who could be flower girls or ring bearers, so in considering that, I am leaning toward my goddaughter being the flower girl, my nephew being the ring bearer and my step-daughter-to-be one of my bridesmaids. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

A: You have done a wonderful job of answering your own question. Having you step-daughter as a junior bridesmaid, nephew as ring bearer and goddaughter as flower girl is a great way to honor all of these children. Depending on your wedding, you could also offer other honors (in addition to or in place of the first scenario) such as having your nephew hand out programs as guests enter, having your goddaughter monitor the guest book, and having your step-daughter be your maid of honor. You and your groom should consider the age, maturity and poise of each child to best determine which honor should be offered.

Q: I have a question about what wording would be appropriate if I wanted to send a wedding invitation to members of my family yet knowing they cannot attend. We are getting married in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands in February and don’t expect anyone to attend other than who we already know about. I don’t want to leave people out but yet I don’t want them to feel they owe me an explanation why they can’t go. I may be making this a bigger deal than it is. What do you think?

A: There is no one right answer to your question. Here are some of the issues you should consider. You are having a destination wedding and believe you already know who plans to attend. But you can never be sure! So before you send invitations to anyone, be ready to have at least a few of the unexpected to accept. It would be presumptuous of you to assume you know their financial situations and/or their willingness to vacation in the Virgin Islands. (I have even spoken with bedridden clients who prefer to be kept on guest lists and receive invitations because it makes them feel included in the happy occasion, it is something fun to open in the mail and it provides for a topic of conversation when others come to call.)

If you do really want to keep the guest list small, then you have two other options. The first is a wedding announcement, the second is a lovely old tradition called an “At-Home” card. Neither the announcement, nor the at-home cards are seen as an attempt to elicit a gift. The same person who assists you with your invitations can also provide the wording for the announcement or the at-home card.

Q: My friend is getting married next October. Her parents can only afford to have cake and punch at the reception. I know she should note that there will only be cake at the reception by writing something such as “Join us for cake and punch after the ceremony.” What I do not know is if the wedding needs to be held at a certain time to use proper etiquette. Is there an appropriate time of the day to hold the wedding and/or reception since there will be no food served?

A: Typically, cake and champagne receptions are held mid-afternoon, immediately following the service. Too close to noon and guests will assume there is a luncheon, too close to 6:00 and guests will assume there is a dinner. A suggested wording for the invitation would be “Cake & Champagne reception to follow.” Nowadays the precise time depends on the availability of the person performing the ceremony.

Jodi R. R. Smith is a nationally known etiquette expert and author. She is the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. You are invited to email her your etiquette emergencies at Salem@Mannersmith.com.

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