Whenever wedding etiquette questions pop up in GroomStand's inbox, we think of Emily Post. What fork do I eat with first? How do I write a thank you note? When do I give the groomsmen gifts?
We look to Mrs. Post for all the answers. Why her? Well, she was the first to write a book on the subject. Her suggestions on manners are considered gospel. But what makes her the expert?
Wedding Etiquette as we know It
Emily Post grew up in high society around the turn of the 20th century. After Mrs. Post divorced her husband, she turned to writing romantic stories of European and American sophistication. Drawing from her finishing school, Mrs. Post ventured through the United States and Europe before WWI as a correspondent, writing articles that appeared in Vanity Fair, Collier's and McCall's.
Her weekly radio program, syndicated newspaper column and authorship of multiple books established "according to Emily Post" as a household phrase. In 1946, Mrs. Post created the Emily Post Institute to research society customs and dispel etiquette experts' advice to media outlets and corporations.
Emily Post is the etiquette expert, but look where she's from. She is distinctly upper class. Not saying it's a bad thing. I wish my wedding could be a high-class soiree. Instead, it will probably be the kind-of wedding where it's perfectly acceptable to eat with your hands.
Dated Emily Post rules like the groom "arranging and paying for lodging for his wedding party" are out of the question for me. I can barely afford groomsmen gifts! Yet, I completely agree that the groom should purchase the marriage license. Is it OK to pick and choose only wedding etiquette rules I want to follow? Many people write into Groomstand with similar dilemmas. They're at a crossroad of etiquette. Blindly follow the Emily Post bible, or throw her rules right out the window.
My advice is to maintain the spirit of Emily Post at your wedding. There is no need to lose sleep over "when it is or isn't OK to use e-mail wedding invitations" or "who to invite to the rehearsal dinner." Etiquette is about considering and respecting all of your guests. When you make a good effort to care for your company, you will enjoy your wedding and so will they.
By the way:
Forks: Use the outer most utensils and work your way toward your plate
Thank you cards: Identify the person by name, thank them for the wedding gift, and include how you will use it.