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“Can I invite my co-worker to our wedding, but not the cousins I haven’t seen in years?

“How soon after the wedding do we have to send thank you cards?”

“Is it OK to tell people where we’re registered?”

These are just a few samples of the hundreds of questions couples must deal with during the wedding planning process. The secret to successfully navigating these often stormy waters? Etiquette.

Your wedding will likely be the most etiquette-laden event you and your fiancé will ever undertake. Having a good fundamental knowledge and understanding of the rules of etiquette will be essential during the planning process.

At its simplest etiquette exists to help us all get along. It is the social lubricant that helps us manage sticky situations. To quote etiquette expert Sue Fox “….it is a way of honoring and showing respect to other people in any circumstance, no matter what.”

A good wedding planner will be your frontline wedding etiquette resource. (Those of us certified by the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada do a comprehensive module on etiquette during our course.) If you’re not working with a planner or coordinator and would like to add an etiquette book to your home library a few good titles include The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book by Holly LeFevre; Wedding Etiquette for Dummies by Sue Fox; and Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette (5th Edition). (Of course you can always keep costs down and borrow titles from your local library.)

Some good on-line etiquette resources are http://www.emilypost.com/wedding; http://www.marthastewartweddings.com; http://www.bridalguide.com/etiquette.

Like life itself, the rules of etiquette evolve and change. What was true 20 years ago may not be true – or even relevant – today. Remember, too, that etiquette reflects local customs and cultures. What’s polite and acceptable in your culture may not be in your fiance’s culture. Dealing with in-laws can be tricky at the best of times. Don’t let a single etiquette faux pas get in the way of smooth family relations.

The most important take away message is simply this: Remembering your manners is a simple but essential key to keeping your bridal party, your vendors and your guests happy and comfortable.

And the answers to those three questions at the start of this post?

Yes

Eight to 12 weeks

No (but it’s OK for your bridal party and family members to spread the word)

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