The Floating Couple: Do the bride and groom have to visit each table?

Q: At a recent family wedding, some of my cousins were perturbed that the bride and groom did not walk around to each table. One cousin in particular felt that if they wanted the check they should walk around and get it. I, on the other hand, wanted to get rid of my card with enclosure and so I walked up to them while we all were on the dance floor. Is the couple supposed to walk around the room from table to table or is it acceptable to walk to the couple? I thought maybe these rules have been relaxed some.

A: If the bride and groom greeted their guests in the receiving line, they are not obligated to visit with each guest at his or her table but they may certainly do so. It is perfectly acceptable for a guest to approach the bride and groom with a card and check.


  1. Elizabeth

    Since when do you hand your gift directly to the bride and groom? If everyone followed this logic, the would be carting around loads of gifts and cards all night, constantly running back and forth to wherever they’re keeping them. It is actually poor manners to bring a boxed gift to the reception, and best to send it in advance to either the bride or groom so they don’t have to deal with them after an exhausting day. Second, most couples have a designated spot where cards can be deposited and watched over. I would never wait for the couple to approach me to get their gift, nor would I approach them while dancing to hand it over. What sort of logic is that??

  2. jojo

    Actually, in many cultures it is traditional to hand a gift of money directly to the bride and groom. In Chinese culture the gift is placed in a red envelope, for good luck, and presented personally to the couple. At a Hindu wedding, the envelope should be homemade, and always contain cash, NOT a check. And at a Jewish wedding, the traditional gift is money in increments of 18 dollars, or “chai.” This gift, as well, is usually given directly to the bride and groom. Many Jewish wedding halls even provide envelopes for the guests to place the money in, as well as a locked box to store it. I suppose “normal” all depends on what you are used too.

  3. Davo

    My question is

    My daughter has just got engaged and will have an engagement party and then a wedding etc etc. Over the years we have grown apart from my brother and his wife, my sister inlaw, who has done nothing but create problems within the whole family to the extent that we have not been to family get togethers with them or my parents for about ten years, as every time we got together it always turned bad, we still get together with my parents as does my brother and his wife, but, never together. My daughter has invited my brother and his daughter, but not his wife, as you can imagine this has now started the WW3 with my parents, my daughter does want my sister in law there , as neither do I, she has caused a lot of pain to my family but mun and dad are all about “doing the right thing” they are European so big on family values, we just hate her and really don’t want here there. WHAT TO DO

    • Elizabeth

      Married couples are considered a social unit, and it is a faux pas to invite one member and not the other. However, you clearly have history and that is not to be discounted. I’m not sure what you thought would happen, though, inviting dad and daughter but not mom. Clearly their allegiance is to one another more than to your family, and naturally they would take it as an insult. If you want your brother there, you will have to invite the wife, that seems to be the bottom line. IF the wedding is even of medium size, its not as if you will have to interact with her very much. Seat your brother’s family far away from your table, and most interactions will be averted. For the sake of family harmony, I would suggest biting the bullet and inviting the wife. Who knows, maybe this will signal a turnabout in relations? But if you decide you detest her more than you love your brother, you can count on pretty much being estranged from them forever.

    • Alicia

      Of course it started WW3 with your brother and your parents and niece. How could you expect anything else? You basically insulted your sister in law and made certain your brother would be mad. There is a non zero chance that had you just invited her she would have declined. But really when you exclude a spouse you insult both spouses. Additionally your parents are right to be mad because now likely ( and rightly ) your brother and niece will not attend. I would in your case grovel and try and apologize. That said do not be surprised if neither your brother nor niece nor parents show up at the wedding. Other then groveling and apologizing I really see no way around getting over this huge insult.

  4. jordi

    We have long been the family members who have been on the receiving end of difficult family members so I can understand your situation. My feeling is that there would be unpleasantness no matter who you invited and if we go with the mantra that the bride and groom deserve to have a wedding they want and invite the people they want then omitting the troublesome person is right for them; they just have to be prepared for the fallout. If it is not something that worries them, then let it be. In all honesty, it’s your parents and your brother who are upset and if they chose not to attend then so be it.

  5. Hi – This is a new question.

    We are planning our wedding and have a large guest list of people we would like to invite. However, our locations do not this large amount of people to attend. We believe that a number of our friends and family who have to travel may not attend, but we can’t be sure until we receive their RSVP. It is important to our family that we invite these family/friends first and foremost, but that means that we cannot invite some of our friends. How can we effectively manage “first” list and a “second” list? Can we ask for a tentative RSVP in a save the date? Can we send our invitations very early to the “first” list and then send a second round of invites to the “second” list? Please let us know what options there are and how to make sure we are not hurting anyone’s feelings! Thank you so much!!

    • Elizabeth

      A save-the-date does not require an RSVP. You can certainly take the second approach, in which you send out some invitations very early and then invite others as you know you have the space. Another way to think about it is this: my wedding planner once told me that you can expect about 17% to decline the invitation as a rule of thumb. But when you have people traveling from afar, I think it is harder to predict. I wonder if you can enlist your parents to call and discuss the wedding with the some of the out-of-town relatives to get a better sense of whether they would realistically be able to attend.

  6. Jeanine

    Please help us with a new etiquette question regarding how to handle inviting friends and family to attend the wedding by viewing it online. I’m conscious that history is in the making as technology evolves and we’d like to handle it in the best manner (pun intended) possible.

    My daughter and her fiance’ will be sending out wedding invitations soon for a small destination wedding in Las Vegas. They are having the ceremony streamed live in real time online so that those who cannot attend may also be included. This brings up some interesting and potentially tricky invitation questions. Do they send out one invite with both options? Do they require an RSVP for either choice in order to control access to the online viewing? Can they send out an invite for only the online viewing to those that might otherwise receive a wedding announcement after the fact? Does one send a save the date to the online guests? Do you still send an online viewing invite in lieu of a wedding announcement to those whom might not be internet capable?

    We’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Alicia

      Save the dates only go to those she is really inviting in person. Invites go to those who are invited in person. In invite at bottom put wedding website. On wedding website put rather prominently the streaming link. It is hubris to assume that anyone that you do not care to invite cares enough to stream a wedding online. Do not block access to website or stream but do not advertise to those who you are not inviting. It is like talking about a party in front of those not invited.

    • Sarah

      Wow! Yes, that is a great option for those who are invited to the actual ceremony, who may want to attend, but who cannot attend.

      If traditional etiquette is important, do a standard invitation to all to see the ceremony. If people decline, then send out an email or printed card with the link, explaining that you understand that the travel is difficult, they will most certainly be remembered that day, but that if they’d still like to witness, you are excited to have this option for their choosing.

      If you are okay putting a spin on tradition (a fun, high-tech Las Vegas wedding makes me think this might be more suiting), go ahead and offer it as an RSVP option:

      ___Yes, I would love to attend!!
      ___I am sorry, I won’t be able to attend.
      ___I would love to attend from afar by watching via the web stream. Send me the link here, please! ______________@________________

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