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Category: Southern Etiquette

Found on everything from family Bibles to signet rings, handkerchiefs to dress labels, the monogram is perhaps the most beloved and widespread tradition in the South. Monogrammed pieces are passed down through generations as a reminder of those who vowed their love before us, and the rows of monograms on an heirloom are an amazing encouragement to a bride just starting out on the marriage journey. However, the etiquette of which monogram to use when and where in your wedding can be particularly tricky, so we thought we’d revisit this topic and share a bit of what we’ve learned over the years!

From Farris + Taylor‘s wedding (photographed by Kristyn Hogan)

First of all, let’s define maiden monogram and married/joint monogram. A maiden monogram features your first initial on the left, middle initial on the right, and initial of your maiden name slightly larger in the middle (for example, my full name is Lisa Janel Olson, so my maiden monogram is LOJ). A married, or joint, monogram features the initial of the wife’s first name on the left, the initial of the husband’s first name on the right, and the initial of the couple’s married surname slightly larger in the middle (for my fiancé, David Kirk, and I, our future married monogram is LKD). Most etiquette books now suggest the order we have here, but in the past, the husband’s first initial was placed on the left because it was believed that his first and surname initials should not be separated.

Before the wedding: For anything you’re going to wear, such as a monogrammed robe, dress patch, clutch, or bouquet wrap, use your maiden monogram. For wedding details that are used before you say “I do,” such as save the dates, invitations, and ceremony programs, you can use your first initials joined by an ampersand with the bride’s first initial listed first (for Dave and me, this would be L&D). In general, a married monogram should not be used before the couple is officially married.

Clockwise from top left: Marenda + Jonathan (Anna K), Cameron + Evan (Virgil Bunao), Alyson + Brian (Leigh Webber), Eddie + Jordan (Harwell Photography), Angelica + Colby (Jake Holt), Celie + Shane (Sweet Tea Photography)

During the wedding: We love the idea of debuting your married monogram at your reception! It would be perfectly appropriate illuminated on your dance floor, iced onto your wedding cake, calligraphed on menus, or printed on your favor bags, to name a few. As an added bonus, if you don’t include your wedding date, some leftover monogrammed items (like cocktail napkins!) can be used long after your wedding day in your newlywed home.

Clockwise from top left: Blair + Brian (Justin DeMutiis), April + Nick (Pasha Belman), Kristin + Kyle (Martha Manning), Sarah + Nick (Pure 7 Studios), Sarah + Gabe (Ashley Seawell), Emily + Cole (Sposa Bella), Sarah + Gabe (Ashley Seawell), Claire + Michael (Watson Studios)

After the wedding: The exception to avoiding your married monogram until after the wedding is when registering for monogrammed items, since you’ll be using your registry gifts once you are married. Many stores offer monogramming on anything from candlesticks to cutlery, and in turn, these pieces may become heirlooms for future generations to cherish as much as you do!

For even more information about monograms, take a look at this past post, complete with a handy monogram guide, and find lots more monogram inspiration on our Pinterest board. Of course, if there’s anything we missed, chime in in the comments section!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Bumby G reply

    I just love all the monogramming. Especially those purses. :)

  2. avatar Kat reply

    Love this post!!! Monograms & weddings go hand in hand :)

  3. avatar Mackenzie reply

    Love this post! I am thrilled to slap a monogram on anything that will stop moving long enough for me to do so. I do have a quick question, though. What are y’alls thoughts on a monogrammed aisle runner? Maiden monogram or married?

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Thanks, Mackenzie! That’s a tough one–we think the most appropriate option would be your first (or last) initials joined by an ampersand, or a 2-letter monogram as shown in this post: /2012/09/19/monogram-etiquette-from-emma-j-design/ Hope that helps!

    • avatar Britt reply

      Love this!
      What about on the morning of the wedding on the wedding dress hangers?
      I see a lot of girls and on Etsy use Mrs. (Who they are getting married to). Should I use my Soon to be Last Name or my Maiden Name?

  4. avatar michele reply

    My wedding invitation monogram template only allows for 1 letter. Now what? help

  5. avatar Nursery Rhymes reply

    […] Daddy’s setting up the nursery donning goodies from our baby shower over the weekend… We just LOVE these monogrammed burp cloths from Auntie Lyndy ~ so Southern […]

  6. avatar Andrina T reply

    Help! I am embroidering a handkerchief as a wedding gift and am stumped on the monogram. Should I just use the bride’s first initial? Bride and groom first initials (in opposite corners)? Or maybe just her new last name initial, in case it gets passed down as an heirloom? Thanks!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Andrina! So fun! I think either the bride’s first initial or just her new last initial would be great. Don’t worry too much about what others will think if it’s passed down – I think part of the reason people love heirlooms is not because they have the right initial for them, but because the details remind them of dear family members!

  7. avatar Brenda reply

    I bought a bible for a wedding gift and I need to know on the page where it says presented to , do I put the brides name first or the grooms ?
    Thank you

  8. avatar Judy reply

    Monogram for bride’s bouquet …new or old? What about changing the ribbon on bouquet after the ceremony for photos from old to new? Thank you for suggestions.

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Does a seemingly endless parade of etiquette issues follow behind your every wedding decision? You’re not alone, judging by the volume of befuddled emails we receive. We love to try and help out when we can, and so today, we’re offering our two cents on Meredith’s question! She writes:

A born-and-raised Southern girl, I love flipping through Southern Weddings even with no personal wedding plans in sight. I have a couple shower etiquette question. A bridesmaid and I are planning a couple cocktail party style shower for a bride and groom in Atlanta. Of course we are only inviting those who will also be invited to the wedding. My dilemma is, can we invite single friends to bring a guest if some of these friends are not invited with guest to the wedding? I’ve felt sort of “singled out” when previously invited to a couple shower solo, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, I realize the “couple” in “couple shower” primarily refers to the bride and groom. Thoughts?

Besides whether it’s okay to pair navy dresses with black tuxedos (spoiler alert: yes), plus ones might be the most common query we get. For weddings, the etiquette is clear: spouses, fiances/fiancees, and live-in partners of guests must be included, even if you don’t know them, but you get to decide if you want single, unattached guests to bring dates.

Of course, once you get into the realm of “best friend/dating for three years but not engaged” and “second cousin/engaged but I’ve never met him,” things don’t seem so cut and dry. Were you making the guest list decisions, Meredith, I’d encourage you to ignore the part of you that sees a budget trimming opportunity and indulge the part of you that wants to include as many plus ones as possible. After all, weddings are not a fun place to be single, and if you want people on the dance floor, it helps to give them a partner!

However, you are not in the bride and groom’s shoes, and those two lucky souls have already made the decisions for you about who does and does not get a plus one. For the sake of clarity, I think you need to stick to their list. I hate that that will mean some guests are dateless to the shower, but I just don’t see another good option.

Readers, what do you think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What do you think about plus ones in general — are you including them on your guest list? Do tell!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Maddison Dorminey reply

    As a single lady, yes, always give us the option, like the post says, who wants to dance alone or be the third wheel, or admit it, get asked to dance by the crazy person at the wedding. NO FUN! I have always heard 18 or older gets a separate invitation and a and guest.

  2. avatar Brittney reply

    Emily! I have an etiquette conundrum that I could really use your advice on! I think it’s actually something that a lot of brides face and I’d love to get your perspective about it :) How can I get my question to you?!

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Happy Monday, friends! I can’t think of anything better to start the week with than an etiquette query… but maybe that’s just me :) Regardless, I hope you’ll offer Molly your own two cents, especially if you’ve dealt with a similar situation!

Hi, Emily!

I have an etiquette question. My wedding was originally scheduled for the weekend of June 15, but due to several overlapping family issues, my fiance and I decided to postpone. We are all now in a much better place, and have rescheduled our wedding for September 8. Unfortunately, my original matron of honor, who lives overseas, will be extremely pregnant on our new date and will not be able to attend.

I’m planning to have her Skype in to the wedding, but I now don’t have a matron of honor — or at least one who will be present. Can I ask my girlfriend who is “next in line” to assume that role? And can I ask another friend to be a part of the bridal party now? Please help me on what the etiquette would be in this strange situation!

Thank you!

Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings

First, I have to say I’m so glad that things are going more smoothly for Molly and her family these days! Postponing or rescheduling a wedding is NOT fun, but I think it’s a much better course of action than going forward with something that doesn’t feel right, for whatever reason. Also, September is a great time to get married :)

As with most etiquette questions, I think the best answer depends on your circumstances. For your first question — can you ask the girlfriend who’s next in line to be your matron of honor — I would say yes IF 1) you don’t think it would hurt the original (pregnant) matron of honor’s feelings, and 2) you don’t think the “next in line” friend would be insulted to be asked. (I know that seems weird, since you’d be asking her something nice, but some people might be annoyed knowing they were the “second choice”!)

Your second question is easier, I think: absolutely! It’s totally up to you to add or subtract anyone from the bridal party at any time, so I think whether or not you ask another friend to be a part of your party as something separate from the issue of your original matron of honor dropping out.

Has anyone else had to reschedule, postpone, or substantially change their wedding, maybe because of an illness, deployment, or serious business crisis? I would love to hear, and especially would love to hear any advice y’all might have to offer! Maybe the way you spread the news to guests?

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Hannah From reply

    My husband and I were originally supposed to get married on July 5th of this year. A couple of days after I mailed out our Save The Dates, he calls me from Japan (where he is stationed) and said that he will be deployed during our wedding day and that we had to change it. That next weekend I came home from school and my sisters, my mother, and I made “change the date” cards – they matched our original colors and design, but were on a post card type of paper. We were able to change the date and got married a month earlier than planned, only losing one vendor in the process. It actually ended up working out better for everyone involved in the wedding (a couple of our groomsmen were military as well).

  2. avatar All in a Soiree reply

    I personally don’t know anyone who has had to reschedule there wedding, but in my personal opinion I think simply being honest and just letting them know things changed unexpectedly

  3. avatar Brittany Mayer reply

    My wonderful fiance officially proposed New Years Eve 2010. We had been together for about a year and a half. But the enitre time we were together we were in a long distance relationship, he was in D.C. and I was in N.C. in Winston-Salem. it was pretty hard but even with the 6 hour distance between us we still saw each other almost every other weekend! When we got engaged I wanted us living in the same city before we got married. Well, we started planning and had set the date and put down a few deposits, venue, photographer etc. and we realized that even thought he had come to live with me in my home town of Louisville Ky, we weren’t ready yet. I wanted to find a different career than what I studied in college and the job he had gotten in town wasn’t working out, so he went back to his job that took him away from me. It was a really difficult time, not only were we going back to a long distance relationship, but we were loosing our dream wedding. For me it felt really embaressing to have to tell everyone that we were postponing the wedding. I feared that everyone would think our marriage wasnt meant to be, but for the most part everyone was very understanding. We are so blessed that as of Christmas this past year we have both found jobs in the same city, and we have officially set a new date of May 10, 2014. I’m plumb tickled to death! It’s been a long wait, but it’s been worth it. And I have a few years of looking at SWMag under my belt now so its gonna be a great southern shindig!

  4. avatar Gracie reply

    My fiancé and I recently had to reschedule our wedding due to conflicts with school, work etc. Unfortunately it was AFTER we had sent out the save the dates (talk about embarrassing). After much deliberation and tears (on my part). We sent out cute little cards to all our guests that began with “don’t dust off those dancing shoes just yet!” And a little explanation of our postponement. It was so well received! Everyone mentioned how much they appreciated us being up front with them instead of trying to dance around the subject.
    As for the wedding itself, changing plans from a May wedding to a December wedding was no easy task! But after looking through all the plans I had set fort vintage garden party wedding, I realized that the vintage theme was something that fits for any season! Our florist was so helpful in picking out beautiful seasonal flowers that very much resembled my spring bouquet and center pieces. The bridesmaids unfortunately did have to buy a second dress, but the JCrew wedding shop was so helpful and I was able to find adorable dresses for $70 each (unheard of!).
    The moral of the story: don’t panick! It can be something that builds the excitement for your big day and helps you and your fiancé learn to prioritize (always a good skill for marriage). And what girl doesn’t love a little more time to plan her big day?!

  5. avatar Laura torres reply

    hi! I’m from México and my wedding had to be rescheduled because the hotel that I reserved didnt set the date on their calendario and they sell ALL The rooms so theme wars not any rooms left for me or my guests so they changed The date for The next weekend , i dont know if i should send another sabe The date or just with The event that i made in Facebook and wedding wire.. Help!

  6. avatar Susan reply

    My son’s wedding was postponed. It will now be on New Years Eve. Our original guest list was about 150. None of our family will be able to attend and close to 60 others will be vacationing. I don’t feel right inviting those people again since I know they will be gone. The wedding will take place 100 miles away for most of the remaining guests and we have bad winter weather. The bride has 400+ on her list. What is appropriate? Can we schedule a separate celebration when the majority of our guests are in town? The wedding is just family, reception follows at same venue.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Susan! My opinion would be that you should invite all of the original guests on the list, whether or not you think they’ll be able to attend — it is up to them to decide whether or not they want to change their plans! As for a second celebration, again, in my opinion, it doesn’t seem completely appropriate, since your original guest list is pretty large, and, even if the guest count ends up being smaller, you weren’t intentionally planning an elopement or true destination wedding. Inviting the same people to the wedding and then to another wedding celebration doesn’t seem quite right. Wishing your family all the best!

  7. avatar D reply

    We are having to reschedule our wedding. It is in ONE month. I don’t know what to do. All of our vendors and location are all flexible and can easily be change, no money lost there. However, many of our guests have already purchased non-refundable travel plans. We can’t afford to pay for their travel and reimburse them. We plan to send out the letter to all of our guests within the next 1-2 days explaining that we are changing our date. We do not have a new date selected yet. Please advise.

  8. avatar FutureMrs reply

    My fiance and I had to postpone our wedding until next year due to many unfortunate circumstances. Now we are ready to plan, after all the stress wirh planning initially we’ve decided that we no longer want it as large as we planned. How do we plan without inviting many of the guests that were originally on our first guest list, and would that be considered improper

  9. avatar Sarah reply

    What is the best way to postpone a wedding that is two and a half weeks away? My fiancé family won’t be able to make it and he doesn’t want to marry without them standing next to him. Any suggestions?

  10. avatar Elizabeth reply

    My fiancé and I had to unexpectedly postpone our wedding this past weekend. I had been getting progressively sicker throughout the week leading up to the wedding, taking steroids and every OTC medicine I could get my hands on. Fast forward to the day before the wedding, and I was so sick! I hadn’t slept in 48 hours because of a constant cough and not being able to breathe. My attitude was still that the show must go on. When I finally slept about 3 hours after the rehearsal I woke up feeling like I literally was not going to make it through the day. I ended up in the hospital with a 104 fever, super dehydrated, crying uncontrollably – the works – with a doctor saying either he could give me meds that would knock me out or he could just give me fluids but either was there was no way I was walking down the aisle in four hours. We opted for the meds, but now the fallout has been nuclear! The only people who believe us are like the two or three people who saw me hooked up to the machines struggling to breathe, etc. Everyone else, including family thinks it was cold feet. Now nobody supports our efforts to reschedule except a small handful of people. Surprisingly all of our vendors have been more understanding than anyone. How do we handle things from here? Everyone was notified but it was all via phone calls and texts the morning of from the hospital. I am at a complete loss! Please help!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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