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While writing thank you notes doesn’t rank high on most brides’ list of fun wedding planning tasks, I think it should – after all, you’re only writing thank you notes because guests have been kind enough to give you gifts! Thank you notes also give you a chance to express your love and appreciation for individual guests, something you might not get to do on your wedding day. Keeping the intention behind thank you notes at the front of your mind should make this task a breeze – yes, hand cramps and all :)

DO thank everyone. Every gift – an item, money, an event in your honor, or a gift of time or talent – should be acknowledged in writing. A personal, handwritten thank you note remains the blue ribbon standard. Remember that an individual note should be sent to each person who contributed to a group gift, and shower gifts should also be acknowledged with a note, even if you thanked the giver in person.
DON’T delay. If gifts arrive before the wedding, open them! A thank you should be sent within two weeks of receiving a gift (one month for a gift given at the wedding). Trust me, thank you notes are much less daunting if you’re only writing one or two a day.
DO put pen to paper. Yes, paper – no emailed thank you notes here! The stationery you choose doesn’t matter much, but save anything with your new or joint monogram until after the wedding.
DON’T do it all yourself. Involve your groom. There’s no rule that says brides have to write all the thank you notes. Ask your groom to write the notes for his side of the family, or write to each other’s families – it could be a great way to introduce yourself! Of course, bridal shower gifts should remain the bride’s domain.
DO acknowledge kindness. Want to go above and beyond in the “graceful bride” category? Weddings are often a group effort; you’ll find that throughout your engagement dozens of people will pop up with acts of kindness – your neighbor who offers you her rose bush blooms for your shower centerpieces, the cousin who supervises guest parking at your reception, the postman who sets gift deliveries on your porch instead of leaving them out in the rain. A thank you note or sweet treat will likely be unexpected by these folks, but gratefully accepted!

Okay — you’re feeling grateful and ready to write some thank you notes! Even the best intentions, however, can wither when faced with a tall, blank stack of notes. Thankfully, after writing piles for my own wedding, I realized there was something of a formula to the gracious thank you note – a recipe, if you will, that helps you cover your bases in each note and also makes sure each gift is acknowledged in the same courteous, generous, and personal spirit in which it was given. Here are my steps:

1. Open by thanking them for their gift. “Thank you so much for the waffle iron and cookbook!” If the gift was cash, I like the line, “Thank you so much for your generous gift!”
2. Elaborate on your thank you. Add a line or two about why you love the item, why you added it to your registry, or how you plan to use it in your newlywed life. For example, “Kip and I are really looking forward to establishing a big Saturday morning breakfast tradition, and we can’t wait to try out different waffle and pancake recipes.”
3. Add a personal note. If the gift arrived before the wedding and you know their RSVP, add a relevant line: “We can’t wait to see y’all at the wedding – just fourteen days to go!” If the gift arrived on or after your wedding day, that gives you an opening, too: “We wish you could have been at the wedding, but we’re so grateful for your support and felt your prayers on that day. We can’t wait to see you at Christmas!”
4. Close with another thank you. Reiterate your gratitude: “Again, thank you so much for the gift and for the sweet wishes in your note.”

The concept of thank you notes isn’t new to anyone – least of all Southern belles – but I hope this post might have given you a few new tips in your gracious tool kit! Wishing you all relaxed hands as you check this task off the to do list :)

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kathryn reply

    This post couldn’t come at a better time. Between the numerous gifts already arriving at my front door (101 days until the big day!) and my Bridal Shower last week, I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed – but this helped put me at ease. Planning a wedding is a serious commitment, practically a part-time job (that you of course pay for yourself, however ha!) but it is beyond worth it. I am so thankful and so blessed to be marrying my best friend …and can’t wait to celebrate with those we love come September!

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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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We had a hard time coming up with an appropriate title for today’s etiquette dilemma — since it’s really a series of overlapping issues, we had a hard time finding something that encapsulated them all! Read on, because we’d LOVE your thoughts on this one. I don’t think there’s just one right answer!

From Brittney:

I’m still early in the wedding planning process, but my list of must-haves is pretty much set for the big day and while I was discussing the ceremony/reception with my mom, an interesting point came up. My mom wants me to have a church ceremony, which is fine, but I want the reception to be a barn raisin’ good time! And while most people invited to the ceremony wouldn’t be offended by attending a reception where a few cold ones are being passed around, there are some people (family friends, older family members, etc.) who would be offended. The last thing I want to do is disappoint my sweet granddaddy, but I’m not willing to budge on this reception. Our solution: a ceremony and small reception at the church with an invite-only barn party on the hush hush. So, here’s where I’m stumped: is this allowed? And if so, how do you pull this off?! I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I am pretty set on my big barn party! I can’t be the only Southern girl who has tried to balance honoring her family, not causing anyone to stumble, but having a certain vision for her wedding, right?! Any help you could give would be fantastic. Thank ya kindly!

My first instinct is that having a secret anything related to a wedding is just asking for hurt feelings when the secret inevitably gets out. Perhaps you go ahead with your tentative plan – church ceremony, small church reception, barn party – but put everything out in the open? Give guests a chance to check off which events they’ll attend on the RSVP card (and make it clear on the invitation that the barn party will be the most raucous of the three). That way, guests can pick and choose what they’re most comfortable with, and you can feel good knowing you’ve been above-board.

Friends, I (and I’m sure Brittney!) would love to hear from you on this one: have you run into this situation in your own wedding planning? Have you ever been to a two-part reception? Please weigh in in the comments!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Mandy reply

    Brittney, I have experienced an almost identical situation. My grandparents are very against any alcohol. Although my fiancé and I are not big drinkers we do want to offer some fun drinks for our guests. I have a great relationship with my grandparents and I am very open with them. They know my heart and my relationship with my fiancé. However, my mom is going to take on this task. She is going to give them a heads up prior to the reception and explain our heart in the matter; to make sure we aren’t trying to go behind their backs but also aren’t desiring to offend them. My advice is to be yourself and be honest. Family is always family and although there are differing opinions honesty will always be respected more! Good luck!

  2. avatar Lillian Johnson reply

    This is an issue often at my facility. I make a few suggestions.
    ~If it’s grandparents who aren’t comfortable with the alcohol, you can always just wait to “open the bar” until after the cake is cut and the real party starts. Almost always, after dinner and after cake they head home.
    ~Another option I have offered is having the bar in an area off to the side where it’s not so in the face of those who don’t partake and serve everything in a glass/cup, no beer cans or bottles.

  3. avatar Marie reply

    I had a similar situation, 1/4 of my family is very conservative and does not drink. My fiance and I both want a lively celebration with all of our favorite people. We are simply having a traditional reception with a cocktail hour and a plated dinner. Those who do not drink will not stay late anyways, and can enjoy hors deourves and dinner with us. – then the party can get started! I can’t imagine having two seperate receptions. Time is so precious and goes by so fast.

  4. avatar Karen reply

    If I were a guest at your wedding, what would offend me and possibly hurt my feelings is being excluded from any of the festivities. For this reason… I would not keep anything a secret. Your guests are presumably adults who can decide for themselves what will or will not offend them. Give them the option of going to all three events. Just be sure they know that the barn party will be a throw down with music and alcohol.

    Having an after party following the reception seems to be a more and more common occurrence these days… especially with out of town guests that you don’t want to feel abandoned.

    I say go for it and have a great time! Your family and friends will just be happy to celebrate in whatever fashion they choose.

  5. avatar Ann reply

    I am doing the exact same plan as you. The way I divided it was to invite my immediate family, bridal party, and the bride and groom’s close friends. We will go from 300 down to 100.
    At the church reception, I will have my wedding cake and punch and cheese straws, and nuts.
    Hope this helps

  6. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    It’s your wedding. As long as there is a choice of “unleaded” beverages, I think you can serve “leaded” and let the chips fall where they may. The offended guests can leave early and if they are so brazen as to say something about your choices being the reason for their departure, smile sweetly, thank them for coming to the ceremony, state you will miss them, and go have a good time. My late F-I-L always said that the people who were meant to be there, will be there – and those who choose not to attend, weren’t meant to be there anyway.

  7. avatar Brittney reply

    Y’all are seriously awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you Emily for sharing this and for al of your sweet suggestions and pieces of advice!

  8. avatar Denise reply

    The interesting irony to this situation is this is actually the first glimpse of your married life and essentially the first event your are “hosting” as a married couple! It is your party and the first of many parties you will have! I’m sure you want ALL guests to feel welcome. So unless the non-drinkers are actually paying for the wedding, I would have the alcohol bar on one side of the venue and the non-alcoholic bar on the other side of the venue. Children and non-drinkers won’t have to be anywhere near where the alcohol is served and those choosing to partake can do so. Enjoy your day!

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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