Wedding Receptions and Thank-You Notes


The word bride derives from the Old English bruid, which means “bright.” The modern usage of the term has two meanings: a woman who is engaged to be married (the future bride), or a woman on her wedding day, wearing white. In Western cultures, the latter is the norm. The term can also be used for a woman marrying in another culture, or to refer to a wife in an oral tradition, such as in some Native American tribes.

The bride’s family traditionally pays for most of the wedding costs, but today’s couples split these expenses among their families and themselves. The bride’s parents typically host the first engagement party; help compile the guest list; and offer assistance with wedding details. The bride’s mother traditionally chooses the bride’s attire and buys her attendants thank-you gifts, while the groom’s parents typically plan and host the bachelor/bachelorette party and give the best man and maid of honor their respective gifts. The groom also often arranges and pays for the marriage license and officiant’s fee, and he usually buys a gift for his bride.

Once the ceremony is over, guests cheer the couple down the aisle as they walk through a “recessional” line of flower girls or ring bearers and then the rest of the wedding party, including the best man and maid of honor. The groom usually has to lift the bride’s veil, so having a helper handy can be useful in this moment.

After the recessional, the newlyweds and their attendants often stop to take photos with friends and family. This is a great time to hand out gifts like personalized wedding photo frames and engraved wine glasses. It’s also customary for the maid or matron of honor to give a speech during the reception, thanking everyone for their contributions.

Forgo the traditional readings during your reception and have a friend who is musically talented sing a meaningful song instead. It can also be nice to ask a few of your closest friends to speak during the dinner hour and share their marriage wisdom with your guests. And, of course, it’s customary to send thank-you notes to your wedding guests within three months. This can be a huge task, but you can make it easier by splitting the work with your maid or matron of honor and making a pact to write one each night until you’re done. Then you can reward yourself with a special bottle of champagne or dinner out.

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