This is one of those silly but practical posts that I do from time to time - perhaps not the most interesting, but I would like to request that you read it if you plan to order wedding stationery or wedding accessories printed with the names of the bride and groom.
The order of the names of the bride and groom is something that seems to be a bit of an issue with some couples. I've had a few instances where a bride would place an order with the groom's name first in the text, only to change her mind after the proof has been approved - either because she only found out about the tradition/etiquette after placing her order, or because her fiance did not like to have his name last! Thus far the brides were lucky enough to get hold of me before I've started production of their orders, but not everyone may be that lucky, so I thought I'll do a post on the topic to help you make an informed decision.
So whose name should come first?
The bride's. If you would like to honour tradition the bride's name should come first before the wedding. After the wedding the groom's name usually comes first. The order of the names of the bride and groom has nothing to do with money or the party/parties hosting the event. (The latter only comes into play when you need to decide about the wording for the invitation, and which parents to mention where - but this is a discussion for another day.)
Most wedding planners and stationery designers will probably advise you to put the bride's name first, but many couples choose to play by their own rules, rather than to follow convention, tradition or etiquette. Society is getting used to the idea of more freedom and originality when it comes to weddings and because of this most of your guests will probably not consider it to be a huge breach of etiquette if you decide to change the order of your names. Some guests may notice and you should be aware that you may be exposing yourselves to criticism, but personally I don't think that it is something that you should worry about too much, unless you are so stressed about the wedding that you won't be able to deal with the criticism. (Sticking to the traditional bride's name first will then be the safer option.)
I've looked at a few forums on the Internet and some of the reasons why couples decide not to follow convention are the following:
- The bride feels selfish by putting her name first on everything.
- The groom insists on having his name first and the bride agrees in order to avoid conflict.
- Self-expression: the couple prefers to make their own rules in stead of following those dictated by society (or their mothers)!
- For aesthetic purposes - the invitation design may look more aesthetically pleasing with the groom's name first.
- It falls better on the ear.
Many couples put the bride's name first, but not for traditional reasons. They may even be unaware of the tradition and still do it! I've read a comment by one bride who said that she felt it was her right to have her name first because she was taking care of the wedding invitations and did most of the work for the wedding! Another said she did it based on "ladies first", and another said she did it, because her mother said she had to!
What about same-sex couples?
There isn't really a rule when it comes to same-sex couples. Many stationery designers suggest that you sort the names in alphabetical order.
And what if the order of the names remains a bone of contention between you and your beloved?
I don't think the order of names is worth arguing about, so if you don't want to follow convention and cannot decide whose name to put first here are some ideas:
- Flip a coin
- Sort names in alphabetical order
- Play rock-paper-scissors (-lizard-Spock if you're fans of Star Trek or The Big Bang Theory)
- Compromise by putting one name first in the invitation and the other name first somewhere else (for example on the wedding cake)
This may be an opportunity to practice your conflict resolution skills and decide as partners, rather than opponents!