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The Surprising Results of Our Wedding Etiquette Survey

The Brilliant Earth Wedding Ettiquette Survey


There are about a million questions that arise in the months before a wedding. Do I need a ring to propose? Who should be included in the bridal party? How will the wedding be paid for? Navigating these decisions can be overwhelming!

Many of the answers to these questions used to be set in stone by strict etiquette rules. However, 21st century couples are breaking from traditional norms. We surveyed Americans to uncover which rules they felt were made to be broken and which have stood the test of time. Find the most intriguing takeaways below!

Rules of Engagement

Before a wedding, there is usually some form of a proposal. For many, the idea of a proposal conjures up thoughts of someone down on one knee with a ring in their hand. But, does a ring always need to come before the proposal, or is it better for the couple to decide on a ring together after the question has been popped?

Engagement ring etiquette: should you buy a ring before proposing?

Engagement ring etiquette by region

The majority of respondents (58%) still believe that there should be a ring in the proposer’s hand, but those in the West were the most likely to say that a ring could come later.

Once you’ve got the ring (whether it’s during the proposal or after), should you wear it at all times?

Engagement ring etiquette by age

Those aged 35-54 were 1.4 times more likely than millennials to say you should never take off your ring. Millennials, however were the most likely to believe that it’s okay to take off your ring while sleeping, working out, or traveling.

Knowing that most Americans would prefer for their significant other to “put a ring on it” when proposing, it’s important to know what guidelines should be used when purchasing a ring. Do people still prefer a traditional diamond ring, or would they rather use a colored gemstone or a diamond simulant?

Engagement ring etiquette: does an engagement ring need a diamond?

While a traditional diamond is still the most popular choice when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring, we were excited to see rising interest in unique choices, like colored gemstones, diamond simulants, and bands! We’ve seen this trend echoed over the past year, as more and more couples are opting for more non-traditional rings that reflect their personal style.

Engagement ring etiquette: diamonds vs. gemstones by gender

However, men seem to be much more willing to feature a colored gemstone or a diamond simulant in an engagement ring.

Feelings about lab created diamonds

Feelings towards lab created diamonds are also improving significantly, especially in millennials. In fact, millennials are 1.4 times more likely to have very positive feelings about lab diamonds than they were in 2015 and 1.7 times less likely to have negative feelings about diamonds created in a lab.

Planning for the Big Day

After your partner says “yes”, it’s time to start planning for the big day. This is when more etiquette rules really come into play. For instance one of the bigger dilemmas often faced, if one of your friends recently asked you to be in their bridal party, do you have to return the favor?

Bridal party etiquette: do you need to reciprocate?

54% of Americans believe that there are no rules when it comes to planning your bridal party, but 22% still believe that you would have to invite your friend to be part of your bridal party if you were asked to be a part of theirs.

What about paying for the wedding? Money can be a touchy subject and while tradition says that the bride’s parents should foot the bill, many couples are breaking from this etiquette rule.

Who pays for the wedding: etiquette about financing the big day.

In fact, most couples are paying for their own wedding (either individually or as a partnership). Men were 1.6 times more likely to stick to the belief that the bride’s parents should pay, but close to a quarter of respondents felt that both sets of parents should foot the bill.

Etiquette for Attendees

Sure, most of the etiquette rules fall on the bride(s) or groom(s), but attendees should also worry about considering what is proper. While some rules seem to be pretty well known (such as not wearing a white dress as a guest), others prove to be a bit trickier (such as how much to spend on a gift).

Etiquette for wedding gifts: amount you should spend on a gift

As it turns out, men were 1.3 times more likely to spend $100 or more on a gift. The majority of women feel that $50 is an appropriate amount.

Wedding gift amount by region of the country

Other big spenders can be found in the Northeast, where respondents were 3.6 times more likely to say that $200 is the appropriate amount to spend than those in the West.

Wedding etiquette: bringing an uninvited guest

While men seem to be more giving with their wedding gifts, they don’t mind breaking the rules of attendance. Males were 1.7 more likely to say they would bring their significant other without having been given a plus one.

Social media is a whole new territory when it comes to rules of etiquette! With many of us posting our every move, it can be hard to know where to draw the line. Is it okay to create a story on Instagram as the couple says their I do’s?

Wedding photography tips: when is it okay to post on social media?

9% of respondents believed it was okay to post a picture of the wedding in real time, but 68% think it’s only okay to post your pics once the bride or groom has shared on social media.

Final Thoughts

Do you follow all of the etiquette rules when it comes to a proposal, planning a wedding, or attending the nuptials? Let us know in the comments below or share your opinion with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

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Comments (6)

L.K. Thomas Says:
July 11th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

My fiancee received an invitation to Grandson’s wedding, addressed ONLY TO HIM. I say I AM NOT INVITED…..His response was well, I AM NOT GOING if You are Not. It’s his Grandson that He raised…
I know they do Not like Me and I believe THEY DO NOT Want me there. Another family member thinks I should go. PLEASE GIVE ME SOME INPUT….Thanks

Janie Kielhorn Says:
June 24th, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Beautiful garden

Nancy alexamder Says:
June 21st, 2018 at 8:30 pm

I enjoyed what you said when i do get emgaged i want my family to have their input my grand children will play a big part

Vince Says:
May 30th, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Petite Twisted Vine Diamond Ring

Marjorie Yarnell Says:
May 27th, 2018 at 7:14 pm

No intention for me to get
engaged or married, but my son’s girlfriend and he are engaged. I am glad for the proper info about etticut. Any the point is about the ring, it should be sure fitting, and needs to not be breakable either. This is why I personally like stones embedded into the metal and the stones not be able to pop out or off of the metallic ring. I have 3 rings I have liked. Sterling silver is my favorite. From, Miss Marjorie Y.

Asa Eugene Zosel Says:
May 19th, 2018 at 6:01 am

Looking forward to seeing what I was wondering if you have any way to get a ring made personally

Wedding Etiquette Survey | Brilliant Earth