(Closed) Formal Wedding Definition

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 4
Member
4352 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@MommyofTwo:  I think it just gets tossed around. But in general I would think it refers to the attire expected of the guests, which would include long evening gowns and tuxes. Or suits and dresses, depending on the level of formality you are going for.

Post # 5
Member
1696 posts
Bumble bee

Formality is a continuum: even a very formal event can be more or less formal than some other event. The wedding itself — that is, the legal or religious proceeding — does not lend itself as much to these distinctions, so the term refers more to the reception or dinner-dance following the wedding. Formality is characterized by scrupulous attention to protocol.

Characteristics of a formal affair include:

  • Invitations hand-written or engraved (not printed) in black ink on white paper
  • Third-person wording of the invitation with strict adherance to the formally prescribed wording.
  • Truly formal affairs are private and exclusive, so no strangers are admitted by “and guest” invitations
  • Correct use of titles both on correspondence, and in speaking
  • For a reception, tea services attended by ladies to “pour” the tea and coffee
  • For a dinner, correct seating plans with spouses NOT seated next to each other (surprise!) and each person assigned to their seat based on their relative social precedence.
  • Correct use of escort cards and place cards, all hand-written
  • Adequate trained staff to serve the drinks and hors d’oeuvres, clear used plates, and so on. There is an entire formal protocol around serving. Staff should be “liveried” meaning, wearing uniforms so that guests know who are the guests and who aren’t.

There are so many little details that can be more or less formal, that doubtless I have left out a few. asscherlover is correct, that different levels of formality require different dress, but that is how guests fit in to the level of formality set by the hostess. That is out of her control,  and is relatively minor compared to the details she does have control over.

Correct dress for a formal afternoon affair is morning-coats and striped trousers with windsor tie (for gentlemen) and tea-length dresses with pearls, gloves and hat (for women).

Correct dress for an evening affair is evening jacket and matching trousers for gentlemen with stand-up collar, white vest and bow-tie for gentlemen (cummerbund and black bow-tie with fold-over collar is slightly less formal) and floor-length formal gowns with jewellery for women.

 

Post # 6
Member
4352 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@aspasia475:  Thank you for expanding on my very brief “definition”.

Post # 7
Member
1696 posts
Bumble bee

@asscherlover:  Wink I missed out the other common definition of “formal”, used in highschools the continent over:

“Formal” means “no jeans”!

Post # 8
Member
1696 posts
Bumble bee

One more definition passed on by my irreverent niece: informal means no socks; semi-formal means two socks; formal means socks must match!

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