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by Ramona Portelli -

Though all over the world there are different families, different cultures and different traditions all these must be brought together in harmony for a marriage to thrive. It is best to approach these challenges right at the start in a well thought out and non-emotional manner.

A wedding invitation is an invitation to share the bridal couple's joy in momentous occasion. A gift is a heartfelt tribute and contribution to the joyful new life in marriage. In Malta and in some other countries some couples choose a gift registry. Choosing a gift registry is for the convenience of guests who might be inclined to give a gift for momentous occasions such as weddings of those they love. It is thoughtful and tactful to select registry items in varying price ranges. The gift registry itself does not need to be traditional. One may register for ornaments or even tools. A thank you note should be sent out within two months of receipt of a wedding gift. Many donors need to know within this period of time if the items were received. It is rude to cause undue financial hardship to them or to cause them emotional stress as they wonder whether to ask if the gift has been received.

Regarding the reception gift table, it must be chosen an out-of-the-way yet secure location to place a table for the repose of the couple's gifts during the reception. They are not to be opened at the reception. Bringing a wedding gift to the reception is now acceptable.

A simple, lovely, inexpensive and useful item may be made as a souvenir of the wedding. An example is bookmarks with the date and the couple's name written in silver or gold added along with a bible's verse.

The most important part of a wedding is the solemnization of vows of loving partnership between the happy couple. A wedding may be informal, joyous, and light. Invitations may be as formal or informal as the ceremony and reception are planned to be. 336

If a formal ceremony is planned, however, the invitations must be done correctly. Names on the envelopes must include full names. Do not use initials. It is unnecessary, and in fact, is poor etiquette, to write the common phrase "and family" on the outside envelope. The inner invitation will give them that information. Everything on the envelope is spelled out formally and correctly. Even in the address, there should be no abbreviations or shortcuts. Another etiquette regarding invitations is that you will have to find out if there are any titles. This means if the receiver is a doctor, for example, it would be, "Doctor and Mrs. Peter Mallia" or if she is, then it would be " Mr. and Doctor Peter Mallia".

One final word on formal invitations. Take the invitations to the post office for mailing and have one weighed so that your postage amount is acceptable. Choose stamps that do not have cartoon characters or other inappropriate subject matter.

Working out a budget for your wedding is one of the first things that should be done once the date is set. There are no longer any hard and fast rules as to "Who Pays for What in a Wedding", but a general guideline follows as to the traditional breakdown of expenses.

The wedding, the bride's gown, headpiece and accessories, the bridesmaid bouquets, the ceremony/reception flowers, alter baskets, the red carpet, the kneeling bench, the church fee, the musician, the reception hall fee, the catered reception and professional services, the wedding photography, the video photography, the orchestra/band/dj, the rice bags (if any), the father of bride formal wear are all traditional expenses to be paid by the bride's family.

The wedding ring for groom, the wedding gift for groom and the bridesmaid gifts are all expenses to be paid by the bride itself. While the wedding ring for the bride, the wedding gift for the bride, the groomsmen and usher gifts, the bride's bouquet, the gloves, the ties and ascots for attendants, the car services and the honeymoon arrangements are all traditional expenses to be paid by the groom.

The Primary responsibility of the Mother of the Bride is to see that the bride's wishes are carried out the bride's way. It will be the bride's mother responsibility to help the bride plan her wedding with her tastes in mind…not hers, unless, it is the true desire of the bride to "let mum run things." 407

These are some primary responsibilities the bride's mother should take in consideration. She should help the bride select her wedding attire. After all this is not the mother's wedding. She should help the bride and groom decide on a wedding budget. Settling money issues upfront is always best. A good clear budget will help everyone with his or her expectations. If the Mother of the Groom does not contact the bride's mother, the latter will have to make the first contact. The bride's mother has to see that the guest lists are put together. The invitations must be ordered as soon as possible, and the guest list will be critical in making the invitation order. The bride's mother had to choose her gown for the wedding day. Immediately she has to inform the Mother of the Groom the colors and style so that she may begin looking for a complimentary gown.

The mother of the groom is often at a loss as to exactly what role she plays in the marriage of her son. This is even more true when she has not participated previously in a wedding for a daughter or other sibling. The following rules of etiquette are shared to increase the joy and fulfil the traditional responsibilities of the mother of the groom.

The first rule of etiquette to be followed upon receiving news of the impending nuptials is to initiate contact between the families. A call to the bride's mother and telling her how happy she is about the marriage of their children's home. The importance of providing an accurate and timely guest list can neither be over emphasized, nor the importance of sticking to the guidelines given her as to the number of guests she many invite. Remember to include zip codes. It is the bride's mother who will first select a dress for her daughters wedding. The mother of the groom then chooses a gown of complimentary color and similar styling. She must wear long if the bride's mother wears long or short if she wears short. The color should not match the bridesmaids, nor the brides' mother, but compliment both. 357

Dancing at the wedding reception is a lovely way to bring an air of elegance and family togetherness to a wonderfully happy and joyous occasion. Traditionally, the bride and groom will be the first to dance as their special song is played softly. As the music continues to play, and once the entire bridal party and their parents are on the dance floor, the other guests are invited to dance.

Now let's have a look at some other countries wedding etiquette. An Arabic wedding reception is segregated with men on one side and the women on the other. Brides wear an ornate caftan. Moreover the bride's hands and feet are artistically decorated in a henna lattice pattern.

In Australia, aussies use a bridal waltz for the first dance of the bride and groom at the wedding reception. A "departure circle" is formed at the wedding reception. As the reception draws to a close, guests are invited to form a circle. The bride and groom go in opposite directions inside the circle to bid guests farewell

In China weddings are most often held during the Chinese New Year, which celebrate the arrival of spring. Red is the traditional color of the wedding dress, candles, and invitations. White is generally reserved for funerals. Family members are honored during a special tea ceremony. As the bride and groom serve tea to their elders, they receive money in red envelopes.

In England, the bride leads the wedding party down a flower-covered path to the church. The bride and groom often exit under an arch of swords. If it is not a military wedding, an arch is still made of like items that are relevant to the couple, anything from fishing poles to golf clubs.

Maltese Wedding Etiquette is the result of long years of customs and tradition. Society and etiquette change with time. What was necessary a few years might no longer be required today. Today, it is up to each couple to decide whether or not to follow those customs still in use, creating an etiquette that is both Maltese and personal, for their wedding day. 353



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