How to Handle Wedding Etiquette at Work

We get a TON of questions about how to handle wedding etiquette at work, so we've rounded up our top tips for brides (such as whether you have to invite your colleagues to your wedding, and whether to display wedding photos in your office) -- and for coworkers (such as what to wear, what to get your secretary for her wedding, and more). If you think business etiquette and wedding etiquette never mix, you're in for a surprise -- we get a TON of questions about how to handle wedding etiquette at work!

For the bride who's trying to stay professional while handling wedding etiquette at work, we've covered tips like:how to handle wedding etiquette at work -- business etiquette tips - image of a bridal bouquet

We've also talked about wedding etiquette from a coworker's perspective, including:

Have other questions, or tips, on how to handle wedding etiquette at work to share? Email us here. (Once you're past the wedding, check out our tips on marriage issues such as tips on married money management, as well as our disucussions on family planning for young professionals.)

Social media images via Stencil.

It’s Raining Gifts: Wedding and Baby Showers at the Office

Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy's Musings

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on baby showers at the office — links have also been updated below. (You also may want to check out our blog for working moms, CorporetteMoms!) 

Reader H wrote in with this question…

I have a question about celebrating life events in the office – specifically throwing coworkers wedding showers and baby showers during work time. Should these events be limited to eating cake, or is it appropriate to play games? What kind of gift should you get your coworker? Should you throw baby showers for men whose wives are pregnant? Is being involved with the planning and decorating for these things a major NGDGTCO no-no? I don’t know if you’ve ever addressed this on your blog – I couldn’t find a post that dealt with it – and I would love to get your $.02.

I have to say, my knee jerked as a reaction to this question far more than it normally does. Decorations? Games?  Are you kidding me?  Maybe I’m overreacting, but the more I’ve thought about it the more it just seems wildly inappropriate on every possible level. (Update: And numerous commenters disagree with me, with lots having celebrated baby showers with coworkers, at least during lunchtime or at the end of the day. Which I guess just goes to show you — know your office!) As I begin this post, let’s remember that the purpose of a wedding shower or baby shower is to “shower” the recipient with gifts. For a wedding shower, only those invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower; as far as I know anyone can be invited to the baby shower.  So right off the bat, let’s knock wedding showers off the list unless literally everyone in the entire office is invited to the wedding.  (And in case you are having a wedding shower in the office:  please, no games — leave the toilet paper dresses for family and friends only, not coworkers!) (Pictured: Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy’s Musings.) [Read more…]

Diamond Rings and the Working Girl

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on wearing diamond rings to the office and whether or not you should remove an engagement ring for interviews — links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our more recent discussion about when to upgrade your engagement ring

This should be a fun conversation. Reader S wonders what size diamond ring is appropriate for a professional woman…

What size wedding ring/engagement ring is appropriate for a professional office? Personally, I think giant rings are gaudy and tacky. But I overheard a couple of attorneys saying the other day “”Do you ever see a friend posting pictures on facebook about her recent engagement and when you see her ring, you think to yourself ‘oh, honey, I’m so sorry!'”” so I guess rings can be too small as well. What size will keep you safe from the gossip?

should-i-take-my-engagement-ring-off-for-interviewI’m glad she asked this question, because I remember some of the comments turned to engagement rings in our conversation on the intern with the Hermes handbag, and there were some fascinating differences of opinion in there. For my $.02, I think that any size ring is appropriate for a professional office, provided that the ring is actually an engagement ring, and not a cocktail ring worn as an engagement ring. (Engagement rings are fairly simple, in part because they’re intended to be worn on a daily basis. Diamond cocktail rings (full disclosure: I own one, love it, and wear it a ton) can be gorgeous, but they’re often bigger (either in length, width, or height), sparklier, and to a certain extent, gaudier, than what an engagement ring is; they should be worn only when the occasion calls for it. I’m right handed, so I like to wear mine on the middle finger of my right hand, particularly if I’m attending a cocktail event where I’ll be holding a glass with my right hand.)  I will say, though, to those of you looking to get engaged, pass this tip on to your soon-to-be fiance: don’t go into debt to buy an engagement ring.  You can always add to the ring later, either by adding diamonds to it as baguettes, by “upgrading” your diamonds (from a less-clear one to a clearer one), or so forth.  (2017 Update: the rings pictured above are no longer available; instead you can drool over some of these gorgeous estate rings at Neiman Marcus.)

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How to Handle Personal Phone Calls at Work (And: How to Plan Your Wedding During Office Hours)

Are personal phone calls at work allowed? What if you need to call people during business hours or otherwise do wedding planning tasks during the workweek?2018 Update: We still stand by this discussion on making personal calls while you’re on the clock — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion of how to handle necessary personal calls at work, as well as our more recent discussions about how to plan a wedding while working full time.personal phone calls at work - image of red telephone booth

Today’s request is from reader C, who has a question about how to handle personal calls while she’s at the office…

I am currently planning my wedding for next summer and as you know, it’s quite time consuming. Coupled with a demanding job and my involvement with several organizations and activities outside of work, I have to fit the wedding planning in wherever I can and that sometimes includes work hours. I sit at an open cubicle and since I am in finance, I work almost entirely with men. A couple of the guys in my group were recently married so they would talk wedding stuff occasionally, but it was rather infrequent and typically consisted of a few “yes” and “whatever you want is fine with me honey” type responses. I, on the other hand, have begun to field calls from everyone from potential wedding planners to my future mother in law and those require discussing details I’d rather keep to myself. What is your advice for the engaged readers out there? Should I ignore my wedding planner’s calls until I can get away from my desk? Should I hang up on my mother when the conversation turns into a debate on salmon vs. fuschia? How much wedding talk is too much before my coworkers think they’ve died and woken up in a sorority house? I’d love to hear what you and your readers have to say.

This is a great question, because everyone has awkward personal calls to make at work, whether you’re planning a wedding or not.

(Current image via Stencil. Original image (2010): Scenic Telephone Box, originally uploaded to Flickr by fakelvis.)

Most bosses will tell you that you’re not supposed to take personal calls while you’re on the clock, and I would agree with that. Aside from a quick discussion about evening plans (yes, we’re meeting at __ at ____), or a quick call to Grandma to wish her a happy birthday, in general, you should schedule your phone calls for your off hours. (In fact, reader C mentions talking to her mother and stopping her when the conversation turns to wedding — unless you and your mother work together, it doesn’t really matter WHAT you’re talking about — it sounds like you’re already stepping into dicey territory. Just my $.02, though.)

That said, I do think there are some exceptions to the rule… [Read more…]

Etiquette Flash: Should you invite your colleagues to your wedding?

when to invite colleagues to your wedding2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on when to invite colleagues to your wedding — links have also been updated.when to invite colleagues to your wedding - stock wedding image via Stencil  

Today’s reader mail has to do with whether she should invite colleagues to her wedding…

Long story short, I just got engaged to another attorney at my mid-sized firm. We are both junior associates and we met as summer associates in 2007. Obviously, there are associates that we socialize with that we’d like to invite to the wedding. However, we’re not quite sure about whether to invite partners. Since we’re both quite new at the firm, we do work for lots of different attorneys. I’d hate to offend someone by not inviting him…especially in this economy!

Congratulations! The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors, the big ones being:
a) do you think you could make partner at this firm?
b) can you afford to invite a lot of work colleagues to your wedding?
c) how do you feel about mixing your wedding (and your grandparents and your college friends) (and any princess fantasies you’ll be indulging that day) with your work colleagues?

Pictured:  As of 2017, the pictured dress from Mikaella Bridal is no longer available. Check out some of these gorgeous strapless lace wedding dresses instead! 

Your future with the firm is the first consideration, we think. Even if you’re fairly junior at the firm, you and your fiance should have an idea of whether you could make partner if you wanted to, versus just hanging out until a better job opportunity comes along. If either of you are going to try to make partner, you should look at your wedding as an opportunity to create important relationships — to show the powers that be at the firm that you consider them to be part of the family.  If neither of you is gunning for partner, however, we’d say to evaluate your relationships with the partners.  Are they mentors to you?  Are they like family anyway?  And then we’d proceed on to question two…

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Weekend Open Thread

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Pictured: Mikasa “True Blue” Espresso Cup/Saucer, available at Macys.com for $16 (was $23).

Reader Mail: What to Wear to the Wedding of a Colleague

What to Wear to a Colleague's Wedding | CorporetteWe are seriously behind in answering this poor reader’s e-mail — our sincere apologies!  Here’s the question:

I am a mid-level law associate and my husband is a teaching physician at a local hospital. His boss is getting married in DC in April. It is the bride’s first marriage and it will be a huge event. The wedding is at 5 and then dinner and dancing at 6 at a country club.  I have NO idea what to wear. Can I wear a black cocktail dress? I am so bad at these things and I want to make a good impression for my husband and look professional for my own benefit!  This may seem like an elementary question, but did I mention I am fashionably challenged?  (One more thing:  I am barely thirty, but my husband is a good ten years older. I don’t want to look like a airhead, but I don’t want to look old for my age either!)

Weddings, in general, are fraught with chances for fashion errors.  What is appropriate — or inappropriate — tends to be very region-specific, as well as wedding-specific.  Take your cues from the invitation — the wording of the invitation (are middle names used?  does she call her groom a “Mr.”? is “honor” spelled with a u?) and the style of the invitation (is it entirely in script?  was there an inner/outer envelope?  are there any quirky touches to it?) will give you an idea of what the bride is aiming at for the wedding.  In general, avoid wearing black or white to a wedding — we know a lot of places where black is still seen as a color of mourning.  D.C. walks a fine line between being a cosmopolitan city on the East Coast, and a Southern city — we’d avoid black if at all possible.  (If all you’ve got is a black cocktail dress, be sure to wear a very colorful, happy wrap, as well as bag and shoes.) [Read more…]

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