Wedding etiquette is a lot less rigid these days, which is great if you want to wear a black dress (you can), but don’t you sometimes wish there was a rule or two for managing some of the trickier modern scenarios? (We’re talking about that time your sister only got invited to the shower, but you only made the cut for the dancing, and your other sister didn’t get an invite at all). So we tapped wedding planner Martina Stritesky of White Bow Events for her answer to the 10 most common questions she finds her couples are struggling with in 2015:

Q: Who should be the first to know about our engagement?
A: In this day in age of social media, save the blasting ‘You said Yes’ to all your outlets before you let your nearest and dearest know. Call both your parents, children from a previous relationship, your grandparents, siblings or another special family or friends to give them the head’s up if they don’t already know and their chance to give you their blessings before the world knows. You will save yourself and those close to you any unnecessary hurt feeling.

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Q: Are gifts required at engagement parties?
A: No. If you are invited to an engagement party then there is no need to bring anything but your most heartfelt congratulations. If you want to bring a token of congrats then a special bottle of champagne, flutes or something else unique to the couple will be appreciated. But by no means is it a must.

Q: Can you ever say “no” to being a bridesmaid?
A: Absolutely. If you don’t think you can genuinely help the bride, your inner circle, in every way a bridesmaid’s duties are traditionally needed, then please politely decline. A bride depends on her special group of bridesmaids to carry some of the torch with her, whether emotional or with planning. If you accept the role and don’t live up the tasks you are letting your friend down when she supremely needs you – and also stopping those more capable, of stepping up to the plate.

Q: Who should pay for bridesmaid dresses (and all the other expenses related to the role)?
A: Traditionally if you accept the role of being a bridesmaid then you accept the financial commitments that go along with it – such as paying for a dress, hair, makeup, shower and bachelorette party . If your friend buys your dress on your behalf then thank her genuinely and step up the role ten-fold. She will love you back!

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Q: Can I invite someone to the bridal shower but not the wedding? (Or, to the dancing after the dinner but not the wedding ceremony or the dinner?)
A: This is a no-no. Since showers should be saved for the bride’s nearest and dearest, do throw a shower with guests not invited to your big day. Otherwise it will look like a gift grab. Also if you are having more than one shower, have your hosts check the guest lists to avoid duplicates. It’s understood that shower guests will bring a gift, so you don’t want your guests to feel pressure to attend multiple showers and buy several gifts. The only exception is if your co-workers throw you a shower at work.

Q: Can a guest wear white to a wedding?

A: Simply put, only if the bride and groom ask to you! Meaning the invite explicably states a white-only dress code, which has become a growing trend. If it doesn’t avoid white at all costs! The bride has gone to all this trouble of planning, saving and spending so please let her feel extra special on her wedding day. In addition, guests should also avoid wearing any outfit, despite colour, if it calls too much attention or is not appropriate for the specific wedding.

Q: Can I cancel to a wedding I said “Yes” to?
I’ve seen too many ‘no-show’s at weddings and to put it simply it’s just plain rude. A bride and groom have planned extensively (hello seating chart!) & paid to have you there at least 30 days in advance because you have RSVP’d, de facto promised, to attend (and likely for your date or partner too). Unless there has been a death in your family or you yourself are in the hospital then put on your best party shoes, add a smile, and get ready to dance the night away. If you initially decline politely then no one can fault you. But if you are a no-show then they have every right to feel insulted and in fact quite upset.

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Q: Do you have to invite guests with a plus one?
A: The short answer is that anyone over the age of 18 should be invited with a plus one. Without a doubt. This goes doubly so if your wedding is a destination event. You cant expect guest to use their vacation time or travel alone just for the sake of seeing you get married. You want your guests to have a good time at your wedding. And the sure fire way for them to do that is if they attend with their partner or friend.

Q: Can I skip the cake?
Absolutely. There are certain traditions you don’t have to follow, such as cutting the cake, if you are not big on cakes or if you are trying to cut down on expenses. That being said, you should offer something sweet, such as mini cupcakes, chocolate, ice cream, petit fours, to signify that the main course has ended on a sweet note.

Q: Do I have to send a written Thank You note or can I email my thanks?
A: Without question a formal thank you note is required. That dosent mean it has to be as fancy as an invitation but putting pen to paper and personalizing for each guest is appropriate. If a guest took the time to come to your wedding and give you a gift to celebrate your love, the least you can do is send them a written thank you. The old rule of having a year to send out your thanks still applies.

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