Unintentional Wedding Etiquette Flubs – and How to Avoid Them

It’s quite possible you’ll stumble into some etiquette no-no’s, even if you try your best to plan every detail of your wedding perfectly. Here are some common wedding planning errors, and advice on how to make sure you don’t fall into the same traps.

  • Inviting someone who isn’t coming. It’s awkward and embarrassing to send a wedding invitation to someone who already said he or she won’t be able to attend your wedding. An invitation is not just a courtesy. It’s an actual invitation, and it doesn’t need to be sent to someone who told you their schedule won’t allow them to attend. 
  • Attaching cheap pre-printed address labels to your invitation envelopes. Your invited guests are giving up a full day for you, and probably buying you a gift. It’s classier to send hand-addressed invitations instead of stick-on labels. It’s okay to use a handwriting font on your computer, as long as the addressee’s name is printed directly to the envelope.
  • Being inconsistent about inviting “plus one’s.” It’s okay to invite single guests whose partners have been with them for a year or more. But don’t turn around and invite another single guest who’s attending your wedding on a first date with someone. Whatever your policy on who can bring a guest, make sure that policy applies to everyone equally, so there are no hard feelings. 
  • Fudging your starting time on your invitations. If your wedding ceremony starts at 3pm, be sure your invitation says 3pm. Don’t put “2:30” on the invitation, anticipating that some people will be late. It’s unfair to make the people who arrived on time wait for the stragglers.
  • Sending incomplete save-the-date cards. Don’t send a card that leaves out the  date or city of your wedding. Both are essential, especially if you have guests who are coming from out of town.
  • Scheduling a Friday wedding early, or a Sunday wedding late. Many of your Friday guests will come from work. Give them enough time to go home and change, and still get to your ceremony. For Sundays, an early start is better, because guests who have to work Monday can enjoy more of the party before they have to go home.
  • Not greeting each guest personally. Don’t think for a second that reserving 10 minutes to visit your dinner tables is enough time to meet and thank everyone. A receiving line at the beginning of your cocktail hour is still the best way to ensure that you’ve met every guest.
  • Being greedy about gifts. Like it or not, gifts to the bride and groom are optional. So be grateful for every single one, not just the expensive ones. And don’t put your gift registry information on your invitations.
  • Being stingy about gifts. On the other hand, be generous when buying gifts for your attendants and other people who helped you with important wedding details. You asked a lot from them, so reward them for their loyalty to you.
  • Sending form thank-you cards. When someone has spent the time and money to select a nice gift for you, and attend your big celebration, don’t blow them off with a “Thank you, Mr. and/or Mrs. or Miss ____” note with a pre-printed sentiment. Form thank-you cards practically scream, “It’s a real bother for me to send this, but I know I have to… so here!”

Obeying these rules will ensure that your guests come away from your wedding just as excited for you as they were when they first got the news of your engagement.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2015 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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