Planning a wedding is complex. Seriously, have you ever noticed how long the to-do list is? And people are only tasks to check off. Adding in the emotions, personal interactions and potentially uncomfortable situations you will encounter along the way and having a guide to help you, is indispensable. Here we are.
We have summarized 10 all-too-common wedding etiquette mistakes you may not even know you are making, as well as avoid them. So, don’t do anything before you’ve read through this list (and share it together with your engaged friends, too).
1. Don't post #ringselfie before calling Grandma
It may be difficult to keep the awesome news to yourself, but remember to share it directly with your family and closest friends before you update your status on social media. Tell your parents first (in person if you can), then your siblings and grandparents. From there, you’ll probably want to call your BFFs to share within the good news—on FaceTime so you'll flaunt your bling, of course.
Once your VIPs are in the know, you can post, snap, tweet and share as you see fit. Although you might want to keep your phone silent as soon as all the big wishes come in. Daily or two later, remember to follow up with a post thanking everyone who has sent love.
2. Don't include registry details on your invitations
This is a major faux-pas that will no longer change. Your wedding invitations are a way to inform your guests, love them and want them to be there to witness your wedding vows, not a place to ask for gifts. Sure, slapping the URL on the bottom would be easy, but your guests know you've registered somewhere, so play it cool. There are two acceptable (and polite) ways of spreading the word about your registry:
- Word of mouth. Make sure those closest to you (parents, grandparents and wedding party) know where you are registered, so they can send guests in the right direction if they have questions.
- On your wedding site. Print the link to your site on an invitation insert so that guests can easily find everything from room blocks and weekend plans to your registry. You can link directly to the registry site for extra easy shopping and keep all these different shops in one place.
3. Don't wait too long for the party to start
The fastest way to forget your guests is to leave a huge gap in your timetable between the end of your ceremony and the beginning of the cocktail hour. If everything is in the same venue, wait so the bar opens and appetizers pass as soon as your guests leave the ceremony site. If they are in two different locations, do your best to minimize the in-between time, giving guests enough time to travel from one spot to another, but not enough time to sit around and get hungry (or worse, find a local restaurant and fill in snacks instead of your wedding food).
If a longer break is inevitable (e.g. between a late-morning ceremony and an evening reception), give your guests the opportunity to entertain themselves. Recommend outings and activities to fill this time, or go as far as arranging one on their behalf, like a sightseeing tour or a hospitality lounge in the hotel with drinks, snacks and TVs playing the afternoon football games.
4. Don't invite anyone to the bridal shower (or bachelor and bachelor parties) if they're not invited to the wedding
These pre-wedding events have smaller guest lists and take place in a more intimate environment, so everyone on the list must also be invited to the wedding. Inviting them only to shower would imply they are good enough to give you a gift, but not good enough to celebrate on your actual important day. Even if your shower will be a surprise, pull a bride's card and insist you have a final say on the guest list, ensuring that everyone who is invited is also on your master guest list.
The only exception? Office showers. These events are usually hosted by colleagues who chip in and contribute to the celebration, without expecting a wedding invitation. However, if you work in a small office, you might want to include everyone on your wedding guest list anyway.
5. Do not forget to take care of your wedding party
Your friends commit time and money to be part of your celebration, so don't forget to be a good friend. Do your best to keep the experience as drama-free as possible, the biggest gift you can give them. However, that doesn’t mean an actual gift wouldn’t be appreciated. Depending on your budget, choose a token of appreciation that your bridesmaids and groomsmen will love long after your wedding day. This could mean simple necklaces or cuffs with their initials, monogrammed clutches or a cool watch. A price point between $75 and $150 is a good start, especially considering how much they have spent on travel, hotel rooms and the clothes you chose.
Last but not least, don't forget feeding them. When your girls meet early in the morning, be sure you have breakfast and coffee and arrange a lunch before everyone gets dressed. The groom and groom may not have to put their suits on until afternoon, so treat them to lunch in a nearby restaurant before they return to the hotel to shave and shower.
6. Do not create a single-table for only single people
The jury is deciding whether weddings are actually a great place to meet people, especially if you're in the thick of your wedding season and all your friends tie the knot. Instead of accidentally putting all your single friends at the same table (which can appear like a forced blind date, especially if they actually have nothing in common), seat a single friend, as you will the rest of your guests: whether they get along. Group friends and family members with similar interests, be your cousin and college bestie, work in similar fields or know that your old roommate will love your colleague's toddler.
7. Don't let guests pay for their drinks
Yes, the bar bill will be one of the biggest costs at your reception. You may not afford hours of open bar boozing, but there are ways to reduce these costs without asking your guests to pony up. Instead, consider these options:
Cocktails for signature cocktails
In addition to giving guests a taste of your personality, signature cocktails reduce how much booze you buy by limiting it to certain recipes. Pair them with a few beers and wine offerings to make a dent in the liquor order.
Skip Hard Liquor
Mixed drinks are added, as mixers, garnishes, bartending costs and alcohol are involved. Instead, choose a few beers and wines that match your menu well, and choose the only choices of the evening.
Limited open bar
If you can't imagine nixing the cocktails altogether, split the evening into two parts. Drink a full open bar during cocktail hour and serve beer and wine at dinner. Naturally, most guests will make this change anyway (you'll get much more beer than cocktails on the dance floor), and you'll spend less on liquor.
Buy It Yourself
If your venue allows you to bring in your own liquor, buy cases yourself from a liquor store that accepts returns of unopened bottles. Ask a pro to help you make sure you buy enough and know that you save significant money by not ordering at your venue and possibly getting some money back at the end of the night.
Depending on the menu, you can easily select a bar package that supports the theme and eliminates the extras. If the meal is Italian, opt for red and white wines and an Aperol Spritz. Serving Mexican food? Pair it with Coronas and a margarita bar.
8. Don’t Forget to Feed Your Vendors
These are the people who work all day to make your wedding happen, so take care of them. Most sellers stipulate in their contract that the client must prepare a hot meal, so make sure your caterer knows how many people you feed. You need meals for your wedding planner, wedding photographer, videographer, DJ or band and any assistant. (But you don't have to feed your florist, baker or ceremony musicians).
Talk to your caterer about their meal policies. Most have pre-determined options or serve a "chef's choice," while some serve vendors the same entrée that guests eat. Make sure you ask your vendors about any dietary restrictions (big ones like allergies or vegetarianism should definitely be noted), and make sure that there is a quiet place where they can sit down and eat, so they don't miss the action. Feed the band or DJ before your guests sit for dinner, so they can cue big moments and arrange for your planner, photographer and videographer to eat while eating, so they don't miss the toast or the first dance.
9. Don't skip greeting your guests
Although a formal reception line is declining in popularity, it is still important to try to greet all your guests during your wedding. Share a hug and a quick chat during cocktail hour and then move on to the next group of guests. Make sure you’re served dinner first so you can eat before circulating among the reception tables. And hop from group to group on the dance floor so you can boogie with different sets of friends. Guests will understand you are trying to make the rounds, so don't worry. But don't stress: Try to see everyone and make a mental note of who you didn't talk to, so you can say "hi" and hug them in the morning after brunch.
10. Don't wait a year to send thank you letters
You've probably heard this myth before, but let's set the record straight: No, you don't have a year to send thank you notes to your guests. Not only is it impolite, it also makes writing harder, not easier. Instead of accumulating these gifts and turning them into a marathon, an evening of note writing, stays on top of the task. Keep a running list of who sent you what and write a thank you note within a week or two, whether it's a present or a wedding gift. Don’t forget to check it off your list once the note is sent.
For gifts received on your actual wedding day - yes, people still bring gifts to weddings - you have a little more leeway, but we're talking two or three months, tops. By keeping proper records and sending notes early, you show guests you care and avoid forgetting who the giver was or whether you actually sent that card.