Weddings can be a source of so much joy and happiness. They are a tribute to two people who have decided to live together. It’s a gathering of friends and family from near and far. They’re excuses to dress up, look fancy, and have a good time. But as much joy as weddings can bring, they can also bring drama.
From misunderstandings around the guest list to dealing with social media on the big day, drama lurks in many corners of a wedding. Etiquette, particularly at weddings, has changed dramatically over the years. It’s also true that for many, a wedding is their first time hosting an event of this magnitude. Knowing how best to handle each situation can be a challenge. In some situations it is the guests who lead with bad etiquette and not the honorable couple at all.
To keep tensions mild and joyful this wedding season, theGrio has compiled the 11 things to avoid when hosting and attending a wedding.
For the honored couple
Do not discuss the wedding details until the invitations are sent out
Wedding plans can change drastically from the beginning to the end of your planning. You might start out thinking about having your wedding at your favorite hotel in your favorite city, only to find that the wedding reception is sold out on your ideal date. You might think you’re going to throw a 200-person feast until you set a budget and end up halving the list.
Give yourself the latitude and flexibility to plan without guilt by not promising anything, even an invitation, until you know for sure.
Do not include your wedding registry information in your invitation
Wedding registers are a handy tool that many wedding guests will be happy to use, but including them in your formal invitation is not tasteful. You invite your guests to be a part of your day, not just ask for gifts. Those who are really interested will most likely ask themselves where you are registered. The best way to spread the word about your wedding list is word of mouth if people want it, or include a link on your wedding website.
Bonus tip: According to Emily Post, the official source on American Etiquette, you can ask for an expensive item or two, as long as you also offer some items at cheaper prices. They can ask for money for certain things like honeymoon expenses, and brides having a bridal shower can have extra registration for their shower.
Don’t forget that you are still the host
It’s your day! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the guests you invite. Think about the experiences they had at your wedding from start to finish and make sure it’s doable and fun. You may have the stamina to hold your ceremony in one location, take photos in another, and meet in a different location for your reception, but that doesn’t mean all 120 of your guests do it.
Don’t forget to think about things like parking, timing of food and drink, food allergies, entertainment for guests under 13, and how you will interact with your attendees throughout the day.
I don’t have a bar
A cash bar is a way to cut costs or give people the option when the host isn’t a drinker, but it can upset someone when they leave work and fly across the country with an expensive gift item in tow.
If drinking is not part of your lifestyle, you are under no obligation to serve alcohol. Any of your guests who don’t understand your lifestyle may want to reconsider participating. When it comes to expenses, there are creative ways to save. You could serve beer and wine only, offer specialty cocktails, or schedule an open bar before switching to beer and wine only service.
Don’t take your bridal shower for granted
Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are likely to be close friends and family members. Don’t let your wedding fall apart. Before you start delegating, it may be worth double-checking that you understand the duties of bridesmaids and groomsmen. For example, while traditions have changed about who plans the bridal shower, it is not common for bridesmaids to plan them. Once you understand their role, immediately communicate clear expectations.
Consider their budget and capacity throughout the process. Unless you foot the bill in full, be open to the fact that they get to choose what to wear. When giving thank you gifts to your bridal party, personalize them individually rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Your relationship with everyone is very different and you should respect that.
Don’t skip the thank you
A wedding requires a lot of hands, not to mention all of your invited guests who have spent a lot of time and money to be there. Show how much you appreciate being able to celebrate by sending a handwritten thank you note. Yes, handwritten. Say thank you to your suppliers, the venue, your officiant, your guests and your bridal party. People also expect these thank yous to come within a month of your wedding.
For the guests
Don’t ask if you’re invited (and respect it if your whole household isn’t invited)
A couple getting married has a lot to consider, including who to invite to their big day. If you’ve only seen someone in a specific context (e.g., at school, at work, or at family gatherings), it can be impossible to know the true scope of their community. Contrary to popular belief, weddings are also not an event to which you invite everyone you know. The cost of a wedding is usually per person.
It might be difficult to wait and find out, but the couple will greatly appreciate not being pressured into making decisions at an already chaotic time. Don’t ask if you or anyone else you know is invited. Your questions will be answered if an invitation arrives in the mail.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have RSVPed for yourself and a plus one or your children and are told they are not invited, be understanding and respectful.
Don’t forget to sign up
If you receive a coveted invitation to a wedding, act in good time, especially if you cannot attend. It’s also best to respond as the couple requested. If the couple has directed you to a website or asks to receive note cards, follow the instructions. They might have a reason for how they asked to receive RSVPs, and not following suit could throw their organization off balance or cause more trouble than you think.
Don’t break the dress code
Dress codes help create the atmosphere and central atmosphere during an event. If the couple has requested a specific dress code, it is your duty to ensure you know what this means and to dress accordingly.
Don’t post on social media unless directed to do so
Many modern couples set up wedding anniversary hashtags to comment on, and in this case post, their day. Others may say up front, either on their invite or on the event signage, that they don’t want any part of their day to take place on social media, and you must respect that boundary. Be careful if not specifically recommended or not specifically recommended.
It’s rude to use the phone during an organized ceremony, and a wedding is no exception. Have the paid professional capture the kiss and the way the sun shines on the bridal party during the vows ceremony. You just stay present. The same goes for speeches and first dances during the reception. Let the pro capture these moments for the couple’s personal and most likely private wedding video. However, when grandpa pulls off a perfect swag surf during dance class, you’d better capture it! The couple, who spent thousands on their look and event and paid a pro to document it, may also appreciate an advance warning or the ability to approve posts before they appear on Instagram or TikTok. For reasons of privacy, you should avoid marking locations until after the event has ended.
Don’t forget why you are there
A wedding is a celebration where two people officially come together in life. It’s about each of them equally and no one else. They are expected to be gracious hosts, but at the same time the party is an honor to them and their love for one another. Weddings are not family reunions or memorials for those who are no longer with us. Don’t get too caught up in your personal expectations of the wedding or the couple you’re losing sight of them.
Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio, covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion and the myriad ways black people live and enjoy life. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers and digital brands.
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