Etiquette is one of the most complicated topics of discussion regarding weddings. Who should be seated at the head table, how to address the envelopes, how do you handle wording on the invitations regarding divorced parents and who pays for what, to mention a few. Basically it is a mine field of dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs and one mis-step could put you in hot water with almost anyone. It is exhausting, to say the least.
Manners are the unenforced standards of conduct in polite society. The real purpose of manners is to make other people feel comfortable, not to alienate or subject them to your own standards. There are some basic tenets that hold society together such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’, other than that the essence of good manners is to remember that what you think is the truth is actually only your opinion.
Luckily most wedding professionals will help guide you through the planning process gracefully so you can avoid most of the major lapses in etiquette. Invitation specialists will help you decide on wording, the DJ will help you with introducing the wedding party and selecting music, the caterer will help you figure out the details of dinner. Beware, though, there are still pitfalls. Of course you could buy a book on wedding etiquette or surf the net with your specific topics. But, for every person who writes a book or a column or a blog, remember that the ‘etiquette’ guide is just a guide. It is merely the opinion of the author and not the Constitution and if you search long enough you will find someone who agrees with your opinion, whether it is right or wrong. Common sense should prevail and if you have any doubt that something is in poor taste, it probably is. If you don’t know the definition of poor taste, then it won’t matter anyway.
Keeping all of that in mind, I have composed my list of the worst wedding faux pas. See if you agree.
Asking for money outright.Whether it is in the invitation, on your website or by mouth, asking for money is a no-no. You should sign up for at least one registry and there are tons of creative ones like the FHA mortgage registry or Home Depot. Worst offender – Passing around a bag, box or any sort of container at the wedding or reception like a collection plate at church. This has actually happened. Ghastly! Money Trees are also a thing of the past and vulgar. Keep it confidential, please… no one wants to see your cash.
Turning the ceremony into a talent show. The bride and groom do not need to sing during the ceremony. Celine Dion did not sing at her wedding so you don’t need to, either. This is not the time to prove to the world that the bride has the chops for Ave Maria.
Late Start. Starting the ceremony more than 15 minutes late is bad, starting it over an hour late is unconscionable. After ten minutes an announcement should be made regarding the late-ness of the ceremony, explaining to the waiting guests why the ceremony is held up. Traffic, medical issue are good reasons, oversleeping is not. If your fiance oversleeps on your wedding day and is more than one hour late to the ceremony, you should take a pass.
Dragging Ceremony. The average ceremony in America lasts about 30 minutes, the longest I have attended was a little over an hour. Long enough that by the end of it I had made a mental list of things I needed to do when I got home and wondering if I turned off the stove. If your vows take more than an hour, the groomsmen will be kissing marble before the bride has a chance to pucker up. If the ceremony lasts more than two hours, you need to have your head examined.
Bad Toasts – Where do I begin? If the toast embarasses anyone, ridicules anyone, mentions sex in any way or the cost of the wedding, have it edited out of your wedding video. For your entertainment there is a website dedicated to bad wedding toasts.
Drunk Bride or Groom – The #1 thing you can do at your wedding to show your guests you have absolutely no clue about manners, etiquette or good taste is to get drunk at the reception. If you slur a few words, no problem… just take a break from champagne and drink some water. If you vomit, curse or wind up in jail you are out of control.
Fortunately there are those of us who embrace live comedy. We love the big and little faux pas in life and see them as entertainment. We tell and re-tell the stories of the tacky, extreme and ridiculous as if it were yesterday, and we love the awful as much as the elegant. So, if you are one of those people who cannot resist wearing a size 12 shoe in your size 8 mouth – don’t despair! We support you. For without you we would have no idea of what not to do.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago