The Most Common Wedding Etiquette Mistakes

The purpose of good manners is to make other people feel comfortable. For centuries, manners have been dictated by society’s standards of conduct and this has worked out pretty well. Unfortunately some people never got the memo. In order for your wedding guests to feel comfortable, try to avoid these ‘most common etiquette mistakes’.

 1) Watch – I know that being late to your own wedding may seem inconceivable but, sometimes outside forces take over and you can’t control them. However, there should always be a plan in place to avoid being late. If something unforeseen occurs, make sure you are in contact with someone at the ceremony site to make an announcement at the time the wedding is supposed to start and give updates until you arrive. Being late for no other reason than you can’t keep track of time is rude in any situation, especially your wedding.

2) Save the Date – Sending someone a “Save the Date” card means they are also invited to the wedding. Both lists should be in sync. If you make a mistake and send someone a Save the Date and do not invite them, call them once you find out you have erred and apologize. If you send them an invite but had somehow omitted them from the Save the Date list, a call would be nice. In reality, Save the Date cards are a relatively recent custom so there is nothing that says you have to send them. Although nice, they are  not completely necessary so dont fret if you choose not to send them.

3) Invitations – Send the invitations 6- 8 weeks before the wedding. Sending the invitation two weeks before the wedding is rude and it makes the guest think they were an afterthought. If the invitation you sent came back to you for any reason, call the invited guest and explain to them what happened.

4) Church – Having a boombox instead of live music (strings or organist) is a huge mistake. This small expense will ‘class up’ your affair by leaps and bounds. Having boxed music at the ceremony seems a bit tacky, no?

5) Thanks – Sending Thank You Notes in a timely manner shows that you care. It shows that you are aware of your guest’s gift and you appreciate it. Waiting for nearly a year (or more)  to send out a Thank You Note is completely inconsiderate.

6) Gifts – Never list where you are registered in the invitation. You can put this information on your website if you have one but listing on the invitations is like saying “Come to my wedding and bring a gift.”

7) Flow – Make sure you have a qualified, trained and experienced DJ to keep things running smoothly during the reception. The last thing you need is to have  people introduced incorrectly or, even worse, not at all. The DJ  should have a script to work from and be well-versed on your specific wedding customs as well. A great DJ will almost certainly ensure a great reception.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your guests is to ‘forecast’ problems and plan ahead. A good wedding planner and a checklist will help. If all else fails, pick up the phone and ask for help… or forgiveness, whichever you feel is in order.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago





Wedding Faux Pas

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