Nobody wants to be rude. Especially not at your own wedding! You want your wedding to be remembered by everyone as a time of happiness and celebration, not irritation. You probably know most of the etiquette rules already, such as remembering to write thank-you notes within 6 months of the wedding, or not throwing a bridal shower for yourself, but some etiquette rules just aren’t as obvious!
You may be confused about some of these etiquette rules, because chances are you’ve been to weddings that break them and nobody seemed to be complaining! However, while most people probably don’t have a big problem with it, your wedding guests are guests and should be treated as such! It’s all about making everyone feel comfortable.
Invitations are more complicated than they seem to be. Here’s how to keep from offending anybody.
Plus ones – You don’t owe anyone a plus one. However! If your guest is in a relationship, whether it be engaged, married, living together, or a recent boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to invite them too. It’s not your place to decide how serious a relationship is or not, and if someone is in a relationship they are a social unit. This means that they both get invited by their name, not as a plus one. If you don’t know the name of your cousin Sharon’s latest boyfriend, just ask her!
Plus ones are nice to give to your single guests, but not required. You don’t need to worry about inviting your sixteen year old nephew’s girlfriend either.
Save the Dates – Everyone who gets a save the date, or an invite to a pre-wedding function such as a bachelor party or a bridal shower, should be invited to the wedding. If you sent a save-the-date to your college friend Ashley but then you fell out of contact with her, you should still send her an invite. Chances are she won’t accept, but it’s still better than being rude by not sending her an invite at all. Don’t worry, if somebody does something truly heinous and you know you just won’t be able to stand seeing them at the wedding, or you don’t think they can show up to the wedding without getting into a fight with you, cut them off the list.
Basically you should be careful about who you send save-the-dates to. Not everyone who gets an invite has to get a save-the-date, but everyone who gets a save-the-date should get an invite.
Nobody owes you a gift! Sure, they’re nice to get and most of your wedding guests will send you one or show up with a gift anyways, but not always. Some of your guests are probably traveling from out-of-town, spent money on plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and maybe a new outfit. Even babysitting money can be expensive for the people who are lucky enough to be from your hometown.
So when you get a gift, even if it is just a card, make sure you are fully appreciative by sending thank-you cards in a timely manner. And before you get irritated by how many of your guests showed up sans present, take a moment to appreciate them too – for all of the time, money, and effort they put into coming to your wedding to celebrate with you!
Now this one can be tricky. Chances are, you’ve been to one, if not more, weddings with a cash bar. Maybe it’s even the custom in your social circles. That doesn’t mean that it still isn’t an etiquette no-no. Here’s why:
Your wedding guests are your guests, you have invited them to come celebrate with you, and they came. You wouldn’t invite someone into your home and then ask them to pay you for their own glass of wine would you? Same thing goes for having free wine and beer, but then asking people to pay for liquor. You would never think about giving your guests the option between having chicken for free or paying for lobster!
Having an open bar is expensive, so if you can’t afford one here’s what you can do instead:
Host what you can afford, whether that is beer and wine, a signature drink, or just champagne. If you can’t afford to pay for any of your guest’s alcohol, then you should either have no bar, or reevaluate your budget. Figure out if it is more important to you than something else, such as having a really nice (and expensive!) photographer, or custom-designed invitations.
Now that I’ve let you in on a couple of do’s and don’ts, don’t worry about it too much! Avoid what you can avoid, but know that everybody slips up sometimes, and nobody’s going to hold it against you.