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Top Ten Wedding Faux Pas by the Bride and Groom

As someone who used to work as a wedding planner, Victoria has seen many weddings. She hopes to help others make wedding planning easier.

Here is a list of 10 things that should be avoided at a wedding.

Here is a list of 10 things that should be avoided at a wedding.

Wedding Stress

When you think of weddings, topics like wedding cakes, wedding dresses, engagement rings, and the like come up. I know I think white organza, lace, beautiful flowers, tuxedos, and a couple desperately in love.

Weddings should be about love and romance, spending your life together, and starting a family, but thanks to many television shows, new wedding trends, and higher wedding costs and expectations, this ideal is quickly dwindling. Even brides and grooms get involved as tensions run high and demands are made on their time, patience, and emotions.

Somewhere along the way, weddings were built up as this one day that will make or break your entire life. The cake has to be big, the dress has to be expensive, and the event has to be better and more unique than any wedding ever to have happened in the history of time.

If for some reason, everything is not exactly perfect in every way, your future as a married couple and your reputation become very dark and dim.

No way!

As long as the two beautiful individuals in love say their “I dos” to a legal wedding officiant with two witnesses, it was a success. I think that’s what has truly been lost. And you’ll be able to see this for yourself as we unveil the top 10 wedding faux pas on the part of the bride and groom.

10. Announcing Registry on Invites

A wedding invitation is just that; a formal way to invite your loved ones to the celebration of your marriage. By inviting these individuals, you are saying that on this memorable occasion, you couldn’t imagine celebrating without having them there to share it with you. There should be no expectation of gifts, money, or otherwise, other than simply the pleasure of their company. Isn’t that what most invitations actually say, “We request the pleasure of your company at our wedding on . . . ”

By putting your registry information on your formal invitation, not only does this break every etiquette rule in the book, but you are saying that you expect people to bring you gifts. I realize that this may not be what you are intending to convey, as you are only helping people that want to bring you a gift know where you have registered, but it doesn’t change the fact that it looks like you expect them to bring something.

For a better way to share this information, include an insert asking guests to RSVP on your wedding website and provide the address. If you are not choosing to handle RSVPs this way, simply share the website as a way of sharing pictures, guest accommodations, and other helpful information about the wedding (saying nothing about presents). Your registry info will just coincidentally also be provided on this website. In any case, regardless of your good intentions, there is just no room on an invitation for gift-grubbing.

A thank you card should be handwritten.

A thank you card should be handwritten.

9. Thank You Cards

If your friends and loved ones are going to travel across the country, spend money on rental cars, hotel rooms, and flights, or even just take time out of their busy schedules to come and spend the day celebrating with you, the least you can do is to take the time to thank them for their support and the thoughtful gift they brought (if they brought one for you). Proper etiquette states that these must be handwritten and personal, stating your gratitude for their thoughtful support and attendance and for the specific gift they brought. The specific item should be stated along with how you have used it or plan to use it in the future (even if it means that it will have a prominent place on your wall or office desk).

Thank you cards should not be pre-printed with a generic message like “Thank you for your attendance and your thoughtful gift.” No way! There’s no point in wasting your hard-earned money and purchasing them if you’re not going to do it right. Even a simple note on a sheet of stationary or a thank you in person is just fine. It really doesn’t take much of your time or effort to show people your appreciation.

8. A Silent or Tardy Dinner Bell

One very tough faux pas is providing food for your guests and scheduling it at the right time. For weddings held during meal times, it is proper and respectful to provide food for your guests, so they are not thinking about their stomachs during the entire event. As most weddings usually last from four hours to around eight hours, most typically fall during a mealtime, and guests will expect to be fed.

If this is not something you imagined for your wedding day and would prefer to provide cocktails, finger foods, or even just a dessert bar, that’s perfectly fine. However, it’s appropriate and respectful to your guests, especially those with children, to outline that on your invitation. “Dessert reception to follow” or “cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres to follow” is perfect. This way, guests will know what to expect ahead of time and can stop by and grab something to eat before your wedding. For these occasions, consider scheduling your event between meals, like 9 am to 11 am, 1 pm to 4 pm, or even 7 pm and later.

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Guests should not be part of the cleaning crew.

Guests should not be part of the cleaning crew.

7. Asking Guests to Clean Up Afterward

I was fortunate enough and very surprised that after my wedding, everyone in my “new” family suddenly pitched in to help clean everything up. One second I had a beautifully laid out reception area, and then within 10 minutes, it looked like there had never been an event there at all. Normally couples are not this lucky and either has to clean up after the celebration themselves or have paid someone to clean up after everyone leaves the venue. As wonderful as this was, and I’m sure my wedding planner would have agreed, you simply cannot expect this from your guests.

That would be like inviting them over for dinner at your home and then expecting them to do the dishes for you afterward. You cooked, they should clean, right? What! That’s for your future spouse(!), not for a formal event or party. How would you feel if you attended a nice formal affair and then were asked by the hosts to clean up the room as they got into a fancy car and left for the night?

6. Pre-Party Invite Only

Inviting guests to pre-wedding events where a gift is required, like a bridal shower, and then not inviting them to the actual wedding is a big no-no. In fact, before you even start telling the whole world about your upcoming nuptials and the amazing wedding you are planning, be sure they are going to be included on the guest list first. Flaunting your fancy celebration and then not allowing them to attend is just cruel.

Even worse is inviting them to one of your wedding-related parties, where they inevitably bring a wedding gift for you, so now they just know they’re coming to the wedding, and they’re still not invited. This is called taking advantage of people and playing to their emotions. It’s not fair, it’s not honest, and it’s not respectful. Even the nicest of people may not forget this.

Your wedding ceremony and reception should not be far apart.

Your wedding ceremony and reception should not be far apart.

5. Bad Timing/Planning

Guests generally expect the ceremony and reception to be back to back. The only caveat to this is a nice cocktail hour (lasting no more than an hour) to entertain them while your formal wedding pictures are being taken. If you have both events at the same location, it is appropriate and also cost-effective to also have the cocktail hour there. If these two events are at separate locations, generally, the cocktail hour will be at the same location as the reception, or if these events are ten minutes apart or more, possibly at a third location halfway between them.

I would never recommend having your ceremony and reception at venues more than 10 minutes away from each other, if at all. Having the ceremony and reception further than 10 minutes apart puts your guests at a disadvantage. Some will get lost trying to find the second place, some will be frustrated at having to travel a long distance to get to the reception only to have to travel all the way back for their hotel room, and some just won’t think it’s worth it and won’t attend.

Long pauses of more than an hour, specifically for the cocktail hour, between your ceremony and reception, are also very frustrating and confusing. Especially if guests have come from out of town to celebrate with you, they are bored, they aren’t familiar with the area and probably don’t want to go spend money to discover it, and most end up just getting shut into their hotel rooms. I’ve even seen plenty go to the reception early, hang out with the venue crew, sleep, or just make a nuisance of themselves until the party starts. Your guests should remember what a lovely time they had at your wedding, not what a pain it was.

4. Cash Bars

We’re now getting much closer to the biggest faux pas that brides and grooms make on their wedding day, and things are getting a little heated. Asking for guests to pay for food or drinks at your wedding is simply unacceptable. There’s no other way to put it. You wouldn’t ask someone to your home for dinner and then ask them to pay you for it. If you cannot afford or don’t want to pay for an open bar, don’t.

There are tons of great ways to provide alcohol, if you must have it, to your guests at your wedding. Serving just beer and wine is a great way to save money, especially if you’re allowed to purchase it yourself. You can get great discounts on both of these and then return any unused, unopened bottles for a full refund after the wedding. If you’d like to have more, consider providing a single signature drink or even two.

Guests will only likely drink one or two of these before moving on to beer or even something non-alcoholic. Many guests specifically attend weddings for the free alcohol. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you, and don’t think you have to. Be smart with your money, rather than looking like a cheap skate. This is one reason so many couples are foregoing alcohol at their weddings completely.

Bride and Groom Faux Pas

Bride and Groom Faux Pas

3. Asking for Money

A wedding is a celebration of a new life together, and the gifts you receive are a small, small part of that. I don't know who started this horrid trend of asking for money as wedding gifts, but it's the very definition of tacky. This includes a cash registry, a money dance, and a money tree, asking for a cover charge, having guests pay for their own meals, and a cash bar. Especially with money being so tight for so many people, asking for money from your “party” guests is just lousy.

I was once invited to a wedding where the bride and groom tried to pass it off (the asking for money) as environmentally friendly. I read that invitation and thought to myself, hogwash. To top it all off, they made over $200,000 a year of combined income—far more than most of their guests. Talk about making everyone at the wedding incredibly uncomfortable.

Choose items on your registry that you really want, or choose a registry that will help you pay for what you want. There are now bridal registries for car payments, a down payment on a house, vacations for the bride and groom, and even a honeymoon registry. If you really don’t want or need anything, simply ask guests politely not to bring you gifts, so you don’t receive items you don’t want.

2. Inviting Some People to the Ceremony and Some to the Reception

Choosing who will attend your wedding is a huge and important task. It is often riddled with restrictions and considerations such as budget, travel, relationships, and culture. This always comes across as tacky. It sort of feels like being picked again for team sports in the sixth grade, and it just makes everyone angry and uncomfortable. And don't think for one minute that guests won't find out what you've done. Someone will inevitably comment, at the reception, on how beautiful the ceremony was, and your uninvited guest will think to himself, “Wow, they invited that guy and not me? Talk about chopped liver.”

The wedding is an event in its entirety, and leaving people out of the best parts is one of the ultimate faux pas. Weddings are difficult and emotional enough without problems deliberately being created. This goes along with allowing some kids and not others, allowing your mom’s friends and not your mother-in-law’s, and all other guest-related problems that could happen. These kinds of faux pas don’t just pass and get forgotten easily. They last well after the wedding day and will likely cause the destruction of precious relationships and family strife for a lifetime.

Bride and Groom Faux Pas

Bride and Groom Faux Pas

1. Intoxication

And ding, ding, ding . . . We have finally reached the worst faux pas that couples commit. We typically see this when couples have an exceptionally rowdy bachelor/bachelorette party the night before, which is one reason these kinds of parties are suggested a few days before the weddings and up to a week ahead of time. An inebriated bride or bridegroom at the altar is simply embarrassing and disrespectful. Nobody wants to attend a wedding where the bride and/or the groom are drunk during the ceremony. Of course, it doesn’t get any better when one or both of them get drunk at the reception.

Those attending the wedding want to be there to help the couple celebrate the joining of their lives, but nobody, especially parents and grandparents, wants to see them falling over and throwing up on each other. What's worse is that when the bride and groom start getting loopy, that gives everyone else an open invitation to do the same.

I’ve planned too many weddings where the parents and bridal party get drunk and fight with the wedding vendors, guests get drunk and fall in the pool, people sleep with others that they shouldn’t be, clothing and shoes get left behind when guests leave, and candles become ten times more dangerous than you would have ever imagined. Not only does it get really bad (talk about needing insurance), but the bride and groom don’t even end up remembering the incredible wedding they spent a year planning. Gross.

If you’re looking for an imperfect wedding racked with strife and tons of problems, along with a good dose of fighting, screaming, and throwing things, this is definitely the way to go!


Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on June 12, 2013:

Thanks! You'd be really surprised at how many couples do most of these at their weddings. :)

FullOfLoveSites from United States on June 12, 2013:

Really well written hub. Some couples ask for money if it's for their favorite charity (like my what my sister-in-law and husband did at their wedding), so I think that might be acceptable. But in some countries the money dance (well that is which involves pinning bills on the bride's gown) is a deep-rooted tradition already.

Being drunk is a no-no for both but especially for the groom. :D

Voted up and useful. :)

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