Unless you've been married before, your life will be filled with "firsts" the moment you get engaged, start planning a wedding, and host your nuptials.
Unless you've been married before, your life will be filled with "firsts" the moment you get engaged, start planning a wedding, and host your nuptials. With new experiences also comes new things you'll need to learn, and wedding etiquette is one of the most important topics to become well-versed in throughout the process. From sharing the news too quickly to not treating your loved ones with the grace they deserve, there are many mistakes brides and grooms make in the days leading up to their nuptials – and oftentimes, they have no idea they're even committing an etiquette faux pas.
That being said, if you're expecting a proposal or just said "yes" to the love of your life, we've gathered a list of common wedding etiquette mistakes that couples probably don't even realize they're making to ensure your experience as a bride or groom – as well as the experience of those you care about whether they're invited to the wedding or not – is the best it can be.
Here are some common wedding etiquette mistakes that you probably don't even realize you're making:
We know you're eager to spread the word and post your ring selfie engagement announcement on Instagram, but make sure you tell your closest friends and family members before you share on your social media accounts. This reminds us of another common etiquette mistake that your friends or family may make: posting to social media before the bride- and groom-to-be. Always make sure to ask before sharing the news on your own account – or at least wait until they've shared the happy news themselves!
While most of your guests will want to give you a wedding gift, it's something that should definitely not appear on your wedding invitation! Being invited to attend a wedding is an honor, and it shouldn't be seen as a way to get gifts. If you'd like for your loved ones to know your registry information right away, consider including an insert with your wedding website link – and share any registries on your site.
You asked your bridesmaids to be part of your big day for a reason, and it's important that they feel the role is an honor and not just a way for you to get "free" help leading up to the big day. Take the time to show your appreciation to bridesmaids, whether that's with a sweet note, a gift on the morning of the wedding, or even just keeping them happy throughout the process. Consider giving all of your bridesmaids a plus one, provide them with hair and makeup services (if you can fit it in your budget), and treat them to brunch or lunch while getting ready for the ceremony.
Though you're likely just trying to cut down the guest list, it's uncouth to not invite the serious significant other of one of your guests. Married couples should always be invited as a pair, as should couples who are living together or have been in a serious relationship for some time – whether you know the other half of the couple or not. (See the etiquette rules for plus-one guests.)
Even if you're excited about the big day and want to have all of your friends and acquaintances come to your bridal shower and/or bachelorette party, avoid this at all costs! Only invite those friends and family members who will be invited to the wedding! The exception to this rule is an office bridal shower since your coworkers throwing the celebration will likely just want to congratulate you and won't expect an actual invite to the nuptials.
Whether you have a traditional receiving line, visit each table during the reception, or take a more modern approach and attend cocktail hour in an effort to mingle with all of your loved ones, every guest should be greeted at some point during the wedding! They've made an effort – and likely spent a good amount of money – to attend your nuptials, and while it's an honor to just be invited, it's also important that you honor their presence.
While having a meal is likely in your vendors' contracts, it's important to ensure all of the wedding professionals who will be helping you on your big day are fed – often this includes your wedding planner, photographer and videographer, wedding band or DJ, and any assistants working with these vendors. Just like your guests, ask your vendors if they have any dietary restrictions and make sure there's a place for them to enjoy their meal in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day.
Though it will add to your list of to-dos even after the wedding day is over, writing thank-you cards is a must! Your loved ones spent time and money to make your big day what it was, so do your best to send a sweet note of gratitude after the celebration. While it's been said by many that it's okay to wait one year to send thank-you notes, we recommend getting them done as soon as possible after you return from the honeymoon (likely in the first three months following the big day)!
For more etiquette tips, get advice from Anna Post on the wedding traditions you shouldn't forgo, get wedding invitation etiquette tips, and learn how to avoid common wedding etiquette errors.