11 things to never do when hosting or attending a wedding 

Wedding etiquette has changed over the years, but it still exists. TheGrio has rounded up 11 top things to avoid when hosting and attending a wedding.

Weddings can be the source of so much joy and happiness. They are a celebration of two people choosing to do life together. It’s a gathering of friends and family near and far. They are excuses to get dressed up, look fancy, and have a good time. However, for as much joy as weddings bring, they can also bring drama. 

From misunderstandings around the guest list to how to address social media during the big day, drama lurks around many corners of a wedding. Etiquette, especially around weddings, has changed dramatically throughout the years. It’s also true that for many, a wedding is the first time they are hosting an event on such a large scale. It can be challenging to know how best to handle every situation. In some situations, it’s the guests who are leading with poor etiquette and not the couple of honor at all. 

To help keep tensions mild this wedding season and heavy on joy, theGrio has rounded up the 11 things to avoid when hosting and attending a wedding. 

For the couple of honor

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(Photo credit: TONL)

Don’t discuss wedding details until it’s time to send out the invitations 

Wedding plans can change drastically from the beginning to the end of your planning. You may start out with your heart set on having your wedding at your favorite hotel in your favorite city, only to find out they are booked solid through your ideal date range. You may think you’re going to have a 200-person fete until you set a budget and end up slashing the list in half. 

Allow yourself the room and flexibility to plan guilt-free by not promising anyone anything, including an invite, until you know for sure. 

Don’t include your wedding registry information in your invitation 

Wedding registries are a convenient tool that many wedding guests will be thrilled to make use of, but it’s not in good taste to include them on your formal invitation. You’re inviting your guests to share in your day, not just requesting gifts. Those that are really keen will most likely ask where you’re registered on their own. It’s best to spread the word of your wedding registry via word-of-mouth, as people ask, or include a link on your wedding website. 

Bonus tip: According to the official source on American etiquette, Emily Post, you can ask for a big-ticket item or two as long as you also include some more reasonably priced items. You can ask for money toward specific things like honeymoon expenses, and brides having a bridal shower can have an additional registry for their shower. 

Don’t forget you’re still a host 

It’s your day! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still consider the guests you’ve invited. Think of their experience attending your wedding from start to finish and make sure it’s feasible and fun. You may have the stamina to have your ceremony in one location, take pictures in another, and meet somewhere else for your reception, but that doesn’t mean all 120 of your guests do. 

Don’t forget to think of things like parking, the timing of food and drinks, food allergies, entertainment for any guests under 13, and how you will mingle with your attendees throughout the day. 

Don’t have a cash bar

Having a cash bar is a way to cut costs or a way to give people the option when the host isn’t a drinker, but it can rub someone the wrong way after taking off from work to fly cross country with a big-ticket gift item in tow. 

If drinking isn’t your lifestyle, then you’re not obligated to serve alcohol. Any of your guests not understanding of your lifestyle may want to reconsider attending. When it’s an issue of cost, there are creative ways to save. You could serve just beer and wine, offer specialty cocktails, or have set times for an open bar before switching to just beer and wine service.

Don’t take your bridal party for granted

Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are likely close friends and family members. Don’t let your wedding drive a wedge. Before you begin delegating, it may be worth it to double-check that you understand the duties of bridesmaids and groomsmen. For example, while traditions around who plans the bridal shower have changed, it is not customary for bridesmaids to plan it. Once you understand their role, communicate clear expectations right away. 

Consider their budget and capacity throughout the process. Unless you’re footing the bill entirely, be open to letting them pick what they wear. When giving your bridal party their thank-you gifts, personalize them in some way for each rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach. Your relationship with each is vastly different, and you ought to honor that.

Don’t skip the thank you’s 

A wedding takes a lot of hands to pull off, not to mention all of your invited guests who went to a lot of time and expense to attend. Show how much you appreciate being able to celebrate by sending handwritten thank you’s. Yes, handwritten. Thank your vendors, the venue, your officiant, your guests, and your bridal party. People are also expecting these thank you’s to happen within a month of your wedding. 

For the guests 

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(Photo credit: Adobe Stock images/pressmaster)

Don’t ask if you’re invited (and respect when your whole household isn’t invited)

A couple getting married has a lot to consider, including who they’re inviting to their big day. When you’ve only ever seen someone in one context (e.g., school, work, or family gatherings), it can be impossible to know the true scope of their community. Contrary to popular belief, weddings also aren’t an event where you invite everyone you know. Wedding costs are typically per person.

It may be hard to wait and find out, but the couple will greatly appreciate not being pressured to make decisions during an already chaotic time. Refrain from asking if you or anyone else you may know is invited. Your questions will be answered if and when an invitation arrives in the mail. 

If you run into a situation where you have sent an RSVP for yourself and a plus one or your children and are informed they are not invited, be understanding and respectful.  

Don’t forget to RSVP

When you receive a coveted invite to a wedding, respond in a timely manner, especially if you can’t attend. It’s also best to respond in the way the couple has requested. If the couple has steered you to a website or asks to receive mail-in cards, follow directions. They could have a reason for how they’ve asked to receive RSVPs, and not following suit could throw off their organization or be more of a hassle than you realize. 

Don’t go against the dress code 

Dress codes help establish the atmosphere and central vibe during an event. If the couple has requested a certain dress code, it’s your duty to ensure you know what it means and to dress accordingly. 

Don’t post on social media unless encouraged 

Lots of modern couples are establishing wedding day hashtags to help commentate their day and, in that case, post away. Others may say up front, either on their invitation or on signage at the event, that they do not wish for any part of their day to be on social media, and you must respect that boundary. When it’s not expressly encouraged or discouraged, be mindful. 

It’s not polite to use your phone during any organized ceremony, and a wedding is no exception. Let the paid professional capture the kiss and the way the sun is hitting the bridal party during the vows; you just remain present. During the reception, the same goes for speeches and first dances. Let the professional capture those moments for the couple’s personal and, most likely private wedding video. However, when Grandpa hits a perfect swag surf during the dance hour, you better capture that! The couple – who has spent thousands on their look and event and paid a professional to document it – may also greatly appreciate a heads-up or being able to approve any posts before they hit Instagram or TikTok. As an extra courtesy toward privacy, avoid tagging any locations until after the event has ended. 

Don’t forget why you’re there 

A wedding is a celebration of two people formally joining together in life. It’s about each of them in equal measure and no one else. They are required to be gracious hosts, but at the same time, the party is in honor of them and their love for each other. Weddings are not family reunions or memorials for those no longer with us. Don’t get so caught up in your personal expectations of weddings or of the couple that you lose sight of them

Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

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