10 Biggest Mistakes Wedding Guests Make
In the course of wedding planning, you’ll probably come across a guest or two whose inappropriate actions, odd requests, or rude behavior seems appalling. Don’t be shocked — while you may know the ins and outs of wedding etiquette, some of your friends and family may not be aware of what’s acceptable. What can you do? Be proactive. Here’s how.
1. Not Sending RSVPs
What they did: Anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows the importance of a punctual RSVP — from plotting your seating chart to giving the caterer a final headcount, it’s hard to proceed without a firm grasp of who’s coming. Unfortunately, some of your guests may treat the RSVP as a novelty rather than a necessity.
How to deal: Give it a week. After that, it’s time to give them a call. Recruit your maid of honor to help you with phone duties if you’re really struggling with missing RSVPs. Or, better yet, send out a group email (use a blind CC) saying that you need to know by if they’re planning on attending. Keep the tone nice, but firm. Then, you only have to call those who don’t reply to the email (which really is a double-duty foul).
Stop the cycle: Make the reply-by-date as early as possible, say two weeks from the date you intend to mail the invitations. That way, when your guests see that the deadline is quickly approaching, they’ll (hopefully) stick the reply card in the mail right then and there.
2. Sending RSVPs With Extra Guests
What they did: The good news is that the guest has returned the RSVP. The bad news is that she’d love to attend. . .with a person you never invited — maybe never heard of. Whether she believes every invite bestows the right to bring a date, or a child, adding a name on the RSVP puts everyone in an awkward position.
How to deal: To avoid potential hurt feelings, you need to establish a no-exceptions guest list policy (significant others only if engaged; no children under 18). Then, call the misguided guest to explain the circumstances. Apologize for the misunderstanding, and tell her that unfortunately the limitations (a small reception space or a tight budget) require a strict guest list. The person most likely didn’t intend to thwart your list with the addition of another guest, and will gladly come to the wedding solo.
Stop the cycle: Tell your parents, wedding party, and other close relatives and friends, so that they can spread the word when asked. And, of course, address your invitations in a direct manner (don’t write “Smith Family” unless they really are all invited). The earlier that a guest knows who’s actually invited, the less painful the conversation will be.
3. Bombarding the Bride
What they did: As soon as they received the invite to your wedding, the phone calls began. Guests are treating you like their personal concierge, with questions about transportation, accommodations, and fun things to do while they’re in town.
How to deal: Make sure every guest has all the info they need by creating a wedding website. Include a link to the hotel where you’ve reserved a block of rooms, local museums and restaurants, and driving directions. Put together a welcome basket for out-of-towners with the weekend’s itinerary, so that no one feels the need to ask you about the wedding game plan.
Stop the cycle: Some technophobes might still pester you with questions. Go over the guest list with both sets of parents, and decide which key invitees, if any, are not likely to check your website. Print out a copy of the info listed on the site and mail it to them.
4. Buying a Non-registry Gift
What they did: Some guests feel that buying a present from the registry is impersonal. Instead, they go and purchase a gift with a little more — er, imagination.
How to deal: Shopping off the registry can result in a pleasant surprise, or leave a couple cringing. You cannot, however, be anything but gracious for any gift you’re given. While they’re typically expected, wedding gifts are technically not required from a guest. If someone has eschewed the registry and bought you a present you know you won’t use (or, even worse, they’ve given you a gift you know you’ll have to hide), check whether they sent it with the receipt. If so, they may have realized their gift might not be your style, and it’s fine to return the present. Otherwise, write a thank-you note for the thoughtful gesture, and keep the gift for as long as you can stand having it around.
Stop the cycle: Register at an off-the-beaten path store that offers unique gift options like a local museum shop or a boutique home store. That way, the guest can get you something a bit more personal that you actually love.
5. Showing Up Late
What they did: You know how some people show up late to movies because they know there will be 20 minutes of trailers? Some guests may have a similar notion for your ceremony. We know one maid of honor who saw a late guest stroll in directly behind the bride as she walked down the aisle with her father!
How to deal: For those who are really late, ask an usher or your day-of coordinator to hang out near the rear of the ceremony site so they can make sure your processional goes undisturbed, and to have them help any late guest quickly and quietly find a seat.
Stop the cycle: Give yourself a slight buffer for your friends and family who are never quite on time. If your invites say the ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m., plan on walking down the aisle about 15 minutes after that.