This is the time of the year when everyone seems to have questions about wedding etiquette. The following are a few do's and don'ts to help get the wedding season off on the right foot, whether you are going to a wedding in the near future or planning ahead for next year.
Do consult your local community calendar for major sporting events, fundraisers, holiday functions and any other significant programs that your guests may have already pre-purchased tickets to or are obligated to attend. While you can't accommodate everyone's individual itineraries, you do want to make sure those most dear to you are available to share in your wedding day. You may want to take into consideration any set travel or professional commitments from your immediate family and closest friends that have been confirmed prior to you selecting a firm wedding date. Often, travel deposits and airline tickets are non-refundable, or you lose a portion of the deposit if you change a date or cancel altogether.
Don't invite guests to the wedding shower if you don't intend to invite them to the wedding ceremony. You may be short on space, or have a tight budget, but it is poor form to have people attend your shower(s), and then not include them on the guest list. The exception is when a group of people, for example, your office mates, offer to host a congratulatory shower in your honor.
Do inquire about budget. If you are hosting a wedding shower with multiple hosts, have a candid conversation about costs and spending limits. If you are uncomfortable with any part of the arrangements, "Speak now or forever hold your peace". It's better to be honest upfront, than to make a commitment you can't afford.
Don't be afraid to speak up. If the shower arrangements get out of control by one overzealous host, it's appropriate to assertively (not aggressively) voice your concern in a polite, concise manner, reminding her of the original plans. The person interested in making the changes should at least offer to cover the costs of any revisions or updates.
Don't invite the same person to multiple showers. The bride is ultimately in charge of the guest list, and it's a courtesy to your friends and family to mix the shower guest list up so the same person will not be invited to two, three or four showers. If you are the guest who has been invited to a multitude of showers for the same bride, don't hesitate to pick one or two parties and decline the rest
Do keep your online inspirations in perspective. Every "pin" on Pinterest is not always possible. While you can find some great ideas on various wedding sites and blogs, it is easy to get carried away. Not every DIY project is as easy as it looks and often you end up spending more money creating the perfect budget friendly design after several foiled attempts.
Don't feel pressured to overdo it. "Less" is often more elegant than an over the top ceremony with guests you hardly know, enormous amounts of food and decorations, and a whopping debt at the end. Decide on a budget and stick with it.
Don't feel uncomfortable choosing not to include children at your wedding. With more and more couples paying for their own wedding, choosing to limit the number of people to include is the bride and groom's prerogative. If you choose to have a wedding that does not include children, make sure some key people know so they can help you spread the word. While it's inappropriate to state your desire directly on the invitation, make sure that whoever is helping you address your invitations does not inadvertently include the children's name on the front of the envelope. Note to parents: if your child's name is not on the invitation, you can be fairly certain that it was not simply an oversight.
Don't call the bride or her family and ask to make an exception. Hurt feelings arise when the bride and groom make an exception for one family or friend and not another. Brides, be prepared to say, "I'm sorry you won't be able to attend the wedding, but we certainly understand. Let's have dinner when we get back from our honeymoon."
Don't take your own photos during the wedding (as a guest). The bride and groom have hired a professional photographer, and perhaps a videographer to capture their special day on film. Your movement, disruption and flashes of light are distracting and may alter the quality of the professional pictures. Kindly sit back and enjoy the ceremony, leaving the pictures to the pros.
Do enjoy the ride (whether you are the bride, mother of the bride or the bride's best friend). It may seem like a long wedding process while you are going through the planning, preparation and follow through of events, but rest assured, it will soon be over. Keep your emotions in check and enjoy each step along the way. Your goal is to create wonderful memories that you can look back on after you are back to normal life.
Follow Diane Gottsman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dianegottsman