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Proper etiquette is not a thing of the past
— By Tia Duerremeyer —

Although etiquette may not be as stringent as in years gone by, not all standards went out with top hats and corsets. There are still no-nos for both the bride and groom and their guests when it comes to what is and what is not acceptable wedding etiquette.

On the bride and groom's side of the coin, certain taboos about invitation verbiage are absolute.

“For a wedding, people traditionally bring gifts, so it's not appropriate to write on the invitation where you (the bride and groom) are registered or to put any registry information on the invitation,” said Erin Deggendorfer, Sisters Area Chamber Director and owner of Fast Creek Productions.

She once received an invitation that asked for cash rather than gifts, a request she found “totally tacky, totally inappropriate.”

Inviting a person only as a means of receiving a gift is also in poor taste. Wedding guest lists should be composed of people who the couple — not their relatives — want to attend, as allowed by their budget.

“If the bride and groom are inviting people just to get gifts, that's not appropriate,” said Deggendorfer.

As a rule of thumb, all guests should have a personal connection with the couple.

Potentially tasteless and embarrassing situations can be avoided before the wedding through troubleshooting. Divorced parents or Aunt Jane and Uncle Billy who simply do not get along need to be reminded in advance that the day is for the bride and groom and not about them. They must set their differences aside.

“It's important to communicate (with such people) beforehand and not just the day before the wedding,” said Deggendorfer.

It would be prudent to seat these estranged guests in separate pews during the wedding and at different tables during the reception, but in a respectful way as to not draw any special attention.

With a little planning in advance potential upsetting incidents can be avoided.

Bartenders should be notified in advance of those who may over indulge. Just like in any restaurant, bartenders should be tasked with monitoring guests alcohol intake and given permission to skim drinks and/or cut off heavy drinkers altogether. Another alternative, according to Deggendorfer, is an alcohol-free reception. It's also a good idea to have a limo or taxi available when people leave the venue for those who have had too much to drink.

For guests, five cardinal rules apply. Invitees must always remember that an invitation is only intended for the person or persons named. If an invitation is addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Soandso," it is intended only for the couple, not their children. If an invitation is addressed to "Mr. Whoever," he is the only person invited; if it is appropriate for him to bring a guest, the invitation will be addressed to "Mr. Whoever and Guest."

Wedding invitations require a prompt response. Knowing how many invitees will attend is critical to the planning process, and failing to respond is rude.

Wedding punctuality is mandatory. It is improper to be too early and never acceptable to be late. The rule is absolute: if the church doors are closed, do not enter.

The tried and true rule of offering the bride "best wishes" and the groom "congratulations" has not changed. The groom is the one who is lucky to have snagged the bride, and he should be congratulated never the bride.

Dress appropriately for the formality of the wedding. If proper attire is not obvious from the invitation, ask a friend, a family member, the bride or groom or even the wedding planner. Taking the time to ask will not only save you but also the wedding party considerable embarrassment.

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