The Worst Wedding Mistakes

Where there are weddings, there are faux pas aka ‘wedding mistakes’. The two are as inseparable as the bride and groom themselves.

Whether it’s guests behaving badly, vendors dropping the ball, or your own accidental blunder, why let these embarrassing mistakes steal the spotlight on your big day?

Everyone has a favorite “wedding horror story.” Maybe it’s the wild cousin who showed up wearing hot pink leggings and no skirt.

Maybe it’s the officiant who forgot the bride’s name and rambled on about the merits of divorce. Maybe it’s the couple who passed around a bona fide tip jar. The common thread in every story is things going very wrong. How do you salvage a wedding from faux pas? The best answer lies in avoiding them in the first place.

The Worst Wedding Mistakes for Guests

Whether you dated the bride back in your college days, or whether you just wish you did, now is not the time to wax poetic on the subject. A surprising number of guests think it’s okay to mention “cute” stories about the newlyweds’ former relationships during wedding toasts.

Unless you’ve gotten express permission from both halves of the couple ahead of time, don’t bring it up. Even if the couple is fine with your story, you may still make the other guests uncomfortable. This goes double if the ex in question is attending the wedding. Similarly, there is never a good time (but a wedding is an even worse time) to mention, even in a kidding way, that you liked the bride’s or groom’s ex better than their current choice.

Don’t treat weddings like Christmas morning. Sure, the couple has thoughtfully provided favors for you to take home. Limit yourself to one per person. Never bring home extra favors for friends or significant others unless the bride or groom has specifically asked you to. The same etiquette goes for taking centerpieces, decorations, and leftovers home after the wedding.

Yes, the balloons will deflate, the flowers will wilt, and the food will spoil eventually. That doesn’t mean, however, that the couple doesn’t have other plans for them. Leaving the wedding with arms full looks tacky unless you’re helping the couple clean up. Even if you have a big enough purse or tux pocket, it’s still not okay to leave with a bottle of unopened champagne.

Cell phones have evolved into pocket-sized cameras. It’s now possible to shoot wedding video and post it to Facebook and Instagram before the official videographer even has her camera out of its case. However, it’s considered a huge faux pas to post unflattering photos of the couple to public websites.

Even posting flattering photos steals the couple’s thunder. When they go to post pictures the next day, they’ll find their wedding is already old news. Unless the couple has specifically asked you to record the details of their day, put the cameras down. Being fully present for the ceremony is the reason you were invited, anyway.

The Worst Wedding Mistakes for Couples

You’re the ones planning this wedding, so it’s up to you to make sure your guests are comfortable. Making large mistakes with wedding-day logistics may seem like a harmless accident to you, but it comes off as a huge faux pas to your guests.

One major area of concern is accessibility. Are there any guests or members of your wedding party that are of limited mobility? Whether it’s a wheelchair-bound uncle or a flower girl with a sprained ankle, making sure your loved ones can navigate your wedding site easily is the first step in being gracious hosts.

Keep in mind that even guests without obvious injuries sometimes have balance issues or other physical difficulties. Ask older guests especially if they need any special considerations.

A midwinter wedding sounds like a romantic idea, but it means ruling out the beautiful venue with the floor-to-ceiling windows and drafty French doors. An August wedding by the lake sounds picture-perfect, but it means renting tents and fans and mosquito repellent.

Make sure your guests are seated well away from drafty areas (like front doors) during cold weather ceremonies and that guests have access to fans and cold drinks during warm weather ceremonies. No matter how resistant you are to extreme weather, it’s a major faux pas to assume all of your guests are as resilient. Only book venues with fully-functioning heating or air conditioning if there’s even a slight chance of uncomfortable weather on the big day.

Many couples save money by not serving food or alcohol at their weddings. That may draw a few grumbles from your guests, but it’s not necessarily a major faux pas… unless you forget to announce it on your invitations, that is. Let guests know exactly what to expect so you don’t end up with growling stomachs and a grumpy crowd anxiously awaiting the end of your vows so they can go grab a burger meal.

Most importantly, treat all guests exactly the same. It’s never okay to feed some guests and not others. If you want to thank the members of your wedding party with a special treat, save it for the rehearsal dinner.

Most faux pas can be avoided with an emphasis on plain old good manners. If you’re the couple hosting the wedding, be sure to thank every person who helps out and don’t let any vendor leave without a tip. If you’re a guest, stay away from jeans and flip flops (and if you’re female, don’t wear a white dress).

On both sides of the equation, communication is key. When in doubt, ask whether something is appropriate. Good intentions can smooth over almost any faux pas. Most importantly, if a mistake does happen on your wedding day, treat it with good humor and try to put it behind you. The right attitude can make any occasion seem flawless.