A friend of a friend was getting married around the same time I was. She told me that she was thinking about inviting two of her cousins but not the other one, because she wasn’t as close to him.
I mentioned that etiquette says that, as a general rule, you should be consistent with whom you invite. You can invite all your cousins, or none of them, and either way no individual can get offended.
She replied, “I don’t really care what etiquette says.”
A lot of people in my generation seem to think that the concept of etiquette itself is outdated. I get it, but I’m not talking about how to place your napkin or which fork to use. Etiquette itself is just a system of guidelines for when you don’t know what to do. It should not be used to judge other people. It should be used to prevent uncomfortable situations.
Before my wedding, I read this awesome etiquette book:
It’s been a year, so I don’t remember most of the specific rules, but it sort of taught me a whole new mindset.
You are hosting a party. You are the host. To guests. As the host, it is your job to make your guests feel welcome. It is ungracious to invite people to a party and then ask them to pay for things.
Basically, this means: no cash bar. If you can’t afford a full bar, serve just wine and beer. Or just wine for the tables. If you can’t afford that, go smaller or have no reception. You are under no obligation to pay for anything you can’t afford, but it’s rude to ask your guests to pick up your slack for you.
(That said, if you broke this rule, no judgment. For starters, venues have different rules about alcohol, different geographic areas have different customs, and blah blah, just sharing my knowledge.)
There are a lot of other little things like that but, of course, I just remember the one that relates to alcohol.
One specific rule that I do remember, of which I am in current violation:
The One-Year Rule for Thank You Notes is a Myth.
Etiquette states that thank you notes should be sent as soon as possible after the gift is received.
I waited until 360 days after my wedding to start my thank yous. It’s true, I live tweeted the event.
And tune in again Friday night through Saturday morning as I attempt to finish my last 58 cards (at my current pace, should take 10 hours), just in hopes of getting them postmarked by the not-even-real-already-way-too-late deadline.
In conclusion, etiquette is still relevant. Wedding etiquette is important, but potentially tricky. Even though I care about it, I screwed it up anyway. Wish I could say I’ll do better next time…