The Ultimate Don't List

True tales of brides behaving badly and pointers on avoiding matrimonial missteps

Some brides are—how do we put this?mdash;somewhat uninformed when it comes to good manners. The following are totally true tales of brides behaving badly. Some names have been omitted to protect the clueless; others, not. (Sorry, Mariah.)

1. Don’t demand that your guests dress like wenches. You want to wear a plunging bustier for your Renaissance-themed wedding? Fine. But expecting the men to wear tights? Off with your head! Instead: You can note “Renaissance attire optional” at the bottom of the invitation and let the guests choose to interpret it (or not) themselves.

2. Don’t send the Yellow Pages. How’s this for lazy? A southern California bride photocopied the hotel section from her local phone book—103 hotels!—and mailed it to her out-of-town guests. Instead: Reserve a block of rooms at one or two convenient hotels (ideally in more than one price range); put the information on a card included with the invitation.

3. Don’t create DIY invitations that resemble a third-grade art project. Telltale signs: visible glue, staples, butterflies done with poster paints. Instead: Keep it sophisticated. Use your computer and a template created by professional designers. Check out uniquityinvitations.com, mountaincow.com, and beforeyourparty.com.

4. Don’t pull a Mariah Carey. Rumor has it that when the diva was planning her wedding to Nick Cannon, she had her minions e-mail her registry info to pals who weren’t even invited. Instead: Shower (not wedding) invitations can include registry info. It’s okay to put a link on your wedding Web site, where guests will expect it.

5. Don’t turn your wedding into a photo shoot. While your photographer is suggesting “just one more shot” of the two of you by the wisteria, your guests are getting very bored or very drunk. Instead: Take photos before the ceremony so you can make real memories—with your guests.

6. Don’t charge admission. A cash bar is tacky. Even tackier? Selling tickets to the wedding (or any related events) to raise money for… the wedding. Instead: Scale back the party or the guest list so you can afford to pay for it yourselves.

7. Don’t confuse a text message with a proper thank-you note. Take the time to do better than: “Thx 4 the $$. XO, Sue & John.” Instead: In each (handwritten!) note, explain what the gift means to you or how you’ll use it.

8. Don’t embrace Jack Daniels. We’ve all heard about the bride who passed out in the ladies’ room and the groom who got into a fistfight with the best man. Instead: Be moderate with the margaritas and mojitos. You'll thank yourself in the morning.

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