You have spent a really long time planning your perfect wedding day. You want it to be perfect. It's okay to admit it. After spending months picking out decorations, arrangements, music, outfits, gifts, vows, and people to help you, it is understandable that you want the day to pass without incident. This is the day you've been dreaming of since at least the moment of your engagement… if not longer.
In spite of any tensions that might have been experienced during the wedding planning process, this is what everybody else wants for you as well. Your friends and family want you to have your perfect day. They are just as nervous about it as you are. They are just as invested in how it goes because they are worried about how you will be affected if it doesn't go the way you want it to go.
It's incredibly common, then, to go to extremes to make this happen. This is when it's easy to slip into clichés and traditional wedding day mistakes. The drunken toast is one example of this. Here are some others.
Mistake/Cliché #1: Over Tanning for Your Wedding Day
We live in a culture that is convinced that the tanner a person is the healthier that person has to be. We also live in a culture that understands that too much exposure to the sun can cause cancer. It's a pickle, to be sure. Still, many women want to have at least a slight tan on their wedding day. This is partly because they think it helps them look better and, probably, partly because they believe that it will be a nice contrast to the white dress they are going to be wearing.
The problem is that so many brides-to-be go overboard in the tanning department. They tan themselves (either through direct sunlight or, worse, by many sessions spent in a tanning bed) into such a deep brown that they start to look unnatural. While this is definitely a contrast to the white dress, at some point it starts to just scream out "I am unhealthy!" to all who see it.
Your best bet, if you are intent on being tan is to work with a spray tanning salon. Do a trial run a few weeks out to see how it looks. Then, exfoliate really well the night before you go in to get the one you'll have for your wedding. Tell the salon that you want to look natural and healthy for your wedding photos. They will take care of the rest and you will love the way you look!
Mistake/Cliché #2: Tired Tired TIRED Music During the Ceremony
Pachelbel's Canon in D is a beautiful song. It's true. So is the Wedding March by Wagner. They are both incredibly overused at weddings. There are so many other and better songs that you can play for those aisle marches.
Counteract these clichés by finding music that truly suits the two of you. Do you have a song that you both love? Why not walk down to the aisle to that? Better yet, choose a song that you think describes the life that you are about to have together. Every couple has at least a few songs that represent very special moments or themes in their relationships.
But what if that song is by Metallica? And what if your future spouse absolutely refuses to play anything that doesn't sound "pretty" or "classical" during the ceremony?
The good news is that these days there are all sorts of musical groups that take rock music and other harder sounds and makes them softer and lighter sounding. There are all sorts of CDs for kids that have "music box" versions of songs by Nirvana, Metallica, the Offspring, and… well… pretty much every rock and roll band you think of. The most fun thing about choosing this route is knowing that your wedding guests will be hearing the music and thinking "that's really pretty… and sounds really familiar."
Mistake/Cliché #3: Smashing Cake in Your Spouse's Face
This was fun the first time it was done. Now it is cliché and you should avoid it. For one thing it could ruin all of the (most likely expensive) work that went into the Bride's hair and makeup. The cake could end up staining the wedding dress. It might even create problems if you get some on the rental tux you've put on your Groom.
Seriously. Just don't do it.
Mistake/Cliché #4: The Chicken Dance, etc.
There is a standard list of songs that seem to get played at every single wedding reception. "Every Breath You Take" by the Police is one. The Chicken Dance is another. You know the ones we're talking about. The ones that you can pretty much count on being part of some generic "Wedding Day" CD that can be bought at the drug store.
Usually these get played because the Bride and Groom have booked a DJ and he has a list of things that he knows are usually crowd pleasers (or space fillers) for those moments when he (or she) has run through all of the songs you wanted to be played and nobody has requested anything yet.
The best way to fix this is to have a genuine and lengthy talk with whoever you book to DJ at or play at your wedding reception (yes, bands will do this too). Talk about the music the two of you love and the music that you know your guests will love. Remember, while the day is mostly about the two of you it is also about your guests. If you want them to dance, you need to play music they will dance to.
It can also be helpful to compose a list of songs that the DJ or band should not under any circumstances play no matter how many people request them.
Mistake/Cliché #5: People Who Don't RSVP But Show Up Anyway/People Who RSVP But Don't Show Up
With every wedding invitation there is a card: the RSVP card. On this card you ask if the person receiving the invitation will be attending. These cards also usually have a box for "plus one" if the person wants to bring a date. If the ceremony is more casual there might simply be a "number of guests attending" for people whose ceremonies and receptions aren't going to be super strictly planned.
With every wedding there will be people who do not fill out or send the card but still fully expect to be accommodated when they show up anyway. There will also be people who do fill out the card, promise to attend and then, for whatever reason, don't show up.
This can be really frustrating for the people who are throwing the wedding. There are usually caterers to think about and place settings to plan and seating charts to arrange. How are you supposed to do this well if you have no way of knowing who is going to be there?
The best way to deal with this kind of thing is to simply have an overflow table or two and a flexible caterer (if you are hiring a caterer). Most caterers understand that things like this happen and aren't going to create a huge fuss if the exact number of plates served isn't met. Still, it's best to work with them ahead of time to have a contingency plan for this situation. Hopefully your "per plate" fee won't be too expensive.
You can also deal with this kind of faux pas by having a looser reception that is more buffet style than per-plate. This way you won't have to worry about shelling out money for someone who doesn't show up or how to feed someone who shows up unexpectedly. Some people find buffets tacky, but they can be a real life saver in the world of the RSVP faux pas.
Mistake/Cliché #6: Guests Wearing White
You should know by now that the only person dressed in white at a wedding should be the Bride. Still, there always seems to be at least a couple of people who don't know this or who don't care. They show up in white dresses and white suits. Then they get very angry at all of the people frowning at them.
The only thing you can really do in this situation is to smile and bear it as gracefully as possible. Flying into an "It's my day, you can't wear that!" rage just looks tacky. Besides, do you really expect them to go all the way home and change? So instead of getting irritated, just smile. People will remember your graciousness and think more fondly of you for it.
There are all sorts of wedding day/etiquette/reception faux pas and clichés out there. Listing them all would be impossible. The six we've talked about here are just a few of the bigger ones that you can expect to deal with.
Try not to let yourself get too worked up over these things, though. Remember: the wedding and ceremony are just one day. The marriage is what matters!