Wedding Etiquette - doesn't anybody care anymore?

I love owning a stationery store.  I realize just how much I love it when I think of giving it up. That’s when it hits home.  But one thing I don’t love is feeling like the ‘keeper of etiquette.’  Afterall, why is that my job?  Well, I guess it is part of my job. And part of what sets Sarah B. Fine Stationery (and other professional stationers with a brick and mortar shop) apart from the others is our knowledge of etiquette.

Much of our business stems from weddings. And a lot of our business has gone away. Either it’s the internet, where customers get no assistance, or just friends or “graphic designers” or other shops where they make your invitations for you (high-end or cheap), I have seen or heard every faux pas imaginable. That includes minor things such as the beginning of each line being capitalized (you know, Word does that when you’re typing on the computer) to mis-spelled words (I guess the “designer” didn’t know how to spell hors d’oeuvres) to really big things like, no where on the invitation was there a last name! (This was an invitation my husband and I received and couldn’t figure out who it was from! A bit of detective work – the return address was the parent’s address, luckily, but that was the only hint of who these people were!) All the way to the granddaddy of no-no’s, the dreaded gift registry on an invitation.  I can’t tell you how many people ask me about that, wanting to add it to the invitation. There are a lot of grey areas where I tell the customer “it’s up to you” but this isn’t one of them.

Stickers are another one. You’ve just spent hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on beautiful invitations. This is one of the biggest events of your lifetime, and perhaps one of the most expensive of yours and/or your parents. Everything is just so. From the flowers to the dress to the venue and food.  Now you’re not going to even bother to write out your guests names and addresses, you’re going to print them off on a label? Well, it’s a clear one with a pretty font, you say. I’d be rich if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that. For an event this important, take the time, make the effort to use your best handwriting to address the envelopes! It makes it so much nicer and so personal! This becomes YOUR invitation, not just a bunch of envelopes you dumped in the mail.

Probably the invitation that upset me the most was written so that the bride’s parents invited people to the wedding where the groom was listed before the bride. So it went:

Parents of the bride
request the honor of your presence at the marriage of
John Smith
Susan Doe… etc.
I’ve NEVER seen that done on an American wedding invitation. The bride is always first. Always. We stressed how that was incorrect, to no avail. They liked the way it ‘flowed.’ I still feel sick over that one. I feel it reflects badly on the groom and his family. I feel it reflects badly on the bride and her family. I also feel it reflected horribly on our store. But the customer insisted.

At Sarah B., I feel it is our obligation to teach people about etiquette. Ultimately, if they choose to go a different way, and they do, it’s up to them. But at least they have done so knowingly, not through ignorance.

But why do I get so worked up about it? Why is it so important to me for people to do it “right”? I guess part of it is that it’s a reflection on me, personally, and my store. But it goes way beyond that. I often feel like I’m trying to hold the line, no, floodgates, against all the people who just don’t care. Some people just don’t know, and are so happy when we tell them the proper etiquette. But others just don’t care, and they will openly, proudly admit that. I don’t get it. Why not care? Why isn't it important to make things nice, to do things correctly or politely, to hold on to some semblance of tradition? Why is the attitude that “this is good enough” good enough?  It really saddens me.

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