Soon after Kristian and I got engaged, one of my aunts graciously offered to throw us an engagement party. Between full time work and school I left the guest list mostly to my mom. I made my own short list of about ten family members and friends and e-mailed them over to her to double check and finalize. A few weeks later one of Kristian’s sisters commented about how offended she was not to have received an invitation to the party. I was so humiliated. I could not believe that in the chaos of life I forgot to invite people who are so close to us! I called my aunt immediately and gave her the addresses of his two sisters but that wasn’t my only mistake. My grandmother never received her invitation either! The stress of compiling a guest list for the engagement party and the mistakes that followed mortified me. While the party went on with my grandmother in attendance and Kristian's sisters unable to make it the remorse I felt for my absent minded mistakes did not relent. Learning the Hard Way Although my forgetfulness was embarrassing I learned a valuable lesson: use the etiquette book. Lately I have developed a bit of an obsession with etiquette. Don’t get me wrong etiquette is nothing new to me. I was raised to act like a lady and always say please and thank you, but the definition of good manners seems to be changing. With text messaging and social networks popping up everywhere "proper" etiquette seems to be taking a backseat. Maybe its just me but I don't think its too much to ask for a timely RSVP or a handwritten thank you note. In fact, I rather appreciate those things. Though in spite of my usual cognizance about etiquette, I still mess up and continue to learn just how Emily Post kept it all together. When it comes to weddings, etiquette is a much more serious matter. An innocent mistake, like forgetting to include someone on the guest list, could result in hurt feelings, or worse, a severed relationship. Since the engagement party debacle, I frequently look over the wedding guest list. I have even added people…surprise, surprise. Forgetting to invite people may seem like the most obvious etiquette mishap. However, there are more subtle mistakes, for example, when choosing the wedding party take into consideration their finances and availability. Choosing your best friend since sixth grade may be what you want to do, but if she’s recently been laid off and is having a hard time making ends meet, buying a bridesmaids dress would probably only add to her stress. Trust me, I have been that laid off bridesmaid and while it is flattering that a close friend wanted me to have such a special part in her big day, the guilt of not making it was almost more than I could bear. The solution? Well, if you know your girls are on a budget, try bargain shopping. Regular price or clearance dresses from a retail store can work just as well for bridesmaids. They also tend to be not as bridal and can be worn on other occasions. I found my bridesmaid dresses at Nordstrom for a killer price, so it is possible! Another little bump in the road for Kristian and I is that we plan on having a relatively small wedding. We have many acquaintances who we can not invite simply because of our limited budget. At first I felt pretty badly about telling people who I consider friends that they could not attend my wedding. However, there are alternatives besides just saying no. We plan on having a celebration in Florida, where we currently live, with the people who we cannot invite from church and work. A similar idea would work in Dallas where many of our friends still live. While it isn’t exactly the same as attending the wedding, a smaller celebration still makes people feel included in the festivities. I think the etiquette book will approve! Now these are just a few of the issues I’ve run into so far. With seven months until the wedding I’m sure I’ll hit a few more bumps. Maybe I’ll even share them here so you all can laugh with me along the way. Hopefully future mistakes won’t include insulting family members or any other major offenses. I will follow the etiquette book to the tee and I can only hope my guests do the same when it comes to minding their manners.