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5 Things You Should Never Put in a Wedding Card, Etiquette Experts Say

These common mistakes could sour their big day.

Wedding season is here, and chances are you've got at least one summer nuptial to attend. This can bring up a litany of etiquette questions: What to wear, what to give as a gift, what to say if you're asked to speak, and of course, what to write in the wedding card. When it comes to this last point, experts say there are just a few simple rules to crafting the perfect message. The key, they say, is avoiding a handful of common pitfalls made all too often by wedding guests. Read on to learn the five things you should never put in a wedding card.

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Cash in a red envelope

With wedding costs soaring, many couples are more than happy to receive monetary gifts from their wedding guests. However, experts say that it's best to avoid putting a cash gift into a card and handing it to them on the day of the wedding.

"Please do not include cash in the wedding card," says Jodi RR Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. "Cash given during a wedding reception is often lost, misplaced, used for tipping, or—occasionally—stolen. Much better to include a check or gift card that can be traced or canceled as needed," she tells Best Life.

Embarrassing stories or pictures

Female hands writing wedding invitation card. Blank paper card, envelope, notebook, gypsophila on table with linen tablecloth. Flat lay, top view

Wedding cards are an opportunity to share your good wishes for the happy couple—they are not the place for a roast or stand-up comedy routine. Though many people find themselves tempted to share embarrassing stories or pictures from the couple's past, these are best avoided, says Smith.

"Do refrain from including anything that will embarrass either party of the wedding couple. You might find naked baby pictures, awkward middle school pictures, or photos with exes highly amusing, but they may not be funny to the couple," she advises.

Jules Hirst, founder and lifestyle coach for Etiquette Consulting agrees that embarrassing stories—especially those that involve exes—should be off the table.

"You should not bring up past relationships. Those are in the past for a reason. Focus on celebrating the couple and their future together," she suggests.

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Long letters

Bride reading handwritten letter from groom on wedding day

Weddings can bring out your reflective side, and the newlyweds may very well appreciate hearing your sincere thoughts on their union. However, unless you're in their closest circle, Hirst suggests keeping your message concise, since this will also be an especially busy time for the couple.

"Keep the anecdotes to a minimum. The couple doesn't have the time to read your pages of stories," she says. "They may love them but the wedding card is not the appropriate place for them."

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Gifts with restrictions

Cash money in dollars clipped with a pink note written HONEYMOON on white background - concept of saving or planning budget for honeymoon trip

If you decide to give money as a wedding gift, it's best to avoid placing restrictions on it. Trust that the couple will put it to good use in whatever way they see fit, and steer clear of any mention of the couple's financial situation, suggests Hirst.

"The gift is for the couple to do with as they please. Although your insights may be pertinent, they are not relevant within the body of the card," she says.

References to polarizing topics

Groom reading wedding card or letter

Weddings are a great opportunity to bring together far-flung family members who don't get to see each other often. However, this may mean stepping outside of your comfort zone to interact with those on the opposite end of the political spectrum. That's why assuming that you're in ideological alignment with the wedding couple or other guests can be a major misstep. Even if you bring up these differences in jest, your joke may land more like a jab on their big day.

"Just like at the dinner table, you should avoid talk of politics, religion, or crude humor," says Hirst. "These are not appropriate topics for the wedding card. Your note should be neutral and loving."

This rule also goes for toasts or conversations at the wedding reception. Keep the focus on the couple's big day by sidestepping any notoriously thorny topics.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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