In this paper we introduce a class of second-order exponential schemes for the time integration of semilinear wave equations. They are constructed such that the established error bounds only depend on quantities obtained from a well-posedness result of a classical solution. To compensate missing regularity of the solution the proofs become considerably more involved compared to a standard error analysis. Key tools are appropriate filter functions as well as the integration-by-parts and summation-by-parts formulas. We include numerical examples to illustrate the advantage of the proposed methods.