Guest etiquette guide for modern weddings
Nobody wants to deal with a high-maintenance, uncontrollable guest on their wedding day! And you don’t want to be that guest.
The couple who invites you to their wedding do so because they wish you participate in their big lifetime celebration. And it is only right that you allow them to enjoy their event. There are certain unspoken rules of wedding guest etiquette that wedding guests follow. Learn them and you can ensure that you aren’t a source of trouble for your hosts.
Today, I will tell you all the do’s and don’ts to follow when you will be a wedding guest. Take note of them and you will not disappoint as a guest.
Send in your RSVP early
Most wedding invitations require you to confirm whether you will be attending the wedding or not. There may also be a deadline mentioned on the RSVP card. Take note of it and let the couple know your plans at the earliest. Don’t overlook the importance of sending in your RSVP. The couple need it to track of their guest headcount, plan seating arrangements and other wedding details.
If you intend to attend, pop your affirmation into the mail immediately. In case you don’t plan to attend, you should still inform the couple. There may also be cases where you aren’t sure just yet. This could be because the wedding date is after a long time. Or you may have another engagement that is likely to clash with the wedding date. In such a scenario, tell the couple that you shall confirm your availability at a later date. And don’t forget to do so as soon as you know for sure.
In case of any doubt, check the invitation or website
Couples put a lot of thought into planning their wedding invitations. They usually include all the relevant details in the invitation suite. Most couples also have a wedding website, where they add the rest of the details. These may not always be in the invitation. Wedding registries, for instance, are always in the website and not in the invitation. Make sure to check both the invitation and the website, if you have any doubts.
If you still can’t find the information you require, check with the couple’s families and friends. Only if you are unable to find the information, should you check directly with the couple.
Get the bride and bridegroom a gift they actually like
This is why couples set up wedding registries in the first place! Unless you know the bride and groom personally, it isn’t wise to pick out a random gift that you think is good. There are chances that the gift you give may never be used at all. Couples list what they actually need in their wedding registries. So, there is every chance that your gift will find better use when you pick it from this list.
It is good to get your gift early, as you will have more options to pick from. As more people start choosing and booking gifts from the registry, your options will dwindle. You may finally have to settle for what is left, if you wait too long.
Send the gift to their address
The couple may not have any arrangements to take gifts home from the venue. There is enough going on at a wedding as it is. So, don’t add to their troubles by taking your gift to the venue. Your gift could be misplaced in all the rush after the wedding, and you do not want to risk that.
Send your gift directly to the address in the registry, as soon as you buy it. If the couple mention a store in the registry, they will most likely have registered there. The store may have a shipping option. In that case, simply get it done that way. If not, drop by their home with the gift and give it to them before the wedding day.
Be mindful of dressing appropriately for the wedding
Traditional etiquette suggests that you avoid wearing white or black to the wedding; white as it is the bride’s color and black for its association with funerals. While the rules regarding colors are relaxed nowadays, how you dress for a wedding still matters.
The invitation will give you a general idea of the style of wedding. Look at the venue and time to decide what would be appropriate to wear. In any case, avoid provocative and vulgar dressing as there will be people from different generations at the event. Never wear jeans or flip-flops. It is always safer to over-dress than look under-dressed. In any case, don’t go over-the-top so you steal the bride’s thunder.
Take only those who are actually invited with you
The bride and the groom plan the wedding for a specific head count. Hence, they have an idea of how many guests ought to attend their wedding. Make sure you are clear about what the invitation suggests in your case.
Unless the invitation specifically mentions a plus-one, don’t invite anyone to come with you. It is also unkind to call and ask the couple if you can bring someone. If this was their intention, they would have mentioned it on the invite or told you personally. Similarly some couples are very particular about no kids attending the wedding. Unless you are specifically invited with your entire family, don’t assume that the invitation extends to your children. It is best to make alternate arrangements for the care of your children while you go for the wedding.
Be on time
The invitation card will clearly mention the wedding time. It is important reach the venue on time and participate in the entire event. Don’t wait till the day of the wedding to check directions. Do this in advance, so you know your way on the day.
Always start early, so you have time for unexpected emergencies on the way. It is unfair to the couple if you skip the ceremony. The only exception is if you have specifically been invited only to the reception. Be considerate and reach the venue few minutes before the time mentioned on the card. This will allow you to settle down comfortably and participate in the wedding.
Respect the couple’s wishes
The couple put in a lot of thought when planning the various aspects of their wedding. One example is the seating chart. Even if you aren’t happy with where you are seated, be courteous and follow through. It will be an ordeal for the couple if you make your own changes, and is also quite impolite. So, go with the instructions and adjust to the situation.
One bride once told me how they decided to serve local wines and cocktails at their reception, instead of an open bar. There was just this one guest who created a big scene by laughing and joking at their choice. Remember that nobody is going to appreciate such a gesture. You will simply end up being a person who everyone dreads inviting. If the couple have gone for unconventional choices, respect it. It is their special day, and your opinion is not welcome unless they ask you for it.
Avoid clicking photos if the couple request it
Since everyone has a phone these days, there is a general tendency to click pictures throughout the event. However, most couples will have a photographer for the job. So, resist the temptation to document every moment of the wedding day on your phone. This can interfere with the photographer’s work, cause a distraction and spoil the moment. Instead, try to enjoy the event and let the professionals take care of the rest.
Many modern couples set up hashtags to share pictures of the event conveniently. Even if this is the case, assume that you shouldn’t use your cell phone camera during the important events on the day. This will be the ceremony, cake cutting and first dance. Use discretion when using your camera and take care it doesn’t become a distraction. If the couple prefer that you do not upload the photos till after the wedding function, respect their request.
Drink in moderation
Even if there is an open-bar, don’t get too carried away. Stop your consumption of alcohol with a drink or two and keep yourself under control.
Even one shot too many will leave a lasting impression. It will be inconsiderate to create a scene at the wedding reception, by getting out of control. So act dignified and avoid causing any discomfort to anyone at the event and spoiling the entire mood.
Make sure you greet and congratulate the couple
It can be after the ceremony, during the reception or at the end of the evening. Nevertheless, it is important that you personally talk to the couple and their family, and congratulate them.
Pay your compliments to the couple and thank them for a wonderful time. When you mention you had a great time, it reassures them that their event was a success and allows them to feel happy. Refrain from chatting for too long. Remember that they have to catch up with all the guests, and don’t keep them waiting. Also avoid complaining about anything at this time. Let them enjoy this time in their lives without worrying about anything else.
Try to enjoy the day
Don’t see the wedding as a chore that you have no way out of. Instead try to involve yourself, engage in the activities and enjoy the occasion. The best guests are those who really try to enjoy the moment and appreciate the couple’s efforts in planning it.
On this occasion, mingle with people, shake a leg on the dance floor and enjoy the food. Don’t go about complaining to others or being fussy and demanding. All you do is take away a part of the couple’s happiness on their special day, when you do this.
Be discrete if you have to leave early
In unavoidable circumstances, you may not be able to stay for the entire length of the party. However, it is bad etiquette to do so. When they extend an invitation, the couple expect you to participate in the entire event.
If you must leave early, make your way out quietly. Sign the guest book earlier on and don’t wait around to say goodbye to the couple. With so many guests at the event, it is highly unlikely they will notice.
Take home your wedding favor
It is impossible to find favors that please everyone. Nevertheless, couples put in a lot of effort and money when picking wedding favors for their guests. So, don’t be too disappointed if you don’t like the little trinkets they give out as their wedding favors.
Remember that it is discourteous to decline your gift. Respect this effort and investment and pick yours up even if you aren’t too excited about it.You can take it home and do what you like with it afterwards.
With these rules in mind, there is every chance you will be a welcome guest at any wedding party. Did we miss anything? If so, do let us know in the comments section below.
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