9 Important Wedding Guest Etiquette Tips
A wedding is a beautiful celebration of the love between two individuals. It’s a time to honor commitment and fidelity, and to join the happy couple in a recognition of their bright future together. Unfortunately, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be a time for embarrassing faux pas and unintentional offenses. Weddings, after all, are absolutely steeped in tradition. If you, as a guest, aren’t familiar with what is expected of you, you could end up ruining what should be the happiest day in the lives of both the bride and groom. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: here are nine common wedding guest blunders and how to avoid them.
1. RSVP ASAP. Once you get the wedding invite, be sure to drop your response in the mailbox (no, a simple phone call or text will not do) as soon as you can. If you’re not sure if you can make it, then do what you have to do to find out before the last possible minute. If you wait too long, you might get left off the list.
2. Stick to the plan. Make sure that you follow the directions on your invite to the letter. If it doesn’t say that you can bring a date, then don’t. If it says that the ceremony begins at 5:00 pm, then make sure that you have plenty of time to get to the location and find your seat before then. If it says that children are not invited, then don’t think that you can bring yours along anyway. If you have any questions that aren’t answered regarding the ceremony, then make some quick phone calls and get them answered well before the date of the wedding.
3. Buy a gift. Many invites won’t come out and say “Make sure you get us something nice,” but they will usually mention where the couple is registered. This is a subtle hint that not only should you buy them a gift for the wedding, but that you should pick it out from the items that they’ve chosen for their registry. After all, the couple knows best what kind of things they’ll be needing.
4. Be respectful during the ceremony. Nothing in the world should distract from the bride and groom during the ceremony. That means you need to turn off your cell phone (not simply set it to quiet or vibrate), keep the conversation to a bare minimum, and do not take any photographs during the ceremony unless you’ve been asked to do so (most couples hire a professional photographer to do that). Also, if the couple is of a different faith/culture than you, be sure to respect their practices and traditions—now is no the time to try and convert.
5. Don’t try to upstage the couple. This isn’t the prom, so don’t use the wedding as an opportunity to show off your flashy new gown or stunning tuxedo. For most occasions, a simple, elegant dress or suit will be a better choice. Only the bride and groom should turn heads. Additionally, unless specifically requested, do not wear white-colored dresses. White is reserved for the bride; you can pick something else.
6. Go easy on the booze. It seems a little strange that the one place where you don’t want guests breaking out into a drunken riot is also one of the most likely places for guests to be provided with free drinks. Oh well. Traditionally, alcohol is served at weddings, but that doesn’t mean you need to turn the event into New Years Eve in Las Vegas. If you decide to drink, do so in moderation.
7. Keep it civil. It doesn’t matter how much you may dislike certain other guests, now is not the time for personal drama. Be friendly, courteous, and gracious, and never bother the bride and groom with concerns related to others who have been invited. If you can’t be friendly, then keep to yourself.
8. Congratulate/thank the family. Part of being a good guest is recognizing a good host. Speak to the parents of the couple, even if you’ve never met them before, and offer gracious thanks for being including in the event. It’s also a good idea to congratulate and thank the bride and groom, just make sure you do it during the reception line or at another appropriate time (cutting in on the two dancing to say ‘thanks a lot’ is not an appropriate time.
9. Have fun. The couple invited you to the wedding not only for the gifts, but also so that you could enjoy yourself. So, have fun. Dance and mingle, laugh, and be sure that the bride and groom see you smiling. They’ll be able to enjoy their special day a lot more if they see that their guests are enjoying it too.
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