So, how’s the planning going, my dear LBs? Guests driving you a bit mad by not RSVPing or insisting on bringing the entire brood to your adult-only dinner reception? Fear not, as help is at hand! Here is an article I wrote for Huffington Post on how to be a good guest. Feel free to post onto your Facebook feed so guests get the hint and show up on time, having sent a gift ahead and don’t down a bottle of Jack before the cocktail hour is over. Let’s get to it then, shall we?
Being a guest means you’ll need to be aware of good guest etiquette (yes, it’s a thing). Just showing up in a nice outfit to eat, drink and shake a booty doesn’t quite cut it. Brides (and grooms) spend an inordinate amount of time sweating over minute details in the hopes their wedding will be one that ‘wows’. As a guest, you should respect all those hours spent agonizing over which linen, what shade of blue for the flowers and which signature cocktail by being on your best guest behavior. So, how does one not be a total chowderhead of a wedding guest? Besides not passing out in the wedding cake, we have counted the ways…
1.RSVP – You’ve received an invitation in the mail. Congrats! You’ve made the cut. Every wedding, no matter how grand, has a limit to its guest list. The fact you’ve got that invite in your hot little hands means the couple chose you over someone else to attend the celebration of their matrimony. It’s kind of a big deal so don’t screw it up. If you can’t go, let them know ASAP. If you can go, let them know ASAP. Do not be the jerky guest who can’t be bothered to send back the pre-addressed and stamped RSVP, thus making the already-overwhelmed bride have to call you to see if you are going to bestow your presence upon them.
2. Read the Damn Envelope – How exactly is the invitation addressed? Is it Ms. Smith and guest (you and +1)? Or just Ms. Smith (you’re going solo)? Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Family (you and the brood) or Mr. & Mrs. Smith (call the sitter). The couple has a limit to how many people they can accommodate so pay attention to exactly whom they have invited. If they didn’t include “and family”, respect that and don’t make it an issue that you can’t bring Little Johnny along.
3.Commit to Your RSVP – If you said you’re coming to the wedding, be there. Short of physically coughing up a lung, there is no reason for you to back out at the last minute. According to The Knot’s Annual Wedding Study, each guest costs the couple $245. If you and your plus one decide to not show, you’ve just dinged the newlyweds $490. You’ve also prevented them from inviting someone else who would have enjoyed being invited and actually taken the time to show up.
4.Write Your Name on the RSVP – Seriously. There is a space there for your name. Use it. The couple may have a number of super powers but mind reading likely isn’t one of them.
5.Don’t Surprise the Couple – I know it sounds crazy but I’ve had people want to surprise the couple by not RSVPing and just showing up. Please don’t. It’s not cute or funny or anything but a mess on the day. The couple has enough going on without having to react to your “surprise” and then have the venue scramble to seat and feed you.
6.Advise of Any Dietary Restrictions When You RSVP – If you’re a gluten-free vegan with a serious soy allergy, let the couple know on the RSVP card. Waiting until a steak is placed in front of you then crinkling your nose up to the waiter as you explain your very specific culinary restrictions is the surest way to have the chef cursing your name as he’s trying to expedite 150 dinners. More than likely you’ll end up with a salad for a main course because the kitchen doesn’t have time to start preparing specialty meals on the fly.
7.Clothing – This day is all about the bride. I repeat, it’s all about her. That means NO WHITE. I’ve seen brides froth at the mouth over someone wearing white. Don’t be that guest. And if they’ve asked you to wear white, do so. No matter how much you may loathe the color, it’s all about the bride so make her happy. That also means don’t wear some skimpy little number in bright red. In no way do you want to upstage the bride. And if you’re attending the ceremony in a church, be sure your clothing is respectful (ie bare shoulders may not be acceptable so have a light wrap with you). And guys, if it’s a Jewish wedding, wear the yarmulke provided for the ceremony.
8.Send a Gift – If you’ve been invited to the wedding, you are expected to give them a gift. And please, don’t go rogue. Get them something off of their registry or give them a check. You may think that blender is a fab present but they might have one already. If you can’t go to the wedding? You may want to still send a gift but at the very least, extend your congratulations.
9.Send the Gift Ahead of Time – The couple has enough to worry about at the wedding and the last thing they need to do is pack up a bunch of presents at the end of the night.
10.Be on Time – Aim to be a little early, in fact, as you don’t want to be the guest hip-hopping down the aisle as the wedding party waits at the back of the church. Being ‘fashionably late’ does not apply to a wedding.
11.Turn Off your Cell Phone – As you should at movies, during dinner, in church, at a concert. The only rings during the service should be the ones the couple are exchanging. They’ve hired a professional photographer for a reason so please, don’t get in their way as you try to get a blurry shot of the back of someone’s head with your iPhone.
12.Stay Out of the Photographer/Videographer’s Way – Be aware of where you are in relation to the photographer/videographer and if you’re in the way, move. They have a very small window of time to get a gazillion shots.
13.Don’t Post Photos on Social Media Before the Couple – Taking photos after the ceremony is fine but for goodness sake, don’t post them until the couple has had a chance to. Otherwise, you’re taking the wind out of their sails.
14.Don’t Drink Like a Fish – Remember the sloppy drunk at that wedding who made a fool of themselves? Nuff said. Just because it’s an open bar doesn’t mean you need to drink like you’ll never see another rum and coke again.
15.Keep Musical Chairs for the Kids – If you’ve been assigned a seat at the dinner table, please don’t start switching with someone else, especially if it’s a pre-ordered plated dinner. Doing so will make the waitstaff’s life Hell. You are more than welcome to move around after the dinner service but until dessert has been served, suck it up and stay put.
16.Respect the Buffet Order – If the wedding dinner is a buffet, the planner or head waiter will likely call each table up so there isn’t a 2-block line up. Don’t barrel up to the buffet line until your table is called. And when it is called, please go through. Waiting to go through after everyone’s already moved onto dessert only throws off the kitchen’s schedule.
17.Don’t Wander Off – There might be a group photo shortly after the ceremony and if you’ve gone off somewhere, they’ll be wasting time looking for you. Same with the reception while they wait for everyone to take their seats so they can start.
18.Keep Your Comments To Yourself – Hate the bride’s dress? Don’t like the decor? Whatever you do, keep your opinions to yourself and be a gracious guest. Chances are your critiques will make their way to the bride who has spent countless hours and a lot of money on all those things you don’t like.
19.Chit Chat Briefly With the Couple – Congratulate the couple (and their parents) and then move on. With all the other guests and activities, they don’t have time to get into a lengthy conversation with you.
20.Sign the Guest Book, Take Photos in the Photo Booth – It only takes a minute or two of your time but having all their guests participate in these things will thrill the couple.
21.Forever Keep Your Peace – If you’ve not been asked ahead of time to give a speech, don’t.
22.Don’t Take the Decor Home – It’s highly likely that those beautiful vases and candles in the centerpieces are rentals and if they disappear home with you, the couple will be paying to replace them. And for God’s sake, leave the table number on the table. What are you going to do with a #5 anyways (it’s happened numerous times and I’m always left wondering why)?
23.Do Take the Wedding Favors Home – A lot of thought, effort and money likely went into those favors. Be sure to stick one in your purse or pocket and take it home, even if you end up throwing it out. Seeing a table full of favors at the end of the night is disheartening to the bride.
24. Have Fun – This might sound obvious but no matter how long the speeches are or how lame the music selection is, be a considerate guest. It’s a celebration so treat it as one. You were invited to the wedding as you have some connection with the couple (unless you’re someone’s date and then, you need to be respectful of their relationship to the newlyweds). This day means a lot to Bride and Groom – seeing their friends bored will crush them. So put on a happy face as fun is where and how YOU make it.
So there you have it – some simple etiquette rules on how to avoid being a twerp at a wedding. Go forth, have fun and for all that is holy and good, sent back that RSVP pronto!
Photo by A Brit & a Blonde