Etiquette Tip Tuesday: Tips for Wedding Guests

As wedding season quickly approaches, I thought it would be a good idea to remind wedding guests of their etiquette responsibilities.  Some are obvious, other not so much.  Please feel free to leave feedback- I would love to hear about things you have done or seen at weddings you have attended!

1.  RSVP on time and for the correct amount of people.  There is nothing harder for the bride and groom than the seating chart, and late responses throw a big monkey wrench in their plans.

2.  Don’t wear white!  You need to pay attention to the invitation.  The bride and groom agonize over every detail from wording to colors.  Those details give you, the guest, your wedding cues.  For example, if the invitation is ivory and burgundy, those are most likely the wedding day colors.  It would be in poor taste to show up in an ivory or burgundy colored dress.

Similarly, the invitation wording will help you find the perfect outfit.  If it says that you are invited to a backyard BBQ reception, it would be best to leave your heels and pearls at home.  Likewise, ‘black tie optional’ means at the very least you need a suit and tie, if not a tuxedo.  Board shorts and flip flops would not be appropriate for that wedding.

3.  “Adult Only Reception.”  If the bride and groom have chosen to not invite children, please do not include your kids in your RSVP count, or worse, bring them unannounced.  Any issues arising from this phrase should be dealt with as soon as you receive the invitation, usually by a phone call.  If you have a ‘tween’ or teenager and feel like you need clarification on what ‘adult’ means, pick up the phone and ask.

4.  Send a gift even if you are not attending the wedding.  Proper etiquette says that you should still send a gift to the bride and groom, even if you are not attending the wedding.  In some cultures, it is bad luck to not send a gift.  You can do it before or after they get married.  Technically speaking, you have up to one year to shower the new couple with a gift.

5.  Be punctual.  Nothing spoils wedding vows more than the sound of high heels clicking down the aisle from a late guest.  If you are late, come in as quiet as possible and take a seat at the back.

6.  Dealing with unexpected interuptions.  Coughing fits, loud hiccups, crying babies, and uncontrolled laughing are all reasons to remove yourself, or the little culprit, from the ceremony. 

7.  Mind your P’s and Q’s.  Most couples choose to have a video made of their wedding.  Those cameras pick up all types of noises and sounds, and are sometimes hard to edit out.  Remember this as you chuckle about the bridesmaids dresses, or take bets on when the couple will get divorced.  I have personally seen both end up on a wedding video.

8.  Make new friends at the reception.  The bride and groom have tried their best to make a happy seating chart.  Do your part and introduce yourself to people you do not know at your table.  And under NO circumstances should you reassign your seat to another table.

9.  Be mindful of your manners.  Simple things go a long way at weddings, like listening to the best man’s speech or waiting for a server to send you to the buffet.  At any formal dinner, you should wait until everyone at your table has their food before beginning to eat.  These simple pieces of etiquette will make the evening a smooth success.

10.  Alcohol consumption.  Just because it is open bar does not mean you have to leave the party unaware of your surroundings.  Even if the groom is your life long drinking buddy, the wedding reception is not the time to reminisce of old escapades while downing shots of tequila.  This is the first day of the couple’s new life together, and it should be treated with respect for them and their families.  Some couples will hold an after party at a hotel— without their elderly family members—  this would be the time to let loose, have a few more drinks, and let the story telling commence.

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