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As I’ve been Pinterest-ing ideas for my own wedding (as well as attending more weddings than I can count this year), it dawned on me that as young adults, millennials, or what-have-you, we do not know a damn thing about wedding etiquette!
We think we know but how many weddings have you attended?
I’ll speak for myself and say that there’s been few weddings in my family, as most have eloped… and honestly our generation may not even attend a wedding until our friends decide to tie the knot.
It’s not your normal party or celebration, it’s a wedding! Therefore, different rules apply. RSVPs are taken seriously, dress code is a whole, different ballgame, and no one really knows how registries work (me, included)!
If you’re about as lost as everyone else is, then please continue reading the secrets to being the BEST wedding guest you can be (you’re welcome :)):
- Provide accurate information on RSVP card or the link you receive for a wedding website.
- RSVP by the deadline.
Usually Save-the-Dates and formal wedding invitations are sent out at least 6-8 months in advance.
- Make sure a “+1” is invited.
On your wedding invitation it will be stated whether “you and a plus one” or “you and guest” are invited or just yourself. Pay attention to the wording but if you’re really struggling, worst case, ask the bride or groom if you can bring a date.
- RSVP and then NOT show up!
The engaged couple paid for you to be there and join in the celebration of their union. It’s faux pas if you decide not to inform the couple that you’re not able to attend. If it’s a good reason for canceling last minute, they will understand.
- Don’t just bring a guest with you!
If you’ve asked the bride and groom if you could bring a guest and were denied, respect their decision and NEVER bring someone to a wedding who wasn’t invited (a surprise wedding crasher is easy to brush off but it’s not fun to deal with).
- Take a closer look at the wedding website.
There is tons of information located on the bride and groom’s wedding website including: ceremony and reception times/locations, dress code, wedding itinerary, and the wedding registry information.
- Refer to the wedding website for any FAQ’s
Before bombarding the bride with a thousand texts on where to stay and if kids are welcome, check out their wedding website to see if it doesn’t answer your question first. Many engaged couples prepare a “Frequently Asked Questions” section on their wedding website for this reason (including myself). It saves each party from awkward conversations and relieves stress on the couple from responding to questions that other guests probably have also.
- Eh, not really much “DON’Ts” here. You can’t really go wrong as everything is laid out for you!
- Follow the dress code.
If the bride wants the guests in cocktail attire, beach attire, or for everyone to wear red: just do it! It’s one day and most importantly, it’s not YOUR day. Make the bride happy and dress as she wishes (she has a vision, trust her).
- NEVER wear white!!
Does this really need to be explained? No, but unless the bride and groom stated that the dress code REQUIRES you to wear white, please refrain. It’s rude to the bride and just poor taste.
- Don’t wear what you would wear to the club.
Like I’ve been preaching, UNLESS the bride and groom specifically stated to dress like the rent is due tonight, dress in cocktail or black-tie attire. No jeans either. It’s a formal event so those are always your safe options. If it’s a beach/destination wedding, the couple should have the proper dress code stated on your invite and/or the wedding website.
- Get the newlyweds something!
Anything and everything will always be appreciated, no matter how small. It’s the thought that counts!
- Get the newlyweds a gift prior to their wedding.
It’s not bad to send gifts after the wedding, per se, it’s just better etiquette to start shipping them over beforehand.
- Didn’t your mama ever teach you to never show up to someone’s event empty-handed? No? Well, let me do it for her… NEVER show up without a gift!
It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or something from their registry; a heartfelt card and gift cards with any amount you’re comfortable with is appreciated. For destination weddings/honeymoons, you can even put a small amount towards their trip and/or excursions! Ask the engaged couple for more info on how to do this if they’re getting married/honeymooning abroad.
- Don’t bring your gift to the wedding.
You don’t want to carry it, the newlyweds don’t want to carry it, no one wants to carry gifts back home! So, save everyone the hassle and have the gifts sent to the couple’s address. You’ll also have peace of mind that your gift will be secured and won’t be damaged along the way.
Ceremony & Reception
- Limit tech use during the ceremony.
Try to save the pictures for the reception as you will have plenty of time to take pictures with your date as well as the newlyweds. When the newlyweds look back at their professional photos, it’s a blight to see a bunch of people taking pictures from their phones instead of enjoying the ceremony. Be in the moment, the bride will surely post and share plenty of pictures, so you won’t miss a thing!
- Mingle and get to know the other party guests.
You’re all there to support and love on the newly married couple so don’t be shy. Take a shot and get out on that dancefloor, your new wedding besties await!
- Don’t create your own seating arrangements.
Unless plenty of people didn’t come or it’s after all the guests have eaten, sit where you were assigned. The bride and groom went through the trouble of sitting like-minded personalities together and some guests like to return to their assigned seats in between dancing and socializing throughout the evening.
- Don’t get too drunk and obnoxious.
By all means, have fun but don’t get so trashed that you ruin the party for everybody. Be especially mindful of an open bar, those thangs will sneak up on you when you don’t have to pay!
- Sign the guest book and partake in any other activities that the newlyweds may want.
This may include signing hearts to place in a keepsake container, taking pictures in a photobooth, or leaving a heartfelt message on a telephone (yes, you can do this!) The newlyweds want to create memories with you and look back at these for years to come.
- Don’t just sit in your chair and watch the party go on.
No one likes a party pooper! You don’t have to shake you’re a** all night but definitely do a 2-step to a few songs so you don’t seem…miserable?
Hey, I’m just saying what everyone will think if you pout and watch the party all night. The newlyweds invited you to celebrate and share the fun, excitement, and love around them. Join in! Once you take a couple of shots from the open bar and get into the groove, you’ll be loose enough to maybe impress the late, great Michael Jackson (it’s a reach, but you get my point haha)!
If you follow the instructions on the wedding website and your invite, you’ll be fine. Don’t be THAT guest that everyone remembers (for the bad reasons).
What’s some wedding do’s and don’ts that you believe in? Also, just curious, do you buy gifts from the registry or just give a card with money inside (no judgment, I’ve done both lol)?
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