Your guide to wedding guest etiquette.
Between the free food, booze and dancing, attending weddings can be a lot of fun. However, as with all organised gatherings, the occasion can also be fraught with a host of potential social faux pas. From a late RSVP to bad gifting etiquette, there’s a myriad of ways you can inadvertently tarnish your wedding guest reputation. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure that doesn’t happen.
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Before The Wedding
Wedding invitations will usually come with an RSVP deadline. Make sure you don’t miss this! Doing so will hold up the wedding planning process, causing added stress for everyone involved. The couple really need to know how many people to expect before they can move ahead with confirming final numbers with vendors. Don’t make them have to track you down for an answer, or worse, scramble last minute to secure an extra place for you. Reply as soon as you know your schedule!
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Don’t Assume You Can Bring A Plus One
Weddings are expensive, so it may well be the case that you don’t get to bring along a guest this time. Unless it explicitly says so on the envelope or in the invite, don’t automatically assume you have a plus one. And don’t contact the couple to ask for an exception – if they could accommodate the extra head, they would have given you the option. Same goes for children. If the invite doesn’t refer to the “family”, or if your kids’ names aren’t listed, that’s probably because the couple would like to keep the celebrations to adults only.
Notify The Couple About Any Dietary Requirements
Got any food allergies or special dietary requirements? It can be incredibly difficult to cater to these at short notice. Save the couple some hassle by letting them know as early as possible, so they can notify their venue.
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On The Day
Avoid Wearing White
This goes without saying doesn’t it? Though traditional wedding dress codes are being upended (black, for instance, is totally acceptable to wear!), wearing white or cream as a wedding guest is still a controversial fine line you don’t want to be on the wrong side of. Other dress code no-nos include wearing denim (no matter how casual the location). It also might be an idea to check in with the bride before the day to see what colour the bridesmaids are wearing. While not a social faux pas, you don’t want to feel like a bridal party third wheel.
Be On Time
Trust us, being fashionably late is not an option in this scenario. Aim to arrive 20 to 30 minutes before the ceremony. And if you are late, please whatever you do, don’t walk down the aisle! Tardiness is bad enough, but you don’t want to accidentally disrupt the processional too. Stick to the back or side aisles instead.
Mind Your Phone Manners
First things first, make sure your phone is on silent! You do not want to be the wedding guest who interrupted the vows with an ill-timed ring tone. Next, be mindful when using your phone to take your own photos. The couple will have their own hired photographer and likely won’t appreciate you getting in the way of their professional shots. If you’re asked by the couple (this will typically be written in the programme) or the photographer to refrain from taking photos, respect their wishes. Lastly, don’t post pictures of the wedding on your social media until you’ve checked with the couple that it’s okay to do so.
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Congratulate The Couple And Their Family
Make a point of congratulating the couple and their family, especially if there is no receiving line. However, keep the conversation short and sweet, and focus on positives only. The last thing they need to hear about is the traffic you got stuck in on the way over!
A host’s greatest fear is that of their guests not having a good time. Nip that panic in the bud by throwing yourself headfirst into the celebrations. Make an effort to engage with your fellow tablemates, even if you’re not feeling particularly social. Join in with the Macarena on the dance floor, even if you’re feeling a little tired. And show enthusiasm for the bouquet toss, even if you think the tradition is a little silly. A little feeling goes a long way and will make the world of difference to how the happy couple ultimately remember their big day.
Yes, weddings were made for drinking. No, that doesn’t give you carte blanche to get as drunk as humanly possible. Pace yourself and avoid being that guest who ruins the wedding festivities by getting a little too merry.
After The Wedding
Mail Your Gift
Unless it’s a card with a cheque or cash, it’s generally better to send over your wedding gift after the wedding day. Traditional wedding etiquette in fact states that you have up to a year to give the newlyweds their present. Taking care of this post-celebration saves the wedding party the inconvenience of transporting a load of parcels home after the reception.
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Featured image courtesy of Photos by Lanty via Unsplash, image 1 courtesy of Abet Llacer via Pexels, image 2 courtesy of Bogdan Kurylo via Getty Images, image 3 courtesy of REAL Gallery via Lili Chu, image 4 courtesy of Carolina Serafini via Claire Johnson.