Wedding Guest Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts
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Being part of a couple’s wedding celebrations can be a fun, beautiful and sometimes even romantic experience, but being a guest isn’t just about simply showing up. Here is our list of wedding guest etiquette dos and don’ts for you to read before enjoying some wedding festivities.
When you hear that a couple has become engaged, it’s a lovely gesture to offer congratulations by sending a gift, such as champagne, a spa voucher or flowers By sending a small gift and card, you’re showing the couple that you are excited to be celebrating with them, that their upcoming commitment is special to you and that you wish them happiness as they embark on this journey together. If you’d prefer not to spend the money on a gift, place a call to the couple to offer your best wishes and ask them about the proposal and wedding plans.
RSVP in a timely manner:
As someone planning an event, there is perhaps nothing more frustrating than having to estimate guest numbers and chase up RSVPs. If you plan on attending the engagement party, bridal shower, hens/bucks night, wedding and any other associated events, RSVP as soon as you can, and include the name of your plus one if appropriate. If you can’t attend, you should also let the couple know early so they can adjust the catering. Once you have committed to attending the wedding it is very important you show up, as your meal will have been paid for in advance. By not showing up, you are costing the couple money. If there is an emergency or you are too sick to attend on the day, don’t bother the bride or groom on their big day, but do let someone attending know and send a card and box roses the next day.
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Advise the couple of any dietary or special requirements:
These days it is to be expected that some wedding guests will have dietary restrictions, and most reception venues can provide appropriate catering, if the kitchen knows in advance. On the day, all of the food will be predetermined, and there are usually only two or three options from which to choose. The bride and groom are paying good money for you have a nice dinner with them, so make sure you don’t miss out!
Buy the appropriate gifts:
Let’s face it, weddings can be very expensive. Between the bridal showers, engagement parties, hens/bucks nights, wedding gifts, new outfits and potential accommodation costs for functions located out of town, guests can spend thousands of dollars. Whilst it is always nice to follow the couple’s wishes by purchasing from the registry, giving them cash or contributing to their honeymoon, don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can afford. A heartfelt card is a must, but any gifts you buy should be within your budget. If you can’t afford to travel for the wedding, let the couple know in advance and thank them for the invitation, and perhaps even send them some flowers. If you are buying from a registry, buy early to give yourself gift options.
Dress for events appropriately:
Most wedding invitations will make note of a dress code, such as black tie, cocktail or even fancy dress! Pay attention to this and ensure you follow the code. Don’t feel obligated to spend a fortune on a new ball gown, but if the invitation says ‘cocktail’, don’t show up in jeans either. Some brides prefer their guests not to wear white, but many others find this tradition outdated. If in doubt, check with the bride before going shopping.
If applicable, find out if children are invited to the wedding:
As far as some brides and grooms are concerned, children and weddings do not mix, whilst for others, a wedding wouldn’t be complete without the sounds of children laughing and tearing up the dance floor. If you receive and invitation and it is not addressed to you ‘and family’, or doesn’t have the names of children included, presume it is a child-free affair. If you would still like to bring them along, ask the bride and groom if they wouldn’t mind if you brought them along (some weddings even have hired nannies to help on the day!).
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Be careful with photos on social media:
Taking photos at weddings is like over-eating at a buffet: it’s inevitable. However, keep in mind that there will be a professional photographer on the day and try to keep out of their way. It is also considered inappropriate by some to share photographs of the bride and groom before they have had a change to, so consider this prior to posting any onto social media. Don’t forget to find out what the wedding hashtag is too! #weddingetiquette
Arrive to the big day on time:
Although most weddings run late, guests should do their best to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Arriving early will give you a chance to find your seat, take a few photos and be ready for when the bride arrives, not to mention should enable you to find a parking spot close by. Many grooms feel nervous on their big day, and looking out onto an empty crowd whilst they wait certainly won’t help.
If making a speech, arrive prepared:
If the couple has asked you to make a speech, consider it a big a honour. There are usually only a handful of speeches during a reception, and most of these are reserved for family. That said, it’s important to be prepared with an appropriate speech. If the bride and groom have a good sense of humour, incorporate jokes and a few comedic stories. If you’re not sure whether they will enjoy that kind of speech, leave it out entirely.
Don’t drink more than you can handle:
Weddings are supposed to be fun, light-hearted and often boozy events, but make sure you drink only as much as you can handle. We’ve all heard about or witnessed a guest get drunk, do something inappropriate and spoil the night, which is particularly disastrous if they do so during a their speech. If you’re in the bridal party, be sure to eat breakfast and take it easy on the morning champagnes, tso that by the time the reception starts, you have plenty of room to drink to all the impending toasts.
Put your phone away:
Whilst this is probably stating the obvious, make absolutely sure your phone is on silent during the ceremony. Everyone is aware of this social convention, yet somehow a phone always seems to interrupt these kinds of events, which for the couple is more than a bit frustrating. Moreover, focus on the celebrations of the day, not your Facebook account. Photos of the day should show people enjoying the festivities, not checking their phones.
Following these guidelines will make you a fabulous wedding guest, and may even lead to you catching the bouquet or garter!