It is officially wedding season. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, especially with our 3-year anniversary less than a week away.
I really, really love going to weddings. Besides two people joining themselves together forever, it’s just a lot of fun. It’s fun to see what people are wearing, to eat the food, and catch up with friends and family or meet new people.
That being said, weddings are not all that fun for the people actually getting married. Not BECAUSE they’re getting married, but because of the stress the well-meaning folks attending the weddings put them through.
I think a lot of people in my generation (and older/younger people too) forget or are ignorant of common wedding etiquette. Here’s a short list of things I’ve seen lately.
Not sure if you can bring a guest, your kids, etc? Check the envelope.
If you’re wondering if you can take the new guy you just met, or if your toddlers are invited, the quickest way to know is to see who the invitation was addressed to. For example, if it says, “Your Name and Guest” on the addressee line, you’re good to go. If it says “ Your name/spouses name and family” bring your kids. If it says, “Your name,” you are the only one invited.
Don’t ask the bride or groom if you can bring someone. It costs them money for you to bring a guest, and they might be on a strict budget and can’t fit another person in. It wasn’t an accident; they really don’t want you to bring someone. The kid thing can be tricky. We didn’t have kids at our wedding. It was a conscious choice. It does sound a little harsh, and some people chose not to come. It’s just one night – it is up to you if you want to go to a child-free wedding without your kids, or not. But don’t hassle the bride about it.
RSVP: It is not just a suggestion.
If there is an RSVP card included in your invitation, or a link to a website to respond to, please do it. This isn’t for fun, or just to see who is coming. It’s essential to the headcount, food, cake, alcohol, seating chart and more.
If you come unannounced, you might not have a dinner (especially if it’s plated and not buffet). There might be just the right amount of tables and chairs set out, leaving you literally without a seat (or awkwardly trying to shove another chair next to your uncle). It seriously stresses out the bride, who can see exactly who hasn’t gotten back to her. Is she supposed to call/email each person JUST to make sure they’re really not coming? No! That’s the point of the RSVP. Just drop it in the mail, or go to the wedding website and respond appropriately. It’s so easy – don’t be a jerk!
Don’t Drink Too Much
This is tricky, since it’s easy to have one too many and act a little inappropriate. Read the room.
- If the bride and groom are doing shots, it’s probably a looser atmosphere.
- If there’s an open bar, approach with caution and know your limits. Open bars mean the couple and couple’s family want you to have fun, but just don’t be the person barfing in the corner or dancing on a table.
(We had an open bar but a no-shots rule – I really do think it kept people a little more in check).
- If the bride and groom are not drinking, and it doesn’t seem like many other people are either, maybe have one or two and see how the night unfolds.
- Make sure you know how you’re getting home or back to the hotel. Many weddings have shuttles available, but at least have cash for a cab on hand.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
The time of day and the location of the ceremony and reception can help to clue you in as to the right attire. A backyard wedding means nice shorts/shirt with a collar or a sundress is probably okay. An evening wedding at a nice, well known building usually indicates a bit fancier vibe, so a longer or nicer dress and a suit is the way to go. Nothing too short, nothing too casual, and really ladies, nothing white, no matter what the bride is wearing. It’s just tacky. If the bride and groom are especially particular about what you should wear, it will usually be indicated on the invite.
This is a celebration, it’s meant to be a time of joy and happiness for the couple, and you can help in making sure that is how their wedding day goes. If you’re interested in wedding etiquette or need more clarity on some things, check out Emily Post’s site, where you’ll find all the answers.