Photo by Ryan Duclos and wedding by BB Jean Events
Anything goes at weddings these days. Anything. Which makes it a really awesome time to get married and plan your wedding because you can literally do anything and people will generally be ok with it. “This is SO THEM!” they’ll say when they read your wedding invite ushering them into a weekend filled with all of your favorite things – be it a traditional, skydiving, post-apocolyptic or whimsical affair .
But when anything goes at a wedding, expectations for the guests can also be anything. Sometimes a bride might actually want her guests to wear white. Sometimes they’ll want their attendees to go crazy with pictures and tag you in them. Sometimes they’ll even want their guests to have such a good time that everyone is crazy drunk on the dance floor going buck wild to techno music. But note, in each of those instances I said sometimes. Not all times. In a world of seemingly no etiquette where Emily Post is becoming archaic, there are in fact some basic rules to bear in mind when attending a wedding. From the beginner guest to the most seasoned, these basic guidelines can be followed at pretty much any wedding guaranteeing that you’ll be appreciated by the couple and not the subject of stories for years to come at dinner parties. You’re welcome.
- Only RSVP for the people that the invitation is written to. If the invite is addressed to John Smith and Guest, then by all means John, PLEASE bring your fiancé, girlfriend, World of Warcraft loving roommate or whomever you deem worthy as being your +1. If the invite just says John Smith, then it’s only intended for John to attend. If you’re unsure – check with the couple. And be gracious if they tell you that a +1 isn’t welcome. In an event as detailed and personal as a wedding, they no doubt have their reasons for why you can’t bring someone else be it budget constraints, venue size or otherwise. And being that it’s a wedding they probably already feel massive guilt that they aren’t able to accommodate everyone else’s wishes for their day, so cut them some slack, understand that because you’ve been invited that they love you and only RSVP for the peeps they’ve put on the envelope.
- Speaking of invites – RSVP by the deadline they give. If you can’t mail it on time, then contact the couple by phone, email, etc to get them your response. They need to provide a proper head count to their caterer, stationer and venue. Help keep their stress down by making sure you respond in a timely manner – even if you RSVP no.
- Dress accordingly. The invite will give you a good idea as to the tone of the event. If it states that the wedding is outdoors, make sure to bring a nice coat or sweater should the weather look questionable and for the ladies, wear wedges or flats if there’s a chance this outdoor fete is anywhere near a farm or field. If it’s in a ballroom, wear a cocktail dress or suit. If it’s a steampunk shindig at a local bar, bust out the corsets and goggles y’all. Show them you’re in this with them and you’re here to help them celebrate properly. If you’re unsure, ere on dressing up rather than dressing down.
- Take pictures from your seat or leave the camera at home. There’s a reason unplugged weddings are gaining in popularity: couples want their hired photographer to capture the moments and for you to be present. Unless the couple has approached you of their own free will and asked for you to take pictures for them, sit back, relax and enjoy the day. Even if your work is better than who they hired, be respectful of the fact that they asked their hired photographer, and not you to shoot the day. If they aren’t having an unplugged wedding and you want to get a few photos for them, do so from your seat (without bending your body into the aisle, standing up or raising your arms into the air with your camera/smart phone/iPad). Take a few pictures during the reception if they’re fine with it and tag them in it later but make sure you’re out there celebrating with them more than taking pictures and posting them to Facebook. Oh and please don’t post pictures of the bride and groom online until the start of the reception or (better yet) the next day. Don’t run the risk of ruining the First Look by being too eager to be the first to get things posted online.
- Remember that their choices are not an attack on you. The couple is choosing what they like best and enjoy – it’s what will make the day memorable and personal. If you’re vegan and they’re offering beef, salmon and chicken in the buffet, it wasn’t done to target you – it was done because they wanted beef, salmon and chicken and not because they wanted to tick you off. If they only invited you and your partner to the wedding but not your kids, don’t get your knickers in a bunch. Either get a sitter or politely decline. And when you do that, do so with tact and keep your comments to yourself – they don’t need to know the hassle YOU had to go through when YOU had to find a sitter and pay them when YOU already spent enough money on their gift. See that? It’s not about you. It’s about them. This is only one day and they’re trying to put it together the best way they know how and it has absolutely nothing to do with your preferences and opinions and everything to do with celebrating who they are as a couple. And you’ve been invited to celebrate with them because they love you.
- Don’t give an unsolicited toast. Just don’t. Same goes for surprise presentations and slideshows. Get the A-OK from the groom, best man, maid of honor, wedding planner before dropping one of those in. And be ok if they decline your gift.
- Love the crap out of the couple that day. Smile, hug them, drink and dance with them and be the person you would want to have at your own wedding (whether you’re hitched or not). For one day, they deserve to be surrounded by amazing and happy family and friends and they love you so much they’ve included you. Take that opportunity to love them back.
Have you been to a few weddings and think we’re missing something here? Or have you seen guests doing any of these? Would love to hear your own guest stories (the good, the bad and the downright crazy!).