How to be a great wedding guest
With the spring and summer wedding season heading into full swing, many guests are on the hunt for answers to their wedding questions. Do I always need to bring a gift? Can I bring my boyfriend if he’s not listed on the invitation? Is it ok if I wear white? Can I post pics of the ceremony on Facebook?
For anyone new to the wedding scene, or those looking to do the right thing, here are some foolproof tips for mastering the art of attending a wedding.
To RSVP or not. Yes, always RSVP and do so before the due date. It's a very simple task and it's really annoying and difficult for the couple to plan the right amount of food (and other details) without a proper head count, so just do it, and do it as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may be getting a call from the bride’s friend or family member asking if you’re attending.
Bringing a guest. The names on the invitation are the people invited. If the invitation is addressed to just one person, without the words "and guest," that means it's meant just for the person addressed. So if a guest is not included, don’t ask if you can bring one and don’t show up with one (because that would make him/her a wedding crasher).
To buy a gift or not. Yes, you must buy a gift. Whether it’s your best friend or your niece’s cousin once removed, giving a gift is a basic courtesy. Use the couple’s registry to get gifts that they truly want and will use throughout their married life. If there's nothing left on the registry in your price range, you can always buy a gift card from the same store. Or, if you prefer to get a unique gift, get in touch with extended family members for ideas. Spend the amount you feel comfortable with, but the rule of thumb is to spend more on your brother than on your distant childhood babysitter.
How to dress. Pay attention to the dress code of the wedding and the level of formality. If it’s not specified, take your cues from the location and time of the wedding. You could ask a family member or bridesmaid to give you a guide. (But don't bother the bride about it - she's kind of busy.) Just remember: You never know if you’ll be photographed and placed in that wedding album forever! Avoid wearing white or any shade of white (ivory, off-white, cream, etc.). These colors are reserved for the beautiful bride, and if you wear them, you are taking attention away from her. Overdressing is better than under-dressing. Even if the dress code is “casual,” it is never ok to wear jeans, no matter how much they cost.
When to show up. The wedding is one of those social events where it's not even the tiniest bit okay to be "fashionably late." Arrive 30 minutes prior to the ceremony to allow time to be seated. You do not want the bride to see you running in right before she walks down the aisle.
Phone use at the ceremony. There’s nothing worse than a phone unexpectedly ringing in the middle of a wedding. Silence your phone. And, as enticing as it is to shoot a live video as your best friend from college walks down the aisle, restrain yourself. Let the hired photographer do his or her job. Just enjoy the moment!
Posting pics on Facebook. Check with the bride beforehand to see if it’s okay to upload photos to Instagram or Facebook. It’s also good form to give the family the honor of posting wedding photos first. When you do post, select your photos wisely. Think twice before posting anything that may not be appropriate, such as an inebriated guest, or photos that might embarrass the wedding couple.
Celebrate with manners. Don’t over-drink, or give toasts (unless you’re asked), or be glued to your phone (or the bar), or chat it up with your friends and use your camera to interrupt special moments. Make a point to mix and mingle, and celebrate with the ones you love. And, at some point during the reception, find time to congratulate the couple and thank them for inviting you to their union.
Participate. The new bride and groom want their guests to be happy, so join in and have a good time. Get on that dance floor, partake in the festivities, and help the newlyweds celebrate their first night as one. They’ve spent a lot of time and money planning the reception, so show them that they did well and that you enjoyed the party.