Maybe you think of wedding etiquette as pertaining only to the bride, but there is, in fact, a long list of do’s and don’ts you should abide by as a guest, from the moment the invitation arrives in the mail until after the happy event has occurred.
If there’s anything that gets on brides and grooms’ nerves before the wedding, it’s guests failing to RSVP in a timely manner. RSVP as soon as humanly possible.
2. If you were invited to the ceremony, don’t just show up for the reception.
The ceremony is the most important part and guests should make all efforts to attend. It’s in poor taste to show up to the open bar without first attending the main event.
3. Dress as the style of the invitation suggests.
If it’s a casual invitation with sea shells and sand dollars, we’re probably not talking long silk dresses and tuxedos. And on the flipside, if the invitation is gilt-engraved and scripted and formal, we’re probably not talking cotton sundresses and casual Khaki pants.
If you’re unsure of the dress code, ask someone familiar with the wedding, perhaps a bridesmaid or member of the bride’s family, but not the bride herself. She has her own dress to worry about.
4. Arrive at the ceremony on time.
Leave plenty of time to get to the wedding itself — even enough time to get lost on the way.
If you must be late, there’s protocol for that, too. If you’re really late, stand in the back or slip quietly into a back pew or row once the processional is completely finished.
5. Sit at your assigned table
There’s a lot of thought that goes into these seating arrangements. Yes, the bride and groom actually spent time thinking about the various relationships their guests have to one another.
6. Bring an appropriate guest (if you have actually been invited with a guest, that is).
If you have a sulky boyfriend who will keep you in the corner all night, or one with an unpredictable temper after too many Jack and Cokes, leave him at home.
1. If you weren’t invited with a guest, don’t show up with one.
Do not pencil your significant other’s name onto the RSVP card, and do not call and ask the bride if you can bring an uninvited guest.
The only exceptions, are if you’re married, engaged or cohabitating. In that case, modern day etiquette says the bride should have included your romantic other in the first place, and you can very diplomatically and politely broach the conversation with her.
2. Yes, the “no bringing uninvited guests” rule includes your kids.
People think ‘Oh this wedding would be a great chance for everyone to meet my new baby! Or to see my kids!’ No, just don’t bring an uninvited child. The couple may not have the space and the budget, or they may just prefer not to have children present; they are allowed to have an adults-only wedding.
3. Don’t dress to compete.
Even if you worked out all spring, look better than you ever have before, and are dying to show off your beach-ready bod, a wedding is not the time. If your personal style tends toward the revealing, “Tone it down,” And don’t, don’t, don’t wear white.
4. Don’t be disrespectful of the couple’s religious or cultural traditions.
That might mean covering your shoulders in church or temple, or being quiet during a ritual you don’t quite understand. When those kinds of things are going on, you should be quiet and you pay attention.
5. Don’t be all about your own wedding.
If you’re getting married soon after the wedding you’re attending, congratulations! Today, however, belongs to the bride of the moment. Consider your own wedding to be off topic.
6. Don’t use your phone.
Don’t Facebook, Tweet or text, and certainly don’t make a phone call during the wedding or the reception.
7. Don’t leave before the cake is cut.
8. Don’t share wedding photos — yet.
While the barrage of day-after wedding photo postings are inevitable, some brides are very sensitive about their image. It’s best to wait until either the bride or the groom have publicly posted pictures before you post your own. Otherwise, you’re kind of Facebook scooping them … on their own big day.
9. Last but not least…Do not consume too much alcohol. There is no need for you to make a fool out of yourself.