Wedding Etiquette 101

Wedding by Counselman Collection (flickr)

This blog post is sort of self-serving. I'm hoping that the people who I am inviting to my wedding read this and keep some of the information I'm about to share in mind. This post, as you may have guessed by the title, is all about wedding etiquette. Now, I want people to have fun at my wedding! I want a day that I will always remember because of how wonderful, beautiful, and happy it is. I do not want to remember it because certain members of my family or some of my friends don't know how to behave at the wedding or reception. I'm going to organize the post into categories and provide you with a list of tips to remember for any wedding you are invited to.

Before the Wedding

Being invited and being a guest at a wedding takes time and effort. You need to remember to put the little things in your life on hold so you can completely celebrate the people who care enough about you to want you to share their special day with them.

First - Respond to the invitation by the RSVP date, not after. Do this even if you are not going to the wedding. Just make sure you are not RSVPing yes if you don't think you will actually be making it to the wedding. Weddings are expensive, and food at weddings costs more than you may think. It's not unusual for the per person price of food to be at least $100.

Second - It is expected at the very least that a guest gives a card. There is a belief that guests should give a gift worth at least what the cost of their meal is at the wedding but this isn't really true. You also don't need to buy a gift from their registry, though it is always appreciated if you do. Registries tend to be more of a convenience for guests than anything else. It is a good way to get an idea for the tastes of the bride and groom though, so at the very least take a look. Make sure you send your gift before or as close to the wedding date as possible. The idea that you have up to a year after the wedding date to send your gift is simply a myth.

Third - Plan an appropriate outfit. A lot of this depends on the wedding itself and the time of day it happens. For formal weddings, it may be stated on the invitation that the wedding is "black tie." If this is the case men should wear tuxedos or other dark suits. Women can wear long evening dresses or dressy cocktail dresses. At semiformal weddings, guys should wear dark suits and women should wear cocktail dresses or a nice dressy pantsuit. At informal weddings you are still expected to dress up, but an afternoon or cocktail dress is acceptable for the ladies and guys can get away with blazers or sports jackets and slacks, with ties being optional. Avoid dressing in clothes that are too skimpy, in costumes (unless you've been informed there is a theme to the wedding), and avoid jeans, even if you think they are nice jeans.

During the Ceremony

First - If it is a religious ceremony, participate in an appropriate manner even if you are not a part of the same faith as the couple being married. Stand when others stand, kneel when they kneel, and sit when they sit. If the faith celebrates communion, stay politely in your seat while others participate. Do everything you are comfortable doing that does not violate your own faith.

Second - Don't bring anyone to the ceremony that is not expected. This includes significant others, children, or friends.

Third - Be polite. Don't do anything to interrupt the ceremony, including taking pictures with a flash camera or walking up and down the isle to get the best shot. Make sure your cell phone is turned off and don't use this time to catch up and mingle with people you know.

During the Reception

First - Don't rearrange the seating arrangements. Even if you are at a table with people you do not know, introduce yourself and share stories about the couple. Don't move the place cards around.

Second - Don't monopolize the bride and groom in the receiving line! There are a lot of people the bride and groom will be saying hello to during this time. Briefly offer your comments and move along.

Third - Don't assume you get "souvenirs" at the wedding. Your uneaten food does not get put in a box for you to bring home, you also should not try to bring home the centerpiece from the table unless it is specifically offered to you.

Fourth - Don't drink and drive. Self-explanatory, but don't ruin the happy day with reckless driving that could endanger your own life, or the lives of others important to the newly married couple.

These are all pretty simple things to remember when attending a wedding. The most important thing to remember is that you were invited for a reason. Do not make the couple regret inviting you to their happy day! Behave in the way you would hope people would behave if they were attending your own wedding.

If you have any other rules or tips for attending weddings let me know!