Monday, February 21, 2011

Wedding Guests Dos and Don'ts

With spring comes wedding season, so we thought it was high time we talked a little about wedding etiquette. Now that we're in our mid-twenties, we're finding that all our friends are getting paired off and there's a wedding every other month. To ensure that you continue to receive wedding invites and are not the dreaded "Guest Who Is Always Late" or "Guest Who Dresses Inappropriately", here are some dos and don'ts for attending weddings:

Don't Forget to RSVP:  This sounds like an easy one but there are always a handful of people who think that whether or not they RSVP'd doesn't really matter.  In fact, it matters for a variety of reasons from how much alcohol to buy to how many tables you need set up to how big a cake to get, and overall how much is needed to budget.  Also, forgetting to reply makes extra work for the bride and groom who then have to call/text/email to find out your status.

Do Respond Early:  We know many of you are not sure of what you'll be doing tomorrow, much less 6 months from now.  But, replying early is a great way to get on the bride's good side and show the happy couple how totally excited you are for their wedding!

Don't Ask to Bring a Date:  Or, worse, don't just assume and show up with one!  There are many reasons that couples choose not to allow people to bring a date or to bring children. Some may have to limit due to budget reasons, and some may just not have a venue large enough.  Others may not want to look back on pictures and think, "Who the heck is that?!" But, whatever the reason, the bride and groom probably feel bad about not allowing it and asking will only make things worse.  If your name is not written on the invitation with a guest, it is safe to assume that you were not invited with one.  If there is some situation where you must ask, be sure to do so tactfully.  It is possible the bride and groom weren't aware of your new fiance so don't take offense without checking first.

Do Accept the Facts and Make the Best of it:  If you weren't invited with a date, don't wallow in your sorrows.  Team up with another single wedding attendee and go together.  Or, go as a group! Weddings are romantic and couply so it's a good idea to have someone or someones there to break up all the mushy stuff and some girlfriends to dance to "Single Ladies" with.  Hit the bathroom during slow dances or laugh it up as you dance in a circle Romy and Michele style.

Don't Text/Email/Call the Bride or Groom on the Wedding Day: Or, actually, the whole week if you can avoid it. The week leading up to and the day of the wedding are so stressful and hectic that neither of them are likely to have time to sit and chat on the phone.  In fact, even the smallest question could be cause for irritation so it's best just to let it go until after the wedding. Of course, if it's an emergency we think that is acceptable.  But, if it's any questions, concerns, requests for directions, hotel information, etc. those things are best resolved by checking the invitation, wedding website, or calling someone like the maid of honor or other bridal party member or parent who is likely to know the details.

Do Plan Ahead:  Know where you are going, how you will get there, and where you are staying before the day of the wedding and if you have a question, ask it early!  Don't know where to stay?  Often times the bride and groom will reserve a block of rooms for their guests but this is a courtesy and it is certainly not their responsibility to find you accommodations.  Also, be sure to plan your transportation.  The bride and groom may have provided maps online but is up to you to figure out the best route to take and to work out the details.

Don't Show Up Late: Planning a wedding can be very hectic, and most couples have everything planned to the last detail. One of the most irritating things can be having your guests show up late, interrupting your ceremony! The rule of thumb is to arrive 30 minutes before the time on the invite, which gives you plenty of time to find parking, use the bathroom, freshen up, and score excellent seats.

Do Make a Subtle Entrance: If you end up being late, don't barge into the church during the middle of the ceremony. Hover near the doors or grab some seats near the back so as to cause as little interruption as possible. If the wedding venue is a particularly small space, we would suggest even waiting outside, as even your entrance can distract from the happy couple.

Don't Not Show Up:  This is even worse than being late. Although it should be common sense you would be surprised at how many people RSVP that they are attending and then, on the day of the wedding, they are totally MIA.  Where are they? Who knows?  They obviously have something more important or, even worse, they forgot.  And don't for one second think that the bride and groom won't notice or care about your absence because they spend hours making the table arrangements perfect and are spending a pretty penny on the meal that you are not there to eat.

Do Notify of Emergencies and Send a Gift Anyway: If something went down that prevented you from appearing, let the bride and groom know after the fact, or send a text to a friend or family member at the wedding to explain your absence. Not everything can go as planned, but explaining your absence is much better than being a no show. And even if you didn't make it, you should definitely still send your gift. Your seat and meal have already been paid for, and in all likelihood you already have a gift / card planned out, so you should follow through.

Don't Give a Boxed Gift if the Invite Says "No Boxed Gifts": Whether you approve or not, many couples will expressly write on their invite "No Boxed Gifts". It may seem a little forward, but it makes sense. Rather than having people gift you with things you don't want, most couples would rather use that money on larger purchases for themselves. Moreover, a lot of couples are already living together before they get married, so gifting blenders and the like doesn't make as much sense anymore. With that said, if the invite says No Boxed Gifts... then please don't show up with a gift box, gift bag, or anything else other than a dainty little envelope.

Do Pay What You Can Afford: Weddings can be expensive, even if you're just a guest. You end up buying a new dress, get your nails done, get your hair done, etc. and then you need to give an appropriate wedding gift. The rule of thumb is to cover the cost per head, so you usually estimate about $100 per guest. However, the amount you give will vary depending on the size of the wedding, your relationship with the bride and groom, whether or not you bring a date, and your own personal budget. We're not saying you should short change the bride and groom, but couples understand that not everyone can shell out $200 per wedding. So be generous, but don't go overboard.

Don't Reveal Too Much Skin: Choosing a dress to wear at a wedding can be tricky. Much of it depends on the wedding style -- a beach wedding is more informal, while a gathering at an expensive hotel can call for something more fancy. Just be sure that you dress appropriately, as you're going to be around peoples grandparents and nieces and nephews! This is especially the case if you know the couple comes from a more traditional family. Not only would it be awkward to show up in a backless, high slit dress, it could even be insulting. So yes, look smoking hot, but remember your audience.

Do Repeat Dresses: While it's fun to buy a dress for every occasion, it's financially impractical. No one will think less of you if you show up wearing the same dress. In fact, the only person who will notice is your Facebook stalker. We're not saying wear the same dress to all your college friends' weddings, but definitely double dip if you have a wide group of friends who don't necessarily interact. It's not the end of the world if people see you in the same thing twice, we promise!

Don't Be Known As the "Drunk Wedding Guest": It's great to cut loose and relax at weddings, and super easy to do when there is an open bar involved. But, open bars should not be treated like all you can eat buffets. When people think back to the wedding they should remember how much fun they had, not how they had to carry you back to the hotel and hold your hair for you while you prayed to the porcelain gods.  Plus, think about the pictures!!

Do Have Some Fun:  It's a party so of course you should have fun!  Dance a little, laugh a lot and really enjoy yourself.  It's certainly ok to relax and have a great time with friends, catch up, and have a memorable evening... just be sure you are doing so responsibly.

Mind your manners!

Jen & Saira


  1. This is just awesome. Great work ladies! :)

  2. Nicely done! I love the good advice and corresponding pics!