Summer is here, which means the (summer) wedding season is also before us—a time where we celebrate love and all that it stands for. And as mailboxes and email fill up with save the date cards and wedding invitations, why not have a quick refresher on how to be an awesome wedding guest that the newly-wedded couple will remember.
First, always, and we mean always RSVP. Couples only have a certain amount of time to give the catering company or the venue a total headcount for food and drinks. Stick to the "RSVP by" date and if there isn't a date listed, let them know as soon as you can. On that note, if a plus one is allowed, this is also the time where you indicate that you'll have someone accompanying you. The biggest wedding faux pass is bringing an uninvited guest to a wedding. Since a total headcount is necessary for logistics, knowing if you can have a plus one or not can save some serious hassle (and awkward conversations) later on.
2. Know The Dress Code Plus What To Bring
You can learn a lot about the dress code by simply looking at the invitation. Sometimes the invitation indicates the dress code, which saves you the hassle of guessing what you should wear but if the invitation does not suggest a dress code, take a look at the details. The venue- is it in a traditional church setting, a beach wedding, or a luxury city hotel? What time will the celebration take place? Typically, day weddings are more casual compared to evening weddings. These are great indicators of what the dress code may be. If there's a wedding website, check it out to see if there's additional information there and when all else fails, ask the couple or someone in their wedding party for the deets. No matter what you decide on wearing, don't wear white!
Now, on what to bring. Sometimes weddings are a full-day affair, and you may not be able to fit everything in your party clutch. So here's a list of life-saving items you should have on hand in your bag for a day of celebrations:
- Pocket-Sized Tissues: If you tend to cry in romantic movies, then you may cry at a wedding, keep tissues at hand.
- Stain Remover Stick: We all know that accidents happened. Keeping a stain remover stick handy will handle unexpected accidents in the course of a wedding reception. Plus, you can find miniature versions of them!
- Band Aides And/Or A Pair Of Comfortable Shoes: Blisters are inevitable when you're rocking a new pair of shoes. Band Aides will help the situation and take little to no space in your bag. Also, take a pair of comfy shoes or flip-flops with you for when your feet are fatigued from the dance floor—you can always grab them from the car.
- Compact Mirror: Having a mirror for a quick glance is great to have to make sure your eye makeup is still intact (hello tears), that there's no food in your teeth, and that your hair is ok after a round of Cha Cha Slide—we all know they're a huge part of weddings, right?
The main thing here is to respect the couple's wishes. If they'd like donations to a charity they love, donate in their name. If they ask for cash, give cash. A card with a check or cash is customary and also personable. Make sure to place the card in the card box if there's one or hand it to the person in charge of taking them. If you purchased the couple a wedding gift, have it delivered to their address so you don't have to lug it around and they don't have to think of the logistics.
4. Mute Your Phone
You don't want to be that person whose phone goes off during the ceremony, a tear-jerker speech, or on the first dance. Keep your phone on mute throughout the wedding, and enjoy it! Also, don't text, scroll through Instagram, or answer a call during intimate and special moments like toasts, first dances, and speeches.
5. Photos And Social Media
Never get in the way of the photographer's shot. Be courteous and remember that the couple hired a professional to take photos—you don't need to get all the shots of the couple. If you must take photos of the ceremony, do it discreetly from where you are. And on that note, be aware of the couple's requests regarding photos. Usually, there are signs in the ceremony or the reception regarding this, either requesting no photos or to use a creative hashtag when posting online.
A rule of thumb to follow, don't post photos of the couple until they've posted photos themselves.
6. Assigned Seating
Bets are that if there's a seating arrangement, the couple have thought long and hard on their strategy and have a reason for it—like relatives that don’t get along. Playing musical chairs and trying to sit with others will affect and change the entire arrangement.
7. Go Easy On The Drinks
You heard there's an open bar? Great! Enjoy but enjoy wisely. Monitor yourself, drink plenty of water, and eat. You don't want to embarrass yourself or the newlyweds on their wedding day. On the same note, if the reception is buffet style, go easy on the food. Make sure seconds or thirds are allowed and don't overindulge to the point you get sick.
8. Thank The Couple
If you're good friends with the couple, it's safe to assume you won't be hanging out at the wedding like you would at a normal night out. The couple has a lot of pictures to take and a lot of people to see. So when you have a chance, thank them for the invitation, take a quick photo, and compliments are always much appreciated, but don't expect full attention from the newlyweds.
9. Take The Wedding Favor
Even if you live a minimalist lifestyle or not into trinkets, take the wedding favor—if there are any—before you go. Imagine what the couple may feel if they see a table full of wedding favors untouched at the end of the night. Remember, they’ve put time and money into having these favors as a thank you for their guests.
10. Stay Until The Cake Is Cut
Or until dessert's been served. It's customary for guests to leave after the cake is cut as it's a sign of things winding down or a sign of the real *dance* party beginning. Also, make sure to say goodbye to the newlyweds before leaving and thanking them once again for the invitation.
Weddings are a celebration of love no matter who that love is in between.
If you are attending a same-sex wedding, keep these last 2 super important things in mind in addition to the above wedding guest tips:
11. Use The Correct Terminology
Not every woman wants to be called a bride and not every man wants to be called a groom. Keep their preferred terminology in mind on their big day (& before and after) and use it accordingly. Allow the couple to set the tone of what they want to be called and follow suit. If you're not sure what to call them, use their first name. It's that simple.
12. Find A Card That Reflects Their Relationship
If you’re giving them a card, be aware of the images or the message in the card as it may not reflect the couple you’re there celebrating and makes an otherwise thoughtful gift a little less thoughtful. If you find this to be quite the problem, you can create customized and personable cards via sites like Zazzle.
The bottom line is that the couple chose you to be a part of their very special day. Show up, support them and their love, and enjoy the celebration. Make sure to have your bag of essentials, a pair of comfy flip flops to slide into if needed, and dance the night away!