Her wedding will be approximately the zillionth I’ve attended. I couldn’t be more excited. But again, approximately the zillionth wedding I’ve attended. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, mostly by watching poor little twenty-somethings who are new to the wedding scene. No big deal, guys. I was once a newbie too. As such, I’ve compiled a list of wedding do’s and don’ts for you to keep in your back pocket. These little tips are the difference between making rookie mistakes, and keeping it classy. Shall we?
Do arrive early: When you are a guest at a wedding it is imperative that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Imperative, people. Every wedding has those girls. The ones who are giggling as they take their seats when the bride is already waiting in place with her father. This horrifies me. You should be ushered to your seats and in place while the preludes are going on. Speaking of which,
Do take the arm of your usher, even if you are there with a date: The ushers are there to escort you to a seat. Yes, even if you arrive with man candy of your own, you are expected to let him take care of himself. He’ll be right behind you. You should be comfortable enough to carry yourself sans date, for at least a few quick steps down the aisle. Besides, you might get the cute groomsman, and when was that ever a problem?
Do live it up at the reception: Look, weddings have open bars. And open bars are fun! They’re also expensive. I promise you the bride’s family paid an arm and a leg to let you drink what you want. So drink what you want, and then get on the dance floor. Just remember the spotlight should always be on the happy couple, so know your limits.
Do buy a gift off the registry: Or cash. Unless the bride is your childhood BFF and you know each other like the backs of your hands, stick to the list. The lovely couple you’re celebrating is starting their life together, and chances are, they’re looking to upgrade from their lackluster collection of wares from Target and IKEA. Honor that. No matter how precious, they don’t want the Limoges box you thought might spark a collection, or the Lladro figure you assumed would look great on their mantel. They have their own style, and what they really need are some new steak knives.
Do thank the hosts for having you before you leave (and again after): When your invitation arrives in the mail, pay close attention to the wording. Whose names are getting top billing? Most likely, they’ll be the bride’s parents. Even if you’ve never met them, you must find them and thank them before the night is up. They will be flattered, and they will feel a lot better about dropping thousands of dollars on a party that lasts a couple hours. Similarly, you need to save the invitation envelope to ensure you have their return address. When you get home, go to sleep. And when you wake up the next day, write them a note. “Thank you for hosting us,” “Your speech was touching,” “CV was a beautiful bride,” “I’m so glad I could attend,” you get the idea.
Don’t take pictures at the ceremony: It’s hard. The bride looks beautiful. Your college roommate is in the wedding party. And the flower girl just started showering someone’s grandma with rose petals. But you’re at the ceremony to be a part of your friends’ big day (and your friends are paying thousands of dollars for someone else to take photos). Be present. Pay attention. Save the camera for the reception, and then take pictures of everything you can. Similarly, no photos on Facebook till the bride posts any. It’s her day to share with people however she wishes.
Don’t bring a gift: This one is just plain logical. Stop a minute to think about who might have to bring those gifts home. The bride and groom? They’re off on their honeymoon. The bride’s parents. They’re exhausted, and didn’t bring their minivan. You can send a gift from the minute your invitation arrives in the mail to the minute the bride and groom are back from their honeymoon. But hold off on their big day.
Don’t interrupt the bride and groom while they’re eating: They haven’t eaten all day. She probably hasn’t eaten in a year in order to look good in her dress. And even though it’s their wedding and it’s romantic, and you just want to let them know how much you love them, they probably haven’t seen each other, alone, for more than 30 seconds. Give them some space.
Don’t be a stranger: When you grab your place card and sit at your assigned table, you may be in the company of strangers. Introduce yourself (first and last names, please), and start chatting. “How do you know the bride and groom?” “What do you do?” “Are you staying for the weekend?” “Is your dress from Anthropologie?” All questions I’ve asked. All conversation starters. Sure, you may never see these people again. But you’re going to be sitting with them through at least a three course meal and some speeches, so you might as well enjoy it.
What about you dear readers? What are your pet peeves? What are your wedding tips?
And no, I am not ashamed to admit that all these images are from my own wedding, so many years ago.