For an engaged couple, deciding who to invite to their wedding is sometimes the most strenuous, anxiety-inducing part of the entire planning process. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have made the cut (congrats to you!), you owe it to the hosts of the party to be an exceptional guest. Below are some pointers for honoring your hosts and insuring you have a great time.
1. RSVP! The folks hosting this shindig are paying pretty decent money for you to attend, and they need to make sure you’re going to have a seat at a table, food to eat, drinks to drink, and that they haven’t exceeded the capacity at their venue(s). If you’ve been sent a method to respond, do! As soon as possible!
**See more about how to read an invite and fill out an RSVP card in our next blog entry!**
2. Show up on time. If a ceremony is slated to begin at 6, the wedding party is lined up and ready to go by 5:55. This is a big reveal moment for the bride. Respect the planning efforts of the couple and plan to arrive at the ceremony location a half hour before the start of the ceremony. This means you should arrive in plenty of time to get a good seat, barring any serious traffic issues.
3. Read your invite suite and your wedding program for instructions. If the reception is at a separate location from the ceremony, there are likely instructions or directions in the literature you’ve already received for the wedding. Sometimes the officiant will announce instructions at the end of the ceremony, as well. So pay attention, and you’ll be sure to end up where you need to be!
4. Exercise some restraint at the open bar. This is a tough one, as a lot of couples want you to party at their reception, and partying means drinking to a lot of people. You shouldn’t mistake this as permission to get drunk. Reception photos and video don’t need to feature your alcohol-induced decisions. Responsible celebration means you can still get yourself home at the end of the night, and remember how fun it was to see the newly-married couple enjoy a night of firsts during their reception. Most bartenders will cut off guests whom they have observed to have been served what they are certified to know is the maximum amount of alcohol allowed. If this happens to you, be gracious about it and switch to one of the non-alcoholic options. Belligerence only reinforces the decision, and can result in your removal from the event.
5. Eat! Drink! Dance! This party has been thrown as a celebration honoring the wedding of the happy couple, and you were invited because they wanted to celebrate with you. You, specifically! The food was ordered for you. The drinks bought for you. The musicians or DJ hired for your enjoyment. Do your hosts and yourself a favor, and enjoy them!
6. Be aware. Notifications will abound throughout the event in one form or another. Ushers and House Party will let you know whether you should sit on a specific side or anywhere you like for the ceremony. Planners will let you know it’s time to be seated for the introduction of the couple into the reception. MCs will let you know it’s time for toasts, or cake cutting, or bouquet tossing, or exit sparklers. A seating chart lets you know where the couple wants you to sit. All of these things were planned ahead of time, and will be executed in a particular order, on a schedule. Don’t miss out!
7. Don’t leave too soon, don’t leave too late. It is common wedding etiquette not to leave the reception before the cake is cut. So if you don’t feel like you can last the entire party, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to leave, but only after the cake has been cut. Conversely, if you’ve been a dancing fool, or just run into some people you haven’t seen since forever, it can be hard to shut it down. Unfortunately, venues have time restrictions on clearing the equipment, food, drink, tables, chairs, linens, floral, and all the other myriad details that went into creating this awesome event. So do all those wedding professionals skittering around you a solid, and move your party or catch-up session to another location.
8. PUT THE ELECTRONICS AWAY. That’s right, you got all caps on that one. A photographer was hired, the couple does not need you to capture their wedding for them. In fact, you should put your phone on silent and put it away entirely. This goes double for any guest who wants to bring their professional-grade camera with them to capture the event their way. Photographers are often restricted in their movements during a ceremony (especially in a church venue). Blocking the aisles with your person or equipment during the ceremony – processional through recessional – may seem like it’s not a big deal, but it is. It’s a big, big deal. Unless you were asked specifically by the couple to bring your equipment and take photos or video, do not do it. Etiquette dictates you should be present in the moment for the entire event. There were people hired to stare through a lens all night so you don’t have to. Unplug and enjoy the food, the fun, and the fellowship.
Weddings are fun! But as much as the party is for you, it’s not about you. There are more rules for guest etiquette, and you can find a more exhaustive list here. Following at least the list above will insure your hosts’ efforts feel appreciated, and the newly-weds feel loved. As a guest, it’s the best gift you could give them.