Dear Donna: Wedding Guest Etiquette

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Dear Donna,

I am going to a very formal wedding and I want to make sure I am putting the right foot forward. Are there any rules for GUESTS at weddings and things I should be doing on my end to make sure their wedding day is great? I'd love to know if you have any advice. 

Thanks so much!

Cautious on Cape Cod

Dear CoCC:

First of all, we applaud you for your question! There are so many things out there for the Bride, the groom and even for the parents of the bride/groom. But what about the guests? What are you expected to do? Over the years, we've observed the good, the bad and the ugly at a wedding and will share some of our advice with you.

1) Is you RSVP that you are coming, GO. 

Of course, if there is a life threatening emergency, weather issues (AKA Acts of God) or something that prevents you from legitmately going, then of course you can't. But if you wake up that morning and just don't feel like going, Dear Donna frowns on this sort of lazy behavior. 

"Well, it's "JUST" the meal cost" that goes through your head when you decide you don't want to go, right?

WRONG. Not only has the couple spent money on your meal (and also had to confirm it at least 2 weeks before the wedding), they also accounted for your seat which sometimes they have to rent (as in chairs) x 2 (one for the ceremony and one for the reception), a place setting, flowers for the table, favor, cake, etc. The list goes on and on. 

As someone who has to clean up place cards after cocktail hour, I am constantly surprised at how many "no shows" there are to a wedding that don't even bother to call someone and let them know. 

This is my number one rule! And BE ON TIME and don't just go to the reception. I have seen quite a few people over the years "sneak" into the reception/cocktail hour. Don't worry - we know you didn't get to the ceremony. (shame on you!)

2) If you are invited WITHOUT a guest, then don't ask to bring a guest!

This relates back to my other post about the "Plus one" situation but take a look at the outer envelope or the inner envelope. If you don't have "and guest" then you are not allowed to bring a guest. 

I think preparing the guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of the wedding planning. Couples agonize over "the list". And then, when you decide to bring a guest and haven't been invited with one, you put the couple in a very uncomfortable position. We have seen people RSP their entire family when only the parents were invited, we have seen people show up to the wedding without any prior notice that they were bringing a guest and we have seen people just write in a guest's name. 

This is poor behavior. Please - don't bring along a guest if you haven't been invited with one. If you are upset by this, Dear Donna advises you just don't go to the wedding then. 

3) Do NOT bring your present to the wedding. 

I know - many of you are scratching your heads at this one. But, really you should arrange for the gift to have been delivered before the wedding or shortly after. Many people don't realize how much "stuff" a couple has to bring to a wedding and then also bringing gifts back is sometimes really difficult. Then there is the added problem if things get stolen.  If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. You will thank me for not having to bring the gift to the wedding and the couple will also thank you for not having to carry it back home.

4) Stay OUT of the way of the photographer and videographer!

With facebook, instagram, twitter, hashtagging and tweeting your friends' wedding is so much fun! But in the midst of your fun, just stay out of the way of the professionals! These lovely people are there to document the day and not to dodge human bullets! I do recall a few weddings where guests would silently stalk the photographer and walk behind them so that they could get the same "angle". OH man... please... let the professionals do their job! You can still get some great photos without stressing everyone out!

5) Do NOT wear ALL WHITE to a wedding.

That means WHITE, PURE WHITE, IVORY, CANDLELIGHT WHITE, well, you get the idea. The only person that is supposed to wear white the day of the wedding is the bride. We have seen some pretty shocking choices of color and dress over the years. We've even seen men dressed in all white. Somehow, that's a little more forgiving than a woman in white but who are we kidding - just don't wear white.  Be respectful and wear a different color the day of the wedding. 

5) Don't get silly drunk at the wedding. 

Hmm... Dear Donna has seen many a young person that was enamored by "free open bar" and gotten a little too friendly with the drinkie and then with everyone else. A wedding is a great time to try something new but please oh please restrain yourself from getting silly/angry/mad/bad drunk at your friend's wedding. They WILL find out. 

6) Have a GREAT time!

The bride and groom have agonized and planned their wedding from the venue, to the food, to the cocktails to the dancing all for their family and friends. Sure, it's the bride's day (and the groom's too) but they are ultimately trying to host the most amazing party and celebration for their family and friends. 

So, be on time, don't bring a gift, don't bring a guest (unless you were invited with one), dress appropriately and have a great time! The bride and groom want nothing less than that on their happiest day to date.