Attending a wedding can feel overwhelming when you have little experience attending big nuptials. Regardless of how unique each ceremony can be, some universal rules can help you get through any couple’s big day without committing a faux pas.
Don’t Expect a Plus One
The couple decides who attends their wedding. Ceremonies and receptions are expensive. Inviting every guest and a plus one may be too costly for the couple. You cannot bring a guest if the invitation is not addressed to your significant other or if the invitation doesn’t include a guest count.
Further, unless the invitation counts your children as guests, you must respect the couple’s wish to have an adult-only wedding. Avoid placing the couple in an uncomfortable position by asking them to make an exception for you.
Once you receive your invitation, respond to it promptly. Invitations have different RSVP methods, ranging from calling or texting to QR codes and website URLs.
Regardless of whether you are close to the couple, use the RSVP method dictated in the invitation and cut down on the already busy couple’s work before their big day. A timely response avoids adding to a couple’s stress by having them chase down unreturned RSVP responses.
Use the Gift Registry
As a rule of thumb, guests should use the wedding registry to pick the perfect gift for the couple. Couples will include registry information in their invitation or wedding website. Registries typically have a range of gifts that vary in price and also size. Do not bring bulky gifts with you to the wedding ceremony. Instead, mail the gift directly to the couple.
Most wedding registries allow for direct mailing and even gift wrapping. If a couple doesn’t include registry information, a cash gift of at least $50 is generally acceptable. Should a couple ask for monetary contributions to a charity instead of a gift, a donation in their name would be appropriate.
Arrive on Time
While a bride may be fashionably late to their ceremony, guests should arrive on time to the venue and be seated by the time the ceremony starts. Weddings are often sacred rituals that take place in sacred spaces like churches or temples. Regardless of your religious inclinations, the couple’s ceremony should be given respect and be uninterrupted by late arrivals.
Mind the Dress Code
Some couples will clearly state the event’s dress code in their invitation. If there is no dress code provided, some general rules can help you pick an outfit. As a rule of thumb, female guests should not wear white or dress in any way that would upstage the bride. If you’re not a bridesmaid, this is not the time to dress like a bridesmaid.
Black tie weddings are the most straightforward: women and women should be in formal wear such as tuxedos or floor-length gowns. All other types of events will vary based on time and location. Men and women are usually fine wearing a cocktail dress or suit. Daytime and summer weddings allow for lighter colors and fabrics, and even some prints. At no time should any guest wear denim or overly revealing clothing.
Sit in Your Assigned Seat
After making a guest list, preparing a seating chart is one of the most stressful tasks a couple has when preparing their reception. Often, couples seat you at a table because they want you sitting with the other people there for a reason.
The chart also makes dinner service easier for the staff waiting tables. With the chart in mind, guests should mind their seating assignment and stay in their assigned seats during dinner.
Drink in Moderation
Guests should not be the cause of unwanted attention. The open bar may be tempting but getting wasted at a wedding is not a good look for the guest or the couple. Drunk guests distract from the couple and their celebration. Drink in moderation and avoid causing the couple any embarrassment on their big day.