Fall and winter weddings are upon us and it seems that the rules are changing! What's a polite wedding guest to do these days? I'm going to tell you which traditions to "love and cherish" and which ones to toss with the bouquet. Over the years, I've had my fair share of poor wedding etiquette mishaps, so this is my solemn vow to obey the following dos and don'ts... 'til death do us part.
1. DON'T wear white.
Yes, that's still a rule. You can wear white after Labor Day now, but not at a wedding. I know you have a closet full of white and ivory lace beauties, but why risk offending the bride on her special day? Save them for another event. Black, however, is no longer seen as off-limits (hooray!). Especially due to the increase in "black tie" weddings, black is now an accepted color choice of attire for wedding guests and even some bridal parties. Be sure to pay attention to the wedding invitation for clues as to what the dress code will be; if not explicitly stated, visual cues may be taken from the formality of the invitation to determine the level of dress for the wedding. Please, for the love of 3-tiered wedding cakes with raspberry creme filling, NO DENIM!
2. DO RSVP.
All of my married friends are shaking their head right now because I am the WORST at this! (Sorry, friends!) Take it from me, RVSP as soon as you receive the invitation; don't risk setting it down and letting it get buried by incoming mail or losing it. Once you do RSVP, put the invitation in a safe place (refrigerator door!) or you risk losing the invitation and wasting precious time on the day of the wedding searching for the invitation and address to the venue! Running into the bride at the gym and telling her "I'll be there!" doesn't cut it- RSVP!
3. DON'T take photos during the ceremony.
What about Snapchat though? NO. In the age of social media overload, save your #selfie for the reception and put your phone away during the ceremony. Most couples now have signage asking guests to be respectful and not have their phones (or worse, their ipads!) out during the ceremony. The bride and groom spend a pretty penny on wedding photography and you don't want to ruin that million dollar shot by waving your phone in the air to obstruct the camera view. I'm confident that you can practice some self-control and turn your phone off for 30 minutes. You can do it!
4. DO buy a gift from the registry.
What am I supposed to get them? Great news: they have a whole list of things they want you to buy them; they're on a list called a wedding registry! Couples spend hours registering for the exact items that they want to have in their home to start their new life together. It may not be glamorous, but pick an item from their registry; if you're close with the bride or groom, you can add a small personal gift in addition to your registry item.
It's considered poor etiquette to bring a large gift to the wedding- SHIP IT! Someone has to load and unload all of the gifts that are brought to the wedding reception, so don't add to the pile; ship your gift directly to the happy couple. If you absolutely have to bring a gift to the reception, opt for a gift card or other small item.
5. DON'T invite a plus one.
I know, weddings aren't as fun when you're alone, but unless your invitation lists your significant other's name or "and guest," don't bring a date. I promise the bride didn't overlook your envelope and make a mistake. The only exception would be if you are in a long-term relationship or engaged and the bride or groom were unaware; other than that, start thinking about conversation starters for the singles' table and try to have a good time!
6. DO participate in wedding activities.
"All the single ladies out on the dance floor!" Bouquet toss, garter toss...the electric slide. Yikes! Ok, maybe you don't want to go out and jump around to catch a bouquet of flowers, or maybe you've caught 17 bouquets already and you're done; if you really don't want to participate in an activity, quietly excuse yourself to the restroom, lest friends see you on the sidelines and force you to join or cause a scene. The best etiquette would be to participate in all of the wedding activities that you possibly can; this is the bride and groom's special day and they have chosen each activity of their ceremony and reception carefully for your enjoyment. A bride's worst (and most irrational) fear is that her guests won't enjoy the reception, so participate, smile, and let her know how happy you are to be there celebrating the bride and groom.
To reiterate, I'm fairly certain that I've failed at each of these items at least once, but you can learn from me and avoid making the same embarrassing mistakes. Remember, have fun and eat cake!