As the busiest part of our wedding season draws to a close, I find myself reflecting back on the summer and the weddings we were a part of. The joy and the romance. Unique love stories, enchanting journeys that cumulated in one fantastic celebration. Weddings that for me began with a phone call or email, and for the guests attending the weddings, began something like this…
“The honour of your presence is requested…” “We request the pleasure of your company…” “We joyfully invite you to share…”
In accepting the couple’s invitation, you’re implying that you’re down with whatever they throw your way. They’ve no doubt been dreaming of this day for a long time - now you need do your part to help make it just as wonderful as they imagined.
As a wedding planner, I have seen it all - or a least a lot! And on behalf of brides and grooms everywhere, I thought that I would share with you some do’s and don’ts of being a good wedding guest. An honoured, pleasant and joyful guest.
First of all, reply to your invitation as soon as you can. The betrothed couple needs your reply for so many reasons: the venue, the caterer, the DJ and the photographer (just to name a few) are waiting anxiously for those “numbers”. There are real deadlines here. Also think about the happy couple eagerly waiting by their mailbox (or computer screen) to see who is coming. This is a big party and they really want to know who’s gonna be there!
Please don’t RSVP for more guests than are on the invitation. Don't assume you can invite a “plus-one” unless it says "and Guest" on the envelope. This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many wedding guests think they can invite a friend (or two), or parents who bring their children. DO NOT show up on the day of with extra people.
If you have dietary restrictions, allergies or sensitivities, please make this known when you accept the invitation. There’s nothing worse than a guest saying “Oh - I’m a vegetarian” as we set down their beef tenderloin.
On the day of, take some time to get ready and dress appropriately. You know not to show up wearing jeans and a t-shirt (I hope!) and to dress as you would for any other social event held at the time and the season of the wedding. You can get a hint of what to wear by the the formality of the invitation and/or where the wedding is being held. When in doubt - phone a friend.
Don’t be late! You don’t want to hold up the proceedings and you really don’t want to be that guest who interrupts the ceremony. If you are late, wait outside until the ceremony is complete. Ideally, try to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Making an entrance after the bride is not acceptable.
Ahhh, the reception. So many p’s and q’s to watch here. First of all, if there is a seating plan, please do not change seats! Not only have the couple laboured (and argued and stressed….) over that seating plan, it has also been given to the kitchen, so they know who gets which meal. You don’t realize the chaos that is created when you change seats.
If the meal is buffet or family style, please be reasonable. Don’t help yourself to two or three chicken breasts and a heaping plate of pasta. Remember that the meals are ordered per person. Again, you will be causing chaos if you take three portions worth of food. Often, there are planned “overages”, but again, be reasonable. Make sure that all of the guests have eaten before you help yourself to seconds and thirds.
And then there is “Dance Floor Drama” - not to be outdone by “Drinking Drama.”
Remember that today, the focus is to be on the newly married couple, not you. Perhaps this is not the time to bust out your ’80’s breakdancing moves. And while an open bar is an open invitation to enjoy yourself - don’t enjoy yourself too much. Drinking too much can cause a lot of unnecessary drama and lead to undesirable situations. You don’t want to be remembered as the guest who made an embarrassing scene, and trust me when I say that no one - especially the bride and groom - wants to see tears or anything else coming out of you! Enjoy responsibly and make sure you have arrangements to get home or back to your hotel.
Lastly, when is it appropriate to leave? You should stay at least until after the cake has been cut. And you should leave when the bar closes. Please don’t be that guy that the caterers have to ask to leave.
Have a good time. Relax and enjoy yourself. The wedding took months of planning and cost a pretty penny, so show them (and their families) that you appreciate being part of their special day. If you keep these little hints in mind, you will enjoy yourself and also have shown your support and done your very best to make sure the happy couple have the greatest night of their lives!