A wedding is meant to be the happiest day of the bride and groom’s lives, but the stress and responsibility of, not only planning your own wedding, but the day itself, can be extremely stressful. Whilst you, as a guest, are there to have a good time, you shouldn’t look on it simply as an opportunity to bust out your best dance moves and gorge yourself on good food and champagne. It’s equally important that you are there to support your loved ones through their special day and make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for them.
For most people being a good wedding guest comes naturally but there are some common mistakes that many of us still make. Here’s how to make sure the happy couple are glad you were there.
Wedding Guest Etiquette
RSVP on time. The best guests are the ones that RSVP as soon as possible, and definitely well before the deadline given on the invitation. Whilst you may be sure in your own mind that you’re going, it’s not enough: you need to make it clear to the bride and groom that you’re definitely going to be there.
RSVPing early not only indicates your excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming nuptials, but also allows the couple to plan, as receiving a ‘no’ allows them to activate the B-list wedding guests.
RSVP properly. Most invitations will include very clear instructions on how to RSVP, for example by filling in a postcard or visiting a website. These methods generally allow you to fill in details about whether you’re bringing a plus one and information on food preferences.
It might seem like a bit of a palaver when you feel like it would be easier to just drop them a text, but, again, it’s crucial for making the planning stage less stressful.
Bring a present. It doesn’t have to be huge and, if money is really tight, you could just bring a nice card with a heartfelt message inside. Bringing something for the present table is a lovely way to let the happy couple how much you appreciate being invited.
Pay attention to the dress code. Unless the invite has made it clear that casual dress is appropriate, always dress up in your smartest clothes. Being sloppily dressed will make you feel underdressed and uncomfortable, and it’s disrespectful to the happy couple.
Don’t be late. Turning up late is very rude and it’s not easy to slip unobtrusively into a wedding that is in full swing because it will be very quiet. Plan to arrive early instead, and make a special effort if you know you have a reputation for being tardy.
Wedding Guest Mistakes to Avoid
No children means no children. Whilst there is often a little bit of controversy around people’s decisions not to allow kids at their wedding, the point is that it’s their wedding, and therefore their choice. Whilst you might think your children are the most delightful angels in the world even when they’re screaming their heads off, the rest of the wedding guests definitely won’t.
Don’t assume you can bring a date. Wedding guest lists are very carefully controlled, so bringing someone along at the last minute will make everything difficult, from the seating plan to the amount of food available. An extra guest can cause a huge amount of stress and bother so don’t be tempted.
Switch off your phone. Having a phone out during the ceremony is distracting for you and your fellow guests and, if it rings, will be very annoying for the whole congregation. Don’t even use it to take pictures – a professional has been hired for that – just put it away and be present in the moment.
Don’t compare or criticise. Whilst you may have been to weddings in the past that you liked better, don’t voice your opinions out loud. There will be plenty of time for a post-mortem after the event, so keep things positive.
Don’t stick with your clique. It’s likely there will be one group of people you know better than everyone else, but don’t spend the whole event stuck together in a huddle. You have something in common with everyone at the wedding – the newlyweds – so it should be easy to strike up a conversation with anyone.
Don’t get excessively drunk. It’s traditional to get a bit tipsy at a wedding, but getting very drunk will ruin the day for you and everyone else. With so much free alcohol around and such a long day of celebration ahead it’s crucial to pace yourself. Having a guest making a fool of themselves or passing it out is the last thing the bride and groom will want.
The bottom line of being the best wedding guest is remembering that the day is about the bride and groom, and not about you. A few simple, selfless actions can remove an awful lot of stress and ensure that your loved ones really do have the best day of their lives, and one that you will also remember fondly for years to come.