Wedding season can be really fun! You get to go watch your friends and family celebrate their love for each other, what could be better?
But even though you know how to have a good time, do you know how to have a proper time? I'm not talking Queen of England proper. I'm referring to proper wedding etiquette that not enough people know.
There are some big dos and don'ts when it comes to weddings, so make sure you're in the know!
1. R.S.V.P. On Time
When that invitation arrives in the mail, you should be R.S.V.P-ing as quickly as you can. You may want to think about for a few days, which is totally fine, but pay attention to the R.S.V.P. deadline they provide. It's not just a suggestion.
The venue, caterer, and other businesses involved in the wedding need final head counts a few weeks before the actual date. Don't be that person who waits until the last minute, or worse, misses the R.S.V.P. date and still expects to get a seat.
2. Don't Assume A 'Plus One'
Unless your invitation indicates you get a plus one to the ceremony, don't assume you do. The bride and groom have every right to just invite you as a singular person. After all, they are the ones paying.
Also, don't call, write, or text the person to ask if they made is a mistake and see if you actually can bring a date. If they wanted you to, they would have said so.
3. Go By The Registry
Couples create a gift registry for the things they want and need. Chances are, it's a lot of kitchen appliances, household items, or other larger items that would be too expensive for them to buy all at once.
If it's not on the registry, then maybe don't buy it. Imagine needing five things, and instead getting seven things you didn't want or need and still have to get those five things you needed.
The exception here, of course, is if you are giving a gift that is sentimental in value. This is a case by case basis, and even in the event that this does happen, you should still consider one of the smaller items on their registry.
4. Cash Guidelines
Sometimes couples will just ask for cash as a gift, and sometimes it's just easier for you to do that instead of give a gift. I can't think of any couple who would turn plain old money down, but if you are going to give cash as a gift, make sure you're giving the proper amount.
A lot of people tend to go by a simple rule, which is the amount of cash you give should cover the cost of your meal. If you don't know how much that is, then you can follow this logic:
- $50-$75 per person: co-workers, distant relatives, casual friends
- $75-$100 per person: most relatives and friends
- $100+ per person: close friends and family
5. Be On Time
Being fashionably late is something I personally find dumb, but apparently other people think it's socially acceptable. Even if you follow this practice for every other event, it does not apply to weddings.
Plan to be in your seat 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. If, for some reason, you can't do this (traffic, late babysitter, etc.) then wait until the ceremony is over before taking your seat. Do NOT interrupt the service. That shouldn't need to be said.
6. Follow The Dress Code
Even if the wedding is "casual" jeans are never an option unless explicitly stated. Dresses, skirts, and suits are usually the bare minimum when it comes to appropriate attire.
Dress for the venue, too. If it's an outdoor wedding, then don't wear something that will conflict with the wind, or shoes that you can't walk on grass or gravel with.
Never, ever wear white to someone else's wedding. You have a million other options, white is reserved for the bride.
Try to avoid black, as well. Not only can it come off as casual, but generally black is associated with funerals.
These are some of the common dress codes for weddings:
- White Tie: the most formal of all formal settings. Think ballgown and a full tuxedo.
- Semi-formal or Dressy Casual: A nice skirt and dressy top, cocktail dress, and a casual suit with a colorful tie.
- Casual: generally for an outdoor or beach wedding. Think a sun dress, and for guys a pair of khakis with a dress shirt.
- Black Tie Optional or Formal: this means basically anything from a cocktail dress to a ballgown. Just look nice.
7. Don't Assume Kids Are Invited
Similar to inviting a plus one without the bride and groom's approval, showing up to a wedding with your kids when they weren't invite is bound to make things awkward. Double check with the couple that your kids are welcome, and if not, then find a sitter.
Just in general, bringing kids to a wedding can be exhausting. Unless you think it's really important that they be there, try and find a sitter for them instead. It will mean less stress on you at the celebration, and less accommodations for the bride and groom to make.
8. Disclose Any Restrictions Early
If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, make sure to let the bride and groom know as soon as you can. They need to arrange that with the caterer in advance. Don't show up on the day of and think there will be a vegetarian dish.
Also keep in mind that you not liking seafood is not a dietary restriction. Keep it to severe allergies or intolerances.
9. Ask Permission To Post
In the age of social media, everyone has become a photographer. The thing is, not every couple wants their wedding broadcast all over Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. Pictures of yourself is fine, but before you post pictures of the ceremony itself, ask the bride and groom if they're okay with it.
It's not only a courtesy to the couple getting married (maybe there's people who were not invited and they don't want them to feel excluded by seeing pictures), but it's also a courtesy to everyone else at the wedding. Taking pictures while the bride and groom are saying their vows takes away from the intimacy of the wedding.
10. Drink Responsibly
This is so obvious, but getting hammered at a wedding you've been invited to isn't a good look. By all means, have some drinks and have fun, but when you start getting sloppy and dangerous, it's not fair to everyone around you.
If it's an open bar, try not to take advantage of that. You may not have to pay for your drinks, but someone has to. Open bar is extremely generous, but that doesn't mean you have a license to drink the bar dry.
If you are drinking at a wedding, ALWAYS make sure you have a designated driver or sleeping arrangements set up in advance. Don't be the idiot who drinks and drives.
11. Mail The Gift
Once you've chose the gift you want to give the newlyweds off their registry, it's better to have it sent to their house. Don't show up to the wedding with a new set of pots and pans. Think of how many people are going to be at the wedding, then think of how the bride and broom are going to fit all those gifts into their car. It's not going to be easy.
Gifts should be mailed to the couple about two weeks before the wedding so that they don't have to deal with them on their special day.
12. Gift Period
A lot of people are under the impression that you have up to a year after the ceremony to send a wedding gift to a new couple. This really isn't true. In reality, two months after the ceremony is the cut-off when it comes to an appropriately-timed gift, and even then you're cutting it.
I guess in theory you can send a gift whenever you want, but a gift showing up seven months after a wedding ceremony is the definition of an after-thought.