- Invitations are not like Evites - you can’t forward them to your friends. Covet your invite because you were chosen, not mass emailed to.
- The invitation tells you exactly how many people you can bring in addition to yourself, so pay attention!
- Your name “and family” means you and your kids/spouse.
- Your name “and guest” means you and ONE guest.
- Your name only means you are lucky to have gotten an invite to begin with.
- Don’t RSVP your children unless they are explicitly invited. Hire a sitter instead.
- Don’t assume you can bring your baby because the couple doesn’t have to buy a dinner plate. Some weddings are purposely designated adult only.
- You must always send an RSVP, even if you aren’t attending. RSVP’s are not just for affirmative responses, and if you don’t send an RSVP the bride and groom have no idea if you are going to just show up.
- When sending an RSVP, follow the bride and groom’s process. Don’t email them if they’ve included a response card in your invitation - it just adds extra stress for them to keep track of multiple communication channels.
- RSVP’s must be mailed ahead and reach their destination by the deadline. Having them postmarked by the deadline is not good enough.
- RSVP’s must actually give the correct number of attendees. Do your best to give an accurate figure at the time of RSVP.
- If your plans change before the RSVP date, let the bride and groom know ASAP.
- If your plans change after the RSVP date, you should give a gift equivalent to your original RSVP.
- Don’t ask your mutual friends if they’ve received an invite. Choosing who to invite to your wedding is a difficult task, and people get cut for cost reasons.
- If you do ask a mutual friend and they were not invited, you will put stress on the relationship between the bride/groom and the mutual friend. So just don’t ask.
- Invitation time is the best time to notify the bride and groom of any dietary restrictions you or your guests may have.
- Note that I wrote “dietary restrictions,” not “food preferences.” Don’t add extra tasks for the bride and groom unless necessary!
What to Wear
- Dress attire may be specified in the invitation. Pay attention and look at the details of the invite.
- The ceremony determines whether the wedding is daytime or evening, as receptions are usually in the evening.
- For men, daytime formal dress means a suit in neutral colors like black, brown, or gray.
- For men, daytime informal/semi-formal dress means a dress shirt and pants.
- For women, daytime formal dress means a cocktail dress.
- For women, daytime informal/semi-formal dress means a nice floral printed dress or a business suit.
- For men, evening formal dress means a tux. Preferably black, with a white shirt.
- For men, evening informal/semi-formal dress means a suit in neutral colors like black, brown, or gray.
- For women, evening formal dress means a formal gown or a cocktail dress.
- For women, evening informal/semi-formal dress means a cocktail dress. If in doubt, a little black Betsey Johnson dress works beautifully, or any solid colored dress in cool colors will do.
- Rules are meant to be broken, but do not step too far outside these guidelines unless it’s a themed wedding.
- In the case of a themed or destination wedding, all bets are off.
- If dress attire is not specified, you can take hints from the websites of the church and reception hall.
- Do not wear anything too revealing, particularly to the ceremony.
- If you are still unsure of how to dress, you can call the MOH/MOB to ask what is appropriate.
- For women, do not wear white! White is reserved for the bride, even if she doesn’t wear it.
- If purchasing your clothing in advance, consider the season.
- Try not to wear the same colors as the bridal party. You can find out the wedding colors in advance by speaking with the MOH/MOB.
- Consider your shoe choices carefully. Because you may be wearing these shoes for a good portion of the day as well as the night, choose something comfortable, yet stylish.
- Do not call your friends to see what they are wearing! Unless you know for a fact they were invited.
Before You Leave
- Make sure you have directions to both the wedding and reception sites.
- With any large gathering, parking can be an issue. Make sure you are clear on where to park, and consider carpooling if parking is limited.
- Check the weather and traffic patterns, and plan accordingly.
- If you are attending a religious ceremony, get a brief overview of how a traditional wedding plays out in that religion. This will help you to be a respectful guest at the reception, even if you do not share the same beliefs.
- If there is a gap between the wedding and reception, have a plan to occupy yourself and your guests.
- If you have dietary preferences, make sure you pack some snacks, just in case. Or have a plan to eat something before the reception.
- Perform a checklist before you leave: make sure you have directions, addresses, gifts, snacks, and an extra pair of shoes just in case.
At the Ceremony
- First and foremost: Turn your cell phone off!
- If you have any other devices that might make noise, turn those off too.
- Don’t even consider vibrate. Vibrate is for people who plan to leave the ceremony if they get an important call. And yes, everyone can still hear your phone vibrating, so don’t be one of those people!
- Arrive 30 minutes early.
- If you normally arrive late to events, arrive an hour early.
- If you arrive late to the ceremony despite careful planning, find an usher to seat you.
- If you can’t find an usher, sit in the first empty row from the front. Quietly.
- Be respectful of any religious customs you may see at the ceremony.
- If in doubt, follow the family’s lead for standing, sitting, kneeling, singing, and praying.
- Unless asked, do not take pictures at the ceremony. There may be rules against it, or it may ruin the ambiance of the ceremony.
At the Reception
- It is appropriate to speak to the bride and groom, but do not monopolize the their time. Unless it is a small wedding, they have a lot of people to thank throughout the night.
- One picture with the bride and groom is enough. Honestly. Most weddings will have a photographer who will take more than enough photos that you can purchase at a later date.
- Do not give your gift directly to the bride and groom.
- Most weddings will have a gift table where you can place your gift.
- If there is no gift table, politely ask a member of the family or bridal party where to put your gift.
- If you are worried that your gift will not reach the bride and groom, stop. You will know your gift made it when you receive their Thank You card.
- When the DJ announces the bride and groom doing any task (ie: cutting the cake, first dance, etc) it is appropriate to watch.
- Remember this is their day, not yours. Curb your Wedding Crashers urge to steal the spotlight.
- Only request a song from the DJ if he or she announces that you can. (The bride and groom may have pre-selected their playlist.)
- If the dinner is buffet, wait for the DJ to announce a second round. Same goes for getting a second piece of cake.
- Open bar does not mean you should get drunk. Please do not make the bride and groom regret inviting you to their wedding by making a scene.
- If you forgot to tell the bride and groom about your dietary restrictions with your RSVP, do not bring them up now. Go without eating or discuss the matter with the MOH/MOB in private to find a suitable solution.
- Don’t worry about saying goodbye to the bride and groom if they are busy when you leave. They understand and will appreciate your attendance.
After the Big Day
- Do not call the bride and groom for at least a month, unless you are family or a member of the bridal party. A new marriage requires a lot of transition, and that takes time past the honeymoon.
- Expect a Thank You card within 3 months of the wedding.
- If you don’t receive a Thank You card in this time period you should inquire about your gift. But always frame it as “Did you receive my gift?” and not as “I didn’t receive your Thank You card.”
- If you want to purchase pictures or a video, ask the MOB/MOH to notify you when they are available. But be prepared to wait, as these items take between 3 months and a year to become available!
Thank you to Styled for Success for this article!
Your Perfect Day....because you deserve it!