I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my last post but I’m attending a wedding this weekend. Since I’ve attended quite a few weddings in recent times, I think I’ve gathered enough intel to give you my opinion on wedding guest etiquette.
Be on time
Just because the bride is often late, doesn’t mean you can be. And that tradition has been dying in recent times due to many officiants and venues charging late fees. You don’t want to be that guest just walking in when they say I do. And trust me, it happens. While some couples choose to have hymns, readings, register signing and all the other traditional elements of a wedding ceremony, many are choosing just to get to the point. Get married right away and then party! And you don’t want to miss it.
Stick to the registry
Wedding registries are made for a reason, they’re items the couple actually wants and needs. Why do you think you know better than them? Stick to the registry as much as possible.
Now there are a few circumstances where you may break the registry:
1. If you have a unique gift for the couple.
For this you have to know them really well, be confident it’s something they will love, you have to know that it’s something they don’t already have and you have to be sure no one else is giving them this unique gift of yours. That’s a lot of criteria.
2. You can’t afford anything on their registry.
Sometimes a couple’s taste is way above your budget and you can’t afford anything on their registry. In this case, you can do a couple of things. You could team up with a friend or friends and purchase a gift together or if you know them really well you can go with option 1. You could also just give them a cheque. I know it’s not personal or unique but I am absolutely certain they’ll appreciate it. I don’t know a single couple in this day and age who would scoff at a monetary gift, whatever the size.
With monetary gifts, I know there can be a grey area. How much should I give? My personal general rule for cash gifts is minimum US$50 or JMD$5000 if I’m attending alone or US$80-$100 or JMD$8000-$10,000 if we are attending as a couple. You may not be able to afford that either, and that’s ok. The couple hasn’t invited you because they want presents. They’ve invited you because they want you there. So if you can’t afford a present at all, especially if you had to travel or incur expenses just to attend, it’s always nice to get the couple a card wishing them well. Brides are sentimental and they save these things.
Though I haven’t always found the courage to introduce myself to the strangers at my table, I’ve noticed that I have a way better time at weddings where the people I didn’t know at my table introduced themselves to me and tried to strike up a conversation. So in the spirit of self improvement and improving my wedding experiences, I’m striving to emulate their behavior. Try it!
I know from my own wedding that some of the nicest pictures are ones that guests took when they attended my wedding. Take lots of pictures and after the wedding, share them with the bride and groom. They’ll love it.
Wear black or white
Unless the dress code says you should wear white, don’t wear it. The bride will want to be the only one wearing white on the day and trust me, you don’t want to piss the bride off. While black seems to be becoming more acceptable in recent times, it hasn’t caught on with everyone, so it’s kind of iffy. So just be safe and don’t wear black either, as traditionally it’s a colour worn to signify that you’re in mourning. Incidentally, black and white is totally acceptable. You can also wear black or white separates with another colour if you want. Just not all black or all white.
Block the photographer
You want to get that perfect shot, so much so that you’re impeding the official photographer from doing his job. Remember, he or she is a professional and as good as you may be, the official photographer is the one the couple spent their hard earned money (and quite a lot of it) to hire. So don’t get in the way. Let them do their job.
Plaster the pictures across social media
Many couples won’t want their special day plastered all over social media. So make sure you know their feelings on this before you click the upload button.
Crowd them at the door
After the ceremony I know you want to congratulate the bride and groom on their monumental achievement but having seen so many couples get mobbed at the church door and totally lose daylight which is the optimum lighting for pictures, I am advising you to go against your natural instinct and save your warm greetings and congratulations for later.
This one is especially for the ladies. Somewhere in our DNA there is a tendency to look at the flowers, the decor, the food and state our opinion on whether they are good or not, especially if they’re not. This wedding is not about how beautiful the place looks, or how expensive everything seems. It’s about the couple, whom you hopefully like or why else would you be at their wedding? Focus on that. Focus on the awesome fact that your friend or friends have finally found someone they want to spend the rest of their life with. Of course if you think it’s gorgeous and you want to give the couple compliments, feel free, but keep negative thoughts to yourself. Don’t fill your table or their day with negative vibrations.
Leave right after the formal proceedings
So your stomach is full and the speeches are done, the bride and groom have had their first dance. This is not the time to exit stage left. Why? Most couples really want their guests to stay and have a good time, dance, enjoy the DJ and the dance floor and most importantly, mingle with them. Up until now they’ve been kind of busy, now’s the time they get to let loose and spend time with their friends. Make their night, stay.