The Do’s and Don’t’s of Attending a Wedding



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.

Introduce yourself

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!

Take pictures

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.




Bridal Shower Gift Ideas

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of showers, whether it is bridal or baby, I dislike them both. I think it’s the corny games that turn me off the most. At least bridal showers have alcohol though, but since the mother cannot drink while she is pregnant, most baby showers are void of alcohol. Corny games in the absence of alcohol are even more intolerable. However, my attendance at showers isn’t for me, it’s in support of the friend or family member who is getting married or having the baby. So I put on a happy face and attend and participate with enthusiasm.

My husband and I have been averaging attendance at five weddings per year for the last three years. So let’s just say I’ve been to a lot of bridal showers and every single time I am absolutely stumped as to what to purchase for the bride. Last Saturday in the midst of my frustration I thought to myself “Someone should write about this!” and I know that some people have, I googled it, but somehow I didn’t get an article that fully satisfied my needs. So I decided to attempt to fill that gap. Hopefully, the next time I’m invited to a bridal shower I can look back at this article and get some ideas.

Bride/Mrs Gift

Though they’re hard to find when shopping in person in Jamaica, if you have enough time in advance you can order these gifts online. A robe, tote, wine glass, flip flops, apron and any other item with “Bride” or “Mrs” on it is a winner as long as it’s something the bride may actually like or use. Even though it’s a themed item you still want to pick something the bride will actually like.

A variation of this same idea would be to get something Mr and Mrs. Like his and hers aprons or shirts. Friends of mine got Mr and Mrs Manchester United jerseys for their wedding, customized with their last name. I personally like these cocktail glasses.

Jewelry that says Mrs. , or is customized with her new initials, or last name or wedding date is also a lovely idea.  I really like this one . Which incidentally I think is also a lovely idea for an anniversary gift in gold wink* wink*.

Gifts for “Playtime”

Stay away from gifts that are too risqué. Remember, the bride and groom’s older female relatives often attend the bridal shower and we don’t want to be causing any heart attacks. When buying gifts for “playtime”, keep it classy. For instance, you could give them massage oil or body paint rather than personal lubricant or lace underwear instead of crotch-less panties.

Perhaps the most purchased bridal shower gift of all time is lingerie. Some bridal shower planners even provide the bride’s size for you so you can buy the right size. I advise against buying lingerie for a bride without knowing her size, especially in Jamaica where there is no such thing as a gift receipt or a cash refund. I also never buy lingerie for someone unless I think I know their style well enough. I don’t think its fun to get the bride something she will never wear.

I don’t buy lingerie that often simply because that’s what most people give and I want to get something different. Besides, who wants to sit and watch the bride open lingerie are lingerie pretending to be enthusiastic about the 20th bra and panty set.

When it comes to “toys” I think they are best kept for the bachelorette party. The only thing you can probably get away with at the shower is a pair of hand cuffs. You could also get them a game to make playtime more interesting. When you get into whips and dildos it becomes unsettling for the bride who is probably feeling embarrassed in front of her mother-in-law.

Gifts for the Honeymoon

If the bride and groom are going on a honeymoon it is a good idea to get her something she could use on that trip. For instance  if she’s honeymooning in a beach destination you could give her a swimsuit cover-up, a bikini, flip flops, a beach mat and or bag or you could go all out and give her a beach bag with all the essentials in it.

Another wonderful idea is to get the couple a gift certificate for an activity on their vacation.  Perhaps they would want to go zip-lining or swim with the dolphins. One of my favourite gifts that I received at my bridal shower was a cooking class while on my honeymoon in Hawaii.

Gifts for the couple/bride’s personal interests

If you know the bride and groom’s interests then your gift can reflect their loves. A bride who likes wine may like a wine related gift such as a wine tool set or wine tasting class. I’m into baking so cute measuring cups like these and any other kitchen trinkets are right up my alley. If the couple has a favourite restaurant or like to go to the movies together a restaurant voucher or movie tickets may be the perfect gift. I like this gift because it encourages the couple to spend time together; it encourages the togetherness of the marriage.

Pampering Gifts

Brides are often stressed and I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t appreciate a gift certificate for a mani/pedi or a massage either here at home or while on her honeymoon. A mani/pedi doesn’t cost that much at mani places in Jamaica and so this can be quite a thoughtful yet affordable gift for a bride to receive. You can also put together a gift that allows her to pamper herself at home. Gifts of candles, and bath and body items can turn the bride’s own home into a sanctuary. Items and gift sets from starfish oils make for a great locally made option.


When I was a child I hated receiving books as presents. I would open a package and be sorely disappointed, quite like opening underwear or socks. Now, only a few years later my thoughts on receiving books have changed. If your bride likes to read, this may be a good gift for her too. I like to get her a book that’s related to her personal interests such as a cookbook or wine book.  The Newlywed Cookbook is one of my favorites, especially for the bride who has to get used to cooking and meal planning on a daily basis. You can also get her a book about marriage. When giving these, I like to find books that approach the topic from a humourous point of view like this one.

So there you have it, my tips on purchasing bridal shower gifts. Hopefully I’ve helped you even a little bit in coming up with ideas for the next bridal shower you will attend.


6 Life Lessons I Learned from Dancing


Of all the extra-curricular activities that were available to me as a child, dance was the one that stood out most to me, the one I excelled at and loved the most. My involvement in dance started at the wee age of 3 and ended in my decision to “retire” just last year (more on that later). I danced for over 20 years. There was a five year hiatus during my college years, and a year here and there when I took a break but dance had always been a part of my life. Naturally, it taught me many lessons, some easy, some difficult, but all beneficial to my growth as a person and I don’t regret a thing.




Like many other activities, dance required discipline. As we were always practicing for upcoming exams, in the case of ballet, or preparing for performances, as was the case with my other dance classes, a certain level of discipline was demanded from all dancers. Well, all dancers who wanted to sit exams or perform onstage. If you broke the rules you were simply out of a dance, or the entire show, it all depended on the gravity of your offence. Lateness, insubordination, breaking rules were met with proper punishment. As we all loved to perform, the most effective punishment was often not to allow us to do so. The teacher was the boss and we dare not defy her.


Personal Hygiene and Neatness

This next one is kind of awkward to talk about, but it must be said that some of the earliest lessons we learned were how to carry ourselves. We were always taught that our hair and attire should be neat and clean, our costumes should be properly ironed, our underwear should never be visible, and pieces of our costumes should never, ever, ever look disheveled or, God forbid, fall off. I fondly remember one of my teachers telling us that we should tuck our t-shirts into our underwear so that they would not come untucked while we danced. The lessons we learned about personal hygiene were more for the consideration of other dancers. Imagine up to 100  dancers in a studio at one time after school all gathered together in close proximity lifting legs, lifting arms, lifting each other. Now imagine if these dancers are not only dripping with sweat but emanating an unpleasant odor, yuck! So as I said, our instructors taught us from early out that we should take pride in our personal hygiene so they could save themselves and our fellow dancers from the horror of a frowzy studio.scan0004


The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Now I know dance is not a sport but that feeling when your group wins a gold medal at Festival, gets a standing ovation or a raving review, that’s the thrill of victory. That feeling when you want to be chosen for a dance so badly you can taste it, and the choreography asks you kindly during the audition to sit down and watch for the rest of the night, that’s the agony of defeat. And dance, and life, are filled with these moments.scan0007

Life is not Fair

Some people will be better than you, sometimes with all the hard work and effort you put in, there’s still someone out there who will walk in the studio and do what you could never do. They will get picked for the dance, you may not. This is just like in school, someone will get A+ and hardly ever study, you may study all term and the best you’ve done is a B. Its not fair, I know. But in the end they are going to choose the person who makes their work of art look the best on stage. Its important though to never stop trying, working hard, and being proud of your own individual achievements.


Confidence is Key

Dancers who step on the stage like they own it always do better than those who seem a little unsure of themselves. With dancing its all about the body language, that’s what tells your audience whether you know your stuff or not or whether you are happy to be there or not. I’ve seen dancers forget steps and confidently make up a solo, the audience could not tell. Those who dance with confidence get picked first and get looked at most on stage. Head up, great posture, looking the audience in the eyes, rather than looking down at the floor with shoulders slightly hunched. I must admit this was not one of my strongest areas but knowing how important it is is the first step to working on projecting confidence in my daily life, especially in cases where I’m really not sure what step is next.

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When to Give Up

As I alluded to earlier, I decided to finally stop dancing last year, although the decision was long in the making. Dancing wasn’t my profession, it was a hobby, and there was only one reason I kept going, because I loved to do it. In the latter years however I felt as though I had fallen out of love with it. Performances, which were once the highlight of my entire year, now became a burden, a stressful time, full of drama. Dance became something I dreaded that robbed me from the things I’d rather be doing. I kept hanging on for a few years after I started to notice this, and I did it for three reasons. The first was that I didn’t want to be a quitter. It has a really negative connotation doesn’t it? I’m quitting. I didn’t want to be a failure. The second reason was that dance had become a habit, something I always did, part of my identity. I did it because I always have, like brushing my teeth everyday. The other reason was more about the family I had developed. I didn’t want to let the others down. They were so encouraging, they made me want to stay, try and work things out with dance. But alas, I decided that staying because I’d always been there, and staying for others, were not good enough reasons to stay and I suppose I’ll eventually get over the feeling of being a quitter. You only sacrifice that much of your time and effort for one reason, because you love it, and I just didn’t anymore. So I left.


The Baker Within Expands Her Scope


Three years ago, looking to expand my baking skills, I embarked on a journey to bake something new every week and to blog about it. The Baker Within ( was a medium through which I unlocked the baker I always had within me. Now 3 years later, I’ve broadened my vision; To discover the multi-faceted woman I am. The career woman, the baker, the homemaker, the DIY-er, the best friend, the lover, the fashionista, etc etc and the many roles continue. As I grow older, I realize that the modern woman must be many things. And this blog is how I intend to unleash the super powers I know are  somewhere in there. I won’t claim to be an expert. This is essentially a blog about a regular woman trying to live a successful life.


So if you want to witness, the attempts, the successes, the failures, the laughs along my journey. Subscribe and stay tuned.