And now for the final topic in our “Wedding Etiquette” series – The Wedding Guest. Oh yes, even the unsuspecting and seemingly innocent guests have guidelines they should adhere to:
Always RSVP! Never assume that the bride & groom know you are or not attending. This is an important factor because most vendors need a total head count for food amounts and billing purposes. Do not bring a date unless the invite indicates + guest. Again, costs at a wedding are marked per person and can be expensive. Bringing someone unexpected is impolite.
What if you decline the invite, do you still need to send a gift? You can find many different opinions to that very question. The opinion given here is just that. No, you do not HAVE to send a gift, but if not, sending a card with your well wishes would be appropriate.
If you do attend the wedding then YES – a gift is proper etiquette, although again the “traditional” guidelines say that you have up to a year from the event to present a gift to the couple. Oh, and as a tip, give the couple something they both can use!
Please do not arrive late to the ceremony! 15 minutes prior to the start time on the invite is as late as you want to be. But, if you are late, do not – by any means – attempt to come in during the processional. You must wait until the bride has made it down the aisle. Only then is it appropriate to find a seat from the outside aisle, never down the center.
Try to refrain from taking personal pictures during the ceremony. It does pose as a potential distraction, and unless you were asked to, just leave it to the professionals.
If the ceremony is not of the same as your personal faith or rituals, you may or may not choose to partake in them. If you choose not to, then remaining seated quietly is perfectly appropriate.
After the ceremony, it is understandable you have a desire to address the newly wed couple and offer your congratulations. More often then not, if it is a church wedding, the couple is on a time constraint and the photographer needs to try and get the entire wedding party together for family and group shots. The reception is a great place to extend your well wishes, and more appropriate.
Above all, have fun but drink and act responsibly!
So as you can see, there are several ideals and thought processes on etiquette and guidelines. At least you have the peace of mind knowing you have done things the right way and are not creating any social transgressions. But if you do, absolutely do not worry about it. Remember, “Etiquette means knowing which fork to use. Manners are how to act when your neighbor decides not to use one at all!”