How to be a really, really super awesome wedding guest!

Good morning! So as a serial non-follower of my own advice, I spent a lot of yesterday complaining to recent brides and other brides to be about people’s perceptions of weddings. Because of my job it’s easy to think that all I talk about is weddings and that I may have lost perspective about other people’s lives… possibly true to an extent, but to be fair while there is a lot of wedding chat going on in my world at the moment, there’s still supporting my friends through new relationships, moving house, the perils of dating, job woes etc.

In short, I’m perfectly aware that it’s not all about me. I’m also aware that other people’s lives do not revolve around my wedding. However, I have to say that in my year and a half of planning I have faced repeated disappointment at the lack of a sense of occasion. While it’s so important to let that go, I thought I’d also turn my experiences into a positive with a little guide for guests. In fact, you could turn it into a little competition – who gets to be the best wedding guest in the world ever?

How to be a really, really super awesome wedding guest!

Wait until you’re invited to start talking about how excited you are to come to the wedding! We had a lot of people we don’t know that well sort of invite themselves – cue some awkward subject changing and stiff laughter.

On a similar note, wait until you’re asked before you assume you’re a bridesmaid or a groomsman. I’ve heard all sorts of hilarious stories about random people assuming they’re in the bridal party without any suggestion of it having come up before.

When you do get your invitation, RSVP straight away. Don’t RSVP yes if you’re uncertain. People tend to be very understanding if you just communicate with them – just let them know that for X and Y reasons you’re unable to commit but that you can let them know by Z date. Simples. If you’re aware that you have the kind of job that might not allow you time off, or that you might have religious commitments, other family members’ birthdays etc. make sure you make this clear.

Also think very carefully about whether you want to go. Don’t just RSVP yes to be polite if you don’t feel it’s something you want to attend. It may seem polite in the short term, but trust me, a wedding has an interesting way of extracting the truth from situations.

Check very carefully for anything that might clash. Once you’ve RSVPd yes, block out the day in your diary – if you’ve committed to go, barring a genuine emergency you should go.

Read the information you’ve been sent. Most couples will either send out information with their invitations or will provide it somewhere else, like a wedding website. While it may seem like a good idea to ring up the couple and ask about the dress code or transport a few weeks before the wedding, imagine they’ve received about 100 other similar phone calls, when the information is readily available elsewhere.

Don’t presume your other half is invited, or your kids, nor bring a date, without checking with the couple first. Most people will explain to you before the invitation has arrived why your other half wasn’t included on it. Maybe there’s a real lack of space or you haven’t been together very long / the couple doesn’t know your partner. It’s polite of the couple to offer an explanation in that case, but if you’ve only been together a short amount of time, don’t presume the invite is for two. Generally, unless you’re told otherwise, assume that the name on the invite is for the person / people invited.

If you really don’t want to go to a wedding alone but you’ve been invited on your own, it’s OK to ask that your partner come, but really do take no for an answer if that’s the answer you’re given. If you know it’s a small wedding, casual dates are usually out of the question (imagine if everyone brought one – it would double the guest list). The best way to handle it is to say that if any extra space does crop up you’d love for your partner to come with you, but don’t force the issue or sulk about it – people put a lot of thought into guest lists and they probably agonised about the decision. Same goes for children – if a couple really wants a child-free party, let them have it. If you really can’t make it without your kids, RSVP no, but perhaps the party just isn’t appropriate for children.

It’s only OK to crash a wedding if you’re these guys

Make your own travel and accommodation arrangements unless there’s a group situation or deal. The bride and groom have enough to organise and they probably will have sent you travel and hotel details as part of their wedding invitation. Remember fares go up the longer you leave it, so book nice and early.

Don’t bring food. We’ve had so many bizarre offers for people to bring trays of food. I think it’s because we’re self catering and people are being helpful – as lovely and well intentioned as it is, unless the couple says it’s a bring and share, it’s probably best to assume they have catering plans covered.

If you want to do a reading, sing, dance, juggle etc. just run it by the couple before you get rehearsing!

Arrive in plenty of time!

Arrive sober!

Once you’re there, be aware of where you sit at the ceremony. For example, don’t plonk yourself in the front row leaving grandma and grandpa seatless. If you have a small child that is likely to cry during the ceremony, sit at the end of the row and make sure you have room to take the child out of the room if it starts crying. I know what a shame it is to miss the ceremony, but some people really do want their vows heard.

There will always be people who have special circumstances that mean they have to leave early, and that’s fine, but just let the bride and groom know well in advance if that’s the case. They could have special entertainment arranged or something that’s important towards the end. We had someone let us know they’re leaving at 8, probably unaware that they will miss most of the speeches, the first dance, the cutting of the cake and the special Kletzmer band we’ve booked.

Don’t get too drunk. Gosh I sound horribly boring don’t I? Let me explain – drunk is fine, even sozzled (but drink responsibly, kids) staggering, shouting, crying and throwing up? Not cool. Just make sure you’re drinking at a good pace, that you have a full stomach and you’re drinking lots of water. If you start to reach your limit, stop. Nobody wants to spend a year and a half planning their wedding styling to have someone be sick all over it.

Don’t object during the ceremony!

Don’t complain about the food. At least not in front of the couple. Most people will provide a couple of options on their menu. If you really are a fussy eater (I can’t believe I’m about to recommend this) put a sneaky sandwich in your purse and eat it in the loos. But just don’t let on that you don’t like the food whatever you do – you’re not on Four Weddings (unless you are on Four Weddings in which case, rate the food as appropriate)!

Join in! If there’s dancing going on, tear up the dancefloor. If there’s a guest book going around, write a message worthy of Shakespeare, if there’s something to help with, offer. People will remember you as the best guest of all time!

Follow the dress code. If it’s very glam, dress glam. If it’s very casual, dress casual. Try to avoid white gowns, jeans or any other extremes.

If you want the bride to be your best friend for life, have a little cry when she makes her big entrance!

Attending a wedding sounds like a social minefield, but it’s really very easy! A wedding invitation is basically a little set of instructions. They’re usually quite reasonable – so follow them! Trust me, by the time the wedding comes around, thoughtful and considerate guests will go in the hall of fame as the best friends and family in the world!

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