Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wedding Guest Suggestions? Splendid!

I'm at a point in my life where I go to a lot of weddings.  A lot.  In fact, by my estimation, my boyfriend and I have been to nearly 30 weddings in the last five years.  I think a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that he's three years older than me, and we met in the trumpet section of the Marching Illini.  (The trumpet section is usually 60-70 people, and at least one of us was in the section from 2000-2007.)  Basically, we had a huge circle of friends in college who love to celebrate.

Having attended so many nuptial ceremonies and the parties that follow, I feel like I've become somewhat of an expert on being a wedding guest.  With wedding season right around the corner, here the top 5 things I've learned:

1. RSVP - Make sure you send in your RSVP card promptly.  I admit that I may have been late in responding, or close to it, on a couple of occasions.  Sometimes it's unavoidable.  It's important to remember that the bride and groom are planning a very big event, and delaying your response does nothing to make the planning easier.  Also, pay attention to how the invitation is addressed.  If the invitation is not addressed to Your Name and Guest (generic or specific), then do not RSVP for a plus-one.  The easiest way for a bride and groom to keep the cost of the wedding down is to keep the number of guests down, and often they do that by only inviting couples in serious relationships.  If you're not invited with a guest, don't take it personally.  Just be honored that the couple wants you to share their special day.

2. Prezzies - One year we were invited to twelve weddings.  TWELVE.  Needless to say, I am now incredibly well acquainted with the Target Club Wedd registry and the Bed Bath & Beyond registry.  I know it takes some of the surprise out of gift giving to buy a gift of the registry, but it's the polite thing to do.  It's easiest to buy early when the price range is still broad.  And don't be afraid to buy whatever the couple has registered for - bath towels are not fun, but they are important.  The couple wouldn't have registered for them if they weren't needed.  Also, consider trying to save yourself the time and trouble of wrapping and carting the present to the reception.  By buying gifts online through a registry, you can have the gift sent directly to the couple.

This was on the registry! I swear!

3. Dress Appropriately - If it's a morning wedding with a brunch/lunch reception, full length formal dresses are probably not necessary.  Likewise, if it's an evening ceremony with a 5 course plated meal to follow, a sundress isn't really appropriate.  Take your cues from the wedding invitation.   Often the wedding description will include a line about how fancy the wedding will be.  If you're confused about the language used, check out this list.  Wearing black to a wedding used to be considered a bad omen, but these days, an appropriate tasteful LBD is totally acceptable at most weddings.  Unless you have been specifically asked by the bride, women should absolutely avoid wearing white - that's just tacky.  Guys can almost never go wrong with a suit and tie.

4. Reception Etiquette - Party on, but do it responsibly.  Many weddings feature an open bar (thank you!), and the couple certainly wants you to enjoy the party, but don't be "that guy".  Photos from the night should serve as happy memories not a way to piece together what went down.  Also, if you take a glass or bottle onto the dance floor, be careful not to drop it.  Anyone who has ever gone to a dance or reception with women in attendance knows that we rarely all keep our shoes on for the whole night.  At one wedding we attended last year, three different people shattered glass on the dance floor.  Not exactly awesome for the barefoot dancers. 

5. Favors/Centerpieces - I've seen a lot of different favors at weddings ranging from personalized chocolates to handmade coasters.  No matter what the favors are, the bride and groom spent a lot of time, money, and energy putting them together as a way to express their gratitude for your presence on their big day.  Please don't leave them behind.  On the other hand, if the bride (or an agent of the bride - mother, maid of honor, etc.) hasn't given you permission to take a table's centerpiece, don't do it.  It's fairly common for family members of the couple to be given the centerpieces at the end of the reception.

Other things to keep in mind:
-Thank the bride and groom and their families for inviting you.
-Don't criticize the ceremony or reception in front of the couple.  

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