Is your Facebook news feed filled with relationship status updates and last name changes? Does your mailbox burst at the brim with hand-calligraphed, LOVE stamped invitations? Is your waistline 3 inches bigger because of mass consumption of petit fours and monogrammed bridal shower cookies? Tis’ the season for wedded bliss!
J’adore me some weddings, y'all! The décor, the dress, the dinner and all that love in one room! Being a wedding guest is something I cherish. A wedding ceremony is one of the most sacred and intimate things you can witness in your lifetime. To be invited to celebrate such a meaningful occasion for your friends or family is a privilege that I hold so dear. Many brides and grooms brush up on their etiquette while planning the wedding but us guests should hit the books as well! As a former member of the wedding planning industry, I can safely say attending a wedding “ain’t my first rodeo.” I have seen it all: the good, the bad and the downright UGLY! Sometimes we forget the true meaning of a wedding and party like it’s 1999- taking no prisoners. We may lose sight that the wedding is about the love the couple shares and the uniting of two families. You may be mumbling “Sandy don’t preach…I’m in trouble deep,” but I just wanted to take the time to share some wedding day decorum that will make everyone’s world a better place.
Disclaimer: I am not Emily Post, I am not Martha Stewart and I am not Kate Middleton. Anyone who knows me has probably seen me walk around barefoot, dance on a table or chew gum with my mouth open. I do however deeply admire the sanctity of marriage and truly believe weddings should be a joyous and revered celebration. Have fun, toss back a few wine spritzers, Twist-N-Shout but be respectful.
* Perfectly Punctual- I will start off with the hardest pill to swallow. Mark my words that I will be late to my own funeral but I will not be late to a wedding. Give yourself or your date "SGT" or as we call it, Sorority Girl Time. If the wedding ceremony starts at 6:00pm tell yourself or your date 5:00pm. The day before go ahead and map out your route, check for road closures or inclement weather as these will all effect travel time. Depending on where the ceremony is going to be held (hotel, park, church, etc.) you may also want to determine the parking situation. Is it self-parking, valet only or everyman-for-himself street parking? Remember, there is no harm being early to a wedding. Seize the opportunity to snoop around in a fancy hotel bathroom, get a pre-party martini at the bar or practice singing your hymnals. As my cheer coach always told me “…To be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable.” (ESPECIALLY for a wedding!)
* Thank you, thank you very much- Somewhere between the Cha-Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle, take time out of the party to profusely thank the parents of the bride and groom. Even if the couple paid entirely for the wedding, let the parents know what an honor it was to be included in such a personal celebration for the family. Tell them why the bride/groom is special to you and what an awesome person they raised. A wedding is a celebration for the families as much as the bride and groom. A short yet sincere email of gratitude to the couple and/or their parents post wedding is always a welcomed gesture of gentility.
* Couple Care- If the opportunity arises offer to get the bride and groom a drink or maybe a plate of food. Often newlyweds get so caught up in the mixing and the mingling they forget to sample the cuisine they have been dreaming about for over a year. Don’t get disgruntled if their wedding planner or maître D takes over this task; your offer to fetch them a drink or a jerk chicken skewer will not go unnoticed. It also gives you an excuse to tell the love birds how happy they both look and thank them for inviting you to this momentous celebration.
* Think Before You Drink- When the words “open bar” are uttered, do the gold-lined clouds part and are you serenaded by the sugary voices of a thousand angels? Since the dawn on time libations and celebrations have gone hand in hand- Jesus even sipped on some vino rojo at the Last Supper. Weddings are parties with a purpose, honoring a sacred commitment two people in love have just made. At the bar have a few, keep your water table up and if you must “tie one on” that night, make plans with your buds for the after party at a local pub or in the hotel lounge. The public profession of love two of your favorite people just made should be exalted not halted by your drunken frat boy foppery.
* May I Have Your Attention Please- Try to be front and center during formalities. These include wedding party introductions, first dances and cake cutting. Don't go to the bar, don't text, don't chit chat at the table- just give the couple and their parents your full undivided attention. Their marriage is after all why you have the luxury of a 4 hour open bar and unlimited crab cakes. Want to dine and dash to get away from the smelly cat lady at your table? Just have another sip (or huge gulp) of your Vodka Soda and try to stay through a few more dances. The old adage is you can leave after the cake is cut but use personal judgment as these days sometimes the cake is used for dessert. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event for the twosome- help them get their money's worth!
* Adequate Attire- If you are lucky, the invitation may tell you what to wear: semi-formal, formal, black tie, etc. If you are not given dress code instructions and are in doubt, it’s always best to over dress. I don’t mean wear a Mr. Peanut top hat and tails to a beach side wedding in Maui but wear something a little nicer than Uncle Eddie’s Aloha shirt and khaki shorts. Ladies, colorful and classy tea-length cocktail dresses are always appropriate (beware of the bosom factor.) Gentlemen, a non-patterned button-up shirt, blazer and starched slacks are a safe bet anywhere. Call me old school, but I still think the bride should be the only one in white or any shade of it and despite the amount of rump shaking, shoes should be left on. Don’t fret over fashion, just use your intuition along with what your mother taught you and you will be dressed to impress!
* Present A Present- Being invited to a wedding is an honor and privilege in itself. It is customary to send the couple a gift if you receive a wedding invitation even if you cannot attend the blessed event. Contrary to popular belief the cost or amount of the gift is not directly correlated to how much the couple is spending per person at the wedding. As with any other occasion a wedding gift should be meaningful to the recipient, personal and hopefully useful. Money or gift cards are the most popular wedding gift as nest building can be pretty costly. In addition to the couple’s wedding gift it is always nice to contribute a few extra bucks if they host a “Dollar Dance” during the festivities. Did I get you in a giving mood? You may want a few more greenbacks for that heavy-handed bartender or that speedy valet attendant. They work hard for the money too!
Relish in the fact that someone you love or at least know of is celebrating one of the happiest day lives and you have the honor of being apart of it. Be smart, be courteous and be safe. May you all "eat, drink and be married!"