Here in Arizona our wedding season is timed a bit differently than other states. And, especially right now, when most of the country is experiencing Snowmaggedon and the Arctic Freeze, our soon to be brides are getting their last fittings for their dresses, finalizing timelines for the day, confirming times with all of their vendors and sitting somewhere between “OH MY GOODNESS” and “OH MY GOODNESS” for the current feels.
And, as wedding guests, who have been lovingly thought of and invited to celebrate in what will be one of the most important dates for this soon to be husband and wife, I wanted to take a moment and speak directly to you. Being in the wedding industry and being part of wedding days from the first moment the bride starts to get ready for the day until they leave the venue and cleanup begins – you get to see a lot. So, without further ado – here are some of the best tips to keep your bride and groom smiling and stress free all day long.
1. Send in your RSVP – by mail. It’s just a few months from the wedding date and your sweet bride to be is trying to get a final headcount for service – who wants chicken and who wants beef, who is sitting with whom, will Aunt Mary’s children be coming or staying home with a sitter, and so on. All of a sudden, she realizes, after meticulously going through all of the invites she’s received via the mail that several of her family members have emailed her their RSVP…..and then her 2 best friends from college had texted her their RSVP, wait, or had they sent it to her by Facebook messenger? I’m sure you’re seeing now just how messy it can get when you’re just trying to keep it simple and suddenly realize there are way too many avenues people could have let you know already! The best way to help your sweet couple is to make sure to write out the RSVP in the exact way you were invited to keep it easy and stress free.
2. Double check your invite instructions. Please keep in mind that if your bride and groom have specific instructions on your RSVP such as no children in attendance, or plus 1 only, please do follow their guidelines and don’t text them asking if they could make an exception for you this one time. There are many reasons brides and grooms make the decisions they do, and most of the time it has to do with venue size restrictions, making sure everyone has a meal, or simply budgets they need to adhere to.
3. Mail your gift. Imagine it’s your wedding day, you either have a wedding planner helping you out or you’ve hosted this day all thanks to your own hard work and some really amazing bridal party peeps. Gifts are such a blessing, but unlike any other event when gifts are opened in front of guests, weddings don’t hold that tradition. So, to make it easier on either the bride and groom, the wedding party or the wedding planner and staff – mailing your gift directly to their home will save a lot of time and allow the ones you are their to celebrate to head off into the evening like the Prince Charming and Mrs. Charming they really are!
4. The Bridal Suite should be off limits! Remember that scene in Runaway Bride when Julia Roberts is FINALLY going to marry Richard Gere and her and her bridesmaids are in the bridal suite? She’s standing in front of fan airing out her pits and huffing and puffing into a paper bag because she’s just so darned nervous?! Now, let’s scale that level back a notch – or not – and think about the amazing bride and groom you’ve come to support. Their bride and groom’s suites are places where, individually, they can get dressed, put all the finishing touches on their looks, have a moment with their best friends/parents/children, be prayed over, or sit there with a mimosa and have a silent moment all to themselves before the busyness of the day takes off. That space is quite literally a safe space for them to relax, be a ball of nerves, laugh, cry, whatever it is they feel like doing before walking down to forever – and guests who are not part of the staff, wedding party and immediate family can really bring extra stress. So, if meeting with one of them is on your must list, just remember that you will have that opportunity after the ceremony. And if not after the ceremony, because weddings are super busy days, you also know them personally so make it a point to reach out for a lunch date or coffee after the wedding to share all of your happiness and love with them.
5. DO NOT WEAR WHITE! And please don’t use this day to show off. It really should go without saying that white is absolutely not a go for weddings unless specified by the bride herself, like from her lips, or directly on your invitation. Even taking it a step further, while it is absolutely the best idea to dress according to the dress code for the wedding you’re attending, today is not the day to show off in either bright, loud, distracting clothing or any achievements you have made personally. Things to ask yourself in advance are: is it a casual beach wedding, a laid back but dressy woodsy wedding, or are we in formal dress – and if you’re unsure on any of these, ask….better yet, get it in writing. The last and final thing I’ll say about dressing appropriately for the wedding is this, 100% of the time wedding images will be printed, so if you happen to be in any of these images as either an immediate family member or just a guest somewhere in the images, your clothing should still not take focus away from the couple.
6. Arrive on time. “If you’re not early, you’re late”. I’m pretty sure this is tattooed inside my brain growing up with an extremely punctual father. We were so early to things we would show up even if the place we were going wasn’t going to open for another hour. And therein lies the truth to why I can’t stress how important this is, even moreso, on a wedding day. Wedding days have timelines, because without an idea on when everything should be taking place it would be next to impossible to actually coordinate the day. So, when the ceremony is supposed to start at 4 p.m., the most ideal situation is for you to arrive absolutely no later than 15 minutes prior to ceremony, 30 if possible. The last thing you want to do is be the tail end of the bridal party processional to the alter, before the bride, or attempting to zig-zag your way into your seats without being noticed…because, you’ve already been noticed, by everyone.
7. This really should be #1 but, go UNPLUGGED. There are so many devices these days that can take pictures. And great pictures at that. And there are InstaStories and Snapchat and Facebook, and I guess you can Twitter a wedding too if you wanted to – and heck, the couple even have their own hashtag #itsAniceDayforAWHITEWEDDING that you just want to plaster all over every image you take because they may be the first images the bride and groom see before their professional Photographer can complete their galleries…but as someone who has photographed weddings, been guests at weddings and had her own wedding, I’m asking you to really consider to leave your devices in your pockets, car, home, what have you and just really be in the moment. And can I be completely honest? There are only a couple things worse than looking back on your images and seeing 15 cell phones, 2 ipads and 9 digital cameras out during your vows – but as a photographer, navigating through the sea of said devices can sometimes prove challenging. What we find most often is, when people are in the moment and behind the screen of the device they will do anything to get the shot or keep recording the video, which sometimes means getting completely in the way of the person that’s been hired to do just that.
8. Drink Responsibly. This is another one of those “it should go without saying” things, but the truth is that alcohol + celebration = WOO–HOO! Just back at point #5 I reminded everyone that it’s likely these images will be printed. And if they aren’t printed, they will be shared on Facebook. And Instagram. And at your 40th, 50th, 60th birthday party if you’re really good…..jk. But in all seriousness, this day is a celebration and it absolutely should be celebrated, but proceed with caution when consuming. Further more, at some point in time you will need to get home, and friends, a DUI or accident or worse would be the worst way to commemorate such a special day for a newlywed couple.
9. Speeches should be short, sweet, funny, sentimental and to the point! Oh, wedding speeches. You’ve been waiting for this moment. You’ve got all of the best stories in your back pocket, on note cards, in alphabetical AND chronological order – highlighted nonetheless. However, trust me when I say, nobody needs to hear all of that right now. Think of the Grandma’s….oh the Grandma’s. The best rule to live by with wedding speeches is to keep it under 3-4 minutes max, congratulate the couple, tell them how happy you are in your true feelings, maybe share one sweet or funny moment of the two of them – nothing crazy personal, and congratulate them again to end your speech. There’s nothing more perfect than a hilarious, short & sweet story of the pair!
10. Get out of your chair – and DANCE! With the exception of those who are physically unable to literally break a move without…breaking…get that booty out on the dance floor! Imagine this, a couple has spent months upon months planning this day – which is a celebration to them, from them and their family, shared with the ones they love most. They pick food that people will enjoy and they hire a dj. They pick out songs for all to enjoy, and maybe a few overplayed, but also fun songs to get a groove on to. As the bride and groom start dancing because it’s literally the best night of their lives, they look around and see 6 guests on the dance floor. SIX. Now, I totally get it, you haven’t danced in ages or you really don’t know how, but the whole thing about enjoying a moment is to be IN a moment. And that means that it really doesn’t matter to anyone whether or not you can dance or that the only dance you know how to do is the shopping cart, what matters is that you are there, you participated, you created lasting memories to be fondly remembered. You know what I remember about dancing at my wedding? We specifically had a bad dances circle where each of us had a go pulling out the worst dance moves possible, and it was incredible. No judgement, just laughter, just love.
Well guys, you’ve been a great audience! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog about the Top 10 Wedding Guest Etiquette Rules – and if you can think of any more, drop them down in the comments below!
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