As a former bridesmaid, maid of honor, bride and now matron of honor and guest during Wedding Season 2013, it’s very, very clear to me that the average person is not aware of what is, and isn’t, appropriate behavior surrounding the happiest day of someone’s life. So it’s my pleasure to get on my soap box and share some advice with you, the internet, on how to be a nice wedding guest.

Here are 10 fairly simple things to remember when attending a wedding:

  1. It is never, ever, ever, ever, ever appropriate for a woman to wear a white dress to a wedding if she is not the bride, a flower girl or a British bridesmaid. Sure, some clothes have white in them, that’s not a huge deal. A white lace dress? Big, HUGE no no. Pick another color and save the white for church or a graduation or something that isn’t a wedding. Also plan on nixing anything that is “cream” or “off white” from your wedding guest wardrobe. Wearing a white dress is just plain rude. (If you think I sound adamant about this, you’re right. I see this happen over and over again and wonder why girls do it. Maybe they don’t know? So I’m spreading the wediquette.)
  2. Do not RSVP to a wedding event via the bride’s mother’s Facebook wall. RSVP in a timely manner in the provided method(s). Does the shower invite give a phone number? Call it. Don’t call the bride, don’t Facebook another bridesmaid. There is generally one person in charge of the guest list spreadsheet (hello Excel dear friend!) so that person is the one who needs to know, so that’s who is listed as the contact person. Response cards in wedding invitations usually have a thing that looks like this on them: M______________________________________________________________ You should write your name on that line, whether you’re able to attend or not. Are you bringing a guest? (did it say “and guest” on the envelope?”) If so, write your guest’s name too.
  3. If you aren’t sure about something (was my 17-year-old son, who the bride and groom don’t know invited? If I can’t make it for dinner can I still come for dancing? etc.) ask the person whose name is on the response card address. If the response cards go to the bride and groom, ask the bride and groom. If it goes to the parents of the bride, then ask a parent of the bride.
  4. It’s traditional to stand when the bride walks down the aisle. In general, follow the lead of the mother of the bride or the family members in the first rows.
  5. Not everyone who attends a Catholic wedding is Catholic. Cut them some slack for not knowing exactly everything, they came to support the couple, also don’t mean mug them for not taking communion. It would be disrespectful if they took communion but weren’t members of the Catholic Church.
  6. Don’t smoke while waiting for the couple to exit the church. Seriously, the other wedding guests don’t want to shouldn’t have to inhale second hand smoke while they wait for the grand exit. Save your cigarette for later… or you know, quit.
  7. Always send/give a gift or card. We got a beautiful handwritten card from a college friend who legitimately couldn’t afford to give us anything, which was great because his card was really thoughtful. I can safely say two years later, that we didn’t receive as little as a card from some people who came to our wedding and reception and fully enjoyed the dinner and open bar. People don’t shouldn’t get married for the gifts. If you don’t want to give the couple even a simple card, you should probably have checked the “Will Not Attend” box and called it a day.
  8. Don’t plan a wedding event unless it’s your job. For example, bridesmaids plan the bridal shower. It’s acceptable for parents or friends to throw an engagement party. It’s not acceptable to plan a next day brunch unless you’re asked to do so. Brad and I had a day after brunch planned for our close relatives and the relatives who had traveled from out of state. Shortly before inviting people, I got a phone call from one of the out-of-state relatives letting me know that someone else was trying to plan a brunch for the next morning and that she told them that I was probably already planning one. No one meant to step on toes, but they did.
  9. Don’t separate the bride and groom or detain them with a long, self-serving speech. There are two related things going on here… 1)Some couples want to celebrate their wedding reception together, so talk with them both, together. 2) While talking with them together, if you have some “deep” advice that you feel they should have, that’s great! Write it in their card. Brad and I missed out on 30 minutes of dancing and visiting at our reception because someone, under the guise of giving advice, tried to show off their high level of marital wisdom to our pastor.
  10. If you think for even a moment something that you’d like to do or say will offend someone… don’t do it.

Most weddings take a lot of time and planning. Putting together a wedding can be very stressful for the bride or groom, they should be able to relax and enjoy their hard work and planning, not have to apologize for, clean up after or worry about their guests.

What am I missing? What wediquette infractions have you witnessed this wedding season?

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