{wedding wednesday}

I got an interesting question last week from a reader on Twitter, asking how to handle a situation where you are bringing a guest to a wedding that wasn't indicated on the invitation. Her circumstances were a little different than the situation you would normally find yourself in, but the premise is the same. It made me think about etiquette for wedding guests, since we'll all be guests much more often than we will be a bride.

442012 WW


First things first, before you even get an invitation, don't ask the bride or groom if you are invited. Or if they forgot to invite you. Or if you are on some list B that they will invite once they get their first round of RSVPs back {very bad etiquette, btw}. It puts the couple in a really uncomfortable position, and this is probably the #1 situation that brides and grooms complain about when first getting engaged. Just don't do it. Please. 

It's important to address the question of invitations and RSVPs. It is generally accepted {read: expected by everyone} that the person or people the invitation is addressed to are those invited to the wedding. That means if it's addressed to you and nobody else, you RSVP for yourself and don't ask to bring a date. The obvious exceptions to this rule are if you are married/engaged or in a serious relationship that the couple getting married knows about. If that's the case, it's considered a faux pas on their part for not inviting your significant other. Otherwise, you should not assume that it is alright to bring a date if it does not say Ms. Jane Doe & Guest explicitly on the outside of the envelope.

This also means that if the invitation is addressed to Ms. Jane Doe & Mr. John Smith, you will bring Mr. John Smith. It's considered poor etiquette to ask if you can bring someone in their place, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, you don't know what the wedding is going to be like, and you don't know the couple's financial situation. I'm sure you wouldn't want to shell out an extra $150 at your wedding for a friend of a guest whom you don't even know. So, that's that. 

Once you send in your RSVP card {which you should do ASAP, and definitely no later than the date indicated on the invitation}, you have very little time to change your RSVP. Venues and caterers typically require at least 2 weeks notice for the final head count. That means if you RSVP for two people, but your boyfriend decides at the last minute that he doesn't want to go, the bride and groom are out the money they spent on him being there. And that isn't very nice. 

This last minute period before the wedding, then, is the exception to the first rule. If something comes up where your significant other can't attend, ask the couple first if it's too late to change the RSVP. If they say they've already given the headcount, then I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask if someone else can take their place. But this is a rare-case scenario that should only be used should you break up with your boyfriend the week before the wedding or there is a personal emergency. 

All of this talk about who is invited and who should RSVP also includes children. If you have kids, but the invitation still says Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, please assume that your children are not invited. More couples are choosing to have adults-only receptions, for a variety of reasons, and asking if your children are invited only puts the couple in another awkward position. So, just accept what is and look at the wedding as a chance to get away with your honey without the kids. If the invitation is addressed to the Smith Family, then it's safe to assume that everyone is invited. Just be sure to include how many will be attending on the RSVP card. 

So, that was long winded. I promise that the rest of this post won't be so wordy. Here are just a few friendly tips if you want to be an amazing wedding guest:



Plan on sending your gift to the couple's address, rather than bringing it to the reception. This is more of a courtesy than anything, since it might be difficult for the couple to arrange transportation of the gifts back to their home. 

If you're considering going to just the reception and not the ceremony, don't. That is considered especially bad manners, and looks like you're just in it for the free food and drinks. 



Please be on time. I know there is a running joke that weddings always start after they are supposed to, but this is not a good way to think. You can bet that you dashing in at the last minute while the bride is walking down the aisle is a sure way to ruin the magic of the moment. In fact, I highly encourage being at least thirty minutes early to a wedding. That way you can make sure you aren't stuck in the back row.

If the ceremony is religious, you are in no way expected to participate in the religious traditions and rituals that the couple has included. Just be respectful and inconspicuous if you choose not to bow your head during prayer, or accept communion with everyone else. 



At the reception, sit where your place card indicates, and not at just any table. The couple has put a lot of time and effort into placing people at tables. It might not seem like a big deal, but it can be a major inconvenience if someone is sitting in the wrong place. 

Oh, and one last thing. Don't drink too much. There's always that one person who gets a little too drunk. I've seen quite a few of these people, and believe me. You don't want it to be you. 

Okay, so that's it. Do you have any tips on being a great wedding guest? What do you think about the advice I gave above? Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?

And now it's your turn. Link up your own Wedding Wednesday posts below!


Susan said...

This is such great advice! I may have to pass it on to a few friends who really need it!

Jenny said...

This is all such good stuff! It's such a big pet peeve of mine to watch guest walk in as the bride's trying to walk down the isle!

Seriously, anyone who is ever planning on attending a wedding should read this post!

jen said...

would love to include this link on my invites hehe. went to a wedding this weekend where so many people came in late. you could hear people walking in over the couple exchanging their vows!

life spelled jen

Kate said...

Just reading this post makes me nervous! The guest list and the final headcount were by far my least favorite part about planning my wedding. It's so stressful! These are great tips :)

Lauren McKenna said...

This is a great post, Joelle! It's so helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write it :)

Nicole Rene said...

These are some great tips! ESPECIALLY the part about sitting at your seats. Working for a wedding planner it takes us a lot of time to make sure all the seating charts are arranged the way the bride & groom want it, and so it is just respectful to sit there!!! Haha, fabulous post! I love your wedding wednesdays!

Alexa said...

Oooh very good advice.

Liz said...

Love this post! My wedding is quickly approaching and I've only gotten back 13 RSVP cards and our RSVP date is by April 9th!! I can't believe how long people will wait to send them back! I have anxiety over it! :) Best advise ever is to send those babies back ASAP!

Casey said...

I loved this post so much I included it in Lots of Link Love for this week!