My planning tips posts are usually written to help the couple, but today’s post is focused on educating your wedding guests. But trust me, this will help YOU in the long run. Maybe even more than some of my other tips posts because, let’s face it, sometimes your guests can be a pain in the ass.
While planning my own wedding I was shocked to find that some people (sometimes a lot of them) can’t be bothered to drop a pre-addressed, pre-stamped RSVP in the mail. They don’t understand why you don’t want their five kids at your wedding. They insist on requesting an “and guest” on their invite, even though you’ve explained you are only inviting people who know and love and those they love. So I thought a little etiquette & education for the guests might be in order.
1. Send back your freaking RSVP card for the wedding. Even if you know the couple knows you’re coming. Even if you are in the wedding. Even if you aren’t coming. NO MATTER WHAT. The couple spent a lot of time and money inviting you, addressing your reply card, and they even put a stamp on it for you. It could not be easier. A monkey could do it. Are you better than a monkey?
2. Read and review the wedding website before you start asking the couple questions. Where should we stay? Where is the wedding? What time does it start? What will the weather be like? These are all answers that can likely be found on a couple’s wedding website. Again, they spent a lot of time on it, so try to check it out before you waste their time asking questions they’ve spent time trying to answer for you.
3. Can I Bring a Guest? Not if you have to ask. If a partner, friend, significant other, or your child are not written on the invitation, then they are not invited. If “And Guest” is not written next to your name, then NO, you cannot bring a guest. This may seem harsh, but venues are sometimes small or formal, and each person’s meal is expensive. If they didn’t specify an invite, there was a reason. Don’t ask.
4. Don’t wear white. I can’t even believe I have to say it, but I know I do. It happened at my wedding (though I did not even notice) and many other weddings I’ve been to. You can wear any other color, but please just leave white for the bride (or whatever color she’s wearing, if you know she’s donning a color other than white).
5. Don’t Decide to Be the Official Wedding Photographer (or Cinematographer). Unless the couple asks, don’t take it upon yourself to barge in the front of photo ops and take photos, especially flash photos, of official events. The couple likely paid a pretty (well-spent) penny on a photographer and you are making their job more difficult, not to mention possibly intruding on their photos.
6. No Kids Means NO KIDS. Seriously, I know you love your kids. I love my kid. Kids are great. But some weddings are not kid-friendly and some couples just don’t want them there. Respect that. Don’t be the a-hole that shows up with a baby at a specified no-kid wedding.
7. Don’t complain about the bar. Unless it is a cash bar, then you are 100% allowed to complain (because cash bars should be illegal). But if the couple is only serving beer and wine or has a cut off time on the bar, just drink the free booze with a smile. You’ll still get drunk. You really don’t need a scotch.
(NOTE: due to several comments below stating that my saying “a cash bar should be illegal” comment made them feel bad about their own cash bar: it is just my opinion (and it was said as a joke. Obviously I think they are a DON’T, but I don’t actually think they should be illegal.) And by “cash bar” I meant completely unhosted bar. If you are giving wine at the tables or a signature cocktail, or cutting the bar off after a reasonable period of time due to the fact that your guests have gotten wasted and drank all of your booze, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you think you don’t have the money to pay for a bar for your guests I have some suggestions for you: rework your budget to make at least beer and/or wine happen, cut your guestlist or consider a different venue if that doesn’t work, get creative, or serve no alcohol. If you must have a cash bar, warn your guests ahead of time. I’m sorry if it makes you feel bad for me or others to say cash bars are tacky or will piss off your guests, but that’s the truth. You have to come to terms with that if you’re going to have one.)
8. Leave the DJ alone, for the most part. I’ve been to a few weddings with some pretty bad DJs. Like, really bad. If you’re at a wedding where literally no one is dancing and the DJ is horrible (I’m thinking of Love Actually as a good example) then feel free to go request a song. But a song that is popular or fun or that you know the couple loves. Don’t be requesting Eminem’s “Bitch I’m Gonna Kill You” and expect it to be played. I get it – the song is the bomb. But it is not wedding-friendly. Also, on the do-not-request list: The Electric Slide, The Cha Cha Slide, or any other slide; YMCA, the Chicken Dance, The Macarena, or any songs on the couple’s actual do-not-play list. But if the DJ is doing a pretty great job and people are dancing, they’re good at their job. So leave them alone and let them do it.
9. Don’t Take Stuff. Except for favors and things specified as up for grabs, don’t leave with stuff from the wedding. You know that pretty centerpiece in a big mason jar on your table? Don’t take it. You are probably safe to take the florals inside, but the containers are probably either rented or took a lot of time collecting and cost money for the couple. Unless they say otherwise, don’t take them home.
10. Don’t Facebook Their Wedding. Try to respect the couple’s privacy and keep the social media to a minimum while at the wedding. While some couples may encourage you to share photos on instagram with a hashtag or don’t mind if you facebook a few, most couples would appreciate not sharing their intimate moments before they’ve even gotten to see them themselves. Plus, if you post an unflattering picture of the bride, that’s just mean.
11. DO NOT Disturb the Couple on their Wedding Day (or the morning after). Do not text, do not call, do not facebook message, do not knock on their door. DO NOT CONTACT the couple on their wedding day. They are busy and don’t need the added stress or work. If you have an emergency, contact a member of the wedding party or a parent of the couple.
Bonus: A note on gift-giving. In case you were wondering, it isn’t required by etiquette that you buy the couple a gift (though it is the nice thing to do and you should if you have the means) If you are spending a lot of money to travel, paying for a babysitter, etc. and you just don’t have anything left, then don’t stress. But do at least give the couple a nice card at the time of their wedding. And remember, you do have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift, so you can send some cash when you have the funds. And if you have the money and were wondering, you are theoretically supposed to give a gift that is equal to the cost of your “per head” cost (for each guest in your party). If you don’t know what that is, ($75-100 per person is usually a good guess) just give what you are comfortable with. And cash is always a welcomed gift for the couple, but if you want to give an actual item try to stick to the registries.
So, what do you think about these guest guidelines? Would you add any? There are more, of course, but I thought this was these were the most important things to remember. So pin now and hope your wedding guests see it and take a hint.