Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Be the Perfect Wedding Guest (and Look Good Doing It!)

Anyone who knows me well me can tell you that I love to practice good etiquette. Growing up, my favorite columns to read in the newspapers were Dear Abby and Ask Ann Landers, and admittedly, I read etiquette books for fun and have a grandmother who taught me the importance of practicing politeness. I just attended a beautiful wedding in Chicago, IL as Brendan's date, and I thought a blog post would be a great forum to answer questions that wedding guests may have (right in time for the spring/summer wedding season too!). Here are my sure and steadfast rules to being the perfect wedding guest:

Step 1: RSVP
When you are invited to a wedding, there will be a response card in the invitation, which guests are expected to fill out and return in the addressed and stamped envelope provided. Sometimes, the card even asks guests to select what they would like to be served for dinner. Fill out the card and send it back in a timely manner. It's that simple. Failing to do so is rude. Not only does it make it impossible for the couple to plan for their big day, it also comes off as dismissive. These people are including you in one of the most important days of their lives, so at least give them the favor of a reply (and don't waste their stamp money!). If there are food options, check one. Do not complain or write in what you wish was being served. If you cannot attend, write in a message such as, "We feel honored that you thought to include us and will be thinking about you on your big day!" Simply checking unable to attend comes off as a bit cold.

Step 2: The Gift
Most couples register for wedding gifts and include this information and links to registries on wedding websites. As a guest, you have the option of shopping from the registry and having your gift mailed directly to the couple in advance of the wedding. I recommend this because if you bring the gift to the wedding, not only do you have to travel with it, but the couple must travel back with it (if they are married in a city they no longer reside in). Additionally, it is usually parents who end up transporting gifts from the reception to the couple's home, which can be a hassle. Plus, I have even read instances where wedding gifts were stolen from a gift table.

Another option you have is writing the couple a check, which many people prefer. Be sure to put it in a card and write a thoughtful message. You can mail the check in advance or bring it to the wedding and leave it on the gift table (there is usually a basket for cards). I would be wary of putting cash in an envelope because of the issue mentioned above. A check is safer.

If you are unable to attend the wedding, you should still send a gift. It is a nice gesture and a way to acknowledge a major event in the lives of your friends.

General rule is that guests have one year to send a gift, but in my opinion, why wait. Send the gift before or closely after the wedding.

Step 3: Being a Guest
Being a guest is pretty simple, but there are a lot of elements. First, one must decide what to wear. Make an effort to look nice. Women should NEVER wear white under any circumstances. White is reserved for the bride and honestly, if you wear white, you will look tacky. Obviously, if the dress is white but has a large pattern on it like big black flowers, that is totally acceptable. Solid white: not acceptable. Not even with a shawl. I've seen women wear a shawl over a white dress and end up taking it off. Just save that dress for a different event. Personally, I do not wear black to weddings. I think black is a depressing color, but there is no formal rule against it.

Here, Brendan and I model our wedding attire. Brendan also wore a jacket (not pictured). I love this bright blue dress that I picked out from Modcloth. I dressed it up with silver heels and a silver clutch,  a pearl necklace and earrings,
and these adorable hair clips I found at Walgreens for just $3.99.

Next, show up to the ceremony on time and silence your cell phone.

Step 4: Reception Rules
Have fun. Why go to a wedding and sit in the corner or leave early? Get out on that dance floor and stay there! This is, after all, a celebration. Enjoy your time with your friends and visit with the couple (just keep in mind, they have a lot of people to visit with, so don't tie them up for too long). Don't get plastered at the open bar. Weddings are nice (usually family oriented) affairs, so behave accordingly. How much fun should you be having? At least this much:
Step 5: Saying Goodbyes
Be sure to thank the couple for inviting you and let them know what a fun time you had. Usually, people spend about a year planning a wedding, so acknowledge their hard work and tell them what you loved specifically. If the parents hosted the wedding, thank the parents too and let them know you really had fun and appreciate being included.

Obviously say congratulations to both the couple and the parents!

Don't leave your favors on the table. Someone spent time and money making them, so be sure to take them with you!

Well, there you have it, wedding etiquette 101. And now, another sweet picture of Brendan and I.
Is this post partially an excuse to post cute pictures of us? Probably.

Here's to being a gracious guest!
<3 Stacy, Lola & Zoe

The Best Of Dear AbbyBest of Ann Landers: Her Favorite Letters of All Time

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