If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about etiquette in general, let alone 21st Century Wedding Etiquette, now is an excellent time to brush up on ways to be a gracious guest.
As soon as the next invitation arrives, ask yourself what role you play and as such, what’s expected of you. Unless you’re the bride or groom, you’re not the main event—and that’s a good thing. Are you the mother/father of the bride? The best man or the maid of honor? An attendant or an usher? A favorite aunt/uncle or maybe a valued friend of the family?
Consider your place in the lineup then show up on time for whatever is asked of you– and fit in. Don’t try to be the main event if you’re not—just be the best possible version of yourself.
A few of the more bizarre weddings I have attended include one where the groom sobbed all the way through the ceremony. Another featured a toast to the bride and groom that was both inappropriate and embarrassing to all but the Best Man who was doing his inebriated best to make the toast.
At our own wedding, a woman guest whispered loudly to my soon-to-be sister-in-law, “This won’t last!” We’ve now passed the 50-year mark, and the candles are still lit.
Tips to ensure your status as a true friend, a gracious guest and a class act:
- Don’t ask the bride to choose a different date or a more upscale menu because the one she selected doesn’t work for you.
- All of us can benefit from brushing up on our table manners. If you’re to be seated at the head table, all the more important you check this out and start practicing.
- Don’t make it necessary for the bride to tell you not to wear a low-cut, up-to- your-fanny dress. This kind of attire is not appropriate for a church or synagogue wedding. Nor are jeans appropriate for men—no matter how much they cost.
- Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum to avoid embarrassing yourself. If you have a speaking role of any kind, wait until after you’ve spoken to have your first drink.
- Leave your phone in your purse or pocket. The bridal couple has spent months planning a beautiful event for guests to enjoy so don’t disregard their efforts by being rude or clueless.
- Avoid distracting the entire congregation by performing contortions in the aisle or holding your phone over your head to take pictures. No doubt a professional photographer has been hired. Let him/her do what they do best while you limit yourself to more candid shots before and after the ceremony.
Weddings are sacred ceremonies. You, my friend, are honored to be a guest and to witness to the most important decision the couple will ever make in their entire lives. Conduct yourself accordingly and in keeping with the solemnity of the wedding ceremony.
Express your appreciation for being invited to the bride and groom or the couple’s parents before you leave. In the event some of them are on the dance floor, send them a sincere note of appreciation—not an e-mail—within a few days following the event. You’ll stand out from the crowd and be recognized as a class act.
© Judy DeLapa April 2016