(Adapted from Good Housekeeping, by Amanda Garrity, May 21, 2018)
No ifs, ands, or buts here. “Never sit in the front row unless you’ve been invited to,” says Jennifer Porter, party planner and owner of Satsuma Designs. “Even if it’s a casual gathering, abide by tradition and save the front row for family or the wedding party.” But of course, there’s always an exception to the rule: “If an usher places you in the front, relish your seat and enjoy!”
Surprises during a high stress situation (say, a wedding?) are a no-no. If you said you’d be flying solo, don’t show up with your new beau. Or if the couple didn’t mention that you could bring a plus one, don’t assume that you can. “Every person who attends cost money for the bride and groom or their family,” says Brian Worley, director of Bold Catering & Design. “It is also totally awkward when your uninvited guest has no place to sit at the reception.”
You should never outshine the bride. Unless she gives you her stamp of approval, don’t wear white (the cardinal sin of weddings). “White is for the bride and for the bride only,” says Worley. “This is not old-fashioned.” Your cute white eyelet dress will have its moment to shine, don’t worry.
Think beyond the dress. Brides also want their luscious locks to shine on their special day so try to avoid hair accessories or elegant styles that may take away from them. “Even the lovely flower crown trend should be left to the bride and bridal party,” says Porter. So sad, we know.
How would you feel if someone just waltzed into your house for Sunday dinner without notice? You’d probably be shocked, no? Same goes for weddings. “Most couples give guests plenty of time to respond and even provide a stamped envelope,” says Lizzie Lumley, coordinator at Hakuna Matata Weddings & Events. “Brides can’t make the final arrangements until the RSVPs are in — and it’s rude to keep them waiting.” It’s even worse to show up unannounced.
Whatever you do, don’t make the newlyweds schlep a heavy box of kitchenware back home. “Bringing a large gift is a big annoyance for couples,” says Alice Fay, Senior Catering Manager & Wedding Expert at Fairmont Copley Plaza. “They likely have a packed car to drive home regardless of any gifts they received at the wedding.” That’s not to say that you can’t buy the couple large presents. “It’s more respectful to send bigger gifts to their home.” Regardless, don’t show up empty-handed to the reception — bring a handwritten card and hint that the actual present is waiting on their doorstep.
No matter how casual the ceremony, you should still show the bride and groom that their big day is a priority to you. “Showing up late is very rude considering the amount of effort the couple went through to plan their special day,” says Fay. “Guests should always account for traffic and potential public transportation delays to ensure they are on time.” Because you’d feel awful for missing the bride’s big entrance, wouldn’t you?
We get it: You really want to show off how much you love the newlyweds with their adorable Instagram hashtag but experts say it’s best to wait until after they say “I do.” “Guests should refrain from taking photos or videos during the ceremony, if the couple asked them to,” says Shawna Orwoll from Away We Go Weddings. “Religious or not, a wedding ceremony is a sacred moment for the couple and should be treated accordingly.”
Every couple deserves one minute to enjoy the meal they perfectly selected (and paid for!) on their wedding day. “It always amazes me how some guests will go up to the newlyweds and interrupt them for a selfie or to ask them to come visit their table,” says Hovik Harutyunyan, owner of Harutyunyan Events. “The couple is there the whole night. They aren’t going anywhere so why bother them during their meal?” Exactly.
It’s a fact that weddings are insanely expensive but it’s not your job to play detective all night and figure out how much it costs. “The venue is spectacular, the flowers to-die-for and the bar top of the line, but to openly speculate on the costs is trés gauche,” says Jodi Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Instead enjoy the fact you have been invited to such a fabulous affair and leave it at that.”