Nowadays, there are so many ways to showcase your personal style – especially at a wedding. Guests no longer need to follow to tradition when it comes to their looks for the special occasion. But when does your very own personal flair conflict with etiquette? Here, we give you what you can – and never should – wear on the big day.
NEVER ADD YOUR OWN PLUS-ONE
Trust us, every couple goes through a painstaking process of deciding how many people they can have at their wedding. So if yours is the only name that appears on the envelope, then you are the only one invited, period. If the couple intends for you to bring along a date, the envelope will read “Ms. & Mr” or "Fanily of …."
DON'T ASSUME KIDS ARE WELCOME
Because it’s considered bad etiquette, a couple usually won’t flat-out write “adults only” on their invites. Instead, the onus is on you to interpret the wording on the envelope. If it’s addressed to “The Doe Family” on the outside, or if the names of you and your children are listed individually on the inner envelope, you are free to roll with an entourage. If not, hire a babysitter and leave the tykes at home.
ARRIVE ON TIME
Making an entrance after the bride is not acceptable. Plan to be in your seat 30 minutes before official showtime. If there is an unforeseen obstacle preventing you from getting to the ceremony on time — heavy traffic, babysitter, wardrobe malfunction (they do happen!) — never interrupt a ceremony service.
LOOK THE PART
A formal or casual dress code is self-explanatory. For everything in between — yes, “creative black tie” really is a thing! And a note for the ladies: No matter the day’s fashion guidelines, use common sense when choosing footwear for an outside event. Otherwise, you might find your stilettos sinking into muddy grass or sand with every well-heeled step you take.
WAIT TO BE SEATED
Most ceremonies reserve the first rows of seating for the bridal party, immediate family, and grandparents. So unless you’re one of them, look to the ushers for guidance.
RESPECT THE BRIDAL SUITE
The room where the bride gets ready before the ceremony is often off-limits. Most of the time, there is a sign on the door requesting privacy or an usher nearby to keep the area clear. But even if there isn’t, resist the urge to pop in for a quick hello. The bride will be busy prepping for her aisle debut. Plus, you’ll have her full attention after the ceremony to offer your congratulations.
DON'T PLAY PAPARAZZI
Just as your phone can be a major distraction to you throughout the day, it’s going to be doubly so for a bride and groom at their ceremony. The couple wants to look out and see your smiling faces — not the back of your phone or, even worse, your iPad — beaming back at them. Unless otherwise instructed, keep phones and all cameras out of sight.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
Is there a coat check at the reception? Use it. Is everyone expected to join in on the first dance? Boogie on up. In accepting the couple’s invitation, you’re implying that you’re down with whatever they throw your way. They’ve no doubt been dreaming of this day for a long time — your happiness and accommodating attitude will help make it just as wonderful as they imagined.
KEEP YOUR SPEECH SHORT AND SWEET
Being called upon to say something witty, eloquent, touching, and profound to a room full of people can leave even the most outgoing among us tongue-tied. Give yourself some guidelines: Tell one story or convey one message — and make it brief. The point is to say something from the heart, not entertain the masses.
Not to get all PSA on you, but drinking to ridiculous excess isn’t just unbecoming, it’s dangerous, especially if you haven’t lined up a ride home beforehand. When the bride and groom provide an open bar, they’re providing a courtesy. A great way to show gratitude: Pace yourself so you can continue to toast the happy couple well into the wee hours of the morn.
BE CONSIDERATE OF THE VENUE
Once the bubbly has been busted out and the DJ cranks up the tunes, it can be easy to forget you’re partying on rented property. To score the space, the couple took on the responsibility of keeping it intact by signing a contract and paying a deposit. It’s up to everyone in attendance to make sure they get their money back. Also, don’t take anything from the venue home (it happens more than you think!). Even the centerpieces on the tables may be created with items that need to be returned postfestivities.