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Etiquette 101: Tips for Guests

101314-guest-tips-01We’ve spent the last several weeks looking at etiquette guidelines for the bride and groom — but guests aren’t totally off the hook. There are things guests can do to make the wedding go smoothly for the happy couple. Here are some important etiquette guidelines for guests to follow from Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette.

RSVP, Please!

The translation of RSVP is “répondez s’il vous plaît,” a French phrase that means “please respond.” If you’ve received a wedding invitation, let the couple know whether you’re coming by the deadline they‘ve set. They use RSVPs to determine seating needs at the ceremony and reception and are often working with deadlines set by caterers and locations. Showing up unannounced can throw things off.

Don’t Bring Crashers

If you receive a wedding invitation addressed only to you, that means you can’t bring a guest. When guests are allowed, the invitation will be addressed to “Sue Smith and Guest” or “Sue Smith and Joe Jones.” Couples are often working under tight budgets, and they may have omitted the “and guest” for single friends as a way to save money. The same rule applies to children: if their names aren’t listed on the invitation, they’re not invited.

The exception to this is if you have a spouse or long-term or live-in partner that the couple did not know about when they addressed their invitations. A polite phone call to the bride, groom, or their parents can clear things up.

Send a Gift

If you have received a wedding invitation, you’re obligated to send a gift, whether you can make it to the celebration or not. If you receive a wedding announcement sent after the fact, you’re not obligated to send a gift, though Emily Post notes that a card of congratulations is always appreciated. If the couple requests donations in lieu of gifts, respect that wish, especially if it is an encore wedding.

Be Tactful with Technology

Of course you’re bringing your smartphone to the wedding! Some rules to follow on the wedding day:

  • Silence or turn off your phone during the ceremony
  • Don’t get in the photographer’s way. The couple has paid a lot for their services, and they don’t want to see your telephone in their shots. Rather, just enjoy the moment and let the photographer capture the images.
  • If the couple has asked for a social media blackout, respect it. They may want to be the first to post a wedding photo or announce that they’re married. Don’t steal the moment from them.
  • But – if the couple has given you a wedding day hashtag to use on social media, share away! They obviously want the good news shared with the world.

Behave Yourself

A wedding is no place for embarrassing or inappropriate behavior. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Don’t drink too much. Enough said.
  • Avoid warring with friends and family you don’t like. Keep your distance if you don’t think you can be civil.
  • If you don’t like your seating placement, too bad. Emily Post says it is important to respect the couple’s wishes on seat designations. Plus, this information is used by the caterer to make sure you get the right meal at served dinners.
  • Avoid embarrassing either half of the couple or their families — this means no impromptu speeches about ex-lovers or drunken torch songs sung into the DJ’s microphone.
  • Respect the ceremony by being quiet and limiting movement and noisy photography.