You've been to a number of weddings throughout your life. When your best mate got married, you stood proudly as part of the wedding party. When your Aunt found the love of her life, you were three to throw bird seed as they exited the church. It wasn't until later that you discovered the brides weren't altogether happy with everyone who attended the weddings.
What could have gone wrong? While you might not have done anything wrong yourself, there are certain rules of etiquette not everyone knows must be followed at weddings. If you're attending a wedding this summer, making the bride (and the groom, of course) happy should be your first priority. This is her (errr their) day and knowing proper wedding etiquette is essential to making it perfect.
Summer Wedding Etiquette Tips
The Dress Code- It's no secret that the number-one rule for dressing at weddings is never to wear white. Even if the temperature outside draws your eye to the comfortable and breezy white or cream linen suit in your closet, don't do it. Drawing any attention away from the bride is a strict no-no. Many times the bride will help you avoid this by informing you of the dress code on the invitation.
But what if she doesn't? There may not be enough room on the invitation or the bride may simply believe her guests are already aware of summer wedding etiquette. If this is the case, think of the time and location prior to choosing your ensemble. If, for instance, you're attending a casual, barefoot wedding on the beach during the day, a beige linen suit like our Esher washable linen blend suit will keep give you a breathable and cosy option that will prevent you from becoming too warm during the ceremony. You can even consider a tweed suit with tweed jacket.
If, however, the wedding is inside or scheduled in the evening, your options are different. Summer weddings that are scheduled to take place at four o'clock or five o'clock in the afternoon require clothing choices that can easily transition from day to night. Your navy blue suit or charcoal black suit is appropriate for this type of wedding. If the event is to be held after six o'clock in the evening, think formal. A dark black suit with French-cuff dress shirt is one option, but you may also want to consider a tuxedo if you have access to one.
RSVP for the Wedding- Many people know that if an RSVP card is inserted with the save-the-date announcement or wedding invitation that a quick response is mandatory. The bride needs to know how many people will be attending and whether they want the chicken or fish. This isn't optional.
What do you do, though, when no RSVP card is included? This doesn't mean you wait until the day before the wedding to decide whether you want to go. Even if there is no response card, you still need to inform the bride whether or not you are coming, and as quickly as possible. Use your own stationary to respond to the invitation. While phoning the bride or her family to let them know you will attend is quicker for you, you need to consider the fact that this is a busy time. Having an RSVP on paper will help the entire wedding party keep track of the number of guests that will be coming. If you don't bother to RSVP, don't bother coming.
About Plus Ones- Under no circumstances should you ever ask if you can bring another person with you. A plus-one will be mentioned on your invitation if the couple is able to pay for the extra person. If they aren't, your demands for one might push their budget over the edge. In the event you are given the option of bringing a plus one, make sure you choose the right person. Even if you are currently dating the ex-girlfriend of the groom, you should not bring her to the summer wedding.
Gifts and Registries- Brides and grooms have registries for a reason. They know what items they need to start their new life together, and they also want to avoid going home with five toaster ovens. Stick to the registry as much as possible. When you purchase something off of it, the item is deleted so no one else knows to buy it.
If you really want to go off the registry for something more exciting, keep it simple. A gift certificate to a hotel or restaurant is appropriate. So is money. Avoid buying things that are more personal, like art. While you might like a work of art, you may be forcing the couple to look at something they don't enjoy for the next 50 years.
So, what if you aren't going to be attending the wedding? If this is the case, giving a gift is entirely up to you.
Check Your Behaviour- Sure, the bride's father paid for an open bar, and you should be able to enjoy it, but never, ever get drunk. Again, the guiding principle here is to never do anything that might take attention away from the bride.
A couple more rules of behaviour?
- Never propose at someone else's wedding
- Avoid the stage. The band was paid to do their jobs well. Don't interrupt them with a karaoke rendition of “From This Moment on.”
- If you've been charged with the task of giving a speech, never mention an old flame of the bride or groom.
- Do not ask the couple when they are having children. They'll bring up that subject themselves when they are ready. If they already have a child, don't make a joke about them doing things backwards.
- Don't step into the aisle to take a picture with your phone. A few pictures at the reception are fine, but a professional photographer is handling the wedding photos. Just enjoy the day.
- Never speak up when the preacher says, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Any relationship game changers should have been discussed before the ceremony- in private.
Do you know how to keep a bride and groom happy on their wedding day? Make sure you're following proper rules of etiquette for everything from your men's suits to your RSVP when you attend weddings this summer.