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Wedding Etiquette


Memorial Day weekend signifies the beginning of wedding season to me.  I'm looking forward to a much calmer one this summer as we only have two weddings to attend compared to the five weddings (and our own) we had last year!

While I had attended quite a few weddings before my own, I have a much better idea of how to be a proper guest after being on the other "side" of a wedding as the bride.  For instance, yes, you do have a month to RSVP to the event and while you technically aren't in the wrong to not reply until the very last minute, be courteous and respond AS SOON as you open the invite.  Little things like these that I wouldn't have really thought about previously have made me completely rethink my "duties" as a guest.  Here are a few other examples of proper etiquette you should follow to make everything run smoother for the most important person - the bride - on the biggest day of her life!

+ Do NOT Wear White
To the bridal shower, to the bachelorette party and especially to the wedding.  Just don't wear white to any wedding festivities unless you're the bride.  This really shouldn't even have to be stated but I had it happen to me (at the wedding) so I'm just throwing it out there that it's not okay!


+ Don't Assume Anything
Don't just assume that you can bring a guest or your kids to an event.  Typically, if you are invited to bring a guest, the envelope will be addressed to "Katie Elizabeth and Guest" and if your whole family is invited (including kids), it will say something along the lines of "Katie Elizabeth Family".  We had guests send back  RSVP's with their kids names on them when we were having an adult only wedding.  Talk about an awkward conversation to have.  If you're unsure after receiving your invitation, a quick text to the bride or someone in the bridal family to double check would be the proper thing to do!


+ RSVP On Time
As mentioned before, RSVP as soon as you open that envelope.  RSVP's are usually sent out 2-3 months before the wedding so you should already have an idea of whether or not you can attend.  Do NOT skip RSVP-ing altogether and make the bride track you down to get your response - she does not have time for that and it's just rude.  Not to mention she already put a dang stamp on your return envelope, it couldn't be any easier for you to respond.


+ Send a Gift
It's totally understandable that not everyone is going to be able to attend the wedding.  It's kind to still send a gift in lieu of attendance.  Instead of just sending back the RSVP with a "no", send a gift with a note that says "so sorry we can't be there!", etc.  I'd say $50 is a proper amount to spend.


+ Shop the Registry
In terms of buying gifts, it's this simple: shop the couple's registry.  Weddings are so great because you don't have to put any thought into getting the "perfect" gift - the work is already done for you.  Buy off the registry because that is the stuff that the bride and groom actually need.  Don't go down the homemade route for a wedding gift and don't buy something random that they didn't register for because chances are it's not going to get used and that's just a waste of your money.


+ Gifts Should Equal Plate Price (Approximately)
This "rule" is a bit controversial but I just think it's a good approximation of how much to spend.  You're never going to know how much exactly the per plate cost is but it's a safe way to make sure you're gifting appropriately!  While I don't believe in the fact that couples should be making money off their weddings or that each guest has to basically recoup their cost, I do think that as a guest you need to present an appropriate gift.


+ Update Bride on Guest Changes
A lot of my friends are single so they responded that they wanted to bring a plus one but that they didn't know exactly who yet.  A week before the wedding, I reached out to them to get guest names so I could finish up things like our seating chart, entree selection and final head count.  Turns out the majority of these people that had RSVP'd for a guest ended up deciding not to bring one.  And that's okay but PLEASE update the bride or groom if you have an RSVP change (even if it's seriously last minute) so they don't spend unnecessary money.


+ Arrive On Time
Get to the ceremony early!  You don't want to be holding up the wedding proceedings by arriving late.  And please try to not skip out on the ceremony and only attend the reception -- I've never understood this.


+ No Cell Phones
During the ceremony, get off and turn off the cell phones.  I wanted to see my friends faces while I was walking down the aisle, not the backside of their iPhones!  That's what the photographer is for.  At the reception, I think that all goes out the window because the more pictures the better.


What are some of your guidelines you follow as a wedding guest?
Linking up with Shanna and Jordon

46 comments

  1. what a wonderful post! good to know all these things!
    kisses to you!
    Maren Anita
    fashion-meets-art

    FASHION-MEETS-ART by Maren Anita

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  2. Can I honestly send the link to your post out to all my guests????? We are having such a small wedding that a lot of people are not getting +1s and very minimal kids....like just my nieces and nephews..... Also you would be surprised how many people don't send gifts even if they were invited but can't come! Etiquette people c'mon!!!! Awesome post girl!!!

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  3. This is something that DEFINITELY needs to be shared! Some people seriously do not understand these things and need a gentle reminder or two ;) Someone showed up to my wedding in a long white dress and I was seeing red! Grrrr! This is a good reason to post more wedding pics since yours are so gorg!! xo

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  4. Great list!!! We've had some quiet wedding summers, but have two this summer & I'm excited for them!

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  5. Great tips! It's incredible how rude people can be and how they just don't get it. Baffles me sometimes.

    ***btw, I thought you had captcha on because of your job, so I never said anything! BUT YAY for taking it off, haha***

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  6. <3<3<3 I just threw my head back and laughed when you said captcha was the worst on twitter. I'm SO happy you didn't intentionally want it on there and I'm so excited to hit 'publish' on this comment when I'm done.

    GREAT tips - especially gift = plate price. And I totally agree about the no cell phone rule!!! I might hire a professional iPhone photographer so that the real-time instagram can be taken care of, then also the professional for the quality prints.

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  7. Great post! It's always so sad to see how many people don't know wedding etiquette. I mean really people? It's not that hard to RSVP and to arrive on time! I had a girl show up about halfway through my ceremony and then she proceeded to clink her way across the marble floors in her high heels to the FARTHEST seat from the door and she was the +1 of one of the groomsman who I had only met once before. SO annoying!!

    <3, Pamela
    sequinsandseabreezes.blogspot.com

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  8. This list is awesome and should be shared with every weddings guest! I can definitely relate to some of these. We had one family that was so late that they had to run down the aisle because the music had started! And one wedding I attended the mother of the bride had this gorgeous up-do and an off the shoulder white shimmery gown! She looked like she was competing for this Miss America Pageant! She completely out shined the bride.

    Jenna

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  9. This post made me laugh, because it's SO true-- I think the assumptions one is the biggest/most important! We had a smaller wedding, so this is probably why, but I don't think we had to call ANYONE to see if they were RSVPing. I will say I had a couple of friends who didn't send back the RSVP card and just told me-- which was fine, but truthfully it annoyed me a little bit- if I took the time to send you a formal invitation, can't you at least take the time to send back the RSVP in the already stamped envelope?

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  10. SUCH GREAT ADVICE!!! ALL OF IT.

    and that chart is exactly how I arranged my table settings! I got married before Pinterest. LORD help us all if it was around when I was planning my wedding..or maybe it was and I just hadn't heard of it?

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  11. I couldn't agree more about the white! I hope and pray this doesnt happen to me,.

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  12. These are all so on point!!! I agree with it 150%!!! The fact that people don't understand how to read an invitation is beyond me...I asked my mom to handle all the awkward conversations. lol

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  13. This is such a great post! I just got married last year and the RSVP and table seating was such a pain! I was making changes until the end. My poor caterer probably thought I was nuts. Not only did it impact who sat where and the cost but also the number of rentals for tables, chairs, escort cards, etc. I just don't understand sometimes where peoples heads are!! Jennifer pinterestdreams.blogspot.com

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    1. I was the exact same day! I had up until 72 hours to make changes and you can bet I did it until the very last second!

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  14. I am so happy to see someone else is a stickler about invitations and RSVP's like I am/was! People really don't understand how important that is to the bride and groom. We were tracking people down the week of the wedding still. Guess what? Brides don't have time for that!

    Also, I agree with you about the guideline as to how much to gift the bride and groom based on approximate meal price. Gifts are definitely not what the day is about, but I was pretty ticked after I opened a couple of our gifts - one person gave us a bottle of Beringer wine and a soap dispenser, and two couples (one of which I had been the MOH in her wedding and spent lord knows how much on ...) split a gift and gave us a $60 gift card. $60 between four people when the cost of their meal option was $90 per person? People really ought to use their heads more.

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  15. The RSVP thing gets me every time.We had 25 people show up that didn't rsvp, thus my bridal party had no where to sit and eat.. Boils my blood just thinking about it!

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  16. These are such GREAT tips! Love these. And they are definitely things to follow. I haven't gotten married yet, but I know some of these qualms based on being a bridesmaid! Thanks for sharing!
    xo

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  17. Great tips girl, people who don't rsvp are a pet peeve of mine haha. I like to rsvp asap!

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  18. yayyyy no more captcha! haha. for real, yours is the only blog i like enough to keep commenting with captcha.

    i loved all of these, and agree with all of them, and i can 100000% say that all of these happened to me, so people just dont give a shit and clearly need to read your tips.
    i also think you shouldnt wear black to a wedding, but thats less and less a 'thing' now but i would never wear black to a wedding, personally.
    we wanted no kids. people gave no shits. they werent on the invites, they RSVP'd for their kids regardless. i wanted to smack them silly.
    my husband's uncle with 10 - yes, TEN - children gave us a book. A BOOK. they were literally the most expensive family there, their kids werent invited, they brought them anyway, their kids are DEVILS, and they got us a BOOK.
    want to know what the worst part is? it was a book... on how to avoid affairs in marriage.
    i wish i was joking.

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  19. Don't even get me started with the phones at weddings. I had a night wedding & the walk down the aisle was ruined by flashes of everyone's cell phones...

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  20. Such a great post! Seriously, someone wore white to your wedding??? I tried to explain this to Cory and he just didn't understand why I wouldn't wear an ivory dress to a wedding. And the RSVP! Ever since I had to hunt people down, I try to immediately respond. And the seating chart...what a pain in our butts especially with people not letting us know of the changes in guest. So glad you shared these!

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  21. This post is so great, for everyone to read! Some people just don't think of this stuff! Great, great advice! :)

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    1. You would think this is all common sense but some people are just clueless! Thank you!

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  22. I am going to share this with everyone I know, seriously. I am so nervous for our wedding this October because we have a lot of flaky people that are fickle about everything. These are great guidelines for guests!

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  23. As someone who just got engaged, this post is HUGELY helpful!! Thank you putting it all in one place!

    Jenna from Visions of Vogue

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    1. Of course!!! Hope everything goes smoothly for you! Have fun planning!

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  24. One - this is so good! Two - my brother's wedding is Monday so perfect timing. I can just imagine how beautiful your wedding was!

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    1. Ahhh Monday!! Have so much fun! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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  25. So glad you call out the registry stuff!!! And I am glad to see your captcha gone. One time the two words were yes terrorist. I wanted to take a screen grab and send it to you!! :)

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  26. I could not agree more with these. I'm currently fighting battles with just about all of them!

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  27. You were kind to give your single guests a plus one! We had a pretty large wedding so unfortunately I had to say no to people wanting to bring a "casual date". it's also alarming how many people show up without a gift! I would never do that!

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  28. Gah, it's sad how people are truly CLUELESS about what I thought were (simple) things ha. No white is HUGE. That and RSVP'ing about kill me. And the "you have a year to give a gift". Totally don't agree with that!

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  29. These are such great tips! It was surprising to me after planning my own wedding, how many people do not know proper wedding etiquette!

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  30. White is literally NEVER okay, unless it's on the bride herself! I hate when ladies do this. Do they not have respect? Geez!

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  31. YES! I'm getting married in 3 weeks and this post is golden. Sharing it :)

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  32. Thanks for linking to me in this post!

    And YES! I had people invite themselves (and other people!) to my wedding. It was NUTS! People sometimes forget all etiquette when it comes to weddings.

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    1. Omg! That is bad. So true and weddings are almost a time when etiquette should come into play the MOST!

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  33. With the ridiculous amounts of weddings we are attending this summer, I will keep these notes in mind :)

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  34. Haha about the word verification! I've been wanting to say something, but figured you knew it was on :-P

    And loving all these tips, I can not for the life of me not understand why it's so hard for people to simply mark yes or no on a card and send it back in a pre-addresses and pre-stamped envelope *oy*.

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  35. I love ALL of these items!!! Thanks for actually calling attention to them :-)

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  36. Almost NO ONE from my husband's family RSVPed. Not even his parents. I was SO frustrated. He had to call every.single.one. Of them. It was SO AWKWARD because for awhile it felt like no one was coming from his list!!! Hate it when people don't RSVP!!

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    1. Whaaat?! That is so frustrating. After you spent all that money on invites and everything and I can only imagine how you felt! We had a few people RSVP but didn't even show up for the wedding.. never heard from them or anything.. so strange.

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  37. Oh my goodness. All of this is so SPOT ON!!!!! I could write examples of people doing the exact opposite of everything on this list - including wearing white to our ceremony! Grrrr!

    Admittedly I used to wait until the last minute to RSVP, but now that I'm on the other side you better believe I put that puppy in the mail the second I know if I can go or not!

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  38. Great tips friend! And I was positive I did not have that wretched captcha turned on, but somehow I did too?! So glad I read your post today and fixed that :)

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  39. Planning the most memorable day of your life takes a toll on you as you put in many efforts to make your wedding reception fun.


    Video Production Adelaide & Wedding Videographers Adelaide

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