Truth be told, I have about 497 topics that I want to blog about. However, now that I am hip deep in wedding season, I am hearing outrageous stories from clients about how their guests are behaving. Since it is the time of the year when most people will be attending weddings, I'd love this blog to be referenced as a handbook to all wedding guests.
Whether you've attended dozens of weddings or have yet to be at one, this should be mandatory spring reading material. The following is a list of the top 10 things NOT to do when invited to a wedding:
1. Not RSVP.
While there may be some debate about how far in advance you're supposed to receive an invitation to a wedding (two months for a local one, three months for a destination, by the way), there is no debate about the rules of sending in an RSVP. Not sending in an RSVP or sending one in late is a flagrant foul. (Catch the basketball reference there?)
Yes, everyone is busy and sometimes people have to check to make sure they can get a babysitter, dog sitter or whatever. However, please note that a final headcount is mandatory for the couple to have, and always in advance of the wedding -- sometimes as much as 21 days in advance.
When you get the invitation, check the date and do whatever you have to do to make sure you RSVP in advance of the date listed. Whatever you do, do not make the couple chase you down via phone, text, email, smoke signal, messenger, carrier pigeon or anything to find out if you are coming or not. They have enough to deal with besides trying to find out if you will be attending their big day. Make it easy and send in the RSVP as instructed, and do it on time.
2. Buying something they don't want.
Is the couple registered? Yes? Great! Look through the registries and purchase the items that are listed. This is not your opportunity to get them that thing that they have to have but didn't register for. Newsflash: If they wanted it, it would be on the registry. That's the whole point of a registry.
If you look at the list and just don't feel moved enough to buy anything on it, then give them a gift card to the store to spend however they like. It doesn't make you less creative, it makes you an awesome person that didn't get them another crystal vase that they don't need.
Also, if they aren't registered anywhere, that is code for: Give us money. Odds are, you will go to the reception and see a card box, which is where you drop off a card that should have a check in it. That vacuum that you think they need? It doesn't fit in a card box for a reason. For all of you creative Martha Stewarts out there, this is not your place to shine. Sorry, but odds are they spent a pretty penny putting together this little shindig you're at, and really don't want the creative gift package you bedazzled for them. Say it with me out loud: CASH.
3. Criticize their guest list.
Okay, I see this all the time: Person is invited, person writes on popular social media wall that they just got invited to so and so's wedding, and then proceeds to tag that person and post a picture of the invite. You know what you just did there? You have infuriated everyone that wasn't invited. You are also now going to be painfully aware of the guest list. This is not your opportunity to criticize it.
Oh, you heard that the bride invited her long-lost pen pal from Eastern Cambodia, but not your sister's cousin's stepdaughter that they hung out with that one time? Too bad. You do not suddenly have permission to contact the couple and complain that one was invited but not the other. You also aren't allowed to complain that your ex-boyfriend was invited and that you have to *gasp* act like an adult and deal with him. Guest list issues? Complain to your significant other/cat/dog/fish named Murray. Do not bother the couple with this nonsense, because that's what it is: nonsense.
4. Dictate where you need to be seated.
Here is an issue that has been around for decades: invitation received, phone call to the couple with a seating request. This is not a flight. You do not get to choose where you sit. Let me be perfectly clear: A seating chart is a nightmare for every couple. It is the most awful torture you can't even imagine. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if you go to Hell, your day job is creating seating charts for difficult guests.
Keep in mind that you will not be the only person that wants to sit in a certain area. The couple will be drowning in phone calls from guests demanding to be seated away from the band/DJ/kitchen/restrooms, etc., but always near the bar. You know what? You'll be in your seat for about five nano seconds -- and that's just to eat.
If the party is good, you'll spend most of it on the dance floor, at the bar and/or just mingling with everyone. The seats are there for those of us that wear six-inch heels to these things (despite our husbands telling us we're insane for doing so) and need a break from standing. Don't worry about where you're sitting. Trust me, you'll be fine.
5. Complain about the location.
Oh my gosh the venue is a full HOUR away from your house? These inconsiderate people didn't think to pick a venue that was convenient to your location? How was that not in their list of things to think of?
Even worse, a destination wedding? You have to get on an airplane and everything? Now look, I have already told all of my friends (all three of them) that when they get married, if it involves flying anywhere, to not expect me. I will send a check (because I read number two) but I am not getting on a flight to go to a wedding. You know what else I'm not going to do? Complain directly to them!
Odds are, the couple took into account the distance that their guests would have to travel to be at their wedding. The last thing they need is to feel guilty because you don't want to drive that far. If you make them feel like their wedding is a hassle to attend, they are going to feel pretty terrible. Is that your goal? No? Then say nothing. If it's too inconvenient to go, send a gift and don't attend. And yes, a gift is mandatory if you're invited.
6. Make ridiculous menu requests.
Here's looking at you vegan and gluten free. So, 80 percent of the time, a wedding is held at a banquet hall and the menu options are what they are. Some banquet halls offer an extensive menu to choose from with vegetarian options that would make T-Rex excited. Sometimes the couple can even bring in a caterer that will put together any dish for every guest and not even need the menu choices in advance.
However, most of the time, the couple is limited to very specific menu options. That said, if you receive an invitation asking for your food selection, you need to choose from the options that are given to you. If "tomato quinoa with free range chicken made under the light of the blue moon" is not an option, tough cookies. Please do not call the couple and list your thousands of allergies and food preferences to make them feel sorry that they invited you in the first place.
7. Become a planner.
It always happens. Someone gets engaged and someone in their life is an instant planner. I see this when my clients come to consultations with this person in tow. This person will say, "Yes, it can be done," three times to my every, "No, it can't be done...for that price." This person will give the couple high hopes of putting together a dream six-figure wedding on a $2k budget, but will never come through.
Do not be that person. You found a wedding gown that would be perfect for the bride in some magazine and decided to show her? Why? If she falls in love with it, you're the hero, right? What happens when she has to have it, and it's $5,000 over her budget? If you're not pulling out the checkbook, this is not your place. There is no harm in helping the couple to plan their wedding, but know your place and your job. If you're not a planner by day, do not pretend to be one. There is so much more that goes into planning a wedding besides just collecting pins.
8. Do not tweet the wedding. Hashtag: inappropriate.
The stage is set and the new couple have just been announced as "married." You jump out into the aisle with your super handy-dandy camera phone and capture the moment for all of social media to see. Turn around. See the person behind you dressed all in black with a really fancy camera? That's the photographer that the couple paid a lot of money to also get that shot. The shot that you just photobombed.
That *one* perfect shot of the couple sharing their first kiss as a married couple will now include you in it, unless the photographer can crop you (and everyone else that did this) out of the frame. Do not make it worse by putting that picture on social media with some hashtag about their wedding. Did the couple give you a hashtag? Do you know if they want their private details thrown all over the Internet before they even get to see a single picture? Don't be that person. #YouAreNotThePhotographer.
9. Wear white.
Why do people do this?! I once had a bride that felt forced to wear a pink wedding gown because a close relative was going to wear white. I can't even wrap my head around this or why the person thought it was acceptable. It's in every movie comedy ever made where the jealous mother-in-law wears white to her son's wedding to upstage the bride. You are not allowed to do this. It doesn't matter how you are related to the bride, friend or family, a white-anything is simply not appropriate or acceptable. Nothing positive will be said about you, and most likely, you have created drama and resentment for years to come. It really doesn't matter if the bride is wearing something trendy in black, pink or red, it is not okay to wear white as a guest to any wedding.
10. Bring a plus anything that wasn't invited (this goes for kids too).
Sometimes couples will send out invitations that do not include a "plus one." This means that the only person invited is the person who received the invitation. While I encourage my couples to always invite a "plus one," not everyone does that. If you receive an invitation and it's just for you, solo, do not write someone else in, do not call and ask if you can bring someone -- just RSVP.
This also means, that if you are invited as a couple but your children are not on the invitation, that you cannot bring your kids. Sometimes, weddings are for adults only, and that is up to the couple to decide. This is not the golden opportunity for you to call the parents of the couple and complain that, "Well, if my kids aren't invited, then I can't go," in the hopes of that getting back to the couple. You either accept the invitation as is, or decline it as is. And, please, do not commit the sin of writing in people on the RSVP card that weren't on the invitation. You are not voting for someone, you are sending in your RSVP.
There you have it. Honestly, I could probably write 20 more ways to be the ultimate guest that no one wants at their wedding, but these are my top 10. If you're going to a wedding, consider this your Gospel. You're welcome.