There are a lot of things that happen at weddings every weekend that make us cringe. I know that sounds dramatic, some of the social faux pas are so incredibly obvious that the staff aren't the only people noticing. Fortunately, not everything happens in front of the actual brides and grooms, but a depressing amount of it does. And when it does, somebody always ends up embarrassed. Sometimes, my staff and I can't even make eye contact because we'll bust out laughing at a wholly inappropriate time.
This does not have to happen at your wedding. With a little common sense and some guidance, everybody can have a good time without stressing out or embarrassing the guests of honor. The responsibility for this lies with the key players on the big day, so I've created a basic Do's and Don'ts list for the entire wedding party -- from the bride down to the flower girl. These tips will make things flow more smoothly.
DO visit with ALL of your wedding guests. Be careful how much you lock yourself away with your girlfriends. Even if you're sneaking a cigarette. You waste a lot of reception time that way. The guests are there to see you.
DON'T get super sloppy drunk at your own wedding reception. A little fun is fine, but no bride is beautiful when she slobbering and not making sense, especially in front of elderly relatives and your parents' friends. Remember, there is a photographer there and everybody can make video on their phones.
DO be helpful during the wedding weekend. The bride has far more pressure on her than you do, believe it or not. Find out how you can help, and take pressure off of her whenever you can. DO make conversation with her random relatives you'll likely never see again, if only so your future wife doesn't have to do as much of it.
DON'T be M.I.A. with the boys whenever somebody's looking for you. This is a common problem -- much like the bride and her girls in the ladies' room. Not sure where you boys are disappearing to or why it's for so long, but it's very, very awkward when we announce the cake cutting and the groom cannot be found. Especially when the groom was warned to be ready to cut the cake in five minutes by a helpful wedding planner.
DO make sure you are willing to jump in and help if you are asked -- get ready early and be low maintenance regarding your own hair and makeup. Remember, the day is all about your daughter, not you. It is a big moment, but it is not your big moment.
DON'T point out problems your daughter hasn't noticed unless they're egregious and are going to cause a wedding disaster. Complaining about hotel service and getting her worried and worked up with you doesn't help her have fun. Don't appoint yourself her mouth piece to the wedding planner or bridesmaids, unless she's clearly asked you to do it.
DO offer to help in whatever way you can, and make an effort to get to know your son's future in-laws better. Offer compliments as frequently as possible -- it means more to a bride than you can even imagine.
DON'T criticize the wedding in any way, even if the bride's mother starts it. You can nod and sympathize, but don't join in the bashing. Be supportive. No sneak attacks to get your way on something the bride vetoed during the planning. Don't be sly and try to get the DJ to add a special dance song for your family when the bride's family isn't at the wedding.
Father-of-the-Bride and Father-of-the Groom:
DO watch how much alcohol you drink the day of the wedding. You have an important role and you need to be in top shape to stand up for your children. You also need to make sense when you toast the new couple's marriage.
DON'T strip down to your underwear and jump into the pool, and then parade around the wedding venue in your wet, striped, boxer briefs. DON'T get into a fistfight with another relative during cocktails -- your child's wedding is not the time to be settling old family grudges.
DO stay sober on the day of the wedding so that you can keep the groom on schedule and make sure he doesn't forget anything. Make an actual written list of things you need to remember (rings, socks, etc.) and be the guy-behind-the-guy that day so the groom can coast. Try to keep the groom sober too, as much as you can.
DON'T get uncontrollably wasted at the reception just because you can. Don't turn the toast into a roast because you're looped, and for God's sake, NEVER mention any of his exes in anything you say or do near a microphone. Also, don't talk about his relationship history with the bride's friends and family.
Maid of Honor:
DO have a bridal emergency kit ready even if the bride says she has one -- she may be too frazzled to find her safety pins or Shout wipes. Be like Dora the Explorer and her crazy backpack, even some ridiculous fancy chocolate treats can be fun to have. Chocolate always helps in a stressful situation. Just don't eat it anywhere near the wedding gown.
DON'T appoint yourself de facto wedding planner and stalk the real one with requests to hurry up and cut the cake, or suggestions that perhaps it's time to pour the champagne for the toast, unless the bride has specifically asked your to do it (and you know she won't). Don't point out things you think are a problem if the bride hasn't said anything. If you think the calla lilies are white instead of ivory, don't say a word unless she says something first. If she does notice, reassure her it's beautiful because whatever's going on at that point, it's going to be too late to do anything about changing her bridal bouquet. Your job is to reassure her. Focus on the bride.
DO make a point to dance with the single ladies (especially the older ones) at the wedding reception. You don't know how much the bride and groom will appreciate your efforts to make everyone feel included.
DON'T resort to pranks and frat boy antics during the wedding weekend -- this isn't spring break and nobody except you thinks you're funny. Don't be that guy.
DO get yourselves dressed and ready on schedule so that the bride isn't delayed by you. Be organized and don't forget to pack your accessories, shoes, etc. that are so important. Your job is to be social, look beautiful and not cause the bride any stress. Don't hesitate to offer assistance when you see something is needed, but don't get in the way under the guise of being helpful. Don't get puking drunk.
DON'T complain to the bride about anything. Not your accommodations, not the bridesmaid dress and certainly not about your boyfriend/husband/date. Nothing is about you that day, and whatever might be bothering you, it's a day to keep any negative thoughts to yourself. If you're dressing together with the bride, make sure you pick up after yourselves so the bride and groom don't return to a disaster zone.
Parents of the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer:
DO make sure your child has been prepared for his or her role in the wedding. There are some excellent children's books that make for wonderful bedtime reading. Make sure they're aware of the behavior that is expected of them before, during and after the ceremony. If your children won't behave up on the altar, make arrangements for somebody to catch the kiddos and park them in seats.
DON'T abandon your child to the bridesmaids or somebody else to watch (unless one of them is a relative). If you can't do this, make babysitting arrangements on site at the venue. When you bring your child to a wedding, you have the responsibility of supervising them for the entire time you're there. You can't get drunk and party and expect that somebody else will keep your five-year-old out of the pool or worse. It's a man-to-man strategy, not a zone babysitting defense. And you are responsible, not the service or wedding planning staff.
All of these very direct tips were compiled from things I've actually seen happen at weddings. I've seen MoB's cause the ceremony to start 45 minutes late. I've seen the bride's grandfather pop the FoB in the nose at the reception. And I've seen bridesmaids who didn't like each other get into actual physical altercations. Notice that none of the things I've mentioned have anything to do with the bride or the groom, it's all about badly behaved wedding party members. Being asked to be a member of the wedding party is an honor and it's about time that people started treating it as such.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!