Wedding etiquette is always changing, but there is usually more of a focus on etiquette on the part of the couple getting married: how to word invitations, how to address envelopes, etc. It's easy to forget that guests have to mind their manners, too. Some of these "easy steps" may seem so common sense, they shouldn't even have to be discussed. Unfortunately, these are all being discussed because I've actually witnessed them, either at a friend's wedding or my own. Just follow these 10 easy steps and you too could be the worst wedding guest in the world.
1. Invite yourself. If you didn't receive an invitation, you are not invited. Period. This includes giving yourself a plus-one when the invitation didn't specifically state that you're allowed one. I don't care if you think you're the bride's best friend in the universe, you should never ask if you (or your plus-one) are invited. It's rude and puts the bride and groom in an awkward position. If you have to ask, the answer is probably no.
2. Don't RSVP. It's just rude to make the bride and groom track you down individually, especially if a self-addressed, stamped envelope was included for your reply and all you have to do is check a box and put it in the mail.
3. RSVP yes and don't notify the bride and groom of your change of plans. Even if it's a last minute emergency and you don't think it will matter. The couple probably won't be able to update the guest count to avoid paying for your plate if it's that last minute, but a quick phone call is appreciated. A no-show is just rude.
4. Wear something inappropriate. If you have to ask, it's probably not appropriate. Just play it safe.
5. Ask to see the bride before the wedding. If you are not part of the bridal party and the bride herself has not told you where she is getting ready, you are not welcome to see her beforehand.
6. Get in the way of the professional photographer/videographer. We all know that one guest who seems to be holding a camera up, taking a photo in every wedding picture. In a few, they're even leaning in to get the shot -- right in front of the professional. Don't be that person. The bride and groom hired a professional because they want pictures of your face, not your camera!
7. Talk shit. Complaining about anything about someone else's big day makes you the worst. If there is a genuine problem, like not enough chairs, address it to anyone but the bride or groom. However, petty comments like "this wedding doesn't have a chocolate fountain or a juggler like the last one I went to" are totally unwelcome. Not only is it likely to get back to the bride and groom and cause hurt feelings, but nobody likes a Debbie Downer during such a happy occasion. Disappointed it's a cash bar? Ran out of your favorite appetizer? Buffet line too long? Keep it to yourself.
8. Use the occasion to "hook up." It's just tacky to hook up at a wedding. Feel free to get a phone number if there's some real chemistry, but keep it classy.
9. Try to get in the formal portraits. The photographer has an idea who is and is not going to be part of the portraits. If you are not a parent, sibling or in the wedding party and you have not been asked by the photographer or the bride herself to participate, you're not supposed to. Go enjoy cocktail hour! (Like anyone had to tell you twice!)
10. Don't bring a gift. It's wedding guest 101 that all guests should bring a gift, even if they're not attending. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, especially if you're not attending, but sending something is just a polite way to wish the couple well. Unless they're a scary, awful couple, the amount of the gift won't matter, especially if they're aware you have financial problems, but this is one area where the thought really does count.