The honor of your presence is requested at the marriage of…
Congrats, you’re invited to a wedding this summer!
We know that the minute you open the invitation, your brain is immediately thinking of the hundred things you will need to do to prepare — request time off of work, buy a new outfit, buy new shoes, get your hair done, etc.
And then the questions start — what will the weather be like? Is it indoors or outdoors? Can I bring a +1? What about a gift?
We are here to help you keep your head from spinning. Weddings are a lot of fun and it is an honor to be invited to celebrate with the bride and groom. Although it is a party, you still want to present yourself with poise and perfection.
From RSVPing to gift-giving, read the following 5 points on wedding guest etiquette and you will be perfectly prepared to attend any wedding, we promise.
Wedding Guest Etiquette Tip #1: Dress Code
Dressing up might be one of the most fun parts when attending a wedding. Lace, hats, pearls, oh my! But what is customary to wear to a wedding?
There a a few things you will need to know at first.
- You will need to know the venue. This will be written on your invitation. Is it indoors or outdoors? Indoors (like a church) may require more modest clothing than outdoors. You may also want to bring a cardigan or shawl to keep warm because we all know that the air-conditioning is both great and torturous.
- You will need to know the formality. While most weddings these days are business casual, you don’t want to show up in your maxi dress to a black-tie event. If the invitation doesn’t specify, there may be a website that the couple have put together for more information. Visit it for dress code.
- You will need to know the color scheme of the wedding. What are the bridesmaids and groomsmen wearing? You want to coordinate with the set colors and avoid wearing the same shade of pink or blue.
Once you know the venue, formality and the dress code, you can start planning your outfits to suit your style. Remember style is art and you are the artist!
We always love a classic or vintage look. Find a dress with structure and curves in the design and doll it up with a pair of dangly earrings. If the wedding is in a church, wear some elbow length gloves like these or a fascinator which aren’t very functional and won’t offer protection from the sun outside but will make you look très chic and fashion-forward!
Wedding Guest Etiquette Tip #2: RSVP
You’ve got the time off of work and your outfit planned. Now to RSVP. Only then do you realize you haven’t been given a plus 1. If you are married and know the bride/groom very well, only then do we suggest you ask about a plus 1.
Otherwise, if the options on the RSVP card do not contain a plus 1, you do not get one. You are invited to a very expensive event, if you aren’t offered the opportunity to bring anyone with you, it isn’t appropriate for you to ask.
Wedding Guest Etiquette Tip #3: Time your Arrival
Remember you are not the center of this soiree. You are a guest and must behave appropriately. This means you arrive early. This is not an event to which you can show up fashionably late. The start time written on the invitation is the start time of the ceremony and that means all guests should be sitting in their seats.
If you would like to mingle with other guests beforehand, you need to arrive early. We suggest arriving early anyway so that you can find parking and be in the venue ready for anything.
When it comes to departure, it depends on what the newly married couple have planned. Typically there is a timeline of events posted at the venue. As long as you leave by the posted end time, you will be fine. We have never heard of anyone staying passed their welcome.
You might even get to participate in a sparkler send-off! Some couples exit in style!
Wedding Guest Etiquette Tip #4: Don’t Upstage the Bride
Of course no one would do this maliciously. We are merely stating a friendly reminder and pointing out that it can happen unintentionally.
In fact, two of us here at Mercury Clothiers had similar experiences with this point which proved how easy it is to overlook.
The two MC ladies didn’t know each other at the time of said incident but on separate occasions they nearly wore white to a wedding. Gasp! While they are well aware of the “no white” rule, they were still contemplating wearing it. WHY?
This is why — white is an appealing summer color and it is often mixed with other colors to disguise itself.
It happens to the best of us. We will save you the trouble and take the guesswork out of it. No amount of white is okay at a wedding. Use that as your rule of thumb.
Wedding Guest Etiquette Tip #5: Gift-giving
The rules are quite simple when it comes to gift-giving — you need to give one.
The engaged couple will have a wedding gift registry, a practice that was established by Macy’s in the 1920’s.
If it is not written on the invitation, it will be posted on their website (mentioned in Point #1). Gift-giving at a wedding is another situation in which the rules can be bent if you know them well enough.
For example, there may be something sentimental that you had in mind to give instead. That is absolutely appropriate and welcomed.
For out-of-town/state/country guests, it is also appropriate for you to purchase a gift online and have it sent to their home. Don’t think you have to show up with a gift in your hand.
Bonus Tip: Have fun!
Now that we’ve gone through those 5 points, we hope we have helped calm and organize your thoughts and maybe even steered you in the right direction. Just remember, weddings are more structured than other parties so be aware of where you should be and at what time.
Don’t forget to come back and share your thoughts and photos with us! We would love to see you all dolled up. We would also love to giggle with you at learning moments that happen — you’ll recall our MC girls nearly making headlines with their white!