Victoria Van Ness, Guest Author
Weddings are a huge opportunity for couples to pull together an amazing celebration for all of their friends and family. They usually choose their favorite colors, favorite foods, and even favorite music all in an effort to share this special time in their lives in a memorable way for everyone they love!
Along with all of the fun and hullabaloo though, comes a great deal of emotions. This is a big transition time for not only the bride and groom, but for their families, as the kids break away and become a family of their own. Sometimes what starts as a beautiful event where friends and loved ones come together to celebrate and congratulate the happy couple, can easily go bad just because of one or two misbehaving guests.
It’s so critical at this emotional time to take into consideration those heavily involved in the event you’re attending, when you’re invited to a wedding. It may not be exactly what you would do, you may not be sitting at a table you like or with people you like, and the food or music may not be your taste, but this is no excuse not be polite and respectful, and enjoy the party.
As a wedding guest, it is important that you keep a few tips in mind so that you don’t end up being the star of the show, in a way that everyone will remember for years to come. Check out some of these disturbing wedding guest faux pas!
1. Not returning the RSVP card. You don’t have to have planned your own wedding to know the importance of this one no-no. If you’ve ever attended a wedding, you know at least most of what goes into the creation of an event like this; the coordination of a team of wedding vendors, all from different companies, the creation of wedding menus, programs, place cards, escort cards, a seating chart, and the rental of just the right number of tables, chairs, dishes, place settings, and the preparation of enough food for everyone.
Guests are given an RSVP card, or asked to RSVP for a good reason. Couples have to know exactly how many people are going to attend their wedding at least one month before their wedding to make final payments and preparations. By not returning your card saying yea or nay, you are ignoring something that it crucial to the success of their event. If you have to be called to find our if you’re coming, you are simply making yourself a nuisance in their already full schedules. If calling is just too much work, at least email them.
2. Showing up at a wedding you weren’t invited to. If you have some friends or family members getting married soon and you haven’t received your invitation yet, just be patient. Considering how expensive weddings have become for couples getting married, the guest list is coming under a scrutiny that was never necessary before. If you are worried about not getting an invite, stop. You may not be invited, or you may simply have not received your invite yet. Either way, just be happy for the couple.
Showing up at a wedding you were not invited to will only cause TONS of problems. You will have become a wedding crasher! The wedding couple may be gracious and welcome you with open arms, but this stunt will be remembered. Worst case scenario, you could be thrown out of the wedding. Consider the feelings of the bride and groom before doing something like this. Stay home, make your own cake that you don’t have to share, and rent My Big Fat Greek Wedding instead. You’ll feel much better.
3. Not arriving on time. Everyone has those kind of days every now and then. There’s an accident on the freeway, you have a flat tire, or you simply get lost. Either way, arriving late to a wedding is disrespectful and distracting. Give yourself an extra 20-30 minutes to get to the wedding venue on the wedding day. Do a trial run or Google Map it ahead of time so the chances of getting lost are slim to none.
If for some reason you do happen to show up late, not on purpose I’m sure, be respectful of the ceremony going on. Don’t interrupt a procession by walking front of a bridesmaids or worse, the bride. Stand in the back until the procession is over. Then slide quietly into the back. I know you wanted to sit in the front, but that is out the window if you’re late. Just please do whatever you can to keep from drawing attention from the couple’s big moment.
4. Bringing people the bride and groom don’t know. A wedding is a celebration of love and finding that one true love to spend the rest of your life with. It is not a place to meet new people. The metaphor I liken this situation to is bringing new people into the delivery room at the hospital to meet a new delivering mom in her special moment of becoming a mother. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? It is!
This is a moment for the marrying couple, not for you. Introduce them at dinner when they return from their honeymoon, not at the wedding. I realize that people bring guests to weddings because they fear that they won’t know anyone and don’t want to be alone. I promise it’s more awkward to bring someone else that doesn’t know anyone. If you fear going alone, please refrain from going. Don’t bring strangers with you to a wedding.
5. Bringing your children to an Adult Only wedding. Children are a hot topic when it comes to weddings. Yes they are cute, but only for so long. Many couples want to have a “party” complete with loud music, vibrating lights, and tons of alcohol and don’t want to worry about children. There are also couples who simply would prefer an Adult Only celebration, and don’t want you to have to leave early to accommodate your little ones.
If your children were not specifically invited to the wedding, via “The Smith Family” or your kids specific names on the wedding invitation, assume they are not invited. This will likely cause LOTS of drama if you bring your little ones and others were not able to do the same. Drama for the bride and groom, which so isn’t fair to them. If attending the wedding without your little ones isn’t possible or seems too difficult, do yourself and the wedding couple a favor, and politely decline.
6. Allowing your children to misbehave at the wedding. If the bride and groom do allow your children to attend the wedding, at least keep them under control. Everyone has seen those parents at the movies, at the grocery store, at parent/teacher meetings, open houses, and even weddings, that bring their children with them only to let them run around, throw things, pull things off the wall or shelf, scream, disrupt everyone, and pretty much cause mass chaos and don’t lift a finger to do anything about it.
You know everyone despises those people. The last thing you want to do at a wedding is fill a couple’s one and only wedding video with unruly children screaming, running around, and destroying the ambiance of the perfect day the wedding couple has worked so hard to create. Please don’t be those people and make someone ask you to get them under control. It’s better just not to bring them at all if you’re not going to take care of them.
7. Not remembering to turn off your cell phone. It’s the height of rudeness to allow a personal call to interrupt someone’s once-in-a-lifetime, special moment. Enough said.
8. Moving to another table during the wedding. As a guest, do not move place cards or rearrange the seating chart. I realize that you feel like you should have been put at a more prominent place in the wedding, or you are not sitting with those people you wanted to at the wedding.
Realize that the bride and groom have put a great deal of time and thought into setting everyone out at the appropriate tables for the wedding to make sure the greatest number of people were happy. For a plated meal, the caterer has likely been given a chart saying where everyone is seated and what dinner choices have been made so that everyone gets the correct meal and the catering runs smoothly. You don’t know the whole story. Trust that they did their best and realize that this is a celebration about them.
If you are really unhappy, bite your tongue and wait until dinner is over, then get up, go around the room and mingle, or simply find a better seat. No one expects guests to stay in their seats after dinner has been served. This is the perfect time to get out of your seat and get to a better spot in the room.
9. Ignoring the invitation dress code. If the couple have listed the wedding dress code as black tie, this means tuxes and evening gowns. They have taken the time to plan their event down to the last detail and provide the event of a lifetime for this special moment in their lives. Rather than showing up in your holey jeans and grease stained t-shirt to destroy the ambiance they have worked so hard to create, please just stay home.
Weddings are about the bride and groom. They are normally paying, and have typically spent at least a year planning this incredible soiree. Please abide by their requests rather than making a spectacle. This also applies to dressing sleazy. Remember the bride should be the focus on her big day, not you. This is not the time to wear your bootie dress and pick up a bed mate for the night. Sorry for the picture. Don’t give it to someone else by making this mistake.
10. Taking “flash” pictures during the ceremony. As much as you would love to capture that perfect Kodak moment with a shot of the couple during the ceremony, your annoying flashes and clicks during the ceremony will only be distracting to the bride and groom and all of the other guests. And don’t get in the way of the photographer! They’re paying a lot for a professional photographer’s expertise and time, so let the Bride and Groom get their money’s worth! You don’t want to know how many times I’ve had to ask a wedding guest to stop taking photos because they are getting in the way of the professional photographer.
There’s a reason celebrities dislike the paparazzi – they can be very intrusive. It is easy to get carried away on the big day, but try to respect the dignity of the ceremony by refraining from standing in front of the photographer and videographer and taking distracting flash pictures at solemn moments.
11. Releasing tables for dinner yourself without being asked. So you’re desperate for dinner and you don’t think things are moving fast enough, so you think “If I can just release tables a little faster, then it will get things moving,” but what’s really happening is a back-up in the line and unhappy guests that have to stand up and wait. The host of the wedding has thought carefully about every detail of the wedding, including this one, and has a method to the madness. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Sit back and enjoy!
Let someone else run the show. You were invited so that you could enjoy the food, fun and festivities, and share this time with the bride and groom, not to work.
12. Giving an inappropriate toast. Do not embarrass the bride or groom with inappropriate comments during a toast. This is a day they want to remember for their lives. Tell them how much they mean to you and how happy you are that they found someone with which to spend the rest of their lives. This is not the opportune time to embarrass them and take advantage of them.
When in doubt, consider how you would feel if someone was vulgar, embarrassing, or rude on your wedding day (or any other special day in your life), much less committing it to video to be remembered for the rest of their lives. You will probably have lost a good friend (or more) and a wonderful opportunity to make two people really happy.
13. Getting drunk at the wedding. Inebriated guests are embarrassing and disrespectful. Too many guests show up at weddings simply for the free food and alcohol. These are typically the ones to get smashed at the open bar and cause a huge raucous.Drunk guest aren’t just disrespectful though, they can also facilitate a series of unfortunate events which could result in the worst wedding ever. There are tons of wedding videos out there depicting just this type of situation.
Screaming, yelling, fighting, cursing, throwing, items, breaking valuables, and destroying relationships are the typical actions created by those choosing to get drunk at the wedding. You have your entire life, and your own personal time, to drink all you want and cause problems. Please don’t use this one special day in the couples life, that they will remember forever, as your time to do this. If you’re worried it will happen, go to the bar instead.
14. Do have fun! Weddings are supposed to be fun. The bride and groom have gone to a lot of trouble to provide great food, great music, beautiful decorations, and a beautiful location for all of those that mean the most to them in their lives to have a stupendous time celebrating with them.They wanted you to come and have a good time or they wouldn’t have asked you to join them. In fact, if you don’t enjoy yourself, they will both likely feel really bad. Do yourself and the happy couple a favor. Leave your problems at the door and enjoy their hospitality.
If you’ve ever seen one or more of the wedding guests I’ve described above you know what I’m talking about. Don’t worry. The wedding party, the family, and even the bride and groom have their own faux pas that I will address in other articles. However, as a wedding guest, it is your responsibility to be respectful, gracious, polite and patient with the couple getting married. Sometimes from the top it is hard to see how others are feeling around you, but I promise they do care. And they did their best to throw the best party they could for their guests. Weddings are hard work! Just relax, and do your best to enjoy the party!
BONUS Article: Tips for Wedding Guests: How to Avoid Embarrassing Faux Pas
Smartphones at Weddings: Potential Distraction!
Copyright © 2013 – Victoria Van Ness. Victoria is finally married, starting a family, working from home . . . What more could she want? An amazing writing career! She has already written four books and have a good deal more in the making. She owns a wedding consulting business called A Piece of Cake Wedding Design in Prescott Valley, AZ and wants to expand. At the moment, she strives daily to help couples all over the country have their perfect wedding for pennies on the dollar by sharing DIY tips, money-saving strategies, and clarifying the truth when it comes to planning a wedding and choosing vendors. Visit Victoria’s Website!
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