It’s officially wedding season, friends, and I’ve been invited to quite a few this year. I’m at that age where 4-5 weddings per year is normal – and stressful! What will I give them? How do I behave? What if I need to leave early???? I turned to my resident expert on all things etiquette and organization – Claire Kurtz of The Well-Organized Woman (@CKWOW) – to make sure I’m planning ahead correctly and – *most importantly* – acting as a gracious wedding guest for all of my dearest friends on their special days. Read on for wedding guest etiquette!
Claire’s first piece of advice is to send your RSVP right back out the day after you receive your invitation. Invites almost always include a pre-stamped RSVP card that you simply write your name on and check the box. It’s so easy and there is no reason to delay, especially if you have known about the event for a while.
CKWOW TIP: Most couples send out ‘save the dates’ well in advance, but you should expect an actual invitation about 6-8 weeks out from the wedding date.
ONLY BUY GIFTS FROM THE REGISTRY OR GIVE MONEY …
While you might think it’s a good opportunity to get creative with gift-giving, this is not the time. The couple needs and wants what they say they need and want. Sure, it feels weird to get a good friend a toaster or a ladle, but this is the only time in their lives where they can expect to receive – in bulk – the things they will need to have a successful home life.
If you’re not able to purchase any of the items on the registry or prefer not to, sending a gift of money is always appreciated.
That said and given so many of us live together and build homes prior to getting married these days, I am seeing that more and more people are not asking for gifts but instead requesting contributions to a ‘honey-fund’, where your gift of money contributes to their first trip as a married couple. I love this idea because experiences can be so much more meaningful than things – especially your honeymoon!
… AND ORDER THE GIFT AHEAD OF TIME
Claire recommends you send your gift prior to the wedding so you don’t forget completely (guilty of this one!). A wedding gift is usually addressed to the bride if you can only choose one name for sending purposes.
CKWOW TIP: Don’t bring a gift to the ceremony. “It’s just not a good idea. Gifts are too much for the family to keep up with and I have heard countless stories of money going missing from cards, as well.” YIKES!
ARRIVE 20 – 30 MINUTES EARLY
Schedule your travel to the wedding with the intention of arriving 20-30 minutes early for the ceremony. Members of the wedding party should be seating guests at this point. Any earlier, and you risk walking in on last-minute prep so be mindful of the right time frame.
Claire recommends you look up your maps that morning and make sure you have an understanding of how to get where you are going so there are no mishaps with directions or arrival times. You don’t want to miss a moment!
BELLE TIP: I keep a dressier watch for special occasions so that I can keep myself on track while looking fancy.
NEVER LEAVE WITHOUT BRIDE & GROOM FACE TIME …
Make an effort to congratulate the bride and groom early in the evening so that you don’t have to wait in long lines, talk to them when they are fatigued, or miss your opportunity all together. You might think they have too many people to talk to and you don’t want to be a bother. Not the case. It’s rude to attend a party – especially one where your every food, drink and dancing need has been accommodated – without saying hello to your hosts.
Claire says, “When you get the chance to grab a moment with the bride and groom – jump on it. You may not get an easier chance later and you should never, ever leave the wedding without it. When you do speak to them – express your thanks for being included in their special day, give them your happy blessings and get outta there. Don’t linger too long because they have a lot of people to greet!”
An obvious exception to this is if you are close to the bride and groom, in the wedding party or involved in the wedding in some way – you’ll be with them all through the night, so cherish that time!
CKWOW AND BELLE BONUS POINTS: Say hello to the parents of the bride and groom – even if you don’t know them. Parents love being recognized by their children’s friends and quite often, they are the ones who paid for the party. Thank them! And then tell them a sweet little story about the couple. It will be very special for them to hear.
… AND CAKE-CUTTING IS THE EARLIEST ACCEPTABLE EXIT
I didn’t know this, but Claire explained that the cake cutting portion of the evening is generally the first time it is okay to gracefully withdraw, especially for older people, friends/acquaintances of the couple’s parents who don’t plan to dance. This applies IF AND ONLY IF you have gotten face time with the happy couple, though!
Claire and I don’t recommend you always split after the cake, though. If these are your good friends, STAY and dance. They put so much effort into planning a big party – so put your effort into cutting a rug and stuffing your face!
CKWOW AND BELLE TIP: The easiest way to make sure you’re a good wedding guest is to think about what you would expect from your guests on your big day and give that – respectfully and graciously – to your friends.
RECOMMENDED LINKS FOR MORE WEDDING GUEST ETIQUETTE DOS AND DONT’S:
And for everyday guest etiquette – not just weddings – Claire loves Colin Cowie’s aritcle below!
Thank you so much to Claire Kurtz – my sister and the woman who transformed my closet (read the post here) – for her second appearance on Belle Meets World! To learn more about her personal assistant and organization business, go to www.thewellorganizedwoman.com.
Also, thank you so much to my friends Julie and Matt for letting me photograph their wedding invite!
Happy Wedding Season!