There’s something wonderful about being invited to attend a wedding, and sharing in a couple’s special day as they open a new chapter in their relationship. It’s a celebration geared towards a good time, from beautiful vows and gorgeous gowns to a glass of champers to toast their good fortune. Play things right and you’ll help them – and yourself – have a wonderful day. So with that in mind, here’s 10 top tips to help make sure you’re the perfect wedding guest.
Be in the moment
Everyone at a wedding is going to take photos, and you’re probably no exception. But don’t get so caught up in it that you forget just to be present. For example, put down the camera (or smartphone) when the bride is walking down the aisle and Instead, use those moments to witness her joy and her beauty as she walks towards her future. Sneak a peak at the groom as well, to see his grin, his happiness and maybe even a tear of joy. You won’t miss out as there will be lots of chances to snap a pic later, but for that small window of time – extending through the ceremony – you’ll get, and give, far more as a guest, not a photographer.
Don’t be late
This one should probably go without saying, but you can’t run late for a wedding. If you’re not sure of where you’re going, or what the parking situation is like, do a scouting run in advance so you’re not caught out. Remember, too, that the time listed on the invitation is the time when the actual ceremony starts, and even if you’re convinced the bride is going to be late, you should still make sure you’re there nice and early. That way the ushers can get everyone seated before she arrives for her grand entrance.
Be chatty and inclusive
Weddings are a great opportunity to catch up with guests you know. But meeting some fresh new faces can be just as enjoyable. There could be some out-of-owners sitting at your table, a fellow single wedding guest who’s not on the dance floor, the groom’s old friends you’ve heard plenty about or even just someone you run into at the bar. It’s the perfect atmosphere in which to strike up a a conversation with an opening gambit of “How do you know the couple?” Even if the conversation lasts only a minute, there’s something magical about spreading that welcome feeling. And who knows, you might even make some great new friends out of the experience.
Keep the focus just on today
Perhaps you went to another wedding where a couple also chose to have a naked cake. Or perhaps you have seen a much nicer bouquet made from the same flowers. Or maybe you think the colour scheme of the reception is a beautiful copy of one in a magazine. It’s almost enough to make you bring it to attention, but no matter what comparisons spring to mind, be they good or bad, keep them to yourself. THIS day is the most special ever for the bride and groom. It’s a product of their love and creativity and to them, it is utterly unique, personal and perfect. So don’t ruin the moment for them. Just compliment them on a fabulous day.
Give the marrying couple a hug
Most people – especially those who have been married themselves – know that a wedding can go by in the blink of an eye. And even though they will try, some couples inevitably don’t get around to everyone. Part of the issue is that wedding guests sometimes don’t want to intrude by grabbing them for a moment, but that’s exactly what the bride and groom might love. So pick your moment – maybe not in the middle of their first dance – go up and say hello, give them a hug, make a little conversation and then make way for other guests. That way you’ve had the chance to say thank you for the invitation, and they will sleep happily knowing they got to connect one-on-one with you, even just for a little while.
Don’t try to be invisible in the pictures
If the bride and groom ask you to be in a picture, don’t try to hide up the back or blend in. They want a shot of you as a lovely record of the wonderful guests who shared their celebration, so even if you’re shy, buck up, plaster on a big smile, and say “Cheese”. Along the same lines, don’t disappear to the bathroom when duty calls – the photographer WILL find you, and the time it takes costs them precious shooting time. The same rule of thumb applies to the bouquet or garter toss. If the couple wants you in on it, you should do it, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, it’s only a minute of your life but that’s a minute in which you can make them happy.
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Watch your children
The attendance of children at a wedding isn’t always a given, so if an invitation is extended to yours, pay back the faith by ensuring good behaviour. Make sure you pack enough of their things to keep them entertained, from a portable DVD player to an iPad. Make sure they stay in sight so that, for example, they’re not running unsupervised too close to the cake table, and make sure they are engaged during moments such as the speeches, when everyone wants to be able to hear what’s going on. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be themselves – after all, that’s why the couple love them. It’s just about making sure that fellow wedding guests can witness and enjoy all the day’s key moments.
Introduce yourself to their parents
Chances are that you already know one set of parents. So take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the one you don’t. Parents love to know as much as they can about their children’s lives, so they’re delighted to meet people who play a role in it. They may even have heard of you before, giving them a lovely chance to put a face to a name. Extend the plan to grandparents as well, and anyone who the bride and groom obviously value as an extra-special VIP. After all, with the potential for babies and future milestones to come, it probably won’t be the last time you see them.
Weddings are good fun. So make a pledge to yourself to indulge. Enjoy the delicious food, even if you wouldn’t normally eat dessert. Have a few glasses of champagne and revel in the buzz. Hit the dance floor when the inevitable retro classic takes over the sound system and dance like no one is watching. Remember, fun had is fun shared, so not only will you look back fondly on a great night, you’ll hopefully have encouraged others to let their hair down too.
Say thank you
There’s one final tip that can easily go overlooked – and that’s to say thank you. To the newlyweds for inviting you, to their parents for helping to throw the celebration, and even to any attendants who did something terrific, such as a great speech. Whatever they did took time, commitment and probably some nerves, so a sincere thank you and an expression of what a lovely job they did will hopefully give them a skip in their step and a well-earned moment of pride.
If you enjoyed this article, here is another article about guest etiquette at weddings.
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