In the ever-changing world of weddings, there are a few things people attending and planning the wedding should and shouldn’t do. Wedding etiquette and just a general kind and polite attitude is always the right move, and out of all the weddings I have attended, it is always best to brush up on what to avoid before and during a wedding celebration.
Here are a few general tips and tricks when it comes to weddings:
Make sure you actually RSVP on time, people! The bride and groom actually base their numbers on who have all confirmed their spot in the wedding. With all the moving parts attached to the number of people coming, all guests should connect with the bride and groom what the exact amount of people they are planning to bring. That way there are accurate spots at the tables, food for everyone to eat, and the correct number of gift favors prepared. Included in that, do not even think about bringing extra people who are not invited—unless you have children or a plus one. Just focus on what is listed on the invitation, and if two people are listed, please do not bring four.
Brides and grooms should know that if their wedding is a few hours away, or even all the way across the pond, people might not be able to make it. Friends and family invited for a reason, you want them to be there for support and to celebrate! Unfortunately, understand if people cannot make the trip and do not expect everyone to come, just be happy those that can make it will be there. On the flip side, if you are a guest and a loved one is getting married far away, just know that they do not expect every single person to come, but they would love for you to be there.
Make sure you are dressed appropriately. Bridesmaids and groomsmen, remember to grab everything you need from home or your hotel room to be fully prepared and dressed to look your finest in whatever the bride and groom want you to wear. Friends and family not in the wedding party have the freedom to pick what they wear, but please, oh please, don’t wear white! Also, keep in mind colors that go well with the season—not being too flashy or in super bright colors—and dress appropriately for a formal and special day.
Avoid setting all your stuff in your seat in case the photographer or any other vendor would like to do detailed shots of the room before the ceremony. With that, try not to show up too early. If you are just wandering around, you could be potentially getting in the way of pre-ceremony set up or rituals (like a first look) or last minute touches to the room or outdoor site. And if you are early, hold back on visiting or calling the bride or groom unless invited to. Of course, do not show up late—it’s disruptive!
This can always be tricky to navigate. There are so many people voicing their opinions about the wedding: what venue you choose, what color the tablecloths are, what time the ceremony should be, who to invite! If you know there might be someone in your family who wants their voice in your wedding, set up boundaries and try to be open about YOUR day before your wedding day even happens. Ask about their expectations and have a conversation comparing their thoughts to your expectations. This does not mean you are ungrateful for their help and guidance, this just means you want your wedding to be true to you as a couple, and only you. On your wedding day, a few reminders for your in-laws doesn’t hurt and even having an inside point person to intervene appropriately is a good back up option.
To all those couples afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, I give you permission to not include every single person you know to stand up in your wedding party. Honestly, the smaller the bridal party you have, the more fun the festivities usually are, not to mention a lower cost. Not everything is about money, but think about paying for twenty of your closest friends to stand up at your wedding: nails done, hair and makeup expertly styled, fancy dresses paid for, etc. That can add up to be a large bill! Choose your inner-circle carefully, and know that this is your decision to make. Keep it close and intimate, and it is usually better!
Bridesmaids and groomsmen: this day is all about your bride and your groom! Help out where you can, avoid getting too drunk before dinner, and be responsible. Complaining can become contagious, and one way to support the bride and groom is to not complain. Have fun and actively participate in the celebration you, and the bride and groom have put so much energy into.
As a photographer, I have lots to talk about when it comes to taking pictures, but most importantly, I want to remind you and your guests to just enjoy your time! Wedding festivities take countless hours of preparation, thought, and creativity for one amazing and beautiful day. Put your phones away, and have some fun! I will take the pictures for you, capture those moments, and do all that work for you—that’s what I’m paid to do! Additionally, please refrain from following the photographer around and taking photos over their shoulder. I love crafting beautiful shots of the bride and groom and all of the people at the party, let me do that; feel free to join the picture instead of hovering behind me. Lastly, be respectful during an unplugged ceremony by honoring the couple’s wishes, stay in your seat, and enjoy the ceremony with your own eyes and ears—not through your phone screen or camera lens.
As always, have fun and be respectful! Don’t constantly pine for the bride and groom’s attention (they’re happy you are there, but they have other guests to see too!), think about all the planning they’ve done and don’t mess with it. Be appropriate at the ceremony, sit where you’ve been assigned during dinner, and don’t go hard on the drinks. Be kind to the guests around you and the people getting paid to make the day run smoothly. Have a fun time (laugh until your cheeks hurt, dance lots, clap whole-heartedly, cry tears of joy, etc.) so you can look back and remember what a blast it was for many years to come.
Over the last almost three years owning my own photography business, and having attended countless weddings, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and even some disastrous moments during weddings. For the most part though, these weddings have been fun, pleasant, and a time to remember! Expectations for every wedding are different and unique, but the things to keep in mind for a successful and fun time are the same. Feel free to contact me about many other etiquette tips for weddings in 2020 and beyond! You can contact me here with questions or even stories from your wedding. I’d love to hear from you!