Let me just start by saying that I am a wedding planner. Not the way that Katherine Heigl was a wedding planner in 27 Dresses, but in the way that people actually pay me to plan their weddings (although I have been a bridesmaid in my fair share of weddings like dear ole Katherine). So when my friends who are not wedding experts post links to articles about weddings, I immediately read them and judge accordingly. Now enter Buzzfeed’s “Wedding Etiquette Rules Every Grown-Ass Adult Should Know”. First off, the title is redundant. Dictionary.com defines “etiquette” as rules of conduct, so there’s no need for both words etiquette and rules in the title. But I digress…
Buzzfeed asked their friends, family, and staff what questions they had about wedding guest etiquette and came up with their own responses to them. I won’t bore you with all 28 (!!!) rules they list, so let me hit the high points. The original text is in italics.
How do I know if I get a plus-one?
Let’s handle this one — arguably the mother of all wedding woes — early. If you’re wondering (or have ever wondered) if you can bring a plus-one, look at the envelope your invitation came in.* Does it say “[insert your name here] and guest”? Yeah? Then congratulations! You’re free to bring whatever significant other, hookup, friend, roommate, or family member you want. Literally. If you’re not dating anyone, but still want to have a someone to dance with (or judge people from your table with), you can bring anyone you want, unless it’s, like, the Zodiac Killer.
This is actually a good question to start off with. However, if you get a plus one and you bring your brother, just be prepared for ridicule. If the couple doesn’t know the relative you want to bring well enough to invite them too, then said relative will probably feel as awkward at the wedding as the couple will feel about them being there. Just find someone on bumble and cut your losses.
You mean I can actually just…not go?
Correct — you can simply RSVP no. And you don’t have to write in your excuse on the invitation either. If it’s a really close friend, you could send them an email and let them know why you won’t be able to make it, but you don’t have to.
Yes, this is true that you are allowed to RSVP no to a wedding. But if it’s your close friend’s wedding and you don’t have a valid excuse, you might be kind of a dick if you RSVP no. Valid excuses include, but are not limited to: family functions, other weddings you have previously committed to, and football season. Seriously, don’t get married during football season unless you want half of your guest list to not show up. But if you’re trying to cut down on costs, this could be a way to save your budget. Prioritize.
Ugh, fine. So, weddings are just parties. I don’t really have to send back the RSVP card, do I?
UM, YES, YOU DO. Whether or not you get a plus-one, please, oh please, fill out your RSVP card and send it back promptly.* In this era of Facebook events and mass texts, it’s easy to forget that for some occasions, there literally might not be a place for you to sit or food for you to eat if you don’t respond. As stressful as it is to make social plans that far in advance, it’s much more stressful to accommodate someone who rolls up to the reception unexpectedly. So before you lose the card or plain forget about it, send it back. If you miss the RSVP deadline, you may sit at a table of strangers, because the seating chart (aka the devil incarnate of wedding planning) is already set. (That said, a late RSVP is better than no RSVP.)
Confession: I am the world’s WORST about sending in RSVP cards. I either lose them or just forget to send it by the date requested. If you are like me, it’s ok to shoot the bride or groom a quick text letting them know if you plan to be there or not. As long as they have a number to mark by your name in their excel spreadsheet they are bound to have, that’s all they care about. But if you RSVP yes but then don’t go without a valid reason, you probably just lost a good friend and you owe them $40 for your meal.
Times are tough. Do I *have* to give a gift?
Hey, you know, sometimes it just…can’t happen. No, you don’t have to give a gift. But you should definitely bring a card. If you really care about the person getting married (like if you’re in the wedding party), take the time to write them a heartfelt letter. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I agree and disagree with this statement. If you’re in the wedding party and can’t afford a gift (it happens), you definitely need to do something. Do I think you need to get them a card or write them a letter? Absolutely not. If you are a guy and you write a heartfelt letter for your buddy that’s getting married, I’m going to judge you. The groom probably doesn’t want to read that shit unless it’s coming from his bride. If you’re close enough with the bride or groom to be in their wedding party, chances are they are probably aware of your financial situation and would rather you not get them anything than go into debt. Just buy them something nice for an anniversary gift or baby gift when you’re back on your feet. Or if they don’t make it that far, foot the bar tab for your buddy at the divorce party.
I feel like weddings never start on time. Is it OK to show up a few minutes late?
No. Please, no. In fact, give yourself 10 more minutes to get to the ceremony than you think you need. (Kind of a good life rule to live by, too.)
Are there people out there that actually think this way?? If you are a guest at a wedding I am coordinating and you show up after the first people have walked down the aisle, you don’t get to go in the ceremony. I once had a wedding where there were a couple of stragglers that showed up late, right as the bride was about to walk down the aisle. They stopped to tell the bride how beautiful she looked and the bride responded with “Thanks, but it would have been nice if you showed up on time to my wedding.” BOOM!
After all of this, I need a drink. How drunk can I get at a wedding, really?
The good thing is, many weddings have an open bar, so you’re free to get pretty drunk. It’s a celebration! If you’re worried you may start teetering too close to the edge of serenading the couple or crying anything other than happy tears, though, please…don’t.
As one of the few people at a wedding who will be sober at all times, I beg you to drink at least one glass of wine for me. Plus drunk guests at weddings provide me with the BEST stories to tell my friends. If you think vendors at weddings don’t talk to each other about the drunken shenanigans they see every weekend, you’re wrong. Drink up, have fun, and Uber home for our sake.
Thanks, Buzzfeed, for giving us mediocre advice. Instead of giving you 28 rules for being a wedding guest, here is my one rule for wedding guests and normal human beings alike: Don’t be an asshole..