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Wedding Etiquette - nice to know about

Even though some etiquette rules for weddings are outdated, there are still some that you should follow at every celebration.

These etiquette rules for weddings ensure that you are not "that" guest.

Weddings are a joyous celebration and a wonderful opportunity to have fun. They are also an opportunity for some serious (and sometimes hilarious) breaches of wedding etiquette - whether it's a lovesick ex who decides to "speak now or forever hold your peace", a guest who doesn't follow the wedding guest dress code and shows up in a white ball gown, or a family member who ruins beloved wedding traditions with an ill-conceived joke.

It makes for good stories later on, but you certainly don't want to be the brunt of a mishap yourself.

To help you at your next wedding as a guest, we at Simply-Si Wedding & Events and as a destination wedding planner enrich your knowledge with some rules that are nice to know.

Return your RSVP on time

What does RSVP mean?

The internationally used abbreviation R.S.V.P. stands for répondez s'il vous plaît.

Not to answer is one of the biggest mistakes you can make at a wedding. Couples base their entire day (and budget!) on the number of guests, so showing up unannounced is really unacceptable.

Complete your RSVP in full and return it promptly - either by post or digitally, as per the couple's instructions. And no, you are not that special friend, who does not have to answer.

Only bring an accompanying person if the invitation permits this.

"Weddings are expensive. Only those whose names are on the envelope are invited", We at Simply-Si Weddings advise guests to read their invitations carefully. Just as we, as wedding planners, give the bride and groom accurate and helpful tips on what belongs on an invitation and its design.

Unless the invitation is specifically addressed to you and a guest, you should come alone. Under no circumstances should you add an extra "line" on your reply card to add a date or even children!

For an additional person, there should be a note on your invitation : e.g. plus 1 with a corresponding line to write the name of the accompanying person.

Please write down whether it is a lady or a gentleman. Yes it is important for the additional planning.

And let's talk about children for a moment. Every wedding is different when it comes to children, but it usually says on the invitation if your children are invited. If there is no information about children or the details are not specified, you should contact the couple at least a month in advance to ask about age limits, what parts of the wedding they prefer for children, and if any accommodations (like a babysitter or changing room) are available. Do not bring children to an adults-only wedding unless you have the permission of the bride and groom.

As a destination wedding planner this is also a point where we advise our couples to be very precise in their communication.

Honor your RSVP

Not showing up is an absolute "NO GO" unless you have just been kidnapped. It is also bad manners to try and turn a "no" into a "yes" and turn up at the last minute or bring someone who wasn't on the reply card.

Are you a member of the wedding party, then stay tuned for the relevant etiquette soon on our Simply-Si Wedding Planner / Wedding Planner blog.

Stick to the dress code

Not all weddings have a dress code, and there is a huge range of wedding attire to choose from, but if the couple specifies a dress code, you should stick to it. "The most important thing is to match the tone so as not to draw too much attention to yourself," is our advice as a wedding planner. "It's a common mistake to be too extravagant or over-the-top at a casual wedding, or to dress too casually at a very formal wedding.

We have listed a few points that you should definitely consider:

  • Unless specifically told to do so, women should never wear white, no matter what your dress looks like.

  • To be on the safe side, for international weddings, you should also avoid wearing white to bridal showers, engagement parties, hen parties, dress shopping, rehearsals and bridesmaids' brunches.

  • Wear appropriate footwear for beach and outdoor weddings.

  • Jeans are generally not appropriate for either gender.

  • Dress for the occasion - especially if the wedding is at a religious venue which may have its own dress code.

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Make an appropriate gift

It is poor etiquette for a couple to request gifts, but guests are still expected to bring a wedding gift unless the couple has specifically asked you not to. Here are some guidelines for an appropriate wedding gift, according to our experience as a destination wedding planner.

  • Choose something related to the couple and unique, but nothing very personal. (If you are not sure what this is, check the couple's wish list).

  • The gifts should be for the couple and not just for the person you are close to....

  • For destination weddings, we as Wedding Planners recommend that the gifts are sent to the couple's home before the wedding so that the new couple does not have to worry about transporting them back.

  • There is no minimum or maximum amount, but you should be generous. Consider what you can personally afford and your relationship with the couple.

  • A donation in their name to a charity that the couple favours is a good gift if the couple has indicated that they want it; otherwise, don't go that route.

  • Cash gifts used to be considered rude, but nowadays cash is welcome and often preferred.

  • Don't give very personal or intimate items, gifts intended to remedy a lack of skills (e.g. a cookbook or a weight loss device), or anything offensive.

  • Do not regift, even if the idea of sustainability feels noble.

Don't take photos of the ceremony with your mobile phone

The couple has probably hired a photographer and/or videographer to document the day, and that's one thing you're better off leaving to the professionals, is our credo as a destination wedding planner. Trying to take your own photos or videos - especially of critical moments like the first kiss or cutting the cake - can ruin the shot for the professionals and also obscure the view for the other guests.

Be respectful when taking personal photos

Unless you're told no photos are allowed, it's usually okay to take a few personal photos with your phone during the non-formal parts of the wedding, such as the reception afterwards, recommends Saskia from Simply-Si Weddings & Event Design. Just make sure the professional photographer doesn't want to take the same shot and you're not in the way. And under no circumstances should you kneel down in the aisle, push your way to the front or otherwise obstruct the wedding or ceremony to take a photo.

Follow social media rules

Unless the couple specifically asks guests to post pictures on social media or on the wedding site, do not post photos from the wedding on social media until the couple has done so. And under no circumstances livestream the event. Also be sure to follow any other social media guidelines the couple may have, such as using a specific hashtag, tagging the bride and groom, or naming the location. Wedding etiquette applies to both parties, of course, and the couple themselves should also follow these rules to ensure that the day is an enjoyable experience for their guests.

Keep negative opinions to yourself

You won't be thrilled with every wedding, but complaining to other guests or the bride and groom is a huge breach of wedding etiquette. While this applies to any event, it's especially important to respect the couple's choices at something as personal as a wedding. Whether it's something small like the choice of flowers, bridesmaid dresses or garter belt, or something bigger like a same-sex ceremony or unconventional vows, keep your thoughts to yourself - in person and online. And no one wants to hear your opinion on whether the bride should really wear white.

If you have a legitimate complaint about something to do with the service, such as the food or the venue, speak discreetly to the wedding planner or on-site manager. Do not harass the couple or their family and do not make a scene.

Don't steal the limelight

When guests make a big announcement at someone else's wedding, it's such a breach of wedding etiquette that it's meme-worthy. The day should be about celebrating the couple. Therefore, skip marriage proposals and announcements of engagements or pregnancies, even if you think the couple would be okay with it.

"The big public announcements are often made to compete for views and likes on social media, which makes them doubly problematic," according to Saskia/ wedding planner. "A wedding is considered one of the biggest events in most people's lives, so avoid anything that might take the focus away from them.

Celebrate responsibly

Everyone wants to have a good time at a wedding, but too much alcohol can make you do something you regret after you sober up. "Alcohol often brings out the worst in people." A guest who is extremely drunk can even ruin the wedding by causing damage, becoming violent, involving the police or upsetting the bride and groom when they have many other things to think about. Our advice as wedding planner: know your limits and don't drink to get drunk. If you plan to drink, make sure you get a ride home in advance, or book a room at the venue to stay overnight.

Do not bring your own alcohol or drugs.

Mute and put away your phone

We've all been to a public event where someone's phone went off at exactly the wrong time. Don't be that guest! Before the ceremony begins, mute or turn off your phone and stow it out of sight in your handbag or jacket. This way, the couple can be left alone and you can fully enjoy the moment with them.

Do not distract participants

More and more couples are choosing to include young children and/or pets in their ceremony in unconventional ways - for example, by making the dog the 'flower girl' or having a child pull a younger sibling down the aisle in a carriage. As tempting as it may be to pet, touch, talk to or photograph the protagonists, resist the urge to do so as it may disrupt the very carefully orchestrated proceedings. It is also inappropriate to shout, play pranks, have loud (or loudly whispered) conversations or eat and drink during the ceremony. The exception to drinking is during very hot outdoor ceremonies. For these, there are usually drinks for the guests on the chairs. Try not to drink loudly from a PET bottle during the vows or even the YES word and possibly even crush it. And do not arrive too late or leave too early, unless it is a real emergency.

Limit special requests

If you really have a special request, e.g. a disabled parking space or a vegan meal, you should express it weeks in advance. As wedding planners, we are in constant contact with the bride and groom until the last minute and can react to respective requests immediately. However, if it is just something you prefer, someone else's wedding is not the right time to tailor everything to you. The choice of music, venue, food and alcoholic drinks has already been planned in detail and even 'simple' requests can cause problems. Some common wedding etiquette mistakes we see time and time again as Destination Wedding Planners are:

  • Asking the DJ to play your wedding song

  • Moving tables and chairs outdoors or indoors

  • Changing the assigned seating arrangement

  • Asking the bartender to make you a cocktail that is not on the menu

  • Adjusting the decorations

Hochzeitsparty Toskana

Follow all health guidelines

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way people view large group gatherings, including weddings. Keeping up to date with all health guidelines and regulations - including state and local regulations as well as those of the bride and groom themselves - and following them is good safety practice; we strongly recommend as a wedding planner. Even if local guidelines do not mandate masks, if the wedding couple does, be prepared to put one on without objecting. If you feel ill, stay home.

Offer your help

Focus on your relationship with the couple, not just the fact that you are a guest expecting a fun party. A nice gift you can give the couple is to help them in any way you can. Everything can go wrong at the last minute, and your offer to run to the shop, take a crying baby outside, sew on a button, find a relative or do some other small favour can save the day.

You can always ask the wedding planner if you can be of help.

Fotocredits pic:1,3,6,10: kreativweddings

Fotocredits pic: 2,4,7,9: larshammesfahr

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