Proper etiquette to be a good guest

Today’s bridal couples are free thinking and independent, and weddings are a reflection of a bride and groom’s personalities.

Guests are included in festivities and to keep them entertained, bridal couples have incorporated lawn games into their outdoor receptions. Some brides bring in food trucks or ice cream trucks and dessert tables filled with mini delights, in addition to the wedding cake.

Now, that doesn’t mean that some traditions and protocol aren’t still followed. There will always be a demeanor of elegance.

Cellphones at weddings

Times have changed in this digital age in which we live. For many people their connection to the world is their laptop, smartphone, iPad and other electronic accoutrements that allow for a quick and easy way to communicate with one another. When it comes to weddings, however, guests should follow protocol for the tone of the wedding.

Certified Wedding Planner Beverly Moon said when she sits down with a bride the first time she asks about cellphone use by her guests.

“I ask them how they feel about their guests having their cellphones on during the ceremony or taking photos. Most brides say they don’t have a problem with guests bringing cellphones, but would like them muted during the ceremony,” Moon said. “I suggest that they put a sign at the front entrance that says ‘Please Mute Cellphones During Ceremony.’”

“Follow the bride’s wishes,” added Certified Wedding Planner Geri Schwartzman. “If the clergy announces no cellphone use during the ceremony, put your cellphones way.”

If you are tempted to take a photo during the ceremony, don’t. “Follow the bride’s lead in the use of cellphones for personal use and photos,” Schwartzman said.

Don’t linger after the ceremony unless you are invited

Don’t hang around after the ceremony hoping to snap some photos of the bridal party while their hired photographer is working with them. Moon advises guests to leave the ceremony venue to allow the professional photographer, immediate family and wedding party this time to themselves.

“They do not want guests in there. It’s their time to let down, release, take a breath from the hyper mode they’ve been in. It’s time for parents to hug and welcome kids in each other’s family.”

Posting photos on social media at the reception

“If you see a sign that says ‘Please #hashtag photos’ to a certain website, honor that request,” Schwartzman said.
“Don’t upload your cellphone photos on your Facebook page. The bride and groom don’t like photos posted before they approve them,” Moon said. “While some brides create #hasthags for their guests to post images, other couples are private and want to wait until the professional photos are published.”

“There is no real written rule,” Schwartzman added. “It’s common courtesy. So use common sense when it comes to cellphone use at a wedding.”

Invitations and the RSVP

“If you see an RSVP card in your invitation it is imperative that you send it back,” Schwartzman said.

“Return it as directed by the date stated on the card,” Moon added. “These counts are important for catering guarantees. And don’t respond via social media unless otherwise stated on the card.”

Schwartzman said some couples do use social media to invite family and friends to their wedding, and it’s OK to RSVP via their page; however, not all guests use social media and may not see the invitation until it’s too late.

“We see conflicting articles about etiquette crossing three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials,” Schwartzman said. “A Generation X mom could suggest that their Millennial child send out a few traditional invitations to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. That’s only 25 paper invites compared to 200.”

Do not bring a plus-one unless stated on the invitation

If your invite is addressed to John Smith and guest, and you plan to bring a friend, RSVP for two and include your date’s name. Schwartzman said there will be two names on the seating chart when you arrive.

If you RSVP with a guest and the guest cancels at the last minute, that leaves an open plate, already paid for. Do not bring a last-minute guest without first checking with the bride.

Adults only

“If the wedding invitation says ‘No Children,’ honor that request,” Moon said. “The RSVP card or reception card should politely state that children are not invited and that you are invited to enjoy a couples day with the bride and groom.”

“If a guest cannot leave their child(ren) at home due to lack of a sitter, the bride should provide a sitter at the reception,” Schwartzman said. “Have games available and be sure to serve dinner to the children and sitter.”

What not to wear

“Do not wear white, off white, ivory or champagne unless the invitation states: ‘Black and White Wedding,’” Schwartzman said.

“This is the bride’s day. The dress sets her out among everyone so it’s in very poor taste to show up wearing white or any similar color to her dress,” Moon said.

“You don’t want to upstage the bride,” Schwartzman added.

The little black dress

Once taboo, a black cocktail dress, or a variation of the color, is OK to wear to a wedding. “Black has gotten a little more leisure in being worn at weddings because there are some weddings that start late afternoon and into the evening,” Moon said.

Drink responsibly

“Pace yourself,” Moon said. “Don’t hang out at the bar, and be courteous. Make that first drink last 45 minutes to an hour before you head back for a second. And drink slowly, don’t rush your drink.”

“All banquet bartenders are TABC certified and can cut someone off if they think that person has had too much,” Schwartzman said. “Guest responsibility is to have a good time. But know your limit. It’s rude to get totally sauced. It’s not good guest etiquette.”

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