6 Etiquette Tips For Wedding Guests

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Chances are you will be attending at least one wedding this summer as May through September are the most popular months for weddings. It seems many of the traditional etiquette ‘rules’ have changed in the past few years, so we turned to local wedding planner, Kyla Charney, for some etiquette tips. Kyla is a certified wedding planner who runs a Fraser Valley wedding planning business, Happily Wedded After.

A note from Kyla: I want to start off saying that a lot has certainly changed regarding wedding etiquette over the last couple years. Even though there are mostly no cut and dry rules people should always be respectful of a couple’s wishes. Although there are many things I believe will never change, certain things have become quite flexible depending on the couple and the circumstances.

wedding favors
Attribution-NonCommercial License by christinapsych4

What are your thoughts on gifting a couple with gift certificates or cash? Are they too impersonal?

Due to many couples getting engaged and married later in life, there is no need for that second salad spinner or corning ware set.  Gift certificates and cash can allow the couple to pick out something they will treasure forever. Couples are getting creative; some couples choose to have guests contribute to their honeymoon.

Are there rules for what to wear to a wedding? How do you know how formal a wedding will be?

I believe there is no hard and fast rule on what to wear, just use common sense. The one thing that will perhaps never change is to never show up in full white unless it has been specifically requested.  The invitation or wedding website will usually state the dress code of the event. If you are unsure how to dress,  it is always appropriate to ask someone close to the bridal couple.  Dress code can range from formal to casual to even special requested attire, such as beach wear or certain themes.

If invitations do not mention children, is it correct to assume children are not invited?

If a child is not listed on the invitational envelope is it protocol that only the people listed are invited to the wedding. Do not take offense to this. There may be numerous reasons as to why children are not being invited to the event. Some venues, especially with alcohol present, do not allow children under a certain age to be permitted entrance.

If the invitation reads “and family” you may safely assume the whole clan is invited! Sometimes children or other family/friends that were not invited to the reception will receive an invitation to the ceremony. Do not be offended at this request either. Many bridal couples have more people that they wish to invite than what their budget can handle. Being invited to the ceremony says that even though an invitation was not extended to the reception, the couple still wishes you to share the day with them.

What should you do if the wedding has already started by the time you arrive?

If the wedding has already started once you have arrived it is polite to stand in the back or if there are chairs in the back still available, depending on the point of the ceremony, you may take those. Different points in the ceremony like a prayer, vows, processional or recessional, require you to stand to the side in the back until an appropriate time has been reached. If there is an usher still present they also may direct you as to where to sit or stand.

Is it okay to take photos during the ceremony or is that considered rude?

Unless it is specifically requested of you to not take photos then you can consider yourself free to do so. However, one rules remains….if the bridal couple has hired a professional photographer or videographer then it is their job is to ensure that certain special moments of the bridal couple are captured and it is your job as a guest to not interfere with these moments. If you are permitted to take photos you must be discreet. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ceremony….and if you still want to grab a shot of that kiss just make sure you are not interrupting the process!

If you must decline a wedding invitation, are you expected to send a gift?

Gifts are not expected but are always welcome! Personally I say it depends on your relationship to the bridal couple. If you are a close friend or family member and are not able to attend, a card and small gift may be appropriate. You can also take the couple out to lunch or dinner after the wedding to share their memories of the day.

These are some very helpful tips for wedding guests.  Thanks, Kyla!

Happily Wedded After
Ring: 604.556.9343

Contributor: Kelly Neufeld

Kelly Neufeld is a freelance writer who lives in Abbotsford with her husband and their two daughters. In addition to writing articles for the Fraser Valley Pulse, Kelly is a contributing writer & Marketing Coordinator for Impowerage Magazine. She enjoys spending time with her family, staying active and shopping.

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