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Weddings are a blast. Not only do you get to celebrate the union of loved ones, but you also get to wear your finest gear, eat a delicious meal and dance the night away. But while it’s mostly fun and games for guests, it should also be equally enjoyable for the newlyweds.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget modern wedding etiquette rules when you’re too busy having a good time. Don’t turn an exciting day upside down. These are the things you should never do at a wedding.
RSVPing as soon as possible is an old etiquette rule that should still be followed. The RSVP determines the final headcount before an order is sent to vendors. If you don’t reply in time or at all, you won’t have a place to sit or a plate for dinner. As a general rule of thumb, you have just a day or two to respond to a wedding invite.
It’s the attendee’s responsibility to secure their own accommodations. The bride and groom are too busy stressing over every last detail for their espousal to help you secure travel plans. Find a spectacular hotel that will make your stay worthwhile and be sure to avoid booking mistakes like booking too late.
Not wearing white after Labor Day might be an outdated fashion rule you no longer have to follow, but it still applies to weddings. Unless the couple asks you to, don’t wear white to a wedding. This color is reserved for the bride only, whether she chooses to wear it or not.
This isn’t a high school homecoming dance or a night out in Vegas. Wedding guests are expected to keep it classy. Make sure you know the different rules of dress code, and follow the instructions on the invitiation closely.
Even if it feels like the world is working against you with heavy traffic delays, it is still incredibly rude to show up late to a wedding. If worse comes to worst and you arrive when the ceremony is in full swing, wait until both parties are at the altar and quietly seat yourself in the back of the room.
Just as arriving late is an etiquette mistake, so is arriving too early. Guests are expected to arrive 30 minutes early to the ceremony so that they can find a seat and get settled before the procession starts. But if you’re milling around much earlier than that, you might get in the way of important preparations.
According to the Emily Post Institute, if you’re invited to a wedding ceremony, you should send a gift, whether you plan to attend or not. Brides and grooms spend time preparing wedding registries in hopes that they’ll receive gifts to welcome in their new stage in life. While there’s no specific price your gift must be for it to be considered acceptable, you should try your best to stick to the registry.
No, you can’t just bring your friend as a plus-one to a wedding. According to Emily Post Institute, if a wedding invitation doesn’t specify that a plus-one is welcome, you shouldn’t assume that you can bring one. The bride and groom budget for a precise number of guests. Bringing a tagalong could be against venue policy or cost more than allotted.
It’s considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before she walks down the aisle, so don’t post photos of her to social media beforehand. If you’re a bridesmaid, it’s OK to snap a few Instagrammable photos while the bride prepares, but don’t post these photos until after the ceremony. It would be a buzzkill if everyone saw the wife on Instagram before the big reveal.
Even if you have a seat at the back of the house, you still shouldn’t ask to change seats with other guests — or worse, be rude and just take it. Most of the time, ceremonies and receptions have strict seating arrangements to accommodate parents, the wedding party and immediate family. The newlyweds sat you there for a reason, and if you move, you’ll cause a commotion.
According to Wedding Wire, most couples spend between $1,150 and $3,000 for a wedding photographer. That means taking photos of or recording the entire ceremony is unnecessary. Nobody wants to look back at their photos to see you holding your cellphone in front of your face. And having your cellphone on during the ceremony is disrespectful. Just kick it old school, live in the moment and snap some beautiful photos at the reception.
Your life changes when you have children — one way being that you develop more patience. Unfortunately, other wedding guests might not have this skill. Loud, disruptive children will be seen as more of a nuisance than an adorable interruption. If your child begins to cry during the nuptials or is more interested in exploring the venue than sitting still, quietly excuse yourself until all is well.
If the photographer is taking a professional portrait of the bride and groom with their respective parties, don’t hover to take your own. With multiple cameras around, those being photographed will look in different directions. Proper etiquette is to let the photographer finish and take pictures when they’re done.
It’s not wise to be unprepared in any situation, but when you’re expected to give a heartfelt speech about the man or woman of the hour, it would be a shame to stumble over your thoughts — or lack thereof. You don’t have to read off of a notecard per se, but it’s smart to practice what you want to say before you get to the microphone. Things you should never say during a wedding speech include stories about ex-partners or sharing embarrassing anecdotes.
Aim to keep your speech short and sweet. According to the Emily Post Institute, the best speeches are one to two minutes long — three at most. This isn’t your comedy hour or time to reminisce about the good ol’ days. If you want to give the perfect toast, aim for a cute, short story about the couple or insightful words of advice.
It’s ill-mannered to talk over others in general, but it’s extremely impolite to have your own conversation while others are toasting to the couple. Unless it’s an emergency, save your small talk for later.
After celebrating such a monumental moment, the last thing any newly married couple wants to hear are rude questions like when will they have children or how much they had to spend on the ceremony. Stick to enjoying the big moment and congratulating the newlyweds.
It takes a lot of time and money to plan a wedding, and the couple is likely really proud of the end result. After months — and sometimes years — of making sure everything is just right, the last thing they want to hear are your unprovoked thoughts about the bride, the venue, the dinner or the flavor of the wedding cake. Keep your thoughts to yourself for the evening.
It’s no surprise that brides and grooms-to-be spend a hefty amount on their weddings. According to Wedding Wire, the average price for a plated meal per person at a U.S. wedding is $40 but can skyrocket based on the number of entrees and entree options. Asking for seconds when they’re not offered isn’t only impolite, it adds up for your hosts too. Nibble on small bites before the meal and save room for dessert. A delicious cake is on its way.
It’s a common table etiquette mistake to rush and eat before everyone else. But don’t make this mistake at a wedding. Traditionally, the couple cuts into the cake (and smashes it into each other’s faces) before everyone else digs in, even if small sweets are already out on the dessert table.
Do the Tootsie Roll, the Electric Slide, the Chicken Dance — whatever. Just don’t bump and grind. Weddings are a family-friendly environment. Grandma doesn’t want to see you twerk.
Dating has changed over the years, but getting hitched still remains an end goal for many couples. Just because you’re ready to tie the knot doesn’t mean you need to practice your tackling skills when it’s time for the bouquet toss, though. Yes, it’s tradition, but catching flowers won’t likely determine whether or not you’re next to walk down the aisle.
Unless otherwise noted, you should never take the table centerpieces at the end of the night. Flowers are often given to guests after the reception ends, but most vases and other centerpieces are usually rentals and need to be returned.
Don’t steal the spotlight by popping the big question to your beloved. There are 365 days in the year, and this one is not the day you need to get down on one knee. Couples spend too much time, money and effort planning their dream wedding for you to dim the day with your own announcement. Wanting to make someone’s special day all about you is an etiquette mistake you should stop making.
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