Frank Manners: Wedding Etiquette

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September 11, 2013

Being invited to a wedding of a close friend or relative is an honor with delicate responsibilities. The difficult decisions regarding etiquette arise when considering the RSVP, personal attire, and the proper wedding gift.

The first important obligation of a wedding guest is to respond promptly to the RSVP. An early response to an RSVP is always best; weddings are stressful enough, and making members of the wedding party verify your attendance is definitely a wedding faux pas.  A quick response allows the bride and groom to plan many important details according to the number of expected guests. Once you are sure that you have no scheduling conflicts, send in your RSVP. Should a scheduling conflict arise after you have already said yes, send a personal note withdrawing your attendance with condolences. If you are unable to attend, it is still proper etiquette to send a gift. Be sure that your gift arrives before the actual wedding date.

A bride and groom’s wedding day should be the happiest day of their lives. Showing up to a wedding in attire that is inappropriate for the occasion is never a good idea. When deciding on attire, consider the invitation. More often than not, the invitation is a strong indication of how formal the event will be. The time of the ceremony and location are also good reference points. If the ceremony is in the daytime and outside one would dress drastically different than if it were in the evening inside a beautiful church. Finally, deferring to other members of the wedding party who are close to the bride and groom is a good idea. The last thing a guest wants is to stick out like a sore thumb in attire that is in contrast to the wedding.

When deciding on a gift, purchasing from the registry is the easiest thing to do and you know you’re purchasing a gift they will appreciate. However, if the bride and groom have not registered, or all of the gifts in the registry have been purchased, it can be hard to settle on the perfect gift. Be sure to consider a gift that both of them can utilize. Cookware and appliances are mainstays. If you really want to stand out, be creative and fun with your gift. Think of activities the bride and groom could enjoy together, maybe a cooking class or dance lessons. Be thoughtful and consider their interests, if you know they are patrons of the arts, maybe a membership to the art museum, or tickets to the theater could be an excellent gift. Remember the long-standing rule: it’s the thought that counts.