Summer always feels like the perfect time for a wedding in Los Angeles, and while some old traditions have gone by the wayside in our fast-paced and technology-driven times, good manners are never out of date. All of our wonderful wedding couples have impeccable manners, of course, and would never give their guests advice on how to behave, so we’re going to do it for them.
Read on for a guide to being the perfect guest, whether you’ll be attending a lavish wedding in one of our elegant ballrooms or going to a casual reception in someone’s backyard.
1. Respond to the Invitation
RSVP means répondez s’il vous plaît which literally translates to “respond if you please,” but there’s really no “if you please” about it. A major part of planning a wedding is knowing how many guests to count on, and it’s imperative that your hosts know if you’re coming or not so they know how much food to order and how to plan the seating.
Holding back on your RSVP is just about the meanest thing you can do to someone who’s already in a state of high anxiety.
2. Don’t Ask to Bring Someone Who Hasn’t Been Invited
If the invitation says “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” it doesn’t mean “and your mother-in-law and all the kids.” Wedding couples think long and hard about their guest lists, and budgetary or other constraints have been worked through carefully.
If you’ve been invited without a plus-one, and think perhaps your hosts don’t know you’ve recently become engaged or made another serious commitment, you may quietly inform them and see what they say. But if an additional invitation isn’t forthcoming, don’t make a federal case of it. Either plan to go alone, or fill in the reply card to say you’ll be unable to attend, without adding “because you won’t let me bring my new boyfriend.”
3. Dress Appropriately for the Occasion
For men, unless the wedding is on a beach in the tropics, this means you need to put on a jacket and tie. A wedding is a joyous but serious occasion and deserves the respect you pay it by looking your best.
4. Don’t Fuss Over Where You’re Seated
Arranging guests in compatible groups is a nightmare. Don’t compound the bride’s aggravation by asking to sit with — or not sit with — someone specific. If you find yourself sitting next to someone you don’t know (or don’t adore), make an effort to be friendly.
Everyone at the wedding is dear enough to the couple to have been invited, so you’re bound to find common ground for some congenial small talk. It’s a few hours out of your life and your friendly attitude can be a tribute to the happy couple.
5. Eat What You Like and Leave What You Don’t
If you have a severe food allergy (peanuts, shellfish, gluten, whatever), absolutely tell your hosts in advance so the caterer can pay special attention to what you’re served. Everyone wants you to enjoy yourself and not get sick! Almost every wedding caterer will have a vegetarian option on hand, so that’s something you can simply ask your waiter for.
However, for the most part, if you’re dealing with preferences rather than something that’s going to send you into anaphylactic shock, just pick and choose what you eat without comment. If your current diet won’t allow you to eat anything that’s being served, smile at the bartender and make a meal of martini olives. You can eat when you get home.
6. Send Your Gift Before or After the Wedding
It’s always nice to receive a present, but the bride and groom will have plenty else to do without worrying about where to keep gifts so that they’re safe, and loading them up to take home when the reception is over, much less figuring out who brought what if cards get lost in the shuffle.
It’s much more thoughtful to have your present sent to the couple directly from the store either before or after the wedding.
7. Do Not, Do Not, Do Not, Tweet the Wedding
You may be used to updating the immediate world about every waking moment of your life, but a wedding is a private event and it belongs to the bride and groom. Don’t steal their thunder by broadcasting the intimate details before they’ve had a chance to do it themselves. The same rule applies to Facebook and all other forms of social media.
Unless the wedding couple has specifically instructed people to spread a running review and photos of their big day all over the internet, keep your phone out of sight. In fact, turn it off, or to avoid temptation completely, leave it in the car.
Now go forth and be the perfect wedding guest. But naturally, you were going to do that anyway.