Mind your manners: A guide to wedding etiquette

Authored By caseyled86

Invitations for summer weddings have probably already arrived in your mailbox. They may even be posted on your refrigerator for quick reference. Summer weddings can certainly run the gamut from casual backyard get-togethers to formal soirees, so here is a bit of an etiquette refresher course to get you through the weddings you are soon to attend. 

There is one main rule: Don’t wear white! If, for whatever reason, the only piece of clothing you are able to don for a wedding just happens to be white, please stick to something that is in a business fashion, such as a sheath-style dress or even a pantsuit. Whatever you do, don’t wear white in the form of a full skirt or evening gown. Of course, out of respect to the couple, only wear jeans and boots if you are sure that it is in keeping with the style of the wedding.

The usual question of whether to bring gifts to a wedding begins with the complication of having already given the couple a gift. If you have already attended a bridal shower and gifted the couple, it is not expected of you to bring a gift to the wedding. The gift table is for those who have not already been to a prewedding celebration such as engagement party, housewarming or bridal shower. On a side note, these gifts are generally opened after the wedding, so the couple is unlikely to notice if you did not bring a gift. So don’t fret if gifting is just not in your budget at the time of the wedding.

Open bar
So you are one of the lucky folks invited to a wedding with an open bar? The couple has paid for this luxury for a reason: to provide guests with a relaxing experience. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to open bar limits. Some couples may set a per-guest drink limit prior to the reception; some may provide guests with a number of drink tickets; others literally mean “open bar” and set no regulations. My suggestion is to stick with two drinks-enough to get you on the dance floor without costing the couple a fortune.

Kids or no kids
My last piece of etiquette advice is always the trickiest-to bring the kids or not. It is rarely stated on an invitation and typically involves a bit of detective work on your part. If you are close with the couple, it is easy to shoot a quick text to the bride. Problem solved. You can also look at other clues, such as the invitation, venue for the reception, the menu and RSVP card. Is the invitation addressed to you and your spouse only, or does it include the word “family”? How many are listed on the RSVP card? And what hints do you get about the vibe they are trying to set with their reception site and menu? If you are still clueless, I would say to get a sitter. Even if other people show up with their children, you and your spouse can celebrate the opportunity for a date night.

These are only the most common areas for confusion when it comes to wedding attendance. Weddings are emotional for the bride, the groom and their families; do your best to respect their wishes and simply keep the focus on celebrating the couple with love. And remember, if you sit down and see more than one fork, just work your way in toward the plate.

Casey Davis is the founder of The Tennessee Bride, a wedding resource celebrating homemade marriages. For more inspiration, visit The Tennessee Bride on their blog, Instagram and Facebook. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not or its employees.