Monday, June 7, 2010

Don'ts for Wedding Guests

Summer is upon us, and you know what that means! Okay, it means a lot of things, but for the purposes of this blog post, it signifies wedding season. Welcome to Wedding Week at Don't Do That, because (shockingly) we have a lot of opinions to share about what you shouldn't do at a wedding. Today we'll be addressing guest behavior, with advice for the wedding couple and bridal party later in the week.

Let's start with the really obvious one: Don't Get Sloppy Drunk. Note I said not to get sloppy drunk. I'm never going to tell you not to get drunk at a wedding. I mean seriously, weddings are, like, the best places to get drunk. You don't have to, obviously, because drinking is not everyone's thing, but if you want to? Have that third glass of wine and tell everyone how much you love their hair. By all means, drink enough to wear your tie as a headband and belt out Don't Stop Believing with your great aunt.

BUT. Do not get crazy and have that fourth, or god forbid, that fifth glass of wine. Your tolerance may vary, but my point is that you should know your drink upper limit before you start drinking. (In my early 20s, mine was six drinks. Post baby, I think it's one and a half. My liver and wallet just high-fived.) Don't assume that "open bar" means "drink your weight!" That way lies many bad, bad things, including but not limited to:

  • Hitting on your second cousin

  • Setting yourself on fire via lit-candle centerpiece

  • Sleeping with Barney Stinson

  • Passing out under the buffet table

  • Puking on the cute usher's shoes

  • Soaking in the hotel hot tub in your only pair of underwear

  • Making your boyfriend call his parents and give up your ALCS tickets because you can't deal with seeing the Yankees inevitably eliminate the Red Sox. In 2004.

Not that any of those have happened to me, of course. (Call me, Barney!)

Next: Don't Upstage the Bride. I don't think any of our readers are uncouth enough to make a scene or anything soap-operatic like that (although if you know anyone who has, holy shit, you have GOT to tell us about it!), so this basically applies to clothing. Blah, blah, blah don't wear white, you're thinking. No one actually does that, Daisy. Not true! I went to a wedding where the bride's mother-in-law wore a white suit! The bride was gracious, but this was six years ago, and I know she's still a little bit pissed about it. (It was definitely not my mother-in-law, by the way. My mother-in-law would have punched out anyone who showed up to my wedding in white.)

I know we're sick of all the Bridezilla "IT'S MY DAY!" bullshit foisted upon us by the media, but look at it this way: She and her family are paying for a huge party that you're coming to voluntarily. Suck it up and defer to your hosts. This means no outfits that will have the guests talking about you instead of the wedding. No hot pink, no gold lame, no hats like this, no possible chance that your nipples will make an appearance. All that applies to the men, too. No one wants to see your nipples either, Uncle Jim.

Moving on from that disturbing mental image, we have our next rule: Don't Talk Shit (In Public). I know that we all secretly love dissecting every detail of a wedding, from the dress to the favors. But for god's sake, don't do it when you're at the wedding! You know that game Telephone? Yeah, you mention that the flowers look a little wilted, and by the time it gets back to the bride (and it WILL get back to her) you will have said her grandmother looks like a whore. So keep all shit-talk to yourself, at least until you get back to your room.

This last one is the Don't that inspired Wedding Week in the first place, so you know it's a big one. Don't Bring Your Kids Unless They're Invited. Look, I love kids. I have a pretty awesome one, in fact. But much like I wouldn't invite a random friend along to the reception, I won't bring my daughter unless she's welcome. If you're not sure? ASK.

And if you take nothing else from this post, please remember this: if the people throwing the wedding tell you they can't accommodate your children, don't bring them anyway. It's similar to wearing white to the wedding, where "white" equals "more people to seat and mouths to feed." Not to mention the potential for spectacular misbehavior, which in my opinion exempts the rest of the guests from the Don't Talk Shit rule. If the kids aren't supposed to be there, I decree that everyone is allowed to call them uncivilized little monsters.

All right, dear readers. Got any other big wedding Don'ts? Sound off in the comments!


  1. Love this post! And not just for the obvious, "I'm one of the many recently-engaged Snarkers" reason. I also love it for the Telephone example and the idea of a horrified bride being told someone thinks her grandmother is a whore. Hilarious.

    I'm actually hoping people get sloppy drunk at my wedding, since I'm shy and would love for them to take the attention off me, but that's a unique situation so I think your advice, in general, stands.

  2. Don't not give a gift. I'm not saying IOUs in place of a gift are bad, because that's fine. Etiquette says you have one year after the wedding to provide a gift. I had friends attend my wedding who were broke, but they gave something (very meaningful, I might add) later on. No, I'm talking about people who attend and don't ever send a gift. This happened to me, and I'm still smarting over the slight. Adding insult to injury was that it was my ex, with whom I'd tried to keep a civil friendship going, who made this faux pas. He brought the girl he'd dumped me for which was fine - until I ended up paying over $150 for them to eat, drink, and be entertained with nary a candlestick to show for it. And the guy is loaded to boot, so it's not like he couldn't afford a gift. He was just too rude to provide one.

    And here's a tip for the happy couple: Don't hook up with a member of your bridal party during the reception. Yes, this happens. During my reception, the bride from the ballroom next door tried to bust in to our private room. My brother-in-law (who was changing his baby's diaper at the time) politely informed the drunken bride she was in the wrong room, so she left with a tuxedoed guy in tow. A few minutes later, the sound of loud sex came through the wall from their private room. My brother-in-law left, and when he went out into the main hall he noticed a photograph of the bride and groom in front of their ballroom's entrance. The groom in the photo was definitely NOT the guy the bride was banging upstairs. I've always wondered how that marriage turned out...

  3. I agree with eee1313 - don't not give a gift! My friend got married earlier this year, and when she got back from her honeymoon, she told me that over HALF of the 130 people that came did not give a gift or even a card to them. It was so incredibly rude, especially since it was a traditional, big white wedding that I happen to know cost her over $200 a head. It's so, so, so tacky. The thing that gets me is that the guests would know that the bride and groom can check the registry and see who hasn't given them anything!

  4. I still know EXACTLY who (only a few people, thankfully, but one of them was the best man) did not give us a gift for our wedding. Four years ago. That best man, by the way, is a photojournalist and followed me around the reception taking photos. I'd give an arm and a leg to even have seen ONE of those photos...

    And not only, don't bring the KIDS if thy aren't invited, but don't bring a GUEST unless you're specially invited to do so. Yes, we pay attention to how wedding invitations are addressed. If yours only says "Miss Mary Doe" and not "Miss Mary Doe and Guest" do not bring your flavor of the month as your date or scrounge around to find a date. If you're so uncomfortable to go to a wedding without someone on your arm (or vice versa) you seriously need to work on your socialization skills. One of my favorite wedding experiences was sitting at a table where I knew no one--we had fabulous dinner conversation. Remember that no only are there financial constraints,but most event venues have legitimate room constraints. If you aren't invited with a guest, it's not a slight on you--the bride and groom and simply making sure they have enough room for the family and friends that they know and love and with whom they want to share their nuptials.

  5. Michele- I have a hot pink cocktail dress and a low tolerance if you're looking for a scene-maker!

    eee- I don't think it would ever have occurred to us to list "don't bang anyone other than the person you just married" as a wedding-day Don't. That's truly...special.

    Athena- Yeah, all the points about not bringing kids also apply to uninvited adults. It really kind of boggles me that anyone would invite a +1 of their own volition knowing everything that goes into planning a wedding.

  6. I'm sorry to post so late but I just have to ask- are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th posts regarding gifts jokes? Performance art? Bridezilla impersonations?

    Because there is no real requirement to give a gift as though it is payment for admission.

  7. Anon, I would say that we agree -- as Roxy (who is a wedding guest somewhere right this moment, and I know will not mind me quoting her) has said elsewhere:

    Four years later, and I couldn't tell you for the life of me if there's someone who didn't give us a wedding gift...What I can tell you is the name of every single person that was at our wedding and how important it was for us to have them there. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is the whole point.