With wedding season upon us, it’s time to review the ‘rules’ of being a good guest.


Look at the name or names on the front of that envelope: They are the only person/s allowed to attend.


These days, almost every invitation comes with a stamped response card. All that is required is for you to sign your name, fill in the number of people attending (remember the front of the invitation), seal it and mail it. Responding early allows the family to adjust their budget accordingly. If you’ve accepted, and something comes up later, call the bride’s family immediately and explain your situation. To not do so is extremely rude.


Usually 15 to 30 minutes before the ceremony is the best time to arrive. Arriving too close to—or after the specified time—will find you in the back of the venue with those walking down the aisle. If this happens, wait until the processional is over and then seat yourself to the back. Never bang on a locked door. It means we are in the midst of the procession.


The wedding of two individuals is the most important event in their lives, so for you to wear anything that is less than appropriate is shameful. For men, a dark suit, dress shirt and a conservative tie (or blazers with grey flannel or white pants) are appropriate for daytime summer weddings. Women should wear dressy summer dresses—and hats are great! Sequins, paillettes, or silver or gold shoes are not right for daytime. Also not right: long formal dresses for guests. Tops and backs that are too short, too tight or too low are vulgar. For evening weddings, if it says ‘black tie,’ men must wear black tie; for women, long or short dressy dresses can be worn.


If you receive an invitation, you must send a gift even if you are unable to attend. If you are going to the wedding and the invitation has been out four to six weeks in advance, you must send a gift to her mother’s home address during that time. Never bring a gift to a ceremony venue. A young man lining up to be escorted to his seat carrying a box the size of a coffin should be told to take it back to his car. Some venues have gift tables, but most will not. If you have to bring your gift, give it quickly to a server or manager for safekeeping until the family can retrieve it. I think a gift with a value of $100 per person seems to meet most of our needs. Some situations call for more expensive gifts, some for less. AT


During cocktails, two drinks and a few appetizers are the appropriate amount to have—never over-indulge.


Never switch them around. There is a lot of thought and hard work put into that by the couple and their families.

I recently did a large wedding, and the next day, while I was collecting some of our things from the reception area, I ran into the bride’s brother. “How did it go last night?” I ask. “Pretty good—only one guy got real drunk and obnoxious,” he responds. Wouldn’t you hate to be that one person? Drinking too much is the worst thing you could ever do at a wedding reception. Also never criticize the décor, the food, the decorations, the bride’s dress, the bridesmaid dresses and the mothers’ dresses. Not only do you not have to engage in critical conversation, I feel you have an obligation to squelch it. Say something like, Let’s not discuss these things tonight, I would hate to be overheard.

Finally, thank your host and hostess before leaving, and if the bride and groom are still there, give your best wishes to the bride and congratulate the groom. A thank-you note to your hosts is the final thing. They have had you share in a very special evening in their lives, and have fed and entertained you. This information should somehow be printed on our DNA, but a reminder never hurts. Have a wonderful summer—and mind your manners.

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