Wedding Guests: Dos and Don’ts

It is seven weeks before the wedding, when everyone we know is starting to realize how close it is and take an interest in what the exact plans are. The vast majority are behaving gracefully. However, I can share a few dos and don’ts on being a good wedding guest, based on our experiences so far (and those of other couples we know):

DO purchase gifts from the registry, or give money. I’ve banged this particular drum in this column before, but it bears repeating: The happy couple want money first, their registry gifts second. They have bills to pay: They just fed you and it wasn’t free. They’ve thought carefully about the registry. They’re probably in their mid-to-late 20s or older (early 30s in our case), and they already have enough stuff kicking around that you’re not going to help them by randomly choosing a vase or some junk you think they’d like. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re being a star by buying something “creative.” Nor something of sentimental value. Trust me on this. Cash or registry, nothing else.

DON’T ask why so-and-so isn’t invited. The bride and groom have thought hard and debated long about the guest list. Before you lobby on behalf of someone: Chances are good that the missing friend or uncle was championed by one half of the couple and rejected by the other, or that some kind of compromise was involved. Expecting the bride or groom to reopen that debate just isn’t fair given everything else they have to deal with. Also, chances are even better that the couple is over budget and worried about it, and just can’t be accommodate more mouths to feed. Be thankful you’re on the guest list, enjoy yourself with the people who are there, and invite whoever you want to your own wedding.

DO officially RSVP. Verbal responses over beer can be difficult to keep track of.

DON’T send pissed-off emails to the couple if you’re not invited. First, they probably have considered inviting you and felt sad about not being able to. They had a long list and it wasn’t easy. Second, you might still be on a secondary list for people who will get invited if a lot of people in Round One can’t make it, so sit tight and be gracious. And if you still can’t resist the urge to be passive-aggressive (or just aggressive-aggressive) about this, well, maybe you’re not the kind of friend who should be invited.

DON’T complain or quibble with the arrangements generally. Whose wedding do you think this is?

DO organize an epic bachelor weekend that involves three days of drinking, eating and more drinking (and maybe some sightseeing) in one of the groom’s favourite cities. Last weekend saw me and 10 (!) buddies off to New Orleans and came off with just the right amount of crazy — no one got arrested or killed, although there were death threats. Also, we got to play with alligators and also eat them. Good times.

DO expect that if you follow the above rules, the bride and groom will be model guests (or non-invited well-wishers) when you get married.

Image courtesy of wili hybrid on flickr

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