You are invited to the wedding ~ Now be a great guest!

As a wedding stationer, I am never surprised by the questions and advice seeking I receive from mother’s of brides and the brides about the lack of response by some invited guests.   Unfortunately, in this lack of manners age, many people simply do not follow etiquette rules anymore, or they simply are clueless or downright lazy.   So here is a little primer on how to be a great guest at the wedding or other event you have been invited to via a lovely invitation:

Response Cards

The purpose of the Response card is for the guest to indicate if they are attending.   If the card indicates an “M_________________” simply write “Mr. & Mrs. Etc. or “Miss”, “Ms” or “Mr.”    Check off your acceptance or your regrets.   If the stationer has placed a line such as this “Number Attending ___”, this is not a carte blanche area to include your entire family.   If the envelope is addressed to only two people in the household, then the correct number to insert is “2”.     If you are single and your invitation did not indicate it was ok to bring a guest, then no, you may not bring a guest.   Make sure your handwriting is easy to read.  Your host is probably depending on legible handwriting so she/he can check you off their list as attending or not attending.    Finally, return the response card or post card before the due date.  That is why there is a stamp on the envelope.  Sending it timely assures that your host will not have to make that awkward phone call to find out if you are attending or not attending.  Be respectful of their time, a lot is happening to prepare for the wedding even 2 weeks before the date – having to make time to make a phone call or many calls is downright rude to the host.

The Outer Envelope & Inner Envelope addressing

The host will address the envelope specifically to those invited.  If the envelope is addressed to only “Mr. and Mrs. Adam Green,” then those are the only two individuals invited to the wedding.   The remainder of the household is not invited, unless of course they too receive their very own invitation.    If the words “and Family” or the names of specific household members are included on the envelopes, then they too are welcome to attend the event.   Don’t call your hostess to complain that little Johnny wasn’t invited.   Venues have a limited capacity; your host/hostess has a limited wallet capacity; respect the choices they have had to make in the process of determining who is invited and who is not.  That has already been a stressful ordeal usually split between the bride and groom families.  Cut them some slack!

Be punctual

Arrive on time to the ceremony!  And don’t ditch the ceremony and only attend the reception.  It is rude and disrespectful to the bride and groom.  The Wedding Ceremony is the important part of the entire event, not the reception.  You have been invited to witness the marriage of two people…be there or decline the invitation with regrets.   If you have arrived late due to lost travel time, remain at the back of the ceremony venue.  Do not slide in to the back pews if you arrive during the processional…wait until that is over and then find your seat in the back.

Send a gift if you were invited even if you aren’t attending

It is is in good taste to send a gift and proper etiquette, whether you attend or not attend.  Typically, you can send the gift to home of the bride or her parents.   If their wedding website has a registry list, then shop from the registry  These are items they took time to reserve for their gifts…these are items they truly want and it avoids duplicates and returns.

Table assignments by  or seating scrolls

Ok, you are at the reception venue now, you are hoping you are sitting with some people you know but discover you are at a table clear across the room.  No worries, sit where you are assigned for dinner.  There will be plenty of time to commiserate with people you know at the cocktail hour and after the dinner.   Great pains are taken by the family to seat everyone as appropriately as possible.    There may be specific reasons by the bride and groom for making these seating assignments.  Respect that!

Do not leave before the cake is cut

Emily Post indicates that this is a quiet sign for those who are elderly to know that it is ok to leave if they wish to not stay the entire reception.   By the same token, no matter how dull the reception may be, this is the same queue that the younger generation needs to follow as well!

As I think of more do’s and don’ts, I will post them on this blog, but this is a good start.  I would love to hear your comments or stories!

“The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him- or herself, communing with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality of the hosts.”

— E. Post