The day two people exchange vows may not be your special day, but it's someone's special day, so be on your best behavior -- all the way from the I-do's to the obligatory dance marathon...
- Don't Be Fashionably Late As the song says, get to the church on time! Allow enough time to get to there 15 minutes early or more no matter what weather, traffic, or other acts of divine intervention pop up. Print out directions to both the ceremony and the reception (if it's at a different location). Many a wedding has been hampered by guests who got lost and showed up an hour late.
- Don't Produce Sound Effects While at a wedding and reception, turn off your Blackberries and cell phones, put them on vibrate, or better yet, don't even take them!
- Don't Talk Trash It may sound obvious, but it happens all the time. No matter how big or how loud a wedding is, things get overheard. So, be on your best and most polite behavior. No gossip about any of the other guests. No complaining out loud about anything -- whether it's the food or the long line at the ladies' room. And no comparisons to other weddings! As far as the bride and groom are concerned, this is a perfect day, and so it should be!
- Don't Come Bearing Gifts Whether you're planning on gifting the happy couple a Cuisinart or cold hard cash, do them a huge favor and don't bring it on the wedding day. If you do, they have to keep track of it and haul it home at the end of the night. Send the gift ahead of time, or after the actual ceremony -- at a time when they can really relax and enjoy it.
- Don't Dress Down Whatever you choose to wear, make the effort to look your best for the bride and groom. They'll appreciate that you got dolled or duded up for the occasion. If the invitation doesn't specify dress code, put in a friendly email or call to the bride, groom, their parents, or attendants to get more info. Black Tie means you've got to dust off that long silk dress or rent a tux. If it's an outdoor affair, there may be more leeway, but get details on the location, so you can come prepared (because it's isn't fun to be traipsing around in the sand in your stilettos!).
- Don't Bring Mr. or Ms. Random If you're single, choose your date carefully. If it's someone you've only been out with once, it may not be the best idea (could be awkward for you, your date, and the newlyweds). Same if it's someone you recently "sort of" broke up with. Weddings are intimate affairs and bringing in a stranger should be done with thought. Let the bride or groom know if you decide to come alone so they can seat you with other fun "ones!" And as much as you may love your kiddos, don't take them if children aren't invited.
- Don't Steal the Show Wedding ceremonies take all forms -- from religious to poetic, musical, or humorous. Whatever the vibe, let the bride and groom set the tone and follow their lead. If you're normally a loud, life-of-the-party type, bring it down a notch and let the wedding couple stand out. If you're a weeper, bring tissues and sit where you can sob without disturbing the I Do's. If the ceremony includes religious rituals, find out what you should do (or not do) ahead of time.
- Don't Pig Out If food is serve-yourself, avoid the buffet line stampede and wait until the crowd dies down. Also, avoid going back for thirds. Take a break and save room for cake! Seconds might be okay, once you've seen that everyone has eaten. If the food is served sit-down, eat what is served without requesting substitutions or omissions, unless you have a food allergy. Otherwise, pick delicately or chow down, but don't gripe that you "don't like fish." Worse comes to worst, you can hit Burger King on the way home!
- Don't Drag Out Skeletons If the bride blushes, it should be from pride, joy, or sheer love. Not because someone just stood up and told a humiliating story about the loser she dated in high school! Ingratiate yourself to the lady and her groom by avoiding any potentially embarrassing or juvenile behavior -- no bawdy jokes, no tales about their dating habits or exploits, no overdrinking, and no overly sexy dancing. Have fun, but don't have it at anyone else's expense.
- Don't Stockpile Party Favors At the end of the night, as you're saying your thank-yous and farewells, avoid the urge to hog all the super-cool (or yummy) party favors! You don't need to take some for people who weren't able to attend. You don't need extras. Take one for yourself, unless someone in the wedding party urges you to do otherwise.
Thanks, D! :D