As a wedding planner, logistics are a huge part of my job: timing the guest transportation to and from the venue, timing the catering staff, ensuring there is enough time budgeted for the "shot list" the couple provided to the photographer, etc.
If you are between the ages of 20 and 40, you've probably been invited to a few weddings, and if you haven't recently planned your own fête, there can easily be rules of etiquette you are breaking without even realizing it.
Here are some helpful tips to be a kick-ass wedding guest.
Send the gift ahead of time! Wedding planners are the ones who pack up the honeymoon suite (or a parent's car) the night of the wedding with ALL the gifts, cards, floral vases, and decor. It's ALWAYS a shit show. If you can send the giant Crate and Barrel box directly to their house, do that.
When in doubt, bring those dollars. I have to advise my clients to register for items that they don't really need and/or don't care about because the older generation tends to want to give you a "thing." My go-to wedding gift is a $100 check. A check can be tracked if the cards go missing unlike cash or a gift card. If you insist on a gift card, be sure to register it ahead of time.
If you do write a check, make the check out to one of the people in the couple, not both. Example: don't write "Mr/Mrs, Mrs/Mrs, Mr/Mr, etc." because if names are changing and/or they don't share a bank account, cashing that check is going to be a pain in the ass. You can write something cute in the subject line, but address the check to one person or the other.
If you are traveling for a wedding, book your hotel room as soon as possible. Navigating the room block process is a pain in the ass. The couple doesn't want to book too many rooms because if they aren't filled, they will be charged. If they don't book enough, adding additional rooms can be at a much higher rate OR may not be available at all. We also budget our transportation needs based on the hotel blocking. So, just do it and get it over with, so the couple (and their poor wedding planner) have time to adjust.
4. Dress Code
Don't dress like you are going to the club. Even though it gives the wedding planning team GREAT JOY to quietly judge your wedding outfit choices, please try and remember that this is a wedding. We constantly see men wearing cargo shorts and flip flops to outdoor weddings and ladies wearing really short dresses with giant platform heels. If that's your style, live your life, boo. But I guarantee the couple wants you to be comfortable, polished, and NOT trying to lock down a new boo. Put your boobs, butts, and gross toes AWAY.
Do not. I repeat. Do not get in the way of the photographer during the ceremony. My clients pay between $2500 and $6000 for photography. I just did a wedding where the groom's uncle took a go-pro video of the entire ceremony and had to be photoshopped out of every photo, including their first kiss. No one wants your grainy ass video, Uncle. Sit down and be in the moment.
Do not stand in the aisle for a photo. If you really cannot help yourself, take a photo and then put your phone away.
My brother married his partner last year, and Casey from EQ Events did something really rad. She introduced herself, welcomed the guests, and had Anthony and his husband, Michael, kiss. She said, "everyone take a photo now so you can prove you were here, and put your phones away for the actual ceremony." Everyone wins!
6. Plus Ones
If you don't have "and guest" by your name, you don't have a guest. Do not ask the couple for clarification. Do not bring a guest. Make some new friends on the dance floor. You are going to make it. If you RSVP'ed no, do NOT show up. If you didn't RSVP at all, do NOT show up. If you RSVP'ed no but you can suddenly make it, find out if they have a wedding planner and ask them if it's cool. If they don't have a wedding planner, ask a parent. Do NOT ask the couple.
Catering companies charge by the guest. They count and prepare food based on the guest count. We plan seating charts, chair rentals, cutlery rentals, plate rentals, and escort cards based on the guest count. THIS IS NOT A BACKYARD BBQ. Guest counts are finalized 10 days from the wedding. If it's the day before, send a gift and find something else to do with your Saturday.
7. Song Requests
Do not request a song. If you cannot help yourself and the DJ says "sorry no requests," do not badger them. They have had at least two meetings with the couple, and they are the ones who said "no requests." Wedding vendors ask a lot of questions. That was one of them. You can play "Cotton Eye Joe" at your own damn wedding.
8. Drinking and Driving
If you are local and plan on getting a lil' loose, book a ride ahead of time. I've started using a great service called UZURV. If the wedding is not in a major city, you can pre-book your ride to and from the event. You MUST do this a few days or weeks before the actual event. We do tons of weddings that are 30-45 minutes outside of the city, and drivers will not approve your ride at 11pm on a Saturday. They can make 3x the amount by only picking up people in the city. If you reserve ahead of time and book the same driver to and from the wedding, they'll be more apt to actually show up and get your drunk ass.
If you got a little saucy and you drove to the wedding, check with the venue manager or the wedding planner to see if there is room for you to take the bus to the hotel and get a ride from there AND if it is cool to leave your car on the property to retrieve it the next day.
9. Engaging With Wedding Planners
We never get sick of guest questions. Our job is to alleviate stress and concern from the couple. We are here to help you be a kick-ass guest.
With that being said, do not hit on us. We aren't here for you. Just sit down, eat, drink, dance, and have a great time. Recognize that this event cost anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000 to put on, and we just ask that you not be a dick.