As the frenzy continues to subside from the glitz, glamour and hysteria of another royal wedding, I’m imagining all the prim and proper protocols required of a stately wedding guest. My thoughts wander to future weddings on my own summer calendar. Most weddings today are much more relaxed and without the forced pomp. Even so, I really appreciate any time I observe etiquette and manners especially in this it’s all about me culture in which we live today. I love the way French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere expressed it: Politeness makes one appear outwardly as they should be within. Or, as I believe, common courtesy is the simple practice of putting others’ interests ahead of one’s own. Great, you say. I see that as a good standard for the husband-and-wife-to-be, but what does this have to do with me, the wedding guest?
Since the day for marriage nuptials is probably going to be the most significantly celebrated day of the bride and groom’s life and it’s all about them, their plans and their wishes, there are practices we can adopt to help make this day their dream come true. If you haven’t already been a bride or groom yourself, you may not be aware of these basic and very simple guidelines for politeness and common courtesy:
- Engagements are to be announced by the couple in the way of their choosing--not by you via social network! However, sending a private, personal congrats is completely acceptable.
- After receiving the invitation, please do not take a shortcut by RSVP-ing via text or email unless requested. The paper reply you return is used by the couple to continue in their wedding day planning. (Also, please send your response within the requested time frame. Your promptness will contribute to the smoothness of their planning.)
- Refrain from including a plus-one unless the invitation is clear that a plus-one is welcome.
- Please be sensitive to your surroundings when asking the future Mr. & Mrs. about wedding details. It’s possible not everyone within earshot is invited. (Awkward.)
- When purchasing for the couple, remember the registry has plenty of gift choices--usually something for every budget--and includes the necessary items needed to set up their home. If you do buy off the registry, be sure to provide a gift receipt.
- At the ceremony, please, please, please leave your cell phones on silent and out of sight in your purse or pocket. This also means to let the photographer take the pics unless the bride or groom instructs otherwise.
- On to the reception: plan to stay at least until the cake is cut.
- When leaving the reception, try to give the couple another quick congratulatory handshake or hug. But lingering will prevent them from greeting other guests who may be vying for their attention.
- Lastly, have fun! Celebrate! And be encouraged. If you practice common courtesy, there is hope for our society:
Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical.
He pretends to be polite and then, eventually,
he becomes polite.
Author and Playwright Jean Kerr
Coming Soon: Not So Ordinary Wedding Gifts