Modern weddings have created a new norm for wedding guest etiquette. However, that doesn’t mean that understanding appropriate wedding behavior is simple.
Debunking these seven myths is your first step toward making the right choices when it comes to attending a wedding, from what you’re supposed to wear and when you RSVP to whether you’re always allowed to bring a plus one!
Myth 1: Wedding Guest Etiquette Allows You to Bring a Date
Attending a romantic wedding might seem like an obvious date night for you and that special someone. However, that doesn’t mean you should assume that you can always bring a guest to the wedding. The wedding invitation should serve as your guide as you decide whether you’ll be attending solo or with your partner by your side.
The couple will specify who is invited by addressing the invitation only to those people on the wedding guest list. So, if you receive an invitation simply addressed to you, you’re on your own. If you have a spouse or significant other, chances are his or her name may be included on the envelope as well.
In some cases, the invitation might use the language “and guest,” which indicates you can bring a date!
Read the invitation carefully, with these tips on addressing wedding invitations in mind.
Myth 2: Black Attire is Off Limits
Wedding etiquette experts once frowned upon wearing black to a wedding, concerned that it was too dismal of a color to wear to such a happy celebration. Fortunately, times have changed, and wedding guest attire can include black. Pull out that little black dress or your favorite black suit, and rock it at the next wedding on your calendar!
Black is a versatile neutral hue that you can dress up or down. For example:
- A black cocktail dress paired with heels and sparkly jewelry is perfect for an evening wedding
- A black sundress with wedge heels is suitable for an afternoon affair
Best of all, you probably already have some black attire in your closet, which can save you a shopping trip for your next wedding!
As you style your outfit for the big day, do so with these wedding guest attire don’ts in mind.
Myth 3: The Reception Will Include an Open Bar
Perhaps you have visions of a fully stocked bar at the wedding reception, allowing you to order your beverage of choice. Don’t be surprised if the wedding reception doesn’t offer an open bar – or even a bar at all.
Some brides and grooms opt for more limited alcohol offerings, such as exclusively beer and wine or a signature cocktail. Others may choose not to serve alcohol at all for personal reasons.
Whether you have an open bar, limited offerings, or only non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, brush up on these etiquette tips for a wedding reception bar.
Myth 4: You Must Arrive With a Gift in Hand
Your vision of a wedding reception might include a table tucked in the corner of the venue filled with perfectly wrapped presents for the bride and groom to take home.
In reality, you don’t have to bring your gift to the wedding reception at all. In fact, you just might be doing the happy couple a favor if you don’t.
With today’s technological age, chances are you discovered wedding guest gift ideas by visiting the couple’s online registry.
Save yourself the hassle of lugging that gift to the reception – and ensure you don’t make the bride and groom transport it home – by sending the gift to the address listed on their registry.
Unsure of when to start wedding gift shopping? Learn about how much time you have to send a wedding gift – which might be longer than you think.
Myth 5: Your Gift Should Equal the Cost of Your Attendance
Speaking of wedding gifts, there’s no need to equate the expense of the wedding to the gift you give the couple. A black-tie affair in a grand ballroom doesn’t require a pricier gift than a laid-back afternoon beach wedding.
Simply put, your wedding gift is not meant to cover the cost of attendance. Instead, the wedding gift, like any gift, represents a thoughtful gesture to celebrate the bride and groom and their new life together.
Keep your budget in mind when shopping for a wedding gift. It’s likely that the couple has gifts at a variety of price points on their registry, which allows you to spend however much you can afford. You might even consider going in on a higher-priced gift with fellow guests.
Consider these wedding gift shopping tips as you find the right item for the special couple.
Myth 6: You Don’t Really Have to RSVP
You received the wedding invitation and noted the date and time on your calendar. Don’t simply toss the invitation into the trash. Take time to complete the reply card so that the bride and groom can prepare for your arrival.
This card isn’t included simply as a courtesy. It’s a necessity, as it helps the couple finalize their head count with the venue, which will affect seating arrangements, food, drinks, and even overall cost. The bridge and groom will thank you!
Myth 7: Your Attire Doesn’t Matter
Another often-overlooked item on the wedding invitation is the dress code. Perhaps you didn’t see that note on the invitation, or maybe you weren’t quite sure what it meant.
After all, wedding dress code language can be a bit hard to understand, especially if you’re new to the wedding circuit. However, if you overlook this information, you might end up being that guest who is overdressed or underdressed for the affair.
Decipher wedding guest outfits with this handy guide:
- A black-tie wedding calls for a floor-length gown or cocktail dress for women and tuxedo for men.
- A formal or black-tie optional wedding includes all of the attire of a black-tie wedding. In addition, at these events, women typically opt for cocktail dresses, and many men wear suits in lieu of the tuxedo.
- Semiformal weddings include sundresses or cocktail dresses for women and suits for men. Let the time of the event be your guide as you decide on your level of formality.
- Casual weddings are often outdoor or afternoon affairs and blend comfort with style. Women can wear sundresses or blouses and pants or skirts. Men can opt for dress pants with a button-down shirt, often paired with a blazer.
Armed with this new knowledge, you can now tackle any wedding guest etiquette situation with ease. As a result, you just might end up being the bride and groom’s favorite guest on their special day! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for wedding dress photos and even more wedding day guides!
This article was written by WeddingDresses contributing writer, Kat W. Jackson.