5 ways to be a great wedding guest

By: Shannon Christie

© & Colin McKie Author: Canadian Living Credits: © & Colin McKie


5 ways to be a great wedding guest

By: Shannon Christie
Weddings can take months -- and sometimes even years -- to plan. So much time, attention, energy and money are spent on the large and small details of the bride and groom's perfect day. As a wedding guest, you want to help make this momentous occasion easy and enjoyable for the couple. So before you attend your next nuptials, be wary of a few wedding mishaps that could put a damper on the day.

Shawna Rioux, an event architect at Effervescent Occasions in Ottawa, shares five situations you should avoid so you don't end up being the guest whose antics the happily married couple are still talking about on their 10th wedding anniversary.

1. RSVP respectfully
"One of the most common faux pas we encounter are guests who receive invitations for 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith,' but who RSVP for more than just the intended two attendees," says Rioux. Etiquette dictates that children are not invited unless the invitation is addressed to "The Smith Family" or "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and children," she explains.

She also cautions against putting the hosts on the spot. "If you receive an invitation that does not include your children, you should not call the bride and groom and ask if they can make a special exception. Respect their wishes and find a babysitter or politely decline the invite," says Rioux.

2. Don't be a picture hog
It can be tempting to seize the moment and follow the photographer around during the bride and groom's photo shoot, taking snapshots of your own. As beautiful as they look and as picturesque as the setting is, let the new couple have their moment.

"Guests need to remember that the bride and groom have hired a professional photographer to capture their special day. If someone else is taking photos at the same time, they can get in the way," says Rioux. "Snap personal photos from afar unless the photographer invites you to take some photos while he or she is switching lenses, memory cards or positions."

"Wedding photo sessions are often lengthy, so a guest taking photos can also slow down the photo session," she continues, "which in turn could hinder the reception schedule already in place."

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3. Avoid drinking drama
Drinking too much can cause a lot of chaos and lead to many undesirable situations. This faux pas is very common -- but you never want to be remembered as the guest who overimbibed and made an embarrassing scene, says Rioux. Watch what you drink and gauge your surroundings.

"Whether you are a guest or a member of the wedding party, take note of the wedding atmosphere. A good rule of thumb is if the bride and groom are not overindulging in alcoholic beverages, then you definitely should not be either," she advises.

4. Use the registry
While you may have a list of items you think the bride and groom would love, avoid getting them something they already have or that they don't really need by using the wedding registry.

"The registry is a useful tool because many couples these days live together before they get married. They already have a toaster oven and a skillet, kitchen appliances and bedding sets," says Rioux. "Honeymoon registries are becoming more common as well, so do not hesitate to contribute if that is what the couple has requested. If all else fails, money is always happily accepted." There is nothing worse than getting a gift that won't be used or appreciated.

5. Can the complaints

A long wait between the ceremony and the reception, not enough food left at the buffet table or a closed bar during lengthy speeches can be frustrating -- but try to focus on the positive.

"If you have been invited to a wedding then it is because the couple wants to spend their special day with you," says Rioux. "It is an honour that you should be happy to accept, no matter what."

If you can see from the itinerary that there is a significant break between the ceremony and reception, plan ahead. Bring a deck of cards for an impromptu game, or take advantage of the opportunity to tour the area, she advises. "At one wedding I planned, the bride made brochures of things to do in town, places to eat and malls to visit while they were off having photos done, so that guests had something to do to occupy the time."

By avoiding these common faux pas you will show the bride, groom and their families that you appreciate being part of their special wedding day. And you will have also shown your support and done your very best to make your well wishes and love for the couple known.

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5 ways to be a great wedding guest