Step One: RSVP ASAP
If you know you can or can't make it to the wedding, don't procrastinate on popping that prestamped envelope in the nearest mailbox. If you need more time before you can commit to the date, keep the couple informed and give them a reasonable time frame of when you’ll know. You should also RSVP in the way the couple has requested (for example, don't call if they included a card in the invite). It's the easiest way for the couple to keep track of who's coming. Also, if you want to make a great 'first' impression because you haven't seen the couple in a while, you should add a note of congrats into your RSVP envelope. They'll love it!
Step Two: Dress on the Safe Side
You want your outfit to be comfortable and stylish, but also not so distracting that it draws the wrong kind of attention. Use the season and time of day to guide your look, and be mindful of the couple's religious observances (for example, you may want to throw a sweater over your shoulders if they're getting married in a Catholic church). Obvious but undermined, you should never wear white to a wedding, and you should also avoid the color for pre-parties, like the rehearsal dinner and bridal shower. It's not your day. Other colors to avoid? Bright reds and neons -- it’s these kinds of colors that might draw attention away from the couple, so don’t risk it! Also, it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. If the invite has the often confusing phrase "black-tie optional," err on the side of caution and wear a long dress or dark suit or tux.
Step Three: Respect Any Requests
Follow the couple’s requests, as long as they’re within reason. So if they've asked you not to post photos on social media until after the wedding, or they want everyone to come dressed in hoedown casual to the rehearsal dinner, do it. Don't complain! Think of how you would want to be respected at your own wedding. This is their one day. You wouldn't want them remembering it with the focus being on your complaints. Your date or plus one is an extension of you, so it’s your job to ensure they know what to expect and follow along with any special requests. Make sure they’re in the know by passing on any theme or attire information ahead of time.
Step Four: Keep Your Conversations With the Couple Short and Sweet
Of course you should let the couple know how happy you are for them and how much you love every detail of their wedding. But that's as much as you should say at this time. Keep your congrats short and simple, and then plan a brunch, drinks or FaceTime them after their honeymoon for some real quality time. They'll be so caught up in their big day, they won't even remember much of the conversation anyways. Take time to congratulate the couple’s parents (and even grandparents). They may not be hosting, but this wedding is a really big deal to them.
Step Five: Let the Photographer Snap Ceremony Photos
We give the OK to take photos before the ceremony, but once you’re seated, it’s time to stop snapping selfies with your date or videoing the bride walking down the aisle. Why you ask? Well first of all, you don't want your phone or camera to block another guest’s view of the couple. Secondly, you certainly don’t want to obstruct the professional photographer’s shots. There's nothing worse than having to crop out an iPad from an otherwise gorgeous ceremony photo. The couple will definitely be unhappy to see that. Take plenty of photos at the reception and hashtag away if the couple has requested it, but don’t let it keep you from actually enjoying dinner and dancing. Instead ditch the camera or phone and jump up on the dance floor and get down with the newlyweds.
Step Six: Give a Gift
So technically it’s not a requirement that you give a gift. But let’s be real, a wedding gift is a very nice gesture to congratulate the couple on their newlywed status. This doesn't mean your gift has to be extravagant or put you in debt. Peruse the registry and choose something off of their list, or just give cash or a gift card. Keep it simple, they'll appreciate it no matter what. Traditional wedding etiquette says you have up to a year after the wedding to give a gift. Don’t be that person. If you really want to be a great guest, jump online and search for their registry as soon as you get the invite. For a destination wedding, take into consideration having that gift sent to their house beforehand.
Step Seven: Dance, Drink, Eat and Have Fun
They couple has literally been planning out all the little details for months (maybe even over a year), and the best way to show them you appreciate it is to take part in all the fun. So jump into that photo booth, sign the guest book with a sweet, meaningful note, and get out there and dance. Your boogey shoes are required. Try to make friends with other guests instead of just sticking to the people you already know. Make an effort to meet a few other friends and family members at the wedding. Bonus points if you end up with a new group of friends at the end of the night. We recommend you be outgoing and fun but don't drink too much and still the spotlight from the couple, whether in a good or bad way.
If you have other close friends that are attending the wedding as well, it's always good to collaborate beforehand. Chatting about what you plan on wearing, giving as a gift, or who you're bringing as a plus one may go smoother with a second opinion! Now that you have some knowledge, we hope you're ready to devour the details of any future wedding you're invited to!