Guest Dilemmas

In spite of all the media attention on weddings big and small, there are still awkward “I’m not sure how to handle this” moments  for guests. There are many variations in the “new” wedding traditions. They vary by region, by ethnicity, and by what TV show the bride is watching. The “rules” that applied to earlier weddings have been relaxed and while it is good news for the brides and grooms, it can be tougher on guests. Stop and see us for answers to the simplest conundrum and advice on the most complicated social question.

The driving force for this is the desire to “be the best possible guest” at the wedding to which you have been invited. The “rules” used to be simpler and clearer. Today;s touch individuality, which enables the couple to have the wedding of their dreams-unique as it could be- some times leaves guests in a nether word of “what does this mean”?

  1. How do I know if my “partner” or “significant other” is included in the invitation that is addressed to me?   If you are close friends with the bride or the couple, expect the invitation to be addressed to you on the outer envelope, and on the inner envelope expect to see your name + guest (or your partner’s name). If it is a contemporary invitation that has no inner envelope, you’ll need to check the reply card for clues. If the invitation is addressed to you only and the reply card says “I will attend or I won’t attend” no guest is included. If the reply card has room for a guest, it will have a line that says “# attending ________”. You send back the reply with a #2 on the line and you have just experienced the now famous “plus one” rule
  2. If i am a friend of the bride and guests at her wedding, to whom do I address the check? I don’t have time to search out the various wedding registries and live by the adage that “when in doubt, send cash?”  You will find “experts” who tell you that you should make the check out to the groom. You will find “experts” who tell you to make the check out to the couple. We advise to make the check out to the bride using both her maiden and new name (depending on her decision about her new last names). After all, you are wishing her well in her new life.
  3. I received an invitation to the wedding of a college friend. I can’t attend but want to send a gidt even though the “rules” of etiquette sat this is not necessary. Should I send it before the wedding to the bride (my friend) or after the wedding to the couple? If the bride is your friend, send the gift with a personal note explaining why you can’t attend but including your very best wishes for a long and happy married life. If the groom is your friend, send the gift to the couple via the bride’s house address. Again, explain why you can’t be there in person, but assuring each of your good wishes and congratulations. Depending on your relationship to the groom, a personal call to him may be in order.
  4. I am not sure of how much to give if my gift choice is a check. How do I know what is appropriate? If you have time and know where the bride is registered, go look at the selection list to get a sense of how much is the average  gift choice. Send that in lieu of the actual gift. If you are planning to attend the wedding and reception the unwritten rule is that you will pay for the cost of your dinner plus a gift as well. Guests at what the dinner will cost per person as toss in something extra. Please know that this “rule” is ignored by many consultants who tell you to “go with your heart”. That advice may work for some, but others require a more constant guideline. We think the cost of one dinner plus extra is a good one.
  5. The invitation did not specify the degree of formality of this wedding. What should I wear? Very formal weddings often specify “black tie required” or “black tie preferred” on the invitation. Absent this indicator, you are “free” to dress appropriately for this event. One assumes good taste (minimum nudity or skin showing), and color choice. Once black and/or white were considered in poor taste. Now, one only needs to be concerned with one issue– if you wear white–don’t in any way be seen as competing with the bride.  In other words,  you can wear white–just don’t look like a bridal competitor. You can wear black–just so you are not seen as a jilted lover morning her loss.

In these situations and others, call our experienced consultants about the right way to be the perfect guest.

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