Happy New Year everyone! I don't know about you, but 2015 was full of smacks and punches for me and I am glad it's over. Don't get me wrong, there were amazing moments and I had the pleasure of planning with some phenomenal couples. Of course, I also had some not so easy couples (as every planner does), and some difficult moments while planning a few weddings. As 2015 was my busiest year to date (where I broke my rule of maximum amount of full planning weddings I take on), I can rattle off plenty of Top 10 lists. If you're going to a wedding or weddings this year and haven't a clue what to declare as your "New Year's Resolution," then let this be it: Resolve to be a Better Wedding Guest
Going to a wedding should be easy, right? I mean, a wedding is a celebration of love followed by a multi-hour party with an open bar and dancing. But damn it if some people don't make it out to be a challenge every time they go. As a planner, I can spot the difficult guests right as they walk in the door, and sometimes sooner than that. If the guest is a true pain in the ass, my couple has already told me about them, and I have yet to have a couple exaggerate about just how difficult a certain guest is being.
So be honest with yourself and listen up. Because every wedding has at least one guest that is sucking the soul out of the day, and if you don't hear about this person, it just might be you.
1. Don't Bitch About Your Seat
The seating chart is easily one of the most stressful things for any couple to complete. Believe me when I tell you that they take into account the people that don't like each other, the ones that need to be within spitting distance of the bar, and those that refuse to sit anywhere near the entrance to the kitchen/bathroom/hallway/whatever. However, there are those guests that even before they receive an invite (and this should be grounds for notreceiving one) that get all cutesy with the couple and mention... casually... where they want or do not want to sit. Usually the request is phrased in the following way, "So cannot wait to be at your wedding, don't forget to sit me as close to the bar as possible". Of course, those requests are now simply text messages so the inevitable and passive "LOL" follows the sentence. You know, to cover up the fact that the request is bitchy and unnecessary. If you don't give your seating requests in advance (which, you shouldn't) then do not give them at the wedding upon realizing that *gasp* you're sitting next to someone that you just simply do not care for. I don't care if it's your ex that ran over your puppy with a tractor. You only sit to eat, so get up and mingle and dance the rest of the time. Sheesh. This isn't musical chairs.
2. Don't Complain About the Location
Too far? Don't go. It's really that easy! Odds are, you will know the location of the wedding in advance of receiving the invitation, because you'll hear about it from another invited guest or directly from the couple at an engagement party, or shower or whatever. If, at that moment, you realize that it's a whole 30 minutes to an hour away or even a "guests be damned" destination wedding, do not comment. Selecting a venue is not as simple as just picking one out from a wedding magazine. It takes loads of research and then visits to these venues to actually decide on one and then pray that the one you want has your date available. When you come down on a couple about the location, it makes them feel bad. Very few couples will have the attitude of "those that really want to be there, will be there," and even those that do will get a twinge of guilt if you mention how far it is for you. What you're basically saying is that their wedding, their once in a lifetime day, is inconvenient for you. This doesn't mean that you can then vent about the location to the parents of the couple either in hopes that it will then get back to the couple even though you "totally didn't mean for that to happen". Just stop. If "too far" is really an issue, then you probably would be a boring guest at a wedding anyway. So stay home and pout. No backhanded post-wedding comments on the couple's social media pictures either about how it "looked like so much fun" and you just "wish it could've been closer" so you could've gone. Flag. Unsportsmanlike conduct.
3. Don't Whine About the Day
Friday. Sunday. Thursday. Monday. These are acceptable days to have a wedding, and you just might get an invitation utilizing one of these dates. While they all have their negative elements, there are reasons that couples pick these days. The top of the list is that the couple probably saved money by picking any of the four days listed above. Have you ever shopped a sale? Do you list things from "lowest price" to "highest price" when shopping online? Then guess what? You're in a glass house, my friend. Put down the stones. Frankly, it doesn't matter why the date was chosen, and you passive people that like to ask the couple (with a smile always) "So, why'd you choose a Friday?" are the worst. You don't care. If it is logistically too difficult to make the day work for you, then you can decline the invitation. Most couples don't follow up on the rejections they receive because they are busy with other stuff like planning their wedding. Therefore, you don't have to fear about having an answer. In case the couple does ask you, you can then be truthful about the date just not being convenient.
4. RSVP When You Are Supposed To
Snail mail. It's hard. You have to write something in, put it into a provided envelope, and then get it to an actual mailbox to send it back. Frequently, you only have a month to do this. Life is unfair. How cruel is it for these people to expect you to just drop everything to send back their RSVP? Bridezilla much? I mean, you have shows to binge watch, you do not have time for this garbage. See what I'm doing here? Listen, I get it, people are busy. In fact, people love to talk about how busy they are. However, if the couple catches you playing Candy Crush on Facebook (is that still a thing? Are we back to Farmville?) but you don't have the time to RSVP, then you are in the wrong. It shouldn't have to be explained, but I'm going to anyway: The caterer or venue needs a headcount by a certain date or there is the risk of not enough food or a higher bill for the couple to pay. If they are renting things like tables and chairs, then they need that headcount as well so that everyone has a place to actually sit and eat. If you RSVP late there might be no food for you, no drinks for you, no seat for you, no room on the shuttle, no hotel room for you, no nothing. I advise my couples to send out their invites even earlier than they are supposed to because we live in a world of procrastinators. I then tell them to start calling people a full week prior to the RSVP. I, personally, have walked a guest through filling out the RSVP and putting it in the mail. Seriously. I was on the phone with them to make sure they actually did it. No one has time to hold your hand like that. We're all screwing around on Pinterest. So just send it out as soon as you receive it. Please...er.....s'il vous plait.
5. RSVP Correctly and Stop Adding People On
This isn't creative writing, people. Read the envelope. How many people is it addressed to? That's how many people get to RSVP. You and a guest doesn't mean you and an entourage. I have seen this happen at over 50% of the weddings I have planned. That's too much folks! Way too much! It happened at my own. What is this garbage? Another one I see is "swap-sies". You're invited with a certain person, but yet you respond that you and random person will be coming. Then when the couple gets your RSVP (late, because if you do this, you also send things in late) and they are like "who the hell is Gertrude?", what are they supposed to do? They won't call you out on it (most likely) because that's considered the "wrong" thing to do. In my opinion, two wrongs make a right here and I tell my couples to find out who the person is or I will do it for them if they are not comfortable. If you are in the situation where your partner cannot come, but you don't want to go alone, it is perfectly fine to decline the invitation. Depending on how close you are to the couple, this is an opportunity to then ask them if you can bring someone else. However (and this is a big however), that someone else either needs to be someone that they know (and wasn't invited because of headcount reasons not because they hate them reasons) or someone they don't know but is a best and close friend of yours and isn't an offensive wedding guest. At the end of the day, they have a minimum headcount they have to reach and if they don't have a "B" list, you might actually help them out by RSVP'ing for 2, even if it's not the original 2. If they tell you "no", be gracious and accept the answer. And yes, you still have to go, because you look bitter if you don't.
6. No Guilt Trips for the Couple
Before, during and after the wedding, some guests like to focus on the negative. I tell my couples that their guests will always find something to complain about. The reason I say this (a lot) is because many couples want the day to be perfect and they tend to worry about the details. You can't please everyone and you will die trying. (I'm not even thinking about how many wedding guests I have offended with this article). Worse than that, the couple will not enjoy their wedding day. As a guest, you need to understand the work that goes into planning a wedding and the pressure that couples have to make sure everyone enjoys themselves and has a great time. Frankly, you don't know every stressful detail that went on during the planning process, so don't pile on here. Leading up to the wedding, do not guilt the couple about how you "so hope there isn't a blizzard" for their January wedding or that the "traffic isn't God awful" for their Memorial Day Weekend wedding. During the wedding, the couple does not want to hear about how you "barely made it" because the line for valet was just awful. They also don't need to hear about how "bummed out" you are because you didn't get to try their signature drink since the bar ran out. And after the wedding, please do not whine to the couple about how packed the dance floor was and it's "just a shame there wasn't more room to dance, but the venue was lovely". These are all passive statements and people that guilt trip tend to be just that: passive. Here's your script, Before the Wedding: So excited to celebrate!, During the Wedding: Everything is amazing and gorgeous!, After the Wedding: Best Wedding Ever! You're done.
7. Don't Ask the Couple to Fix your Problem(s)
This brings me back to the earlier point I made about how going to a wedding is easy. Didn't reserve a hotel room before the block expired? Too bad. Reserve a room and not bother to mention the name of the block? Do not call the couple and ask what they can do about it. Either do it on time, and do it correctly, or call the hotel like an adult and handle it. If you misplace your purse, shoes, coat, keys, phone or whatever during the wedding, there are probably other people you can turn to other than the couple. In fact, there always are. Getting carded at the bar and have to go retrieve your ID? So go get it! Why is your first instinct to tell the couple about this? So that you don't have to go get your ID and they can go yell at the bartender (who is doing his job) about it? C'mon. Going to a wedding is easy. These and others are minor inconveniences that most of the time could have been avoided by you doing what you were supposed to do. Nothing is a problem for the couple to handle. Ever. See script above about what you're supposed to say.
8. Be. On. Time.
Industry secret: most invitation times are a full 30 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. Why? Because people can't tell time. Since the world is full of procrastinators that can't mail their RSVPs back on time, it is also full of people that cannot arrive anywhere on time. Generally, most people are anywhere from 5-15 minutes late to appointments, but always expect others to be on time. Think about your last doctor's appointment and how long you had to wait. It's unnerving and disrespectful. You have places to be and things to do, but there you sit, like a duck, for your appointment which was scheduled for 30 minutes ago. Imagine now, the most important day of your life, and people can't manage to put on a dress or suit to show up, celebrate and party the night away. It's not like it's any surprise either as to what time you're supposed to be at the wedding...it's printed on the invitation. You know how long it takes to get yourself ready and get somewhere, and aside from traffic (unusual traffic that is) or having childcare issues or anything out of the ordinary, you should be on time to a wedding. All of my couples have their ceremony time listed as 30 minutes earlier on their invitations. All of the my couples have late-comers. That means these people were OVER 30 minutes late. Since many ceremonies are only 20-30 minutes, that means that these guests were either trying to miss the ceremony or just didn't really care. The ultimate walk of shame? Going down the aisle to find your seat during the vows being said. That's officially worse than a cell phone going off.
9. Speaking of Cell Phones
Hashtag you're in the photographer's way. OK, I get it, social media runs the world, and the majority of weddings now have hashtags associated with them. I don't hate this because it's a great way for all of the pictures to be in one place for everyone, including the couple, to view them. However, with the incorporation of social media into weddings, there is now this free for all and absolutely no structure. I attribute this to people just not knowing how to behave with their phones as most people still don't know to shut them off or set them to silent during the ceremony. I have told plenty of guests to not take photos of the bride prior to the ceremony (or during the ceremony) and then post them to social media. Why? The gown is kind of still a big thing and maybe the bride doesn't want it plastered to Instagram before she even walks down the aisle. I have also worked with officiants to incorporate something into the opening remarks about not leaning into the aisle to take photos and photoblocking the photographer. I cannot tell you how awful a "first kiss as a married couple" photograph is when all you can see are phones taking pictures. The couple paid the photographer (thousands of dollars, FYI) for that shot and countless others. Do not ruin it by jumping in front of them. My photographers have permission to push your arms down, by the way. If you don't see the photographer, they are behind you. Look around first before lifting your arm to get "the shot" that will be filtered 900 times over and posted to Facebook complete with tags of people and the wedding hashtag. Oh, and don't spell the hashtag wrong. Thanks.
10. Do not Cause a Scene
Wow, the scenes I saw in 2015 alone at the weddings I planned. I always tell my couples that their guests will be what stresses them out the most. A close second would be the wedding party, but I consider them guests as well. It is sometimes impossible to predict what guest will be out of hand and just what they will do. I have seen punches thrown, a venue coordinator shoved down a flight of steps over a drink, a golf cart taken for a drunk joyride, a table or two flipped, a chair or three flipped, centerpieces smashed and things set on fire. I have watched a family member hijack the "do not play list" with the DJ by playing the "I have cancer and no one knows" card. I. Can. Write. A. Book. Possibly 19 of them. Alcohol is almost always the culprit and the bottom line is, you need to know your limit. Tequila isn't always going to be your friend, and if you have a bad relationship with Vodka, maybe don't have 4 martinis? Weddings are fun and a great time to let loose, but you need to be honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself, make sure you're with someone that can keep you in check along with take your keys and give you plenty of water. But in a martini glass so you're not offended and don't start screaming "I'm not drunk!!"...from on top of a table.
Weddings are the ultimate party. It is a true celebration of love and how two people, in this mess of a world, found each other. That's why you're there. Sure there's drinking and dancing involved and the couple wants you to have fun. Resolve to be a better wedding guest, especially if any of the above 10 sounds uncomfortably familiar.
Happy New Year!