If you are anything like me, you are either at the age or approaching the age in which it seems that every other day, a new friend on Facebook is getting engaged. Engagements mean weddings, which are both exciting and nerve-racking. What does Dressy Casual even mean? What is an acceptable gift to bring? Which fork do I use again?
William and Kate attend numerous weddings for their friends, extended family members, and royals from around the world. They are both always dressed impeccably for the occasion and know exactly how to behave as to not draw attention to themselves on someone else’s special day. Here are some general rules of etiquette when attending a wedding, from what to wear to how to behave at the reception.
You receive a beautiful wedding invitation in the mail and get super excited to wear that great dress you just bought, until you see the dress code. It seems a bit like a foreign language. Here are some of the most popular wedding dress codes translated:
Black Tie: Tuxedo for men and a long formal dress for women.
White Tie: Even more formal than black tie, men should have a black coat with longer tails, with a white vest, shirt, and tie. Women should choose an even more formal long gown and wear gloves.
Semi-Formal: A suit for men and a knee-length or mid-calf length dress for women.
Cocktail Attire: Suits for men should be dark in color and women should wear a semi-formal, elegant dress.
Dressy Casual: While men do not need a suit, a sport coat still works for dressy casual, or a nice button-down and slacks. Women should aim for a dress that is in between a sundress and a cocktail dress.
Casual: Men can get away with khakis and a polo shirt and women can wear a sundress and sandals. Even though the invitation says casual, most experts agree that it is not acceptable for either men or women to show up to a wedding in jeans.
While in the past it has been frowned upon to wear black to a wedding, it is now perfectly acceptable, as long as the dress is the proper amount of formalness. Etiquette rules also say it is acceptable to wear white to a summer wedding. If Pippa can do it, so can you. Furthermore, be aware of where the wedding will be held. Dress appropriately for the couple’s venue or religious facility.
During the ceremony, guests should be respectful of the seriousness of the event. Talking should be kept to a minimum and flash photography can be distracting to the couple or to other guests. Make sure your phone is on silent. If you are comfortable participating in their religious activities during the ceremony, go for it; if not, just sit quietly in your seat. Finally, do not bring an unexpected guest to the ceremony if the couple did not expressly note on the invitation that you could bring a guest. This is their special day, so you should respect who they want at their ceremony.
Choosing the perfect wedding gift can be both exhilarating and stress-inducing. It is best to look at the couple’s wedding registry to get a feel for what they may need but it is not mandatory to buy a gift from the registry. Be creative but keep the couple in mind one hundred percent. Cash gifts are also considered completely acceptable by modern etiquette. It is now most commonly asked of guests to send gifts to a specific address instead of bringing them directly to the wedding, as it is difficult for the couple to then lug all of the gifts home after the reception. Also, according to Emily Post, gifts should be sent “before the wedding or as soon after the wedding as possible.”
Finally, you’ve made it to the reception! It’s time to party! Be respectful of the hard work and dedication the bride put into planning this evening. Do not make side comments about her decorations, her music, or her food. Have fun and be respectful of the traditions they are going to partake in; be present for toasts, cake cutting, and the bouquet toss. Most importantly, remember that this is the bride and groom’s day. Do not draw too much attention to yourself or make it all about you. Congratulate the bride and groom and have fun celebrating with them!