June is already here, which means we’re in the midst of wedding season and your refrigerator is likely covered with at least a few save-the-dates for this summer. No matter how many weddings you've attended, there are some guest etiquette rules you might not know or didn't realize were as important as they are. And when it comes to Southern weddings, being polite and following tradition are especially valued, so we think it's worth repeating these go-to etiquette rules for good measure. Below, 5 guidelines every Southern wedding guest should follow.
1. Save the Whole Weekend
Southern weddings can often turn into a 3- or 4-day affair. Depending on how close you are to the bride and groom, and whether you’re coming in from out of town, it's likely you will be invited to other events during the weekend, whether it’s a welcome dinner or a send-off brunch. It’s certainly not necessary to attend every event you’re invited to, but be mindful of this before you make any travel arrangements that could prevent you from attending something you wanted to.
2. Dress Appropriately
It may not seem like the most important thing to you, but there are actually several unwritten rules that revolve around how you dress for the wedding. We’ve heard it all before, but it deserves repeating: Don’t wear white. Or ivory. Or cream. This tradition may seem old-fashioned to some, but why risk hurting the bride’s feelings? And for the same reason, don’t wear anything that has the potential to attract more eyes than the bride. Whether it’s a pattern so bright it’s on the verge of neon, a too-short skirt or too-tight dress, an excessively formal gown or far-too-casual outfit for the venue, the “better safe than sorry” rule is the one to follow when it comes to a wedding. Some more practical dress code tips also worth being mindful of: Don’t forget the venue and time of day when choosing what to wear. If it's an outdoor ceremony or reception, consider how hot it might be, and steer clear of skinny stilettos that might sink in the ground.
3. Give Them What They Want, When They Want
The couple spent a long time registering for the things they both need and want to fill their home with. This isn't the time to get creative with your gifting or force your taste on someone else, so stick to the registry, and pick your gift early. Between multiple bridal showers and large guest lists, registries can be picked over long before the wedding. Shopping early also means your gift can be shipped directly to the couple, which keeps you from burdening the families by bringing your gift to the reception.
4. Make the Rounds
Whether you grew up going over to the bride’s house every weekend or have never met her parents, show off your good manners and find an appropriate time to find both the bride and groom’s parents and wish them congratulations, as well as thank them for hosting a beautiful party.
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5. Be a Good Guest
Every party host knows the fear of her guests not having a good time, and a wedding is no exception. So put on a smile, hit the dance floor, sign the guest book, and don’t leave early. The bride and groom spent a great deal of time and money planning the biggest party of their lives; the least you can do is enjoy it.