Most of our posts on Southern Weddings and The Daily South are written to inspire Southern brides as they plan their meaningful beginnings to married life, but for the next few weeks, we have something a little different to share: the etiquette of attending a wedding! Although the main role of a guest—congratulating and celebrating the bride and groom--is quite simple, there are many ways to ensure that you're being respectful and gracious along the way. Wedding guest lists are made with lots of care, and it's an honor to be invited to share in one of the most special days in a person's life! Here are a few of our tips for being a well-mannered guest even before the wedding day—be sure to check back next Friday for day-of etiquette, followed by lots more over the next few weeks!

Black and kraft invitation suite by Ashley Buzzy; Photo: Ali Harper

Express your congratulations. When you hear about the engagement of a family member or friend, be sure to acknowledge them! A phone call or email is nice, but we especially love a sincere, handwritten note.

RSVP as soon as possible. Once you're invited to a wedding, make note of the RSVP date and send your response as far in advance as you can. Forgetting to reply by the deadline makes a bride and groom feel like they're not important enough to you, and will be an extra headache on their part if they have to track you down and find out if you're coming or not.

Respect the couple's decision of who they invite. This is particularly important when it comes to plus ones and children. If you're single and the bride and groom would like you to bring a guest, your invitation will say "and guest," or they will call you ahead of time to see who you'd like to bring, and address the invitation accordingly. Children are invited if the invitation lists their names or says "and family." For heaven's sake, don't call the couple and ask to bring people they didn't invite—that is uncomfortable for everyone.

Utilize the resources the couple provides. Many couples create wedding websites complete with information about accommodations, transportation, activities to do in the area, and more. Read their websites thoroughly before asking the bride and groom questions about travel or schedules. If you really can't find information that you need, try contacting the mother of the bride or a member of the bridal party before talking to the bride/groom directly, especially in the weeks and days leading up to the wedding.

Do you have any wedding guest etiquette questions? Let us know in the comments and we'll address them in upcoming posts!