Since I'm among the last of my friend group to get married, I've been to lots of weddings. I thought I had this whole “being a good wedding guest” thing down.
Now that my own wedding has passed, I realized that there were some wedding guest mistakes I was making, despite my best intentions.
I've come to understand that going through the experience myself as the person getting married has greatly changed the way I handle these events in my friends' lives.
These are the things I've learned about being a good wedding guest that I never would have realized until having my own wedding…
Acknowledge all wedding communications upon receipt
Once our save the dates/invites/thank you cards were in the mail, I had massive anxiety about whether they'd arrived. I was grateful for the texts/phone calls/emails from people who'd received them, and I especially loved getting pictures/descriptions of where our paper goods were hanging in their home.
Respond to wedding requests immediately
…Or at least give a reason why you aren't responding immediately. Before I had my own wedding, I thought the couple had so many guests that it wouldn't matter to them when I RSVPed, or sent them my address, or whatever. Even though we had a lot of guests (153 invited, 127 attended), and I'm not very detail-oriented, I KNEW who had done what, and when. People who responded right away were my favorites because then I didn't have to worry about them!
If you're feeling judge-y about a pre-wedding event, don't attend (just send a card or a gift, if you want)
We had a guest who arrived at our bridal shower and said to my wife's face “I disagree with the concept of bridal showers, so I didn't bring a gift. Also I'm leaving early.” We didn't invite her so she'd feel obligated to come, we invited her because we love her and thought she'd want to be there. We wish she would have politely declined and gone out to brunch with her other friends to complain about the “concept of bridal showers.” If there's an event I don't want to attend, I've learned to just send a gift. The guest(s) of honor deserves to have only smiley excited people at their event. Speaking of that…
If anything goes wrong at the event, keep your mouth SHUT
Do not say a negative word about the event to anyone while it is still going on! Of course, we spent months meticulously planning the wedding and trying to think of every possible detail, but during the event itself, all I really cared about was being married and that people were fed on time. I'd said “helpful” things at other weddings, thinking the couple “would want to know” and the truth is? I didn't want to know.
Give compliments if you have them, and be specific
I'd previously assumed the wedding couple didn't really care about interacting with me, and that anything I said to them was promptly forgotten. Now that I've been through it, I DO remember a lot of what was said… but typically only the stuff that was specific.
For instance, I'm sure a lot of people said “You look beautiful, your ceremony was great, what a nice venue, dinner was delicious.” What I remember the most is things like, “It tasted like I was having dinner at your house!” “This is the first wedding that's made me feel like I could have a wedding.”
If they're social media people, tag everything you post online
Again, this is something I'd previously thought the couple wouldn't care about, unless they were in a picture or something. But it was cool to see all the places our guests had gone, and the status updates involving our wedding. So tag them on Facebook, or use their wedding hashtag on all your posts and pics!
At one point, I realized one of my friend's wives was not in ANY professional pictures. So I went to Facebook to see if they uploaded anything. After some mining, I found a treasure trove of pictures from our wedding, that we weren't tagged in at all, and totally missed. We're actually using some social media pictures in our wedding album.
Alright, fellow newlyweds: what are your newly-discovered insights into being the best weddings guest you can be?