1. Send a congrats card. As soon as you hear the good news of your loved one’s engagement, pop a little note in the mail to express your shared joy. Why not get the celebrating off the an early start, and make the happy couple even happier? This is also a good way to get yourself on the guest list, if you’re concerned you might be overlooked.

2. Respond promptly. When you get your wedding invite in the mail, RSVP right away. Don’t add to the couples’ stress by making them wait to hear back from you! So much of their wedding planning depends on the number of guests in attendance, and if you don’t reply by their requested respond date, you could be left off the list altogether.

3. Send your gift in the mail. What many guests don’t realize is that gifts brought to the venue often leave in a car separate from the bride and groom. This means that heavy items are hefted into the trunk by a family member, and the couple may not see the gifts for days. If you send your gift to the couple’s home, they get to start enjoying it right away. And your thank you note will arrive more quickly, too!

4. Show up on time. If the wedding invitation says, 4:30pm, that usually means that the ceremony is slated to start then. Pretty please, don’t bust into the church fifteen minutes late while the couple is exchanging vows because you couldn’t find parking. Plan to arrive about ten to fifteen minutes early to grab a good seat.

5. No surprise guests. The wedding invite is only intended for those intentionally addressed on the envelope. Do not ask for a plus-one. Do not bring your brand-new boyfriend. If you’re kids are not specifically invited, please don’t bring them along. Again, much of the wedding hinges on numbers, and if you bring someone who wasn’t accounted for, you could be costing the couple in overages. On the flip side of that coin, if you find out last-minute that you’re not going to make it, inform the bride or groom. They’d be happy to send a replacement in your stead.

6. Dress appropriately. If the wedding invite outlines a certain dress code, look it up, and follow it. Guys, never, ever wear jeans, sneakers, or a baseball cap to a wedding. Ladies, please don’t wear white. This color is reserved for the bride alone. I personally find it offensive if a guest shows up in white, cream, ivory, or even lace. It’s one day. Wear a color.

7. Don’t get drunk before the ceremony. If you’re lucky enough to attend a wedding which serves alcohol before the nuptials, please imbibe carefully. You do not want to be “that guy” who is wasted before the hors d'oeuvres are even served. Keep it together.

8. Don’t be the paparazzi. The couple hired a professional photographer for a reason; let them do their job. Turn off your flash during the ceremony, and don’t obstruct the view of other guests just to get your shot. Your best bet is to sit quietly and enjoy the ceremony and not to worry about getting the most ‘gram-worthy pic of the night.

9. Be respectful of the couples’ wishes. Everything that happens at the wedding, is happening for a reason. If the bar is closed, don’t fight with the bartender about it – the bride and groom probably requested that it be closed during toasts or other formalities. If a door is closed, don’t open it. Chances are, if you’re not invited into a certain room, it is still being set up, or the bride and groom are in there totally making out, or whatever. Don’t pester the DJ. You are at a wedding, not all up in da club: now is not the time for requests. The DJ probably has a long list of approved songs that he met with the couple about weeks prior. Your genius idea of demanding the Macarena might not go over so well.

10. Don’t change your meal choice. If you picked fish when your invite came in, don’t change to beef on the day-of, just because it looks better. Try not to mess with a busy kitchen that is trying to serve hundreds of people in a very short amount of time. Just sit down and ear for flippin' fish, already!

11. Dance! Isn’t that what you came here to do?! Nothing is more awkward than an empty dance floor with one weird relative gettin’ down all by herself. When the dance floor finally opens up, get up there and celebrate! By the same token, when it comes time for the bouquet and garter toss, if you’re single, get your ass on the dance floor and catch the damn thing! Don’t make your married friends push you out there.

12. When the event is over, leave. Sorry, but this is the cold, hard truth. If you don’t get out, breakdown can’t start. Some venues and vendors charge by the hour, so even if they’re sitting around doing nothing while you try to talk the bartender into another drink, they’re charging the couple. When the party is over, take it to a bar nearby and get it started back up!

13. Follow up. If the couple is hosting any other events during the wedding weekend, such as a pre-wedding dinner, or a morning after brunch, say whether you’ll be there and follow through. Same with the wedding, be courteous and let the newlyweds know what to expect. If you have photos form the night before, bring them to the brunch to share and show off.  Professional photos won’t be ready for a couple weeks. You know that the bride is dying to see a photo of herself in her dress!

Now go out there and have an awesome wedding season!

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