Rae Bates has been an Independent Consultant with The Pampered Chef since April 2004. She offers the Easiest Wedding Shower EVER. For more information you can find her listed in the Business Directory under Shopping.

Wedding season is upon us. Chances are good that you’re already invited to at least one wedding. If not, your first invitation is probably in the mail. I have some suggestions to make sure that you are a welcome guest.

First, please RSVP right away. There are few things more nerve wracking to a bride and groom than people who wait until the last minute to RSVP. The only thing worse is the person who doesn’t RSVP at all. Here’s an etiquette reminder. RSVP is French for “please respond.” That means you should let the bride and groom know whether you can attend or not—a definite yes or no.

Don’t bring a guest along unless a guest is invited. Look at the envelope your invitation arrived in. Who is listed? If it’s just you and your spouse, don’t bring the kids along. If it has your name “and guest,” you can bring along your significant other or best buddy. If it has your name “and family,” bring along the whole crew. By the way, the invitation for a formal wedding will have two envelopes. The internal envelope will list the names of every guest invited. And, no, you should not call the bride and/or groom or either set of parents to ask if it’s okay to bring someone.

Arrive on time. That means at least five minutes before the stated time of the wedding. This will allow you to be seated and settled before the groom appears. If you’re shown to a seat, take that seat. Don’t ask to be moved.

Leave your cell phone. Leave it at home. Leave it in your car. Leave it in your pocket or purse. During the ceremony you should never have your cell phone out. The sound should be off, and the vibration strength should be turned down. You don’t want the sound of your vibrating phone to interrupt a quiet moment. Pay attention to the ceremony. And, never, ever, ever take cell phone pictures during the ceremony. The bride and groom have most likely paid dearly for a professional photographer and/or videographer to record this special day. You and your cell phone will only be in the way. I know many wedding photographers and several wedding videographers. They all tell horror stories of beautiful shots ruined because some guest reached up or out with a cell phone in the middle of a critical shot. The bride and groom will share the beautiful, professional shots with you.

If there is a receiving line, say hello to each person in the line. If you don’t know the person, introduce yourself and briefly give your relationship to the bride and/or groom. Be patient while waiting. Once you reach the bride and groom, remember that other people are waiting. Keep your comments short. Tell the bride she’s beautiful. Tell the groom he’s a lucky man. Thank them for inviting you to be a part of their special day. This is not the time to tell “remember when” stories or ask the groom’s mother about her aunt’s surgery. Save those for later, when people are mingling and the happy couple is making their rounds.

If you brought a gift along, take it to the reception and leave it on the gift table. There should be a basket or box for cards. Though, if you can, it’s best to get the gift to the bride before the wedding. If you ordered it online, have it delivered right to the bride. Some stores offer free delivery of wrapped gifts to the bride. Every gift that arrives before the wedding is one less thing to take care of on the wedding day for both you and the wedding couple.

Don’t overindulge. Don’t go back for that fourth plate of shrimp. Don’t get drunk. Don’t stake out the chocolate fountain and eat your weight in chocolate-covered goodies. Enjoy the offerings, but don’t go overboard.

The reception is when, if you must, you can feel free to take some pictures with your phone. Just remember that, again, the professionals will be capturing the big moments such as the daddy/daughter dance, the cutting of the cake, and the wedding couple’s first dance. Please stay out of their way. Use your phone to take a selfie with your friends. Capture the people at your table enjoying the event. Some couples might still place disposable cameras on the tables for just such photos. Refrain from taking photos of people embarrassing themselves. Those are not the moments that the couple will want to remember.

Walk away from the drama. Don’t get into heated discussions of religion or politics. If there is someone in attendance with whom you don’t get along, move to the other side of the room. Please allow the happy couple to have only happy memories of their reception.

Also, remember that this day is not about you. Seating arrangements can be a nightmare for the bride and groom. I know of couples who spent literally hours arranging and rearranging the seating chart. Her mom and stepdad might need to be at least three tables away from her paternal grandmother. Aunt Marge isn’t speaking to Uncle George. If you’re not sitting at what you consider one of the prime tables, be an adult. No offense is intended, so don’t take any. And, please don’t switch your assignment.

Along that same line, keep your criticisms to yourself. You hate fondant? It’s not your wedding. You think the colors are hideous? It’s not your wedding. You think they should have had more vegetarian choices? It’s not your wedding. You hate the DJ’s choice of music? It’s not your wedding. Criticize all you want on the way home, but keep your negative opinions to yourself while you’re at the wedding.

Before you leave, tell the bride and groom goodbye. Thank them again for allowing you to enjoy the day with them. Wish them a long and happy marriage.

Finally, if you took some great pictures at the reception, share them with the bride and groom. Wait until at least a week or two after the wedding so they’ll have time to get home from their honeymoon and catch their breath. Don’t post them on social media, but text, email, or message them to the happy couple. This will allow them to choose what to share with the world.


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