As the semester comes to an end, a new season around campus is beginning – wedding season. Look at any given refrigerator and you’re sure to find a growing collection of Save the Dates, wedding invitations, and RSVP cards. As summer wedding dates rapidly approach, many students will trade their everyday clothes for bridesmaid dresses and groomsman tuxes.
At 23, I never expected to be playing Maid of Honor for my twin sister’s wedding so early. While most students are most worried about graduating in a few weeks, I’m most worried about who’s making the cake, who’s hosting the shower, and the wedding day weather. If you’re like me, these things didn’t come naturally. I can count on one hand the amount of weddings I’ve been to and many of them were when I was much younger. Now, instead of aunts and uncles getting married, it’s sorority sisters and chemistry partners. If you’re invited to a wedding this summer and aren’t sure how to handle it, here are some helpful tips on etiquette, wedding gifts, and how to help the bride maintain her sanity.
RSVP – Many of the expenses that come with weddings have a lot to do with the guest count. Whether it’s for a wedding shower, or the actual ceremony, make sure you send back the RSVP card so they know whether you’re attending or not. Even if you can’t make it, still send back the RSVP to let them know.
Also, don’t assume that you’re allowed to bring a date. Unless the invitation specifically says you can, you will just have to fly solo that night. Also don’t ask the bride if you can bring a date if it’s not on the invitation. Like my sister, couples might have a strict guest count for the venue or a small budget, and asking them could make them feel awkward.
Dress appropriately – Look at the venue and the type of couple whose wedding you’re attending. While some weddings can be casual, some can also require that you dress formally. If you aren’t sure, ask someone close to the bride or the bride herself. The invitation should also give you an idea of the dress code. As a rule of thumb, dress modestly and don’t wear white! A wedding is not the place to show off your newest, tightest dress and brides should be the only ones wearing white For boys, shorts, hats, and sneakers should be left at home. Tuck your shirts in and wear a belt, even if the wedding is casual.
Gift Giving – Most couples are registered at a few different places around town and you can usually expect to spend anywhere from $30-$70 on a gift. Buying things off of their registry is a great way to make sure they actually want what you’re buying them. After all, they already took the time to pick it out. If you want more options, check the registry early before all of the items have been purchased by other people. If you purchase a large gift, have the present sent directly to the couple’s home so they don’t have to figure out what to do with it on the day of. Cash and gift cards are always good options if you’re looking for a last minute gift. Also, don’t feel pressured to spend large amounts of money--the couple that invited you probably knows you’re in college and working with a small budget.
Stay for the whole thing – Don’t just show up to the reception or party after the ceremony unless you have to. Skipping the ceremony but coming later for the free food and bar is considered rude. Also, don’t leave the reception until after the cake is cut. Skipping out early could hurt the couple’s feelings. As with most important events, arrive early and be sure to turn off your cell phone. The bride doesn’t want your Lady GaGa ringtone blaring during the couple’s first dance.
Drink Responsibly – If you’re over 21 and attending a wedding with an open or cash bar, make sure to drink responsibly. No one wants to babysit guests at their own wedding. One drink per hour is usually a good rule of thumb, and if the couple has chosen to make the reception dry, respect their wishes and don’t sneak in alcohol.
Have Fun! – Whether you are a guest or a participant, weddings are meant to be enjoyable. They can be an exciting place to catch up with friends and family. Chat with people, dance when it’s appropriate, and take the evening to relax and celebrate. Follow the golden rule and behave how you’d want your guests to behave at your wedding.