How to Attend a Wedding, Part 1

 Photo credit:  regan76  on flickr

Photo credit: regan76 on flickr

It’s that time of year, when wedding invitations start arriving in the mail and weekends begin to fill up with wedding activities. Maybe you’ll attend one, or perhaps more, but before you do, I want to suggest a few things we can all do as wedding witnesses. This is the first of three posts on this subject this week.

Serve the Couple

Serving the couple getting married can actually begin weeks before the wedding. I am one of the worst offenders at this, but simply sending in your RSVP is a great way to help the bride and groom with their planning. Couples, and their families, need a good head count well in advance of the wedding date in order to give those numbers to caterers and rental companies.

In addition to responding in a timely manner, we can serve the bride and groom by responding only with the names of those who have been invited to the wedding. This is one of those etiquette things that can be confusing. It used to be that only the names listed on the inner envelope of an invitation were the people invited to the wedding. Therefore if an invitation listed the names of my children, my children were invited. If my children’s names did not appear on the envelope, I would understand they were not invited. But now many couples have done away with the inner envelope, so we generally go by what is on the outer envelope. The question is, are couples intentional in how they address these invitations?

I have assumed by the absence of my children’s names on an invitation that they were not invited, only to attend the wedding and see many other children. Now, it could be the case that others were invited and not mine. Or it could be that the couple had no intention of leaving children out. So here’s what I now recommend: If your children’s names are listed on the invitation, great, feel free to bring them. If not, it’s a good idea to kindly check with the bride. Let her know you didn’t see the children’s names on the invitation, and that you’re fine to not bring them, but just wanted to make sure. If she says they just don’t have space for children, then kindly make other plans for yours. If you’re like me, you probably can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want your children around. But the truth is that this is a key way we can serve the bride and groom—by allowing them to plan their own wedding and following their wishes.

Another key way to serve the bride and groom is to be on time to the wedding ceremony. Let me just say, much like the RSVP situation, I am a key offender in this area. But with weddings, “on time” is actually at least fifteen minutes early. Weddings should begin right at the stated time, so all attendees should be seated well in advance of that time. This is just another way we can love the bride and groom and their families—by demonstrating we prioritize being witnesses to their union.

What are some other practical ways we can serve a couple leading up to their wedding day?