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Having planned and decorated weddings for over five years, we have seen all sorts of guests with no wedding etiquette whatsoever; guests who won’t stay seated for half an hour with intention of showing their new suit or curves, those who serve four plates on one plate only to eat a quarter, those who drink like there’s no tomorrow and become a nuisance, and so much more.
There’s a particular guest that has stuck to my mind; on one particular wedding where my sister and I were invited as guests, we sat across a group of ladies who kept packing their handbags with every drink or food that was served to them. One particular lady started with a bottle of wine that was meant to be shared among everyone on that table, then she turned to every single beer and soda that waiters placed on the table and kept ordering for more. Eventually, after embarrassing herself, the handbag got full but the drinks kept coming endlessly and she just kept looking on.
But I’m certain you have also seen other wedding etiquette abusers. For example; we have all raised eyebrows seeing some guests do things that we think shouldn’t be done at weddings. I’ve always raised eyebrows at cake time! Why would someone fight for a plate, yes, a plate of cake! Can’t they just pick a piece and move on? So before you fall victim to raised eyebrows at the next wedding you attend, be sure to keep these and more wedding etiquettes on point;
Rule 1: The photo rule
Guests please, let’s allow the hired professional photographer to capture the couple’s most memorable moments. Don’t pull out your iPhone and end up blocking the paid guy from taking pictures. If you really feel you need to capture the moment, stay in your seat and zoom in.
Rule 2: The posting rule
Maybe you took pictures of the couple and you feel the urge to show off your newly wedded friends. This urge may seem very well intended, I mean, you want to congratulate the newlyweds, just don’t post before the couple. Let the couple have the privilege to show off their big day first and then you can have a go-ahead. If you feel you need to post before them, get permission from the couple. If you must post pictures about someone’s wedding, knock yourself out with selfies of yourself and your friends but avoid posting the couple- especially on social media. How will I show I was at James’ wedding, you ask? You can take a pic against the background of their photobooth’s monogram which shows their names.
However, this rule varies. If the couple has a hashtag and has asked guests to share their pics on social media, go full throttle on it. Otherwise, they paid a professional because they want to appear a certain way.
As much as the newlyweds want to see their photos everywhere, I don’t think they’d appreciate you posting unflattering pictures of them on the biggest day of their lives!
Rule 3: Stick to Physical Invites
I know it’s a digital age but you want to hold up on those virtual invitations. Keeping your wedding invitations in paper form is still essential today. Receiving a wedding invitation via email or WhatsApp is very impersonal, but sending a personal paper invitation to each person gives it that special touch. Digital invites are still fine for pre-and post-wedding festivities, including the rehearsal dinner and morning-after brunch.
Rule 4: The problem rule
Nobody wants to be stressed on their big day, more especially the bride and groom. If you have a problem at this wedding you’re attending, maybe food has a foreign object or some guests have missed out, don’t tell the bride or groom. Instead, find the wedding organizer or master of ceremonies, don’t stress the couple because they are already overwhelmed. If you really need them to know, the next day or after their honeymoon would do.
Rule 5: The inquiries rule
The bride looks lit! And every cell within you wants to ask the bride where they got their dress, did their hair and lashes, and everything else, please don’t- at least on her wedding day. Wait till the aftermath of the wedding to ask for those details lest it will look like you’re a groupie. Maybe you also notice that the bride or groom has lost some weight for their day. Just throw in a compliment like you look amazing, don’t start mumbling about how they’ve lost so much weight. Be kind and courteous!
Rule 6: The food and drinks rule
A lot of people might disagree on this one but unless the couple has organized a takeaway package for their guests at the end of the function, it is ill-mannered for guests to start stuffing pieces of grilled chicken or cake into their bags. If you are worried the ceremony will end in late hours and you won’t have time to prepare a meal once you get home, arrange with the organizing committee in advance and have your caterer prepare carry-home packages for the guests. Having kids at home is no excuse to wrap pieces of wedding cake in your handkerchief. You can go to the cafeteria the next day and buy for them.
Rule 7: Observe the number of Invitees
These days, weddings are very costly. People host weddings in hotels where a bottle of beer is about Ush10,000 and a plate of food about Ush100,000. Currently, the couple will add the number of guests invited with each invitation card. This is to help them ensure that each of the invited guests gets taken care of. When you are given a card of two people (mostly husband and wife) but decide to bring your in-laws and children, you are not just being a lunatic but you are also being inconsiderate. And it does not matter whether you financially or otherwise contributed to this wedding or not. Respect the couple’s rules so you can make their day memorable.
It is with that same issue that I urge couples or wedding committees to always have a team at the entrance that ensures that every person who gets to the reception is an invited guest. Using family members or friends for this task is a bad idea as they will be hesitant to send back a family member or friend. If you can not afford to hire a wedding planner, hire two or three police officers (each is about Ush50,000), and give them a guest list with clear instructions to deny uninvited guests access to the reception.
Rule 8: Be in the Moment
Stop being self-centered! You were invited to celebrate one of the biggest days of the couple’s lives, so enjoy it! Don’t sit there with your head down thumbing your phone. You are celebrating the love of two people and they want to share that with you! They could have invited someone else but they thought you would be happy for them and so they invited you. But every time they look through the crowd, your head is drawn into your phone. Throw your devices in your purse and start socializing!