The wedding reception of a friend or relative is a very special day. Because it is easy to get caught up in the moment at a social function such as this, it helps to know some basic etiquette. Here are some tips on how to use wedding reception etiquette:
- Respond so very promptly. Make sure to RSVP when you get the wedding invitation. Don't leave your friend hanging until the last hour. If the invitation is addressed to only you and does not say "and guest," take that as an indication that you are to come solo. Weddings are expensive and, if you're not in a serious relationship, the bride and groom may not want to invite any extra guests. If the invitation instructs you to select a dinner entrée choice, by all means do so -- if you haven't picked an entrée, the bride will most likely have to call you or make the selection for you (and she really doesn't have time for that).
- Leave the kids at home unless they were invited. Many wedding receptions are for adults only, so if that's the case, make babysitting arrangements for your kids. If the whole family is invited, be sure that your kids are well-behaved and not causing a ruckus during the reception. While nothing is more adorable than a few little moppets grooving on the dance floor, the other guests and the bridal party will not appreciate unruly behavior from your children (or anyone else's). It is inappropriate to bring uninvited children to a wedding. Remember, this day belongs to the bride and groom, and you should respect their wishes.
- Gift giving basics. You should bring a gift to the reception. Check the bride's wedding registry beforehand if she has one (you can always ask the maid of honor where the bride is registered). Many guests opt to give a cash wedding gift -- especially if the couple is from out of town or if they have been living together for a while. There are no hard and fast rules about how much you should spend on a wedding gift -- you should use your judgment based on how close you are to the couple. If you bring a wrapped gift, look for the proper place to put it the reception hall.
- Don't drink too much. If there is an open bar at the wedding reception, make sure to keep your alcohol intake in check. Remember that wine or champagne may be served with the meal, so don't loiter around the open bar and drink too much beforehand. Also, just because the drinks are "free" per se, don't load up on them just because you can -- you will only come off looking like a lush. And if the bride and groom elect to not serve alcohol at their reception, respect their wishes.
- Don't sneak out without saying goodbye to the happy couple. This is a common faux pas that wedding guests make. Just because the bride and groom are busy mingling with other guests, don't take that as an excuse to sneak out as the reception begins to wind down. Make sure to cut in and say thank you and goodbye. Otherwise, the couple will notice that you have disappeared and they may become offended. If possible, try not to leave before the wedding cake is cut.
A wedding reception is a fun event for the bride and groom and their friends. Follow the basic etiquette so that it can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.