All weddings and their various traditions differ from culture to culture; some brides wear red, some white; some are lifted in a chair, some stay securely planted on the ground; some throw their bouquets, and some do not even carry one…you get the idea. And although each wedding is unique in its own way, there are some hard and fast rules that apply to every guest of any wedding. So let us help you not make an ass of yourself this summer – and for always!

1. Don’t be late. Just don’t. Plan accordingly; leave your house way too early (worst case scenario you grab a coffee around the corner from the ceremony if you need to kill some time – you know there’s always a Tim’s nearby!). What about traffic? Think about it – are you driving at rush hour? Are there road closures? Construction? Is there a faster route? Come on, do the happy couple the honour of not capturing you sneaking behind the processional in their wedding video for years to come.

2. Don’t wear white. This may sound like a rule of yore, but unless you are an 85-year-old woman who could not possibly detract from the bride (which is highly unlikely if you are reading this), then don’t wear white! You may have a hot little number just burning a hole in your closet, and you may “know for a fact that the bride wouldn’t care” but it’s just disrespectful. Same goes for any kind of floor-length, poofy, sparkly, or extremely eye-catching gown. The idea is to let the bride shine, so if you are weighing whether or not to wear your Miss Teen Canada eveningwear competition gown, I’d vote against it. This is more of a grey area, but while we are on the subject, try to steer clear of the bridesmaid colour too. Obviously there’s not much you can do if it’s black, but if you know it’s going to be a bright fuchsia, then it’s probably best to avoid that colour if you can.

3. Don’t wear jeans. Ever. While we are on the subject of dress code, I didn’t think it would ever need to be said, but from a personal observation this rule is not obvious enough for some. I don’t care how casual this shindig is – do not wear jeans to a wedding! Even if it’s a small gathering at City Hall. Step. It. Up! This is a solemn f#@%ing occasion! The only amendment to this rule would be under strict instructions from the bride and groom themselves (i.e. in the event of a cowboy horseback wedding, or a denim and diamonds theme). 

4. Turn off your damn phone. You may think it’s off, silent, whatever but there is a small chance that it’s not, so take 2 seconds while settling in to your seat to do it. Nobody wants to be the dingdong whose mariachi ringtone pierces through the climactic ‘I do’ moment.

5. Introduce yourself to your table mates. Your date may be the only person you know at your table, but that is no excuse to canoodle on your own all night. Reach out to your fellow diners. Find out their names as well as their relation to the couple. Now it won’t be so awkward to ask the groom’s cousin Billy from Baltimore to pass you the biscotti! And who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new friend or possible business contact? 

6. Participate! Believe it or not, your role as a guest is not to be a passive observer, but instead an enthusiastic witness and celebratory participant. Don’t think for a moment that your job is fulfilled if you just sit back in your chair eating free roast beef all night. Dance, sing, get involved in the action! If you are not a natural party person, at least slap a smile on your face and mingle throughout the room. You are there to create the atmosphere for the B and G – not the other way around.

7. Acknowledge your hosts. Yes, it is certainly a hectic day for the newly married couple and their families, but it is always nice if you can find a moment to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ for being included in their special day. You don’t need to yack the bride’s ear off about the time you guys made a fort out of pillows and blankets in her basement, but a quick greeting and best wishes to let them know you showed up and are enjoying yourself is only polite. Same goes for the parents of the bride and groom. It is a big day for them too, so show them the honour of a ‘hello’ (and placing yourself in context if need be!) 

8. Don’t be the de facto DJ. Chances are that the bride and groom have carefully selected the party music to complement the look, feel, or theme of their soiree. In many cases, the couple will hand-pick each song according to their musical tastes (along with what Grandma wants to hear, and some old classics insisted upon by their parents). So please don’t go up to the DJ all night requesting Rihanna’s S and M, and the like. You are going to have to grin and bear it when We Are Family comes on, just like the rest of us.

9. Don’t be the drunkest one. Yes, for these purposes ‘drunkest’ is a word. I know, I know, an open bar is a beautiful thing, but do everyone a favour and don’t go for the gold on this one. It is never good to show up in the photos with makeup running all down your face, or have the bride’s entire family remember you as ‘that friend who had her dress over her head during the last slow song’. Think about it. 

10. Do not make out on the dance floor. See #9.

11. Know the cast of characters. If you are flying solo, weddings are a great place to meet an unattached cousin or groomsman. Just be sure to sort out who is who before you break out your very best pickup line slash eye flutter maneuver. You don’t want to embarrass yourself with a) a married uncle, b) a gay brother, c) a mature-looking 13-year-old cousin, or d) all of the above.

Little Miss Wediquette