How to be a Great Wedding Guest

In today’s post I’m going to get a bit preachy.  I feel like these are such important things to take note of, that I really can’t say it any other way.  If you’ve ever been a wedding guest, I’m talking to you.  Honestly, this post isn’t about making MY job easier (although certainly if you follow all these rules, you will).  Instead, it’s about being a great guest to the people who are getting married.  That’s right – your friends or family members.  The ones who love you enough to invite to share in their special day.  So listen up! 😉

So you’re invited to a wedding…  Hooray!

Do yourself – and your friend or family member who is getting married – a favor, and read this list first.  Trust me, you want to be a great wedding guest.  Not “that” wedding guest.  Right?

RSVP!

Weddings are expensive, time-consuming affairs to plan.  The couple has requested that you attend and wants you there.  But if you don’t ever let them know whether or not you’ll be coming, how are they to plan for your dinner?  How will they know to save you a seat and a piece of cake?  It’s a simple process – check the box, perhaps write in your name and select your meal choice.  Just do it.  Before the RSVP-by date.  Don’t forget.  Many couples even give you the option to RSVP online (some don’t even send paper response cards anymore).  You know, you can visit their website before your daily dose of Farmville…

Don’t forget, too, to be a thoughtful guest when RSVPing.  Inevitably at every wedding there will be one RSVP card without a name written in, that the couple has to track down.  There will always be one guest who asks to bring someone additional, who wasn’t invited (A tip: if you weren’t sent an invitation that says “You and Guest,” that means that the couple probably doesn’t have the space or the budget to invite you with a guest, but they still want you there…  I know it can be a drag to not know anyone at a wedding, but it can also be an opportunity to meet new people!).  There will always be someone who writes in their request for a chicken dinner when the choices are beef, fish, or vegetarian.  At weddings where no children are invited, there will always be an irate family member who calls to complain.  But just say no.  Don’t be that guest.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t bring up legitimate concerns to the couple (such as allergies or major childcare issues) but don’t presume, don’t bother, and always check over your RSVP to make sure it makes sense.

Whatever you do, don’t forget this crucial step in being a wedding guest.  Don’t make the couple call you to see whether you’ll be in attendance.  Don’t make them wonder if you’ll randomly show up that day.  And don’t just show up without telling them.  They, after all, have lots of other things on their plates.  Like getting married.  

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Arrive on time.  Or better yet, a little bit early.

So you’ve never been to a wedding that started right when it was supposed to.  So you hate waiting.  So the wedding is outside in blazing sun on the hottest day of the year and you’ve been asked to drape yourself in black to fit in with the bride’s color scheme.

If you are a guest at a wedding, getting there any later than the time listed on the invitation is inconsiderate.  And just plain rude.  Aside from the fact that you might miss the couple walking up the aisle, you also might hold up the wedding (I coordinated a wedding once where less than half the guests were seated, ready to go, by ten minutes after our start time…  and the bride decided to wait another twenty minutes until most – not all – of them finally arrived!  And at another wedding, we had an unavoidable delay due to a bridesmaid getting stuck in traffic, and started twenty minutes late.  I sent the bride up the aisle and had eight guests waiting behind her to walk in!)

Obviously, traffic and delays happen.  I once had a dress zipper break – and then the dress get stuck halfway over my head – when I was on my way to (attend) a wedding.  Yup.  I missed the bride walking up the aisle.  It happens to all of us.  Which is why I actually aim to get there a little early – and always suggest that to all guests.  But that doesn’t explain everything.  In fact, I know a lot of people simply don’t ever get to weddings on time.  I hear it every time I am in charge of a wedding and a guest gets there after it starts.  Life happens.  We all have those days.  But if you on-purpose plan on getting there late…  Or simply on-purpose don’t give yourself enough time to get there reasonably…  Just STOP it!

Don’t forget to sign the guestbook.  And your card.

Every couple loves getting to see messages from their guests in their guestbook.  That’s why they’re so popular.  So if there’s a guestbook (or a wishing tree, or an art project), participate!  It’s just sad to see a guestbook with only a few signatures in it…  Especially when it’s been sitting right there all night for you to sign.

And don’t forget to sign your card too.  The couple will want to send you a thank you.  Even if they don’t – they’ll still like to know who got them this beautiful toaster!  Oh – and on that note, please for the love of Pete, don’t just buy something for them that YOU like.  Use the registry.  Or a give a gift card.  Or money.  The couple will love you forever.

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Pay Attention.

If the officiant asks for quiet, be quiet.  If the DJ asks all the single ladies to come out on the dance floor and you qualify, the bride wants you on that dance floor!  If you’re supposed to be seated at Table 3, don’t sit down at Table 5, no matter how many of your friends are there.  I promise, there’s a reason you’ve been asked to do all these things.

And – this is a personal request – if the coordinator is dismissing tables for dinner, don’t just go ahead and hop in that buffet line.  Aside from it being (again) totally rude, you’re also creating chaos.  Sure, it might just be you.  Then again it might be you and every other guest at said wedding.  Which creates a super-long line and lots of grumbling.  Both by the people who are patiently waiting at their seats to be dismissed, and those who are now at your table watching you eat.  And then people get mad at me.  There’s actually a method to dismissing people, even if you can’t see it.  The coordinator – um, ME! – will be paying attention to the length and speed of the line, and I promise you’ll get dismissed as soon as you’re able to.

Look, someone has to be last.  Someone has to come to the dance floor for the bouquet toss.  Someone has to sit at Table 5.  I’m sorry if it’s you and you’re not happy, but I promise it’ll go more smoothly if you just pay attention.

Don’t bother the couple!!!

This goes for the entire day.  From the moment that couple gets up in the morning until the moment their wedding reception is over…  Just do your best to be considerate of them.  Don’t call or text them asking for directions or what you need to wear to the wedding.  Don’t interrupt their picture taking (it’s probably been scheduled to the minute and believe it or not you might be the difference between their being able to take all their photos and not!).  Don’t come up to them and ask to take their photo while they’re eating.  No, seriously.  Don’t do it.  I once had to have the DJ make an announcement to let the bride and groom eat because people were literally lining up to take their photo while their food was on their plates.  The guests sat down for a few minutes and then kept hopping up to talk to the couple, who were desperately in need of food (getting married is exhausting stuff!); I finally had to stand next to their sweetheart table and tell people to come back later.  Over and over again.

The couple may be the center of attention, but to be a great guest, let them enjoy their day.  Don’t bring them undue stress, take their time away from what they’re supposed to be doing (eating is absolutely essential!!!), or expect them to be able to answer your phone call while they’re getting ready.  Call another friend – or a relative of the couple if you must.  Wait until they aren’t busy and can give you their full attention.  And let them eat!!!!

http://www.jasonalmazanphotography.com/

Don’t ding your glass.

Okay…  It’s cute for the first three or four times.  And most couples are good sports.  After all, kissing your new spouse is great fun.  But along the same vein as the last point…  Just let them eat already!

Don’t make a mess.

Seriously, after certain weddings I feel like someone’s mom.  I go around, picking up water bottles and candy wrappers (Seriously…  Don’t throw these behind the candy buffet…  Haven’t you heard of a trash can?).  I find balled-up napkins in the strangest places, and usually wipe down sinks covered in water.  At a venue like a hotel, this is bad enough – they have a full-time janitorial staff who will scrub down the reception area to make sure it’s ready for the next couple.  But if you’re a guest at a backyard wedding, the janitorial staff is the homeowner and (sometimes) the wedding vendors.

This goes, too, for not breaking things.  At Emma + Chris’ wedding, an overly-enthusiastic guest was trying to get water to flow faster from my glass dispenser and tipped it and shook it vigorously.  The bartender told me the story afterward that the guest simply was too fast for him to stop – and the large, heavy top to my dispenser went tumbling.  The bartender had to dump all the water in the dispenser in addition to cleaning the bar and the floor, because sherds of glass went everywhere.  Oh yes, and my dispenser sat for the rest of the night with a cocktail plate on top of it, which looked, frankly, terrible.  Functional but ugly.  Wedding vendors get it – we don’t bring anything to a wedding that we aren’t aware could potentially return broken or lost – but it’s still tough to see all that extra work, not to mention the expense of replacing an item just because a guest wasn’t being thoughtful.

With this story goes one more…  And it’s too disgusting to go into too much detail.  Let me just delicately say…  At a backyard wedding I worked, an extremely drunk guest evidently decided that he needed to use the urinal in the rental bathroom trailer for more than its intended purpose.  And then decided to “redecorate” the room.  Let me reiterate: this is unacceptably repulsive behavior in any venue.  But at a backyard wedding, who do you think will be cleaning it up?  I guess this dovetails with my next point, though, which is…

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Don’t get too drunk!

One of my brides asked me recently, “Isn’t there always that one couple at every wedding who gets too drunk?”

Sadly, yes, there usually is.

That doesn’t mean that you should be that couple.  In fact, that couple doesn’t need to exist at every wedding.  Drunk guests cause the most chaos at weddings – from stepping on the bride’s bustled train and tearing the buttons off to throwing up (never in the toilet or the trash can; it’s always in front of the bar or in the middle of the bathroom!) to grabbing the mic and making embarrassing toasts to starting fights…  There is no reason for you to drink enough that you won’t remember the wedding the next day.  Or that you’ll think it’s okay to leave “presents” for your hosts (see above).  Save that behavior for the frat party!

(And yes, the photos above and below demonstrate that you CAN have an immensely good time without being wasted!)

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

This is especially easy to do at a backyard wedding, where no venue staff is there to kick you out at 10:01.  But as a guest at a wedding, please don’t be that person who lingers forever.  The couple wants to go back to their room.  The vendors – often having worked a ten, twelve, or fourteen hour day – want to clean up and go home.  The hosts want to be able to get some sleep.  Once the DJ plays that last song, hug your friends, clean up your area, and head for the exit.  If you absolutely, positively must keep the party going on longer, gather a group of your friends and plan to meet at a bar or club, or someone’s house nearby.  Just remember to have a designated driver!

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Photos by We Heart Photography, FlutterGlass Photography, Jason Almazan Photography, Bryan N. Miller Photography, and Chaz Cruz Photography

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Happy McAwesome First Anniversary Neva + Rob!!!!

These two get around, at least on my blog.  The photos aren’t always the highest quality (since I took them and I’m decidedly not a photographer)  but it hasn’t stopped me.  I love them and always will.

Elephants!

Actually I love this whole wedding.  I’m SO glad I got to be a part of it.

Elephant-topped cupcakes by Courtesan Cupcakes!If there were ever a wedding that was a testament to the statement that you can have a wedding on any budget, this was it.  Spending under $4000 for a fabulous day full of love and personality and celebrating with your 60 closest friends?  Yes please.

Welcome to the McAwesome Wedding hand drawn sign by Events by Elisa

Of course it helps when you have a couple that is completely laid-back with no real expectations aside from having a good time.  And that particular couple happens to have a lot of talents.  And talented friends.

Cupcake Table by Events by Elisa and Courtesan Cupcakes!Also?  A fun theme rocks it every time.  This is the first time I’ve ever seen a wedding inspired by the movie The Party, but that didn’t stop them.  In fact, they took the basic inspiration and ran with it.  So this is also a great example of not letting the inspiration for a wedding or party limit you.

Yes, an elephant in a birdcage!It’s also a great reminder to let your personalities shine.  After all, not many people would get married by a robot.  But these two?  This was the perfect officiant for them.

Father Emiglio, the Robot Officiant!Of course if Father Emiglio is the perfect officiant for you, don’t hesitate to contact the couple.  They’d love to program him to marry you too.  No, really.  They made a video about it.

Married by a Robot. Oh yes.

It’s hard to believe that this wedding took place on the couple’s one year anniversary of knowing each other – and only three months after they got engaged.  Neva + Rob, you two truly are McAwesome and I love you both to bits.

The McAwesomes, shot by Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture

I am so proud to have been a part of your wedding and I’m wishing you the happiest of first anniversaries, with many, many more to come!!!

The bridal party!

Neva + Rob’s McAwesome Backyard Wedding has been featured on RogueBride!  To read Neva’s fabulous review and see more photos of the day, check out my website!

Neva+Rob’s McAwesome Backyard Wedding Inspired by The Party 07*24*2011 Wedding Details:

Neva + Rob “The McAwesome Wedding” 07*24*2011

It’s not every day that one of your best friends gets married.

And it’s not every day that you get to be in the wedding.

But when one of your best friends gets married, asks you to be in the wedding, and asks for your help designing and coordinating it?  Epic.

McAwesome.

As Neva says, “McAwesome isn’t a last name, it’s an unconventional conventional way of living.”  And Neva and Rob are anything but conventional!

Their wedding day was one year to the day after their first date.  Their wedding decor was inspired by the 1960s Peter Sellers classic The Party.  Their colors were “the colors of the sunset.”  The groom wore orange pajamas, a Chinese-patterned smoking jacket, and a fez.  Their wedding feast was cooked entirely by their family and friends.

Oh yes, and they got married by a robot.

Father Emiglio, the Robot Officiant!

Friends, meet Father Emiglio, robot officiant extraordinaire.  He started life as an Italian child’s toy.  Neva found him in a thrift store and brought him home.  Rob made him…

Well, McAwesome of course.

With a fresh coat of paint and an incredibly complex and hilariously funny program, Father Emilgio moved, spoke, lit up, and played “The Final Countdown.”  He interacted with the bride and groom.  There were incredible extras like R2D2’s beeps.  This robot was amazing.

Of course it’s not legal in California to get married by a robot, so he had a little help from a minister friend of the couple’s, minister Eric Sherman.  But really?  They were married by a robot.

Married by a Robot.  Oh yes.

If YOU want to get married by a robot (or emceed, or bar-mizvahed), or just to get better acquainted with Father Emiglio, check out this video made by the bride and groom!

That’s not the only thing I loved about this incredibly personal wedding, by any means.  For one thing every single vendor was a friend of the bride and groom, except for the girls at Classy Covers (who are friends with me!).  That meant cupcakes, decor, officiating, and photography by friends.  Who all happen to be professionals.  Love it!

Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture hard at work on the couple's formal portaits!

Now, I have one special request.  Please look at the content of these photos, and not the fact that most of them were taken in Auto mode by myself or my husband (and de facto assistant for the day).  I will eventually learn how to properly use my camera – but in the mean time, unless there’s a professional photographer capturing every moment (and our professional was IN the wedding party!), you might have to make do.  But this wedding was so unique, so fun, and so pretty…  I think it’s totally worth showing off my poor photography skills in this incredibly photo-heavy post!

I adored the string of yellow and blue elephant Chinese lanterns, and the matching damask patterned ones we hung in the trees.

Chinese Lanterns!

Chinese lanterns!

I loved all the fun ceramic, ivory, and wooden elephants that Neva and I found at thrift stores, swap meets, and discount stores!

Elephants!

Elephants!

I think the elephant in a birdcage (a special request by the bride) was my favorite, though.

Yes, an elephant in a birdcage!

I drooled over the delectable vegan cupcakes by Courtesan Cupcakes.  No really, vegan cupcakes can be AMAZING.  At least, these were.  YUM.

Vegan Cupcakes by Courtesan Cupcakes!

Vegan Cupcakes by Courtesan Cupcakes!

And the cupcake table looked so pretty with my vintage serving pieces!

Cupcake Table by Events by Elisa and Courtesan Cupcakes!

I was so proud of the florals, primarily white mums and daisies with green billy balls and peacock feathers, wrapped in leather cords, that Neva and I created, seen here in a photo by Erin of Paw Prints Pet Portraiture (also one of the bridesmaids!).  Erin usually specializes in pet portraits, but was happy to photograph the “wild things” at this wedding!

Florals with Peacock Feathers by Events by Elisa, Photo by Paw Prints Portraiture

I thought that my vintage suitcases and books, and my Moroccan lamps, helped make the buffet table beautiful!

A buffet can be beautiful, no matter what is being served!

That food, by the way?  Seriously delectable.  I have been the guest at other weddings, weddings where a caterer or venue was paid thousands of dollars, where the food did not taste this good.  Or look this pretty!

Mushroom appetizers!

The secret?  I think it’s lots of love for the couple on the part of the cooks (the groom’s dad and grandfather, both moms and grandmas, and several of the couple’s friends!).

And of course, I am thrilled that I could bring in the beautiful handmade elements that I did, including this pair of elephants.  I wish I’d been able to make these more perfect, but the idea came to me less than a week before the big day.  I still think that they’re super adorable and they were a fun surprise for the bride and groom!

Handmade Elephant cake toppers by Events by Elisa

And the hand-drawn welcome sign, on the cabinet door chalkboard I created for E+D’s wedding!

Welcome to the McAwesome Wedding hand drawn sign by Events by Elisa

And of course these two fifteen-foot paper table runners (one for each of two feasting tables), and the pieces we used on the two smaller tables.

Handcrafted rice paper circle "sculpture" table runners by Events by Elisa

Neva and Rob hand made all of their wedding invitations using a beautiful sunflower-patterned rice paper and the elephant motif that was carried on as cupcake toppers.

Elephant-topped cupcakes by Courtesan Cupcakes!

So when Neva and I went shopping together for elephants to decorate the tables, we brainstormed other ideas for the table decor, and I came up with the idea for these runners, using primarily the rice paper from their invitations, with pops of solid color.

Handcrafted rice paper centerpiece for the family's round table by Events by Elisa

Sweetheart Table Sign!

Handcrafted rice paper runner by Events by Elisa!

I know I made them, so I should probably be a little bit more humble.  But I can’t help it.  I think they’re amazing.  I wish I’d gotten more photos of them, since they really were sculptural hand-made works of art.  Every inch of the runner was different from every other inch, and together they included over 300 individually hand-cut rice paper circles in various sizes, from 1/2″ to 6″ in diameter.

Using white cloths from Classy Covers as a backdrop, we were able to decorate the tables with these…  McAwesome (heh!) runners, and pillar candles and flowers and elephants.  The runners brought it all together.  I love this photo by Erin of  Paw Prints Pet Portraiture (although I wish the wax wasn’t so drippy!).

Closeup of the family table by Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture

Back to the McAwesomes.  Don’t they look happy and in love?  This was their first look.

McAwesomes!

And their first kiss as husband and wife.

First kiss!

And a formal, shot by Erin of Paw Prints Pet Portraiture.

The McAwesomes, shot by Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture

SO. adorable!

And of course Neva looked STUNNING.

GORGEOUS bride!

That first photo is by me (so you can see her pretty dress too), but the ones Erin took are so much nicer!

Gorgeous! Mrs. McAwesome by Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture

Smiling Mrs. McAwesome by Erin of Paw Prints Portraiture

It was fun and creative and fit the couple perfectly.  Neva + Rob are anything but traditional.  And I was so happy to be a part of their McAwesome day.  This wedding is a great reminder that you can have a beautiful wedding with any budget – it’s all about making the right choices for the couple and the budget.  And these were the perfect choices for this couple.  Actually, for all of these people.  Aren’t we a colorful, fun bridal party?

The bridal party!

Neva+Rob 07*24*2011 Wedding Details: