Remember: today is not about you.
If you are dating, recently married, or a great friend in general, there's a good chance you'll be invited to someone's wedding reception in the near future. No matter what anyone says, etiquette is a learned art. In other words, simply putting cash in an envelope and showing up with a smile won't cut it if you want to be a memorable guest.
Although that's a very good start, I asked Marcello Pedalino, Executive Director of MMP Entertainment & Event Production, to give some advice on how wedding-goers can be a classy, chivalrous, and gracious guest. So the next time you're invited to this milestone event, here are nine golden rules of wedding guest etiquette.
1. Respect is the utmost important thing.
Regardless of who paid for the reception, acknowledge both sets of parents or living patriarchs upon arrival and then again at the conclusion of the event.
2. Arrive on time.
In addition to RSVPing in a timely manner, arrive to the ceremony when asked to be there. Don't be the guest fumbling down the aisle searching for a seat seconds before the bride makes her entrance. Unfortunately, "fashionably late" isn't fashionable at all in this case.
If you really want to be stylish, get there early. As an early arrival, you can help set a positive tone and festive vibe for the rest of the reception.
3. Put your phone on silent.
Believe it or not, there are still times when a fairytale ceremony or the perfect reception toast is interrupted by a clueless guest who didn't set their phone to vibrate or took too long to stop chatting it up at their table. Everyone notices (and shoots dagger eyes) at that person.
To avoid those angry looks, simply turn it off. If you absolutely need 24/7 access to your phone, utilize texting on mute, sit in the back of the pack during the ceremony, and/or quietly excuse yourself from the reception if you have to take a call.
4. Ask questions way before the ceremony.
If you're uncertain about the dress code, not sure if the menu will accommodate your food sensitivity, or wondering if you have been granted "plus one" guest status, don't unnecessarily distract the bride and groom the day of to see if you guessed correctly. Call or text ahead of time.
5. Help out with the little details as much as you can.
Depending on the ceremony and reception location, there might be an event planner, wedding entertainment director, or Maitre d' on site to take care of all the little things. However, making sure that grandma has a good seat for everything or that a little piece of trash gets picked up from the ceremony runner is a nice way to lend a helping hand when needed.
Note: This day is not about you. Don't worry about getting credit for your good deeds.
6. Warm up the dance floor.
When the dancing begins, help get the party started by putting your phone away and warming up the dance floor. You'd be surprised how many people will join in as everyone is waiting for that one person to break the ice.
You don't need to have the moves like Jagger or a lot of Travolta swagger, either; just put down the phone and live in the moment. There will be plenty of time to use that obnoxious selfie stick, update your Facebook status, and get in the way of the photographer later on.
7. Stay out of the photographer's way.
Speaking of which... seriously, don't ever get in the way of the photographer.
8. Don't make a big deal about having to leave early.
If you need to leave early, regardless of the reason, just leave. No big announcement is necessary, especially when the guests of honor are trying to enjoy the final portion of their once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
9. Behave yourself.
The high school and college nonsense is over. No one wants to see a sloppy drunk on the dance floor. Despite how Wedding Crashers may have glorified sophomoric behavior, being the cool guest isn't about getting hammered, initiating cringe-worthy situations, or making sure you hookup with the hottest guy /girl you see.
The reality is, an invitation by a friend or family member to be a guest at their wedding is an honor. Have a blast and party on, but use common sense and remember to do your part to help make this one of the most fabulous days of their lives.
Follow these golden rules and you can have the best of both worlds.
Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who writes about restaurants, bars, dating, relationships, sports and other lifestyle topics. Follow more of his work on his website. Or connect with him on Twitter.