The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, March 14, 2005

a public service announcement

It’s become clear to me in recent times that there is a lot of assumed wedding knowledge that just isn’t being passed on to members of my generation, in particular the young men. To redress this I have penned the below for your edification, with help from a number of newly married or about to be married persons.

1. RSVPs
a - RSVP as soon as you know whether you can come or not.
This means before the RSVP date – it is a “deadline not a guideline.” Yes they want you to come, but if you can't they would probably like to invite someone in your place (and no you don’t get to pick who your replacement is).

b - Kindly respond with the required information and to the person nominated on the invite or accompanying information. Telling a mutual friend/family member that you are coming is not an RSVP it is a PITA (pain in the arse).

c - Only those named on the invite are invited. If they wanted your child/partner to come then they would say so. When it comes to guest lists they will generally have a good (ie financial or venue size) reason for leaving people off so please give them the benefit of the doubt. Many couples exclude children from their weddings these days, or restrict them to the ceremony only.

d – Stick to what you RSVPed. If you said you couldn’t come don’t turn up on the day and if you said you would come then please do. Not turning up is almost the most rude thing you can do, let alone the waste of money (sometimes as much as $100 a head) for the couple or their family. Reasons to not turn up when you said you would are basically limited to the sudden illness (or death) of yourself or a close loved one. If you can’t turn up at the last minute do let the relevant person know – they may have someone else they would like to include as it will almost certainly be too late for them to tell the caterers and thus save the dosh.

e – If you can’t come a small explanation is nice rather than a bald “no”.

2. Queries
a - Read any information you have been sent about the wedding before bugging the bride or groom with questions. Trust me they are pretty busy and they have probably put a lot of effort into the information accompanying the invite, eg where to stay, what to wear, gift registries etc.

b - Don't moan to the couple about things - that's what your friends are for. The bride especially will be hassled by their family extensively without you sticking your oar in.

3. Gifts
a – It is generally considered rude to attend a wedding “empty handed”
unless the couple have indicated that is ok. Even a thoughtful card can go a long way to showing that you appreciated the invite, if a present is not achievable. Small presents are fine too – gift registers usually have a wide price range to recognise this.

b – Gift registers are there for your convenience – they help you to pick something and everything on the list is something the couple want and like. Don’t think that gifts from the register will not be cherished or considered special, as they are often strongly coveted by the couple no matter how dull you think the item in question is.

4. On the day
a - Respect the dress code.
A few rules that people ought to know but tend not to:
- If you aren't sure if jeans and/or jandals are acceptable they aren't.
- Don't wear white - for women this means no white dresses (unless you want people to assume that you are the bride or a mean cow trying to detract from the bride) for men no white suits. Obviously a white skirt and coloured top (women) or a white shirt (men) is fine.
- If you know the bride (or groom) are wearing a different colour from the norm try not to wear that either (and still don't wear white).

b – Turn up on time or early. Ever tried sneaking into a wedding ceremony once it’s already started? Not a good look.

c – Don’t try to upstage the couple – it’s their day really. Things like grabbing the mike during the speeches to announce your own engagement are not really on, save it til the brunch the next day.

d – Please don’t rearrange the seating cards. Seating plans are a work of art that take hours. There will be a good reason why you are seated where you are and you can mingle and shift around to your heart’s content after the main meal.

e – Do congratulate the couple at some point after the conclusion of the ceremony, especially if you intend to leave the reception early. Ignoring them entirely is not only anti-social it’s also quite bizarre.

How does all this apply to civil unions? Well we won’t really know yet but I suspect some civil unions will be run along similar lines to weddings whilst others will be very casual. Best to err on the side of caution imho.


Apathy Jack said...

"Don’t try to upstage the couple"

Impossible - I look too good...

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Hey guys,

Just finally clicked - I wish you all the very best for the past happy nuptials and a wonderful life together. Well done!

David Farrar said...

Very useful guide. When is the day?

sagenz said...

it is also very bad form to get drunk and mess up the brides make up ;)

Make Tea Not War said...

If I may, just a tiny quibble about whether its necessary to provide a small explanation about why one is unable to attend: I generally subscribe to the Miss Manners view that it isn't- and a simple thank you for the invitation but unfortunately I am not able to attend is sufficient because what if for example you can't attend because you just don't want to. Obviously it would be rude and hurtful to say this but it would also be hurtful if the person discovered you in a lie later on. So I think the requirements for mutual politeness are met if the invitee merely signals in a timely manner their intention not to attend and invitor just assumes its because of some pressing other committment without inquiring further.

But leaving aside esoteric question of etiquette all best wishes for future happiness! (assuming you are in fact about to be married...)

span said...

jack - thanks for the link, that is a cool pic, yay! i was hanging out to hear about that particular day so it's nice to get a taster

aaron - thanks :-)

dpf - day is well been and gone and it was nice. glad you found my post useful - did you identify any past faux pas? :-P

sagey - sounds like quite a story, care to share a bit more??

mtnw - i would tend to agree with you actually, i think the problem arises when couples use RSVP cards and guests just rsvp using those and don't give a reason which can seem impersonal. there is also the fact that some people you invite you actually don't want to come, it's an obligation invite for various reasons, so a no, of any kind, is greeted with pleased relief!

in general - very little of this is related to my own personal experience organising a wedding, it is based on reading a great deal about weddings in the last year. so to anyone reading this who was at Raukokore, no i don't mean you. honest. well except for the couple who know very well who they are but are less likely to be reading this than the Pope is (and who merely provided amusement to me heh heh).

stef said...

All this puts me off marrying forever!

stephen said...

I disagree on the subject of gift registers, and Miss Manners agrees with me. It is rude to restrict what may be given as a gift, and the explicit specification of items, brands and prices turns an act of generosity on my part to an act of begging on yours.

Gift registers are not there for our convenience. They are there as a canny ploy by gift shops and department stores to capture business, and I feel no compunction in foiling it.

Anonymous said...

i think that knowledge of wedding etiquette is inversely related to the developmental stage of a society. so thanks for doing your bit to send us back to the stone ages.

another thing: weddings are all about family, so why the 'no kids'?

span said...

on gift registers - they don't restrict what guests can buy at all, you can certainly buy something not on the register (guests at our wedding did and we certainly weren't upset or anything).

Having been to a wedding where there was no register to be honest it was hard to know what to get as the couple had been living together for some time and the bride actually said to me afterwards she wished they had got a register as guests kept asking her what they wanted.

also many people don't do formal registers at shops but have a list of things they would like with a parent or bridesmaid or similar (which my sister did), so it doesn't always involve a shop at all.

but each to their own and you can do what you want on your day, be it wedding, civil union or handfasting.

in terms of knowledge of wedding etiquette somehow turning us all into barbarians - i'm not quite sure how showing respect for each other is a bad thing that threatens our evolution as civilised beings - perhaps Anon you would like to explain further? I suspect your opposition is more to the institution of marriage itself?