Wedded Bliss…Here’s How

It’s that season again.  There are things people have to think about such as gowns, heels, tuxes, cake, happiness, stress, and etc. Most everyone will, in some way, be involved with at least one wedding this summer or fall, whether an attendee, a part of the wedding party, or the lucky bride or groom yourself. In a time when etiquette and traditions are being questioned, or thrown out all together, it’s sometimes hard to know what is acceptable in each of these roles. Having walked a mile (or two) in all their shoes, except the groom’s, of course, I’ve come up with some simple tips and suggestions to help ease these etiquette aches and protocol pains.

If attending:

1. Understand that this special day is NOT your special day, so don’t stress too much about what to wear. Chances are good that the bride and groom will only vaguely remember seeing you there, much less what dress or slacks you chose for the occasion. Your outfit should be nice enough to show that some effort was involved, but should never outshine the wedding party. Also, keep in mind the bride and groom’s style, and what you know about the wedding itself. Is it outdoor? At a church? On the beach? I wouldn’t recommend wearing a three-piece suit when the groom will have his toes in the sand and a lei around his neck.

2. This may seem unconventional, but I know it was sometimes an issue for me and my husband when we were lowly, newly-wedded college students: if you cannot afford a wedding present, don’t buy one. If you were invited to the wedding, the bride and groom want you there, not just your money and gifts. And don’t skip the wedding because you’re embarrassed about it. I assure you that when the couple begins writing “Thank-Yous” for their loot, they will not have a spread sheet of their attendees with a “what they got us” column, ready to send nasty emails or texts to those with an empty cell next to their name. And if they do, you may want to reconsider your choice of friends. If skipping the gift makes you feel too guilty, buy them a nice card for the wedding, then save up to get them something nice and send it to them as soon as you can. I don’t know a single newlywed couple who would be upset to get a late wedding present that they weren’t expecting.

If you’re in the wedding party (i.e. bridesmaid, groomsmen, etc.):

1. Do not create drama. This goes not only for the wedding itself, but for all wedding/engagement related events. I will confess, this one is mostly for the bridesmaids. (Groomsmen typically forget they’re supposed to be in a wedding at all until the bride calls a week before the wedding, asking how the tuxes fit…on second thought, groomsmen, don’t you create drama either.) Girls, the day will come (or already has come) when everything can be about you. This is not that day. If your bride wants you to have a beehive hairdo to match her 50’s style wedding, do it. Maid of Honor, if the other bridesmaids snipe at you passive-aggressively because they’re jealous of your favorite-of-the-bride status, just smile and remind yourself, not them, why you were chosen in the first place. The bride will create plenty of drama herself, especially in the week leading up to the big day. It is your job to keep her as calm as possible to avoid having downtown Tokyo destroyed by Bridezilla.

2. Run interference for your bride or groom against overbearing parents and future in-laws. Mothers of the bride/groom often have thoughts and agendas concerning the wedding which are exactly contrary to what the young couple wants for their wedding and future. Whether it’s the groom’s parents insisting that you invite your entire hometown, or the mother of the bride going into hysterics when the bride tries to politely refuse the use of her wedding dress from the 60’s. Be there for them, if just to comfort the hen-pecked couple after they’ve been put through the ringer. Help them to come up with some middle ground that they can both agree on.

If you’re getting hitched:

1. Delegate EVERYTHING. I know that it is hard for some brides/grooms to trust others to take care of the many important details of your wedding day, but it is worth things being just slightly less than the perfection you could accomplish so you can be free of all responsibility short of showing up. Do not, for heaven’s sake, put yourself in charge of picking up the cakes. Know that you will forget them until an hour before the ceremony, necessitating your bridesmaid’s mother to fly across town, missing your vows in the process, to pick them up (truthfully the only major emergency of my wedding, but it could have been avoided). The less that occupies your mind on that day, the better. You will be happier and more relaxed, enabling you to enjoy yourself.

2. Brides: Wear comfortable shoes. At the wedding I attended last night, the bride was an absolute beauty, perfect in every way. After the service, back in the lobby, she lifted the hem of her dress conspiratorially to reveal the cutest Toms I’d ever seen, which she had purchased plain then decorated with lace trim and little ivory bows. Adorable + comfortable= Happy bride. Grooms: Not much you can do to make a tux comfortable, unfortunately, but here’s some general advice: This is your day too, so don’t let the bride and her gang of bridesmaids bulldoze your ideas. Be assertive, but cooperative.  Don’t step out of the way entirely and let her do everything she wants, because at some point she will turn on you and accuse you of not helping at all. I know, we’re vicious, but we love you!

So there you are. Just some little nuggets of wisdom from someone who’s been there, done that, got the “Bride-to-be” t-shirt. Hopefully the weddings you attend this season run smoothly, beautifully and with a minimum amount of drama.

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