How to Rock at Weddings.

Wedding season kicked off for me last weekend with the wedding of one of my very best friends. I couldn't love a wedding more - the love, the food, the drinking, the dancing, the crying, the dressing up with my friends - it's basically the adult version of a sorority formal, except, you know, way better. 

I certainly didn't write the rulebook (nor do I always play by it) on how to rock at weddings. But I've been in a few and been to a few, and I've watched my friends who do rock at knowing the right move to make at all times. So I'm sharing their tricks in hopes that one will come in handy for you during Wedding Season 2016.

And any excuse to share my wedding photos again, right? ;) 

DO dress appropriately. 
One of the first things you notice about guests at a wedding is the fabulous attire being sported. I love to lust after dresses or jewelry or shoes (all the time, but particularly) at receptions. Underdressing for a wedding is an easy mistake to make. 

A safe bet? If the wedding is at or after 6 PM, traditionally, the attire is, at a minimum, cocktail (a short or long dress for women, and a dark suit or tuxedo for men). Before 6, the attire can vary tremendously. You can usually take your cue from the invitation: if the invitation is colorful, or less formal, so is the attire. If the invitation is letterpress or engraved on thicker paper, the attire is more formal. And if the wedding is black tie, the invitation will almost always say so. 

  Photo by Leslee Mitchell of  Leslee Mitchell Photography.

Photo by Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Photography.

DON'T monopolize the bride. 
Part of being a good guest is knowing when your time is up. A quick hug, a picture, and well-wishes are totally in order! The bride and groom are who literally everyone in the room is there to see, so they have to do a lot of small-talk. Old-school weddings may have a receiving line for the bride and groom, and in that case, keeping it short is more important than usual.

If you're really smooth (as either a bridesmaid or a guest), you'll keep an eye on the happy couple to make sure that they enjoy the party as much or more as they're greeting their guests. They might just need a helpful hand to take over the conversation with Dear Old Sweet Uncle Milton so that they can escape to the dance floor where they belong! 

DO show up on time. 
I have been that person: the church doors are closed, the music has started, and I am trying to creep in on a marble floor in my heels so as not to draw any attention to myself. ...guess what? Didn't work. This is such a simple tip, but if you're a person who is chronically late, a wedding is not the time to chance it. Leave extra early - ridiculously early, if need be - to make sure that you're in your seat before that processional starts! 

  Photo by Leslee Mitchell of  Leslee Mitchell Photography.

Photo by Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Photography.

DON'T bring problems to the family's attention. 
I know, no-brainer, right? Wrong. You'd be shocked how many people I've actually seen come up to parents of the bride or groom (or worse, the bride and groom themselves) to report that "there aren't any more shrimp," or that "the parking lot is full." What?! No. A reception is the long-awaited celebration after months of planning - it's the ultimate in blowing off steam. The family should be living it up, not putting out fires.

So, in that light, DO be a proactive problem-solver! 
If you're a member of the wedding party, this is your time to shine. Do the bridesmaids' dresses need to be steamed? Do it. Don't wait to be asked. Did the bride forget something at home? Go get it. Did one of the groomsmen leave some their button studs or cufflinks at their apartment? All you. Is somebody way, way too drunk already? Go get that fella a cheeseburger. Keep a comb, lipstick, and Band Aids in your pocket, because they're always going to be needed. Do this not because you want to be praised for it, but because you want to make this day perfect for your friend (and because if you've gotten married, chances are somebody did this for you).

  Photo by Leslee Mitchell of  Leslee Mitchell Photography.

Photo by Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Photography.

DON'T take your own photos.
Obviously, if you're part of the wedding party, this isn't an issue. Take all the photos you want while you're getting ready, during the day of, etc. But if you're a guest, and you feel the impulse to reach for your iPhone during the ceremony, STOP. The couple has already hired a photographer! By pulling out your iPhone, you not only draw attention to yourself in what should be a holy moment of sacrament, but you also risk destroying the photo that the real photographer is trying to take. There is no reason for you to Instagram the bride walking down the aisle. Leave that to the pro's, and don't be the person who ruins the shot because your iPhone is covering up the groom's head. ...did that sound preachy? GOOD. :) 

  Photo by Brittany Sturdivan of  Love Be Photography.

Photo by Brittany Sturdivan of Love Be Photography.

DO RSVP and send a gift.
This is maybe the easiest thing to forget. It's always a bummer when you get this text from the bride or groom, "Hey...just wondering if you'd gotten our invitation! We're trying to get a headcount!" Woops. This may be the only "tip" I actually have a personal trick for, but here it is: whenever I get an invitation in the mail, I RSVP RIGHT THEN. I know that I am so bad about forgetting stuff like this that if I don't follow the "do it now" rule, it won't get done. I also try to buy a gift right then online, and have it sent to their home. If I can't attend the wedding, I write short letter on the back of the RSVP card expressing my regret (which is always genuine; I hate to miss a party). This keeps those "WTF, are you coming or not??" texts from rolling in. 

  Photo by my jankity iPhone, so...sorry about that. 

Photo by my jankity iPhone, so...sorry about that. 

And to end us, another DO - Get out on the dance floor! 
Every bride is hoping that their reception is a fun-filled dance party with the people they love most in the world. So if you notice that the dance floor is hitting a lull, get your booty out there and do something about it! A dance party is the easiest kind of party to start - people having fun on the dance floor is totally contagious. 

  Photo by Leslee Mitchell of  Leslee Mitchell Photography.

Photo by Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Photography.

Woo hoo! Happy wedding season, y'all! May the bands all be fun and the hangovers not be too terrible.