Friday, August 19, 2011

Wedding Guest Survival Guide

1. Book your travel early.

Obvious? Maybe. But on top of the usual book-early-for-cheaper-flights maxim, there's this to consider: wedding hotels often have a finite capacity. If you're not in the early wave, you might get relegated to the second- or third-tier lodgings — stuck with the bride's drunk cousins who yell "Yeeeeaaahhhww!!!!" at 2 a.m.

2. Ditch your kids.

Do it for at least this one night. Your children are adorable and charming and the most special little creatures in the world, but look, here's the no-BS truth: Most people don't really want them at the wedding. Splurge for a sitter and take the night off. (Obviously, if the wedding is explicitly family-themed, then this is null and void.)

3. Use the gift registry.

(Always.)You don't win points for creativity. Maybe you found this watercolor painting of pinecones and you're sure they'll just loooooooooove it! They won't. Couples register for a reason — they want specific items, and these items (kind of) offset the cost of the wedding. Get them what they actually want; skip the pinecones.

4. Guys: Err on the side of dressy.

You might think, "Whatever — the groom, Billy, is my boy! He doesn't give a damn what I wear!" You're wrong. The bride cares, so he cares. Unless it's on a beach, you need to wear a jacket or a sports coat.

5. Use $200 as a baseline.

How much do you spend on a gift? That depends on a ton of factors, but generally, $200 is the safest rule of thumb. Aim higher for a best friend and maybe lower — not too much, though — for your kinda-sorta-not-really acquaintances. If you're invited to a bunch of other events (bachelor party, bridal shower, engagement party), use the 60-20-20 rule: spend 60 percent on the wedding gift and 20 percent on those other parties.

6. Arrange for a DD.

The two most magical words in the English language: open bar. But if you don't arrange for transportation, you will either: 1) not enjoy the open bar, or 2) be an idiot. Avoid both scenarios and plan ahead with a cab, car pool or nearby hotel.

7. Don't hog the bride and groom.

Think of the bride and groom like you would the shrimp cocktail at a party — yes, clearly it's the tastiest food of the spread, but there's only so much of that shrimp to go around, so it's bad manners to hoard it.

8. Dance.

It doesn't matter if it's not your thing — you must dance. It's rude not to, since every bride and groom dreads an empty dance floor. And if you're with a spouse or brought a date? Not dancing at a wedding is worse than forgetting Valentine's Day.

9. Don't play Vince Vaughn with the microphone.

Speech time. You grab the mic and say, "I've known Jerry since he lost his virginity at age 12. A few months ago, I knew he was serious about Julie, because when he slept with another woman, he said he felt guilty and knew Julie was the one..." If you have not been explicitly asked to give a speech, do not give a speech, period.

10. It's okay to RSVP "no.

"What if you get invited to a wedding where you don't really know the person and you don't really want to go? Skip it. Seriously. No offense, but there's a good chance that they only invited you as a courtesy, and if you decline, they can reallocate your spot or pocket some cash. You're doing everyone a favor.


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