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The bride and groom (OK, mostly the bride) have been hammering out their vision for this day for years. They have saved. They have planned. They have agonized. And now you, friend or relative, are the lucky invitee. Play your part with the perfect mix of charm, grace and love--or risk becoming an eye-roller for the ages. Ahead, your wedding-guest vows:


For Pete's sake, put away your phone

Sherry and Tim hired a professional photographer for a reason. They do not want your iPhone waving around in their official photos. They don’t want it sticking out in the aisle and blocking the groom’s view of his approaching honey. And this should go without saying, but that damn thing better not make a peep during the "I dos."


Post no photos (without checking first)

So you snuck in a shot or 70. Now ask permission before you post them to social media. And if the couple encourages posting and has even provided a hashtag, employ a keen eye before unveiling anything to the world. Did you capture too much side boob, lipsticked teeth or an un-sucked-in gut? Delete, delete, delete.


Respond to the invitation

A lot of logistics and money are tied into the head count, so do the couple a big favor and RSVP ASAP. No one should have to track you down, follow up or beg you to attend a wedding.

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Be better than on time

Traditionally, weddings are meant to start at the exact time noted on the invitation. There may be a few minutes set aside for pre-ceremony mingling, but just in case, arrive at least ten minutes early.


Show up

If you accepted a wedding invitation, you should not cancel or fail to appear except in the case of dire illness or real emergency. You also cannot choose to attend the ceremony only or the reception only. You’re in this to win it, from start to finish.


Toast, don't roast

If you’re planning to give a toast at the reception, it may be tempting to skewer to get a laugh. Don’t. A little good-natured, loving teasing is OK, but don’t say anything truly embarrassing. Also, don’t make your toast all about you or recite a complete history of your 20-year relationship with the bride. Focus on the couple.


Stay positive

Perhaps you disapprove of the venue, the food, the dress, the bride’s first marriage or the groom’s drunk Uncle Bob. Hold your tongue. Acceptable alternatives: “This is the best poached salmon I’ve ever eaten!” “Don’t the bridesmaids look stunning?” “This DJ makes me wanna dance!” “I’m so happy for you two.”  


Don't bring extras

Unless your invitation specifically said “and guest” or “and family,” don’t show up with a surprise date or child in tow.


Interact graciously

You’ll only get a few minutes with the bride and groom, so give them a big hug and let them circulate--they have lots of people to see. Make a point of introducing yourself and saying a warm hello to their parents, too.


Buy from the registry

We know it seems boring--but we promise the couple put that snoozy white tea kettle on their registry for a reason. Get them the tea kettle, forget the whole “one year to give a gift” rule and just give them the damn thing on or before the wedding day. You’ll never do it later.


Dress to impress

Don’t call the bride to ask what you should wear. Dress up, dress elegantly, dress appropriately and, nope, you still can’t wear white unless the invitation specifically says it’s OK.


Keep it together

If you’re in the wedding party, don’t drink until after the photos. And whether you’re the maid of honor or a guest, stick to the “cocktail, bottle of water, cocktail, bottle of water” formula to keep sloppiness in check. Do you really want to be the one who bites it on the dance floor?

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