Just when all the stress is starting to get to you, you look down at your phone and see a text from a guest: “What exactly does ‘black tie optional’ mean? LOL, don’t know what to wear! Also, the invite didn’t say ‘adults only,’ so is it OK if we bring the kids?”
Oh, hell no, it is not OK. As well-meaning as a guest might be, the last thing a person planning a wedding wants to do is field questions that have easy answers ― or will eventually be addressed on the wedding site or invitation.
“There are so many ways to find answers to those questions,” said Sarah Campbell, a wedding and event coordinator based in Brooklyn, New York. “If it’s not on the save the date or invite, head on over to the couple’s wedding website or landing page where they are sharing information with their guests.”
“If you still have outstanding questions, reach out to someone close to the couple that may know the answer, like someone in the wedding party,” she added.
Google wedding-specific dress codes, ask a friend who’s also going, but don’t bug the bride and groom, said Anita Dybala, founder and lead planner at Anita Dybala Events in New Jersey and New York.
“Above all, if you happen to speak with a couple, remember to ask her or him how they feel,” she said. “That’s the one question they probably haven’t heard in a while.”
Yep, that’s almost the only acceptable question. To make things even clearer on this subject, we put together a handy list of questions below that you should never, ever bring up to a bride or groom right before the big day.
1. Can I bring my kids? They’re well behaved for their age!
Unless little Harper was mentioned by name on the invitation envelope, she’s in all likelihood not invited. The omission of a child’s name is a subtle clue that it’s an adult-only affair.
2. What time is the wedding?
This one seems easy enough to find out yourself, no? Wait for the invitation to tell you, or peruse your pal’s very helpful wedding website. Most couples have them nowadays. There, you will find all the important details about the event, not to mention superfluous info on the wedding party. If there’s no website, check the invitation or ask someone else who’s going.
3. What’s the cost per plate?
If you’re fishing around for answers to this one, you’re probably operating under the “cover your plate” rule of wedding gift giving. Save yourself the headache and don’t ask. As etiquette expert and wedding planner Xochitl Gonzalez told HuffPost a few years back, the rule is bunk. She used a dinner party analogy to explain why.
“When you are invited to a dinner party, do you estimate the cost of groceries and alcohol and time spent cooking before you figure out what to spend on a bottle of wine? Of course not!” she said. “You pick up a bottle of wine you think everyone will enjoy and that you can afford.”
Also, do you really want to ask a bride or groom for nitty-gritty details about their wedding budget? (After you get the cost of the chicken marsala plate, don’t forget to add 28.25% for tax and gratuity!)
Here’s a better rule: When looking for the right gift, experts say focus less on the dollar amount and more on these three things: your budget, your relationship to the couple and what you think they might like. If money’s extra tight right now, give them something within your budget and remind yourself that your presence is a present.
4. Who else is invited?
We get it, half of the fun of any party is who’s there. (Remember that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Larry doesn’t want to commit to a dinner party until he knows who all is going to be there? Can’t blame him.)
Still, this isn’t just some chill kickback where you can opt out if your friend’s weird former roommate is attending. It’s your friend’s wedding. If you want to be there for them, grin and bear it regardless of how you feel about the guest list.
5. Can I bring the person I’m dating?
Your friend probably would have loved to have extended a plus-one to you. But if the invitation wasn’t explicitly addressed to you and a guest, chances are, you can’t bring your new friend from Bumble. (Try to be sympathetic to your engaged pal’s plight; there was probably a lot of hemming and hawing between them and their partner over whom to invite and whom to leave out for cost’s sake alone.)
6. What should I wear?
Again, most invitations or wedding websites will include information on expected attire. If there’s no dress code mentioned, etiquette experts usually suggest cocktail attire for a night wedding (think: something you’d wear for a fancy girls’ night out or a formal occasion and suit and tie for guys) or dressy casual for any other time of day. (That being said, if the invite says “Florida formal,” we’re as lost as you are, friend. In this case, it might be smart to coordinate with others who are going, so you’re all dressed in something similar.)
7. Sending any text the day of the wedding.
This one isn’t a question but it’s a good rule to follow: Unless there’s an emergency, don’t text the bride or groom on their wedding day. Not even a sweet congratulatory text in the morning. It’s a lovely gesture, but they have so much on their plate the day of, the last thing they need is to be checking their phone nonstop.
8. Are there going to be vegan/gluten-free/Keto-friendly options?
Take it from the vegetarian writing this: Unless you have a deadly food allergy, don’t bug a bride or groom about what you’re going to eat. Before you head out, eat a little something just in case there’s nothing there that suits your diet. Sad, but such is life.
9. Can I pick my table?
No. If the bride or groom has gone to the trouble of devising a table seating arrangement, just go with it. Trust that they put you by someone you know, or someone you have a few things in common with.
Plus, ask any wedding planner worth their salt: When wedding guests are left to their own devices to find a seat, it’s an unmitigated mess. As writer Nicole Cliffe summed up weddings without seating arrangements on Twitter recently, “Who wouldn’t want their two hundred dearest loved ones to enter the venue like it’s an oversold flight on Southwest?”
10. Do you mind if I show up a little late?
This might be a millennial thing ― we can’t say for sure ― but more than one person in our office said they’d been asked if their wedding start time was set in stone. Yes, of course it is! Again, this is not a chill kickback, it’s a wedding, so that 5 p.m. start time isn’t negotiable. It’s going to be awkward and totally embarrassing if you roll in while the rabbi is doing his thing and you have to duck around looking for your seat.
Worse yet, you might not even get to your seat, and you’ll have to watch from the sidelines. Remember when Kanye West and Kim Kardashian arrived late to Chance the Rapper’s outdoor wedding and had to watch the wedding while standing near some shrubs?(!!!) Get there on time.
11. Will there be liquor?
Yes, most of us collectively agree that dry weddings are the pits. Still, when you say “yes” to a wedding, you implicitly say “yes” to whatever plans your friend has for imbibing for the evening: For every couple that goes all out with an open bar or a signature cocktail, there’s another that chooses to have a cash bar or no alcohol at all.
12. Can I give a toast? I promise it’ll be quick.
Oh, you’re bold for this one. Unless the couple is chill and encourages folks to come up and toast/roast them, keep that rowdy, free-wielding speech about that one time the groom got sh*tfaced drunk in New Dehli a year before he met the bride all to yourself, buddy.