As a southern wedding planner, our posts are usually directed toward all the lovely grooms and brides to-be out there, but this week we’re addressing the masses: wedding guests. Most of us, if not all, have or will be a guest at a wedding at some point, so this applies to everyone!
Here in the South we pride ourselves on etiquette and hospitality. As a wedding guest, all of those good old southern habits come in handy. It’s an honor to be a part of a loved one’s wedding day and when guests are on their A-game it makes everything run more smoothly. As a southern wedding planner, our team appreciates a group of guests that know how to behave themselves. Working in the wedding industry makes you aware that every action has a reaction on a wedding day. So, without further ado, here’s our guide to being the best wedding guest.
This tip goes without saying: being on time to a wedding ceremony is a must. But let us elaborate a little. When you arrive late it creates stress for the wedding planner and the couple. At most venues or churches, there’s no ‘back door’ or secret way you can sneak in if you’re late. And even if there is, most couples ask us to not allow late guests past a certain area. To put this into perspective, about half an hour before the ceremony begins we tuck all bridal party away so they’re not seen. So, if you arrive late all the work we’ve put in to keeping the bride unseen is hindered. Especially because most brides are sensitive about guests seeing them prematurely. When you arrive late it runs the risk of us not being able to uphold that.
But, we’re all human and sometimes unexpected things happen, so if you do arrive late to a ceremony there’s a polite, southern way to handle it. Before entering the venue or church check to see if bridal party is lined up ready to go down the aisle. If so, either stay as far away as possible or if they’re in close proximity, do not enter the building at all. In some cases, by walking in you run the risk of being in the background of photos. By staying away, you also avoid being seen by the bride/groom and distracting them during this very special moment. After the ceremony has begun a planner or member of the venue staff can help you get seated or let you know where to wait until it’s over.
Most officiants will make an announcement reminding guests to silence their phones and not use them during the ceremony. When a bride/groom takes their first step down the aisle, the last thing they want to see is a sea of phones staring back at them. They want to see the smiling faces of family and friends. This is a special moment that cannot be repeated, so please don’t distract them. The wedding photographer/videographer will capture the magic better than any phone can and the couple can share these images with you later. It always saddens us to see phones being used during ceremonies. Please be respectful and put your phone away!
As the day goes on there will be a certain flow to it. The choices made for timing have all been tediously planned out by the wedding planner with specific instructions from the couple. So, make sure to listen to those giving instructions such as the venue staff, officiant, wedding planner, and the DJ/band. Guests often wonder ‘what are we supposed to do now’ or ‘what’s next’. For everything to run smoothly, just be observant and follow suite. We promise, we’ve got delicious food, drinks, and an epic party coming your way, all of which have been planned out for you to enjoy. Here’s a few examples of being alert and observant.
And lastly, remember that the day is revolved around the couple you love oh so much. Keep your focus on them, be respectful of the venue/space, and most of all have fun! Our couples vision for their wedding day is always for themselves and guests to have an amazing time and create memories that will last forever. This is their day and you’ve been chosen to experience it right alongside them, which is so special!
Written By: Rachel Hegner