A Guy’s Guide to Attending a Wedding

I’m a consummate bachelor. In the past two years, I’ve been to 10 weddings, and for this year, I’ve already received three “Save the Dates.” I’ve mingled with bridesmaids, shared drinks with brides’ fathers, and danced with grooms’ mothers. Each experience has made me a better wedding guest. When the invitation arrives, here’s what the single man should know to be the perfect wedding guest.

Read the Invitation:
Simply because you’re invited to a wedding doesn’t mean you can bring a guest. The invitation is your clue. If it is addressed with just your name, you’re flying solo. If the invitation includes the phrase “and guest,” bring a partner.

RSVP Quickly:
Your hosts are waiting for your response to finalize seating charts and other important arrangements. As soon as you know if you can (or cannot) attend, send back the RSVP card. Remember, the reply-by date is not the same as the mail-by date. When the upset bride gives you a phone call demanding your reply, no reason will excuse your tardiness.

Dress for Her:
If there was ever a time not to stand out, this is it. The bride should be the center of attention on her wedding day, and if you’re dressed inappropriately (even too casually), people will notice, which removes the focus from her. If dress is unspecified on the invitation, remove the guesswork and go with a suit. Dark suits work throughout the year, and lighter suits are good for spring and summer weddings.

Buy an Appropriate Gift:
Any item on the gift registry is a good idea. Never stray from the gift registry, although this doesn’t mean the gift can’t have a personal touch. Four friends and I once split the cost of a Waterford Crystal picture frame and placed a photograph of the five of us in the frame. “This way,” our gift card read, “you’ll have a constant reminder of whom you can invite to dinner.” The frame is now a part of their living room décor; our picture was replaced with a shot of the bride on her wedding day, but we are frequent dinner guests. 

Arrive on Time:
Remember how the wedding is all about the bride? Don’t speed down the aisle 30 seconds before the bridesmaids do, or worse, don’t slide in as the bride walks down the aisle. You should arrive 20 minutes before the wedding begins. If you’re late, wait for a moment when you can slip in inconspicuously. Try a side door and avoid the main aisle.

Dance, Even if You Can’t:
You weren’t invited to mooch off the open bar. The bride and groom want their family and friends interacting, so introduce yourself and mingle. It’s easier to let loose and open up with a shared activity like dancing. Plus, score huge points with the bride when you dance with her eccentric aunt. The reception is all about fun.

Thank the Bride and Groom:
Always thank the groom and especially the bride for the wonderful time you’re having. Do this before you return to the open bar too many times.

Know the After-Hours:
When the reception ends but your party mood doesn’t, take your new wedding-reception friends out. If the wedding is in Evansville, try the cosmopolitan-cool Blush Ultralounge (615 N.W. Riverside Dr.), or if you still feel like dancing, the dance floor at Icon (111 S. Green River Road) is vibrant and fresh. Your dark suit fits right in at both locations.

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