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How to not be a wedding crasher

(Plashing Vole/ Flickr)

As this year’s wedding season and coordinating existential crises quickly approach, it’s time to start planning what pastel color makes you look the least like a multicolored Easter egg and what household item you can gift with the most enthusiasm. These are exciting times!

In all seriousness, a wedding is about the delicate yet sound love two people have grown for each other – and their decision to act on this. It’s about two people deciding they can’t live another day without each other; that they’ll be there for each other when the spare set of keys goes missing or the electric bill is late (again). Keeping that appreciation for love in mind, your job as a friend, sibling or coworker is to send the eager couple down a path of happiness, love and prosperity.

It’s not to push the limits with an undesirable gift outside the confines of the registry that you “just knew they’d love” or to give an overly elaborate toast after you’ve taken a few too many trips to the open bar. Below are some gift giving, dress code supporting, picture taking etiquette tips for the slew of summer weddings right around the corner.

Adhere to the suggested dress code

While no couple, or most rather, intend for their guests to appear as uniformed participants in their wedding video, the dress code is suggested with the intention of keeping the color spectrum of table settings, bouquets and general decor cohesive. While this may seem like an annoyance to those itching to wear their loudest prints, just remember that in an event as elaborate as a wedding, all the little details matter. Obviously, the concreteness of the suggested garb depends on your relationship with the bride and groom – but why not air on the side of caution? Rock that salmon colored smock the bride calls a gown and smile about it. What harm could it possibly do?

Stick to the registry

If a couple goes through the process of creating a registry at Target or Amazon or wherever,  don’t completely disregard their efforts to make the gift giving process as painless as possible. Because we’ve all been there on Christmas morning, surrounded by a sea of eager looks painted on our relatives faces as they watch us open gifts we most definitely never asked for. We’ve all been there trying on the itchy too-small-turtle-neck while munching on stale chocolates out of pity.

Imagine this disappointment on a wider scale for the bride and groom as they sit, eager to open that new Kitchen Aid mixer, when they discover a pile of Olive Garden gift cards. Yet, as with all things, there is some gray area here. If you either A.) know the couple well enough to make a judgement on a gift that strays from the registry, or B.) aren’t in a financial positon to buy some of the registry items but still want to give a thoughtful gift – continue with caution.

Keep in mind the usefulness of your grand Pinterest inspired idea before you’re $50 deep and left with nothing but paint stained floors. That’s not to discredit the creative potential in a wedding gift, but rather to inspire cautious and thoughtful efforts. Consider joining forces (and funds) with another guest to get a combined gift.

Pictures

Take this advice with a grain of salt because I, probably more than anyone else, understand the desire to get the perfect newlywed photo matched with the elaborate background of delicate table decorations. But stop and think. If your ferocity to get the perfect photo at any point during the ceremony/reception mirrors that of blood thirsty paparazzi, relax with a capital R. It’s guaranteed that that the wedding photographer will capture the magical essence of the day more elegantly through their professional camera than you and your 14 VSCO filters could dream to.

Enjoy the day. Participate. Be present in the process and exchange phone numbers with the people who weren’t able to take this advice so you can swipe their photos. I promise when you’re dancing the night away, unconsumed by planning your Instagram captions and proving to all your Snapchat followers how “fun” you are, you may actually be fun.

Overall presence

This etiquette tip grazes the territory mentioned in the photos category, but be the kind of guest you’d want to have at your wedding. Smile when the photographer asks you mid bite for a photo. Eat the questionable dinner quietly. Start conversations with the other guests at your table – you’ll probably never see them again. Enjoy the bar but don’t unwind like you’re at a frat party. Play the part. If you’re the sister, mother, friend or coworker of the bride or groom, act accordingly. The newlyweds will be so busy processing the brevity of the decision they just made, coupled with the stress of having all their family members in the same room, that they won’t have the energy to deal with your drama.

Regardless of the location, color scheme, guest list or even your perspective of marriage in general, poor etiquette on a couples’ special day won’t be met with the measured response of highly paid actors in a romantic comedy encouraged to “laugh it off”– so act appropriately.

Gina Lopez can be reached at gmlopez@umass.edu.

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