As a wedding guest, you may think you’re an etiquette pro, but here are five commonly held beliefs that are really more fiction than fact.
Myth 1: You’re not allowed to wear black.
Good news: Your favorite little black dress can definitely be appropriate for a wedding. Many people choose their outfits with the misconception that anything black would exude gloom instead of joy, but don’t worry—no one will think your dark attire is better suited for a funeral than a wedding. Though black might not be the ideal option for a mid-day spring or summer ceremony (plus, you’ll be hot), black is perfectly fine for any evening wedding.
Don’t assume that the to-be-weds should be your first stop with all your questions simply because it’s their wedding. Not sure where they’re registered for gifts? Wondering about transportation? Need to know if there will be a babysitter at the wedding reception? Don’t pick up the phone and immediately call the bride or groom. Chances are, they’ve got enough wedding stress of their own. Try the bridesmaids and groomsmen, or the couple’s parents first. Find out if the couple has a wedding website (look on the invitation), which could very well include all the information you need. If you’re still out of luck, it’s okay to contact the couple—just make sure you’ve tried other avenues first.
Myth 3: Shopping from the registry is impersonal.
It can be tempting to buy a couple a wedding present that’s not on their registry. Something that shows how well you know them and how great a gift giver you are is way more creative than selecting a present off a list, right? Well, not really. Most couples prefer gifts from their registry—that’s why they registered in the first place. For a personal touch, pick an item that has some significance for you and the couple (like buying them stemware to replace the glass you broke at their last dinner party), and include a letter that lets them know you put some thought into their wedding gift and got them something they really wanted.
Myth 4: An invitation means you can bring a date.
Unless your wedding invitation includes a phrase like “and guest,” don’t assume you’re free to bring a date. Couples are often working within certain restrictions, be it space or budget, so expanding their guest list might not be an option. Don’t be the guest who responds “yes” with a plus-one who wasn’t invited.
Myth 5: The couple is responsible for your accommodations.
No matter how far you’ve traveled to attend a wedding, the couple isn’t required to pay for your hotel. Many couples will reserve blocks of hotel rooms to receive a good rate for their out-of-town guests, but don’t expect them to foot the bill. If you’re not sure where to stay, ask a member of the bridal party for recommendations.