The 6 most uncomfortable situations for a wedding guest, and how to handle each of them.
There are few things more uncomfortable than being invited to a wedding but not knowing if you’re able to bring a plus-one. You can’t ask the bride (she’s got way more important things to do than worry about your relationship status), nor can you ask your other friends, because they won’t know either.
Or what about being slightly...over-served...at the reception? Everyone has likely been in a situation where you’re just *so* excited for the couple, you toss back a few too many champagnes. So what do you do then?
There are more potentially awkward situations you could encounter as the guest at a wedding than we can count. And, surprise, surprise! We don’t have an easy answer as to what to do for any of them! So we turned to someone who does. Alexandra Macon is the co-founder of Over The Moon, the chicest wedding website we know of, and a bona-fide expert on all things wedding etiquette. We brought her our toughest questions we could think of to hopefully keep you out of a sticky situation down the road.
What do you do if you were invited to a destination wedding without a plus-one and you don’t know that many people going, and you’d like to bring someone?
“If you’re married, engaged, or living with your partner, it’s safe to assume your significant other will get [invited, too]. And if they don’t, then it’s fine to politely ask the couple. But, these aren’t really plus-ones. These are all people who technically should be on the guest list.
“Actual plus-ones are typically referred to on the inner envelope of a wedding invitation as ‘and guest.’ These are usually given to people who are single or dating but aren’t in a committed relationship as serious as the ones previously mentioned. Many couples getting married still adhere to a strict ‘no ringy, no bringy’ policy, so even if you’ve been dating for six months, your main squeeze might not make the cut. That said, a destination wedding where you don’t know many people can be daunting and does require planning, so if the save-the-date arrives in the mail and you don’t see a reference to a plus-one, we suggest calling the couple to say you’re really excited about their upcoming wedding and wanted to know if you should plan on bringing someone or go ahead and book a solo ticket. If you’re sweet and sincere, there’s no harm in gently inquiring.”
What should you do if you forgot to RSVP and you don’t realize it until two weeks before the wedding?
“Call the couple immediately. Profusely apologize and fess up to whatever crazy circumstances in your life led you to be this forgetful. This is completely out of the ordinary behavior for you, after all. Overcompensate by spending a little more on the wedding gift than you originally might—this will help you sleep at night.”
What can you do if you overindulge in the champagne at the reception?
“Take a time out, drink some water, and try not to make a scene. There’s nothing worse than a drunk guest who takes the spotlight off of the bride and groom. Repeat after me: ‘It is not your day. It is not your day. It is not your day.’ If necessary, find the nearest exit and catch an Uber back to the hotel where you can sleep it off.”
What if you were asked to be a bridesmaid but really don’t feel comfortable doing it—maybe you don’t actually know her that well, or can’t afford to? How can you decline politely?
“If you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid and don’t feel up to the task emotionally or financially, you should call the bride and give a heartfelt explanation as to why. Say that while you would love to be a part of her day, you’re running on fumes right now and simply can’t make it happen. If you’re honest and thoughtful, she’ll understand. If possible, offer to help out in some other creative way.”
How can you tell if you were a courtesy invite (maybe someone from work is getting married and you don’t know them well, for example) and under what circumstances should you or should you not attend?
“If the invitation comes really late, you were likely a courtesy invite. Gauge your relationship status with the couple and judge accordingly. If the destination is far-flung, you don’t know the couple that well, and you’re a superior at work, do the math. It’s probably best if you sit this one out.”
And in the worst case scenario... How should you act if you see your ex at a wedding?
“Keep it classy and be above it all. Dress to impress, and give a casual ‘Hi, how are things with you these days?’ at some point during the evening, but don’t linger. And this is ‘Ex Run-In 101,’ but make sure you look like you’re having lots of fun!”