If you are attending an American Wedding for the first time, let this guide be your plus one.
Getting invited itself is a big deal; it means that your friend considers you to be a very important part of his/her life, since usually the number of guests invited are very few. But before you say yes, you should know what is expected of you.
RSVP to the invite even if you aren’t going. Don’t take along spouses or kids if not explicitly mentioned. If you have any specific diet restrictions and allergies, mention it in the RSVP.
If you were thinking of re-gifting something, hold on to it for a later occasion. American couples have gift registries – a wish list of things that the couple want. It is a great way of making sure that guests are not wasting their money on unwanted things. Pick something that suits your budget but depending on your closeness and seniority, you may want to spend more.
If you are asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman, you have a lot of responsibilities to shoulder. You will be asked to buy an outfit picked out by the couple. You will have to help in planning the event such as making bookings. You could be assigned tasks such as counting RSVPs, guiding guests at the venue, holding the rings and being around the couple at all times in case they need anything. Being a part of the wedding is a lot of work, but it is thrilling to be closely involved in one of the most life-changing days of your friend’s life.
You are responsible for your own travel and accommodation. If you need any services such as hair and makeup, you will have to arrange that for yourself as well. Keep the bride and groom well informed about your plans. If possible, check if you can stay where other guests are staying as well. Once you get to know other guests at the wedding, it will be fun to be in a group. If it is a destination wedding, you should make sure you have enough time to sight see. But don’t end up being late for the actual wedding ceremonies and functions – ultimately that is the main reason you are there!
Thinking of wearing Indian traditional clothes to the wedding? Umm, surely there’s no rule against it and the bride and groom will not advise you otherwise, but it is best to keep the spotlight on them and not draw attention to you. Avoid statement jewelry or overly revealing clothes. Dress according to the venue, time and weather and check if there is a theme or color that you need to adhere to. The golden rule is to not pick the same color, cut and style as the people participating in the wedding such as bridesmaids, groomsmen and the couple of course. At the venue, respect the privacy of the bridal party and stay away from their rooms.
Guests are expected to be quiet during the church ceremony and the priest will guide you along. Typically, the family and closest friends occupy the front rows. After the rings are exchanged, the bride will throw her bouquet in the crowd, and it is expected to be caught by a single girl. If you are unmarried and have good hand-eye coordination, go for it! The couple then drives away in a car with cans tied to it at the back. But make sure you congratulate them in person before they do!
At the reception, the parents, groomsmen and bridesmaids will raise a toast to the newlyweds. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, raise your glass of Champagne to celebrate the couple. The first few dances will be between the couple followed by parents. Cutting the wedding cake is symbolic of the first the couple does together. Have a piece but no smashing it on the face! Be sure to tip the bartender and DJ!
Seating is fixed, so look for your name at the table – no, you cannot pick who you want to sit with. Usually a pre-fix 3 course meal is served to you.The bar and dance floor are open to guests which is where you mingle. The rest of the evening is for dancing, drinking and making lifelong memories. Take care to not be clicking pictures continuously and take permission before posting.
Attending weddings is an important part of social life and helps in integrating with the community. It is a great way to experience American culture and appreciate their beautiful traditions and customs.
If you enjoy reading about American customs, culture and traditions, here is a guide on Tipping in the US: