Drinking at Weddings



photo credit:
Kristina Carter with Vrai

photo credit: Kristina Carter with Vrai

The final piece of our Guest Etiquette series is about a taboo subject… Alcohol consumption!

Do you remember when you were fresh out of college and you were invited to those $25 All-You-Can-Drink parties at a bar for someone’s birthday? The entire purpose of the night was to be sure you got your money’s worth. Hey! Times were tough.

Well, here’s a news flash. An open bar at a wedding reception is NOT an All-You-Can-Drink Bar Party! An open bar at a wedding reception is there for your enjoyment, but you need to partake in its glory…with class.

Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up from seeing what happens when guests don’t keep their cool:

1) Drink one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume.

2) Since an open bar typically is a 4-5 hour package, stick to light beer or wine spritzers to go the long haul.

3) Avoid shots at ALL costs. (I have three very interesting stories about shots at weddings. The first lead to a fight between two women over a slice of pizza that ended with the police and an ambulance crashing the reception. The second involves a groomsman stripping during cocktail hour. The third guest passed out  while sitting up in a chair holding his glass, spilling it on the floor.) You DON’T want to be one of these stories. Trust me!

4) Eat before you begin drinking. Eat while drinking. Eat after drinking. Calories don’t count at a wedding!

5) Have someone help monitor your trips to the bar. (Is this number 4 or number 5?!)

6) Hit the dance floor! You’ll be having so much fun, you’ll forget about the unlimited booze.

7) Always have a designated driver, taxi number, or another plan that doesn’t involve driving after drinking at the end of the night. When in doubt, find the planner and ask for her help. We’re happy to get you home safely. I’ve even driven guests myself. Seriously!

Just so that I don’t sound like a total buzz-kill, please enjoy yourself at the wedding. The couple is paying a fortune for that open bar and you should enjoy it. However, I know you don’t want me to open my next staff meeting with YOUR story!





Q: Can I bring a guest to the wedding?

A: That depends! Was the invitation addressed just to you? Or, was it addressed to you “Mr. John Smith and Guest”? If it was the former, the couple is inviting only you. The same goes for children. Unless the invitation was addressed to your entire family, chances are good that the couple is inviting only the adults in your household.

Q: Why wouldn’t they let me bring someone to the wedding?

A: It usually comes down to budget or space. Either they don’t have it in the budget to spend an extra $200 on your date, or they have selected a venue that won’t accommodate the number of guests they’d be inviting with your date and everyone else’s. Often, couples set a limitation on who the “plus ones” will be. For example, they may extend invitations to live-in boyfriends and girlfriends of their friends, but not to casual dates.

Q: I HAVE a serious live-in boyfriend who wasn’t invited along with me. What gives?

A: If something like this happens, it is the result of one of two things. Either your friend has a total case of “bridal brain” and she forgot about your boyfriend, or she is trying to tell you something. Talk to your friend about the situation. She may be choosing this opportunity to put her foot down about this person in your life. You can’t hold it against her, though. She gets to choose who is invited to her wedding. Good luck!

Q: My children are my life! Not inviting them is completely offensive to me. Why would someone choose to exclude my adorable, angelic children from their wedding?

A: See the above answer about budget and space, to start. Another reason that YOUR children may not be invited is that NO children may be coming to the wedding. An adults-only reception is very common and should not be taken personally. Parents really need to respect the wishes of the bride and groom. Treat the night without the kids as a date and enjoy!

Please don’t be offended in any of these situations! Be happy that the engaged couple loves you enough to invite YOU to the wedding. You never know, maybe they have a special someone sitting at your table just for you…

Wedding Gifts



Since guests are often curious about the etiquette of wedding gift-giving, I thought I’d give a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

1)A general rule of thumb is to give enough of a gift to cover the cost of you and your date’s meal. This is typically at least $250 per couple in the city of Chicago. If this is too much for you, please don’t worry.

2) Couples love checks (Make it out to the groom, since he’s most likely keeping his name. And, a check is safe because if it is stolen, you can cancel it.)

3) Choose from the registry and have the gift sent to their home (Lugging gifts from the hotel after the wedding is a pain!)

4) If the couple hasn’t registered, give them a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or funds to spend on their honeymoon.

5) If a gift is out of the question for you financially, give them a card with a heartfelt note inside and include a wish for their future together.

Guest Attire



This post was inspired by a conversation I overheard at a shower we hosted this weekend. (Email me about hosting your small social event at our Pink Door Studio) Everyone involved in the conversation had a story about a female wedding guest wearing white to a wedding. Each dress sounded more outrageous than the last. It seemed to me that our dear female guests could use a little refresher in dressing for a wedding!

Ladies, please! It is totally inappropriate to wear white to a wedding. No matter how hot the color is in any particular season, you should leave the white (ivory, cream, magnolia, old lace, etc.) dress for the bride. This includes dresses with a pattern that is heavily white, as well as dresses that are of an interesting white texture or fabric. I would err on the safe side and rule out any pale, pale color as well.

The same goes for dresses that are too sexy or bright. A reception is not a nightclub! Often, you’ll be going to a place of worship. If you are wearing something that would make your grandmother blush, please change. Wear that type of thing to the bachelorette party!

Traditionally, black garments have been a wedding guest no-no, as well. However, in the day and age of the LBD (little black dress), I think it’s perfectly fine. Just be sure to accessorize in a festive manner!

Shoes are another thing that ladies need to rethink. Under very, very few circumstances is it ok to wear tall (knee) boots with a dress at a formal wedding. Shoes with clear plastic heels are another issue. People often purchase them thinking they “match” any dress, but they end up looking cheap (sorry!). Sky-high heels are also difficult to manage after a few drinks. Walking around barefoot is common during dancing, but I prefer seeing guests who can make it the entire event wearing their shoes.

Happy Dressing!