The ELLE Canada wedding guest survival guide
Wedding season is in full swing and, let's face it, it can be pretty overwhelming. But don't stress: We've got 5 lived-through-it tips on what to do when you’re invited to a dozen weddings in one summer.
I was asked to attend to no fewer than 12 weddings this year. That’s an average of one per month for 2014, and if they weren’t mostly concentrated around the spring and summer, it might actually be manageable. Don’t get me wrong: I love my friends – and I’m beyond honoured that they love me back enough to want me there for these very important moments. And for the most part, so far, I’ve had the time of my life celebrating with them. But 12 weddings also means (at least) 12 showers, bachelorette parties, outfits and gifts, not to mention the occasional days off work, overnight stays and even plane tickets. It’s expensive, it’s time-consuming and it can be downright overwhelming. But along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two. Herewith, my tips for surviving the summer of weddings:
1. Know your limits.
I’m not referring to the open bar, but you may want to apply these words there too. What I mean is figure out just how many of these events you can realistically attend without emptying your savings account and running yourself ragged (No one wants an extra from Orange is the New Black in their wedding photos anyway). It’s all about priorities. Your dad’s accountant’s son’s wedding? Maybe you can skip that one. Your best friend’s? Well, that should be obvious.
The same logic applies to showers and bachelorettes. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event. Just be honest when you RSVP – if you don’t think you can make it, say so up front; don’t be the guest who cancels last minute with a “cold” or a “work emergency.”
2. Read between the lines.
Invitations nowadays rarely dictate how to dress, but that doesn’t excuse showing up in inappropriate attire. So how do you know what to wear? According to Catherine Lash, founder and creative director of The Wedding Co., you can determine an unspoken dress code by the timing of the event. For example: “If it’s an afternoon wedding, smart casual is appropriate. If it’s an evening event with a full dinner and dancing, go formal.” Also consider the location. Punch-hued maxi dresses belong on the beach and not in a church setting.
3 more essential wedding guest tips on the next page…
3. Dress for less.
If you’re anything like me, the arrival of an invitation immediately sparks inclinations to shop for a new outfit, but here’s where you can save on some of your wedding-related expenses. Invest in a great LBD that can be accessorized a variety of ways and worn to more than one event. Then stock up on inexpensive statement jewellery. I’m a fan of chic separates for eveningwear: Tops and skirts can be interchanged to create countless different looks.
Just how many times can you repeat a dress? It really depends on what you’re comfortable with. For me, it was two to three, as long as I was switching up my accessories and beauty look, and the guest lists for the respective events were entirely different.
4. Give from the heart.
Every wedding expert will advise buying from the registry or giving cash, and for good reason: The couple doesn’t want to end up with a hideous objet d’art forever haunting their mantle; plus, newlyweds can often use the money to pay off some of those wedding expenses or set up their new life together. But when it comes to gifting close friends, cash just feels too impersonal. So, I’m going to espouse an unpopular opinion and encourage giving something meaningful – something you had to put more than five minutes of effort into.
Shopping sites like Etsy are stocked with every gift idea you could ever imagine – engraved antique silver spoon sets, custom portraits of the couple, even personalized wine racks. Bonus? Buying off the registry means the couple doesn’t have to know how much you spent, which can be a relief if you’re on a budget (read: attending 12 weddings in one summer).
“It’s important that guests remember to spend what they can afford,” says Lash, “no more, no less.” As a general guideline, she recommends giving between $75 to $100, whether that’s cash or the amount spent on a gift. “Most people have a general feeling about how much they should spend. Go with your instinct.”
5. Have fun!
As much as possible, avoid begrudgingly attending events that you’ll spend counting down the minutes until you can leave. See point number 1: choose wisely and pick the parties you know you’ll have a good time at. Then: Have a good time! This is your summer – sure you’d rather be at the cottage or a festival, but weddings can be a blast, and you shouldn’t spend your Saturdays wishing you were somewhere else. Show up with a good attitude, lots of love for the happy couple and, most importantly, your dancing shoes – both figuratively and literally. My ultimate goal at weddings? Never be the girl who takes off her heels halfway through the night. Invest in a pair you can walk a mile in – you’ll never be happier.