Singaporebrides | The Groom Room
How To Behave At Weddings
Some binge on the booze, others stinge on the ang pows. Fu Jinming finds out what to do – and what not to – as a wedding guest.
For every well-planned wedding, there is a badly behaved guest. You know the type – fashionably late, drinks like he or she owns the bar, and asks to pack the leftovers when dinner’s done.
And it’s annoying, not just for the lack of social grace on display, but for the blatant disrespect towards the host couple.
Unsurprisingly, misbehaving guests make other guests uncomfortable too. They can single-handedly turn a nine-course Chinese banquet into nine levels of Hell. Courtesy of the screaming child, the gossipmonger, or worse, the loud drunk.
So do yourself – and the couple who invited you – a favour. Observe these rules to being a gracious, thoughtful, and respectful wedding guest. And give your wedded friends a blissful start to their marriage.
Show your thoughtfulness by confirming your attendance early. Wedding invitations are generally sent out at least a month and a half before the big day. Don’t stash your invite somewhere and forget all about it. Aim to confirm your attendance at least four weeks before the wedding. This will give the couple ample time to submit a final head count to the banquet venue – most places require final table figures a week before the day. Besides, most wedding couples accept RSVPs through email these days, so there are no excuses.
Don’t Bring Your Own Guest
Read your wedding invitation carefully. If you don’t see “… and guest” next to your name, please don’t take it upon yourself to bring your own Plus One. If you have to, simply check with the couple before you RSVP. Chances are, the wedding couple would already have asked if you’d like to bring your spouse or partner before they send out the invite. So if you can, try to minimise the surprises on their big day.
It’s bad form to make your entrance after the bride has made hers. Etiquette dictates that you be at your seat 30 minutes before the first march-in. If you have to be late, be sure it’s for a good reason. Bad traffic, train breakdown, babysitter drama all count. Oversleeping on your afternoon nap doesn’t. And if you are going to be late, be sure to inform a fellow guest so he or she can inform the couple in your absence. When you do arrive, proceed to find the bride and groom right away to offer your apologies in person.
A wedding, unless stated otherwise, is a formal event. So respect the dress code and dress accordingly. While not all weddings here are black-tie affairs, most will still require that you observe a basic sartorial decorum. That means a collared shirt and pants at the minimum for guys, and a long or short cocktail dress for the ladies. For the latter, try not to wear white so as not to compete with the bride on her special day. Oh, and lose the cleavage too.
Don’t Get in the Photographer’s Way
This is a common bugbear amongst professional wedding photographers: guests often get overly excited and start snapping away at the bridal pair before the hired gun does. Their stray flashlights could cause lighting problems for the official photographer. Or worse, they take up the best positions, preventing the photographer from getting winning shots of the couple. So give your hosts the chance to capture their happiest moments in the most flattering light – get out of their photographer’s way.
Re-connect with Family
Meeting relatives you haven’t seen in years can be one of the most awkward moments at a wedding. That uncle is going to want to know where you’re working at now. Your aunt might be interested in your love life (or lack of). Prepare answers to your personal and professional life before the dinner, and make it a point to interact with them. You can even direct the same questions back. Before long, it’ll feel like old times again.
Don’t be a Stranger
If you’re assigned a table with people you don’t know, don’t clam up and turn into a sudden mute. Introduce yourself to everyone else. Use the bride and groom as a conversation starter – how they got to know them, how long have they known them for, and so on. That’ll pave the way for more personal topics like their professions, hobbies or even political viewpoints. Friendships, business partnerships, and even romance, have been known to have their beginnings at weddings.
The food didn’t live up to your expectations? Suck it up. The only thing more distasteful than bad banquet food is a guest who wouldn’t shut up about it. The hosts have spent a considerable amount of time and expense to feed you – even if you think you’ve paid for it with your ang pow. The polite thing to do is to smile and tell the couple how much you’ve enjoyed your evening. If you have to gripe about it, do it when you’ve reached home.
Nobody likes a drunk, especially at a wedding. So take it easy on the open bar, and keep your alcohol intake to a steady pace. If free booze is music to your ears, then your drunken bouts of crying, staggering and vomiting are heavy metal to your hosts’. Forget the embarrassment you’ll cause. Think of the apologies the couple will have to make on your behalf. Think of the inconvenience they’d have to go through to find someone who’ll drive you home. Think of the fool everyone will remember you for.
Give an Appropriate Gift
For a western-styled wedding, guests typically buy gifts off a wedding registry the couple has sent out together with their invites. Presents usually include kitchen appliances that the newlyweds will need. Sometimes, the couple may ask for a gift in cash instead to help them on their way. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask the couple which they prefer.
In Chinese weddings, it is customary to present a monetary token in a red envelope (or ang pow) at the dinner banquet. The appropriate amount fluctuates every year, just like inflation, so be sure to check what the going rate is per attendant. Chances are, your hosts will be counting on your contributions to help pay for their banquet, so do give reasonably.
It’s a celebration after all. So for goodness’ sake, celebrate. Eat your heart out, toast loud and proud, and dance like you mean it. Because there’s no better way to show your happiness and excitement for the wedding couple than to thoroughly enjoy the occasion of their union.