I do's and don'ts for wedding guests

Take this pledge on the road to better guest-dom

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I, (your name here), take responsibility to respond to wedding invitations promptly and to refrain from bringing uninvited guests.

I promise to abstain from wearing white or something too sexy or something too casual, like (gasp!) shorts, and will dress appropriately for the occasion.

I pledge to give a thoughtful toast that is not degrading or embarrassing, but respectful and heartfelt.

I will give you a gift you can use and will appreciate in a timely manner.

Above all, I vow to be a gracious wedding guest, through sickness and in health, from this day forward, as long as I stay on wedding invitation lists.

To stave off unseemly embarrassments, fashion faux pas or other etiquette mishaps, we offer these vows to help renew your position as the perfect wedding guest:

Invitation etiquette:
Those invitations are sent out for a reason: The paying party needs to know how many people will be attending. Some general tips from the wedding experts at www.theknot.com:

RSVP is short for, "Repondez, s'il vous plait," which means, simply, "Please respond." That means you should respond either way, whether you're able to make it or not. If the couple has included a response card or postcard with the invitation, it's easy: Just send the card back, saying you will or will not attend. "Regrets" or "Regrets Only" means that only guests who can't make it need to respond.

Respond as soon as you get the invitation. The couple needs a final head count no later than two weeks before the wedding. And let the hosts know if you must cancel at the last minute; don't just not show up.

Don't assume you can invite a date (unless it says "and Guest") and/or bring along your children or other family members whose names are not explicitly included on the invitation.

Toast tips:
What's a wedding without a touching toast or two? Some do's and don'ts from Peggy Post's Wedding Etiquette:

The best man gives the first toast. It's perfectly fine for his to be the only one offered. Often, both fathers offer welcome toasts to each other's families and guests. The maid or matron of honor and other members of the bridal party may propose toasts, and the groom may toast his bride and new parents-in-law. We say the bride should toast her husband and new parents-in-law as well.

Everyone should rise for the toasts to the newlyweds except the bride and groom, who remain seated. If a toast is directed to the bride only, the groom rises; if it is directed to their parents, both the bride and groom rise. They do not drink a toast to themselves.

Wedding toasts are best prepared ahead of time, as you may be more nervous or emotional than you might expect. Keep what you say short and to the point -- the spotlight should be on the bride and groom. Comments should be in keeping with the occasion. This is not the time for long stories and humorous anecdotes. Those are more appropriate at the rehearsal dinner.

What to wear:
Dressing for a summer wedding can be tricky, especially if it's held outdoors. You don't want to melt, but you don't want to look too casual, either.

Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, in their book "What Not to Wear for Every Occasion," suggest the following for women:

For day: a floaty summer dress that flatters the body shape, along with a hat that picks out the palest color in the dress (not the darkest) and a key accessory, such as a large cuff bracelet or signature clutch. Shoes can be sexy, but should give enough support to walk on grass. You don't want to get stuck in the mud.

For evening: A sexy dress to dance in, along with a slinky cardigan and fab evening bag. If you opt for a shorter dress, look for detailing, such as sequin details, to make it still seem formal.

And on the oft-asked question of whether wearing white is OK at a wedding? Just don't go there. There are plenty of other options, and there's no need to compete with the bride.

As for the guys, when in doubt, wear a suit. If the invitation says black tie, dress in a tuxedo. But if it doesn't specify the type of attire, says www.askmen.com, base your decision on the time of day.


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