So you’ve Been Invited to a Wedding

Planning a wedding is a trying time for every couple. I, for one, looked at my husband-elect during the planning process and wondered if I could really spend the rest of my life with a man who couldn’t tell the difference between a very slate-like blue and a cool blue-toned gray. As you can surmise, responding to a wedding invitation incorrectly, giving a gift inadequately or dressing inappropriately, and thereby making this stressful time more difficult than it has to be, is a sure-fire way to have your friend/cousin/sister screaming at you and her mother/your aunt/your own mother bad mouthing you to anyone who compliments or congratulates her on anything concerning the wedding.

“The centrepieces are lovely.” “Yes, it really is too bad Mary didn’t tell the cashier that she was purchasing something from the registry.”


How to respond to the invitation correctly:

When that invitation comes in the mail, it is your job to read it very carefully. The invitation will tell you the time and location of the wedding, as well as the date the couple would like to have received all RSVPs by. It is important to adhere to this date. The invitation package should come with a small RSVP card and a stamped envelope with the couple’s address printed on it. This is the best medium to use for your response.


  • Do respond, whether you will be able to attend or not.
  • Do respond if you received an RSVP kit (even if you think it is obvious that you will be attending).
  • Do respond as soon as you can give an accurate answer.
  • Do mark the date of the wedding on your calendar if you plan to attend.
  • Do attend if you said you would and inform the couple immediately if your plans change.
  • Do respond with the names of everyone that will be attending with you.
  • Do make sure that all of the people attending with you are invited to do so (i.e. make sure your children are invited if you were planning to bring them).
  • Do provide all information that is requested.


How to give a gift adequately:

It is not required that you give the couple a gift, but if you choose to, there is a certain way you should go about doing so.

Step 1: Find out where the couple is registered.

It is considered poor form to tell your guests where you are registered so this can be a bit tricky. If you are invited to the bridal shower, the information will be provided in that invitation. If you are not invited to the shower, you can ask the couple, their parents or a bridesmaid where the couple is registered.

Step 2: Determine how much you would like to/ can afforded to spend on the couple.

Step 3: Go shopping.

Go to the store and print off the couple’s registry. Mark a few things that are in your budget, see what is in stock and make your selection. It is acceptable to purchase a piece of a set in hopes that someone else will purchase the other pieces (china or flatware, for example) but it is not nice to purchase several pieces of many different sets for one gift (part of a bar kit, a salt shaker with no pepper companion and the sugar bowl but not the cream pitcher, for example). It is even better if you can coordinate with someone to ensure an entire set of something is purchased.

Step 4: Tell the cashier that the items you are purchasing are from a registry.

The cashier will then make sure to remove the items from the list of available gifts and print you a gift receipt. Missing this step could result in the couple receiving doubles.

Step 5: For the love of all that is holey, do not lose that gift receipt!

Put the gift receipt in the card or tape it to the gift (if you don’t want to spoil the surprise) to ensure the couple gets it. This way, if they do happen to get doubles, they can exchange one of them for something more useful.

Step 6: Get a card.

You don’t give your gift directly to the couple so without a card, the couple won’t know whom your gift is from and you won’t get a thank you card. Some of my guests wrote what their gift was inside the card, which I found very helpful.

Step 7: Wrap the gift.

They make the prettiest wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes, bows and ribbons for wedding gifts and this is the one time you can go over the top with your wrapping skills and no one will say a thing! You don’t want to miss this opportunity.

Step 8: Bring the gift to the reception.

Do not bring the gift to the ceremony. There will be a table at the reception (usually near the cake or guestbook) for the gifts to be placed on.

If this all sounds too difficult, remember, cash is always a good gift.


How to dress appropriately:

The wedding invitation is your biggest clue for how you should dress. The more formal the appearance of the invitation, the more formal you should dress. However, under no circumstances should you ever dress less formal than business-casual. If there is a specific level of formality (black tie only, for example), or a specific colour scheme* (black and white only, for example) the invitation will clearly note this requirement.

* Yes this is silly, but disregarding the bride’s wishes on her wedding day can have severe consequences.


  • Do not wear white, off-white, ivory, cream, champagne, light beige, etcetera.
  • Do reconsider wearing a black dress, some people frown upon it.
  • Do not dress with the same colour scheme as the invitation or you could risk matching the décor, or worse, the wedding party.

My husband learned this the hard way.

  • Do dress for the location of the wedding (garden vs. night club).
  • Do dress for the season and time of day of the wedding.
  • Do not try to out-do the bride. If you know her to be a relaxed and casual person, do not wear a beauty queen ball gown, you will only look foolish.

With these tips and instructions in mind, anyone can be an excellent wedding guest. As long as you send your RSVP card on time and with accurate information, remember to include the gift receipt with your gift and don’t wear a wedding dress, you should be able to avoid having a frustrated, starving, emotionally exhausted bride angry with you and an over-excited mother-of-the-bride hating you.