MEDIOCRE FOOD. SMALL TALK WITH THE BRIDE’S STEP-COUSIN. OBLIGATORY EXPENSES. USE THESE TIPS TO SURVIVE PEAK WEDDING SEASON, AND MAYBE EVEN HAVE SOME FUN.
NAVIGATE A WEDDING TABLE
SO YOUR TABLE LOOKS LIKE THE CAST OF A WES ANDERSON MOVIE. OUTLAST DINNER WITH HELP FROM ETIQUETTE EXPERTS BRENDAN FRANCIS NEWNAM AND RICO GAGLIANO, AUTHORS OF BRUNCH IS HELL.
“The big round table is the worst kind for holding communal conversations,” Gagliano says. You’re a guest, not the host, so stop shouting across the table in an attempt to talk to everyone. That’s the happy couple’s job. Start with the people on either side of you. Then fan out if it feels natural.
GET THINGS ROLLING
“It’s a wedding party. Mischief is expected,” Newnam says. Break the ice with a drinking game. Create a list of words likely to be spoken during the toast, such as “friend,” “college,” or “jail.” Make up the drinking penalties during dinner. “Don’t vomit on the bride or groom,” Gagliano says.
Offer your gratitude to your servers so you can form an alliance that can help win faster service and extra drinks. Plus, if you aren’t local, the staff is your best resource for finding out where to party after the reception ends.
THE SIZE OF YOUR GIFT DEPENDS ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE COUPLE.
$58-$288 or more depending on venue (Stick with amounts ending with 8 and avoid ending with 4.)
$10-$80 or more
$11-$51 or more (Stick with amounts ending with 1.)
DECLINE WITH APLOMB
Don’t want to go? Respond as soon as the invitation arrives in the mail, says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor-in-chief of The Knot. Beyond the obvious exceptions (you’re immediate family or in the wedding party), it’s tacky to decline if you see them more than three times a month. Unless you love grudges.
Q: ”IF A WEDDING IS REALLY TERRIBLE, CAN I LEAVE EARLY?”
A: SURE, BUT DO THE FOLLOWING:
1) CONGRATULATE THE BRIDE, GROOM, AND BOTH SETS OF PARENTS, AND THANK THE HOSTS PROFUSELY. KEY PLAYERS NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU SHOWED.
2) WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE CAKE IS CUT.
3) DON’T MAKE IT A BIG EXIT, AND FOLLOW UP IN A DAY OR TWO WITH A THANK-YOU TEXT TO THE NEWLYWEDS.
SECURE A SONG REQUEST
If you must approach with a request, says Los Angeles DJ David Krieger, do it at the start of a song when the DJ’s headphones are off. Never put your drink on the table. Turntables hate champagne.
STEP 1: OPEN WITH A COMPLIMENT
Something simple like, “Great set!” is fine. Flattery will get you everywhere. “The worst thing you can do is say you hate the music,” Krieger says. Also, no DJ worth a damn is going to play “Free Bird.” Stop that.
STEP 2: NAME YOUR TUNE
Ask for a specific song. Requesting something vague like “better music” is the kiss of death: You’ll earn little more than a smile and a nod. And know the artist. Otherwise you may get a different version.
STEP 3: EXPLAIN THE SIGNIFICANCE
Describe quickly (in under 30 seconds) why the bride or groom will respond to the song. (“This was our guy trip song last summer.”) It helps if the DJ knows the backstory to an off-the-wall request.
PHOTOS (WEDDING CAKE) MASTERFILE, (DANCE & VECTOR) 123RF