If you're heading to a wedding this year, it's time to take the old-school wedding rules you've learned from your family or your favorite movie and stick them in the trash. That's because a lot of the ancient traditions are so outdated that following them will cost you a pretty penny and make you feel less like a guest at a wedding and more like someone who absolutely resents celebrating love between two happy people.
So before you put on your party shoes and write a check to hand over as your official wedding gift, here are six rules every wedding guest should know in 2016.
1. Put Away Your Phone
You might have an urge to pull out your phone and Snapchat every single moment during the wedding experience, from the first kiss to the first dance, from the towering dessert buffet to the sparkler sendoff at the end of the night. But even when you think it's the right thing to do to have your phone in front of your face during key moments, you may be ruining these tear-jerking moments for the people around you and for the couple getting married. Some couples will ask that you are phone-free during their ceremony and some will ask that you don't upload photos until after the wedding is over. If no phone-rules are set officially, be modest with when and where you take out your phone during a wedding.
2. Don't Spend Your Entire Paycheck
Weddings are expensive, even if you're not the one footing the bill for the entire night. Just being a wedding guest can cost you a couple of hundred dollars and, if you have to travel, a couple of thousand. But if you find that going to just one wedding is costing you a giant slice of that week's paycheck, try to cut back on expenses whenever you can. Start with the gift that you give. Don't feel like you have to give a couple of hundred dollars, in cash, to the smooching couple on their wedding day. Give what you can afford to give and don't feel guilty about that. There's no "buy-in" price to attend a wedding. So ignore the age-old rule that you have to give enough money to cover how much the couple spent on your plate that night.
3. It's OK to Skip the Rehearsal
If you found yourself with an invite to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, you can politely RSVP no to that and yes to the wedding. Attending the rehearsal dinner might mean you have to fly in a day early and pay for a hotel room for another night. If it's going to cost you another couple of hundred, you can skip the night-before festivities without offending the couple. Just let them know ASAP to avoid giving them a headache when trying to change reservations or updating a headcount.
4. Ghost If You Leave Early
When there are a hundred or so people at the wedding but you find yourself starting to yawn and roll your eyes at the dance floor, it's OK to cut out a little early. You don't have to stay until the DJ makes a last-song announcement or the open bar tells you it's about to close. If you're leaving an hour or two early, you may want to skip saying goodbye to the couple and just ghosting. Think this is a little rude? You might startle them and make them wonder why you're taking off early if you say goodbye too soon in the night.
5. Don't Assume You Have a Plus One
You may feel as though you totally deserve to bring a plus one with you to a wedding, especially if all of your other friends going are already cohabiting with the love of their lives and you're the only perpetually single one in the bunch. But unless the wedding invitation says so, it's a bit taboo to ask for a plus one, unless you're good friends with the bride or the groom. It's definitely taboo to just bring someone without telling the couple or having someone show up, by your side, uninvited.
6. If You RSVP "Yes," You Have to Go
We live in a world where we mostly get all of our invites via Facebook and when we do, we have the option to RSVP yes or maybe and decide the day of the event what we actually want to do. But when it comes to a wedding, saying yes means you have to show up, unless there's a sudden emergency. Either way, the couple is paying a lot for you to shimmy on the dance floor at their wedding, so if you say yes, make sure you're there and you're there on time.