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What Is Correct Wedding Etiquette?

Updated on September 13, 2011

Knowing The Proper Wedding Etiquette Will Help You In Your Quest For Social Prominence

There are probably no people in the United States that hasn't attended a wedding at one time or the other in their lives. Weddings, although extremely formal and solemn, are an important milestone in the lives of young and old people alike.

Wedding ceremonies mark the end, and the beginning of two things:

  1. The end of the bride and groom's lives as single people
  2. The beginning of their unified lives as a couple.

Sad events. Weddings. Tears are shed as freely as the early spring rain while emotions run as wild as wild stallions on the plains of our lovely western states. Weddings are also fun, exciting, and with a certain style of serious pomp that only a few people see or understand.

Weddings are not just an excuse to have a good time. A bride's wedding day is, not one of, but the most-important day in her life. Bar none. The bachelorette party that followed her future husband's romantic proposal in the park one moonlit night in May while he knelt on one knee offering himself to her to be her husband. She remembers how the both cackled like geese with laughter at his not-knowing that he was kneeling in a bed of fireants as he gave her the engagement ring. Good times. Special memories.

There are events in life that you, the guys, the friends of the groom, maybe college buddies, maybe a work associate, cannot just stumble into and plop down like you were at his apartment watching the Packers and Colts game last Sunday on his 52 inch plasma. No, sir. A wedding is not just for men who think that they are able to fit in and act any way they want to and suffer no consequences. This is the reason for this story, "What Is Correct Wedding Etiquette?" And I do hope that the guys, the rowdy guys with no regard for proper behavior, will take the time to read this story. Provided that you can still read. It's a wonder that you can even remember how to read with all those all-night beerfests with co-eds and the entire junior class at your college. And that was a scant two months ago.

What is proper etiquette for a wedding?

  • Proper dress
  • Properly-grooming
  • Proper speech, social skills
  • Proper behavior

Four basic planks in the foundation of any wedding. And guys, those who really think that marrying their girlfriend at Chucky Cheese's is the most-romantic thing that you have ever thought of, think again. This is the real world. Real life. No mirrors. No smoke. No rehearsals. The curtain is going up. Now.

Let's take a moment and look at the four basic planks in the foundation of a successful wedding and see if we can educate, or reeducate you guys who love to attend walk-in movies wearing gorilla suits as your evening wear, on what is and what is not proper etiquette at any wedding.

  • Proper dress: tuxedo that can be rented at most men's clothing stores. With the proper tux, comes the matching shoes, tie, and carrying case for its return once the wedding is over.
  • Properly-grooming: hair styled, combed, not looking like an Irish sheepdog, but in-fashion.
  • Proper speech, social skills: quiet-toned talk when addressing another person at the wedding.
  • Proper behavior: quiet, subdued, respectful, adult behavior.

Now let's take that same four fundamental areas of dress, grooming, speech, and behavior and explain to you guys who think that throwing empty whiskey bottles off the roof of your apartment building relieves stress, and show you what is NOT acceptable in each category.

  • Proper dress: is not showing up with your four-year-old hounds tooth suit coat over cargo shorts, sneakers, and a bandanna hanging out of your pocket. Do you really want the reputation of someone who doesn't know what is and what isn't proper etiquette? I didn't think so.
  • Properly-grooming: is not attending a buddy's, sister's, or girlfriend's brother or sister's wedding immediately after you finish changing the oil in your F-150 Ford Lariat. Did you not think the fancy silk ribbons on the hand rails outside the church meant anything as you lumbered by them? This, friend, is not the WWE Ring of Pain Wrestling Challenge. No Vince Macmahon. No Hulk Hogan. But a beautiful bride. Handsome groom. Prepared minister. Pretty bridesmaids and flower girls. Handsome groomsmen. And you with hair greased but not with AXE hair gel, but 30 weight Pennzoil. Get real, buddy. Or some day real life is going to raise up and bite you in the rump for your lack of etiquette.
  • Proper speech, social skills: is NOT vulgar, boisterious talking while the minister administers the vows to the loving couple who, if you haven't looked, are not pleased at your collegiate behavior. Please, do you really not know any better than to yell across the church sanctuary to a buddy you recognize, "Hey, Jim! Jim! What's the spread tonight with the Patriots and Browns?" Or, "Hey, sugar! I got plenty of one's if you want to come in my pew and dance for me!" You say this to the matron of honor. And if you were drunk, that might be your "out," but you are like this at every social function. Take a course in etiquette. Get your mother. Your aunt. Maybe your retired school teacher to give you a crash-course in manners. Or you will not have a friend to your name one dark and lonesome day.
  • Proper behavior: is NOT beating the tune of "Wipe Out," by the 60's group, The Safari's, out on the back of the pew in front of you. And it's certainly not yelling, "Atta boy, Mike," when the bride whispers, "I do." Proper behavior is not standing up with the sanctuary packed to check your fly. Uh, oh. It was open. You pay this fashion flub no never mind as you unzip your pants, tuck in your "Go, Georgia Dawgs," sweater and zip up your Levi jeans. Un-acceptable on every level.

Although these are only the basic do's and don't's of how to behave, dress, speak, and groom for a wedding, believe me, there are more. Lots more. I call them "the big guns" of wedding etiquette.

  1. Even if you feel a burp coming on from that huge Mexican meal you devoured before you finally made it to the wedding, HOLD IT IN! Nothing is as grotesque as a belch in a solemn event such as a wedding.
  2. If your leg, arm, or neck is itching, let it itch. Scratching in public is viewed by some wedding experts as a sign that you are not a clean person. You do not take regular baths and you might be a carrier for lice, fleas, or some other parasite.
  3. If your stomach should growl, rumble, or make some monstrous-noise, keep looking straight ahead in perfect posture. DO NOT start with the "wasn't me" looks and gestures. That will definitely tell the REAL sophisticated guests that you are the culprit.
  4. Stumbling, even by accident is not looked on favorably by wedding pro's. If you are an accident-prone or just plain clumsy man, do the couple who are about to be married, and stay home. Instead, buy them an expensive wedding gift. They will appreciate you not causing a disastrous scene at their special day.
  5. Do not bring your pet German shepherd with you to the wedding. That applies to your pet hound, "Tom," and your pet iguana, "Lancer." This is a wedding for decency's sake, not a tool auction on Saturday night in Austin, Texas.\
  6. Do not throw back some Tequila shots chased by Budweiser before you get to the wedding. If you do get drunk, just pray that the police will arrest you for D.U.I. because a drunk man at a special event such as a proper wedding means bad news.

I know that it's hard, guys. Really hard. In my time, I have attended four weddings including mine and, thank God, I never brought shame to any of the guests, or my wife and her family. As for my buddies, there were not that many who attended my wedding. I guess now I can thank God again for most of my buddies love to "hit the bottle" quite often," and in those days, I didn't touch the hootch.

With time, practice, and determination, you will be able to fit into any wedding, funeral, christening or anniversary celebration. Trust me. I know what I am talking about. And do not, I repeat in case you had looked off to sneeze, beat yourself up because you were not born with fluid social skills, grace to handle yourself in stressful public events, and fluent talking talents that most men are born with.

Just take your time. Study. Talk to sensitive guys who are really experts at knowing about proper wedding etiquette. You see, uncultured guys, all is not lost. You can, with the proper mentoring, learn the fine art of exercising proper wedding etiquette.

And one day you will be writing a story to YOUR uncultured, raw-edged, and unsocial buddies.


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      anglnwu: Thank you so MUCH for the comment. I agree. A wedding day for a girl IS HER day. In every way. Good comment.

    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      Good advice--no horsing around, it's serious business on someone's wedding day. Enjoyed the read.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Emma, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the compliment. I wish you God's blessings and protection in and on your marriage and wedding day. These are legit tips. Although in a comical fashion, I know men who have actually wrecked friendships by thinking that "anything goes" at a friend's wedding just because of the friendship that once was solid. Be careful. Take your sweet time. Especially in the Wedding Guest List..promise me that. Okay?

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 

      7 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi Kenneth, fantastic hub. Especially as I am getting married next year! I think I'm needing all the advice I can get right now - it may be 12 months away but I'm rather nervous. Looking forward to wearing a wedding dress, and making sure my guests brush up on their social skills ;)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello Dear Sueswan, how are you? Been missing you on hubs these days. THANK YOU for the votes and this comment that for Cathy, I feel a twinge of sympathy. I hope that she laughs at this now, but at the time, I am sure that she was fuming with anger inside for a wedding is the bride's most-memorable day. Thanks again, Sueswan.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Kenneth,

      I haven't attended a wedding in years.

      I remember attending a friend's wedding. A friend of the bride who was on drugs came to the wedding higher than a kite.

      Well she puked on Cathy's wedding dress. Cathy took it in stride.

      Voted up,up and away.


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