Etiquette is one of those elusive things that seem to escape some people, one of those things you don’t really think about until you’re in the “10 items or less” line behind someone with a full cart of groceries, or you are waiting (patiently) behind someone who is talking on their cell phone during a really short left arrow green light, or when someone is talking really loud in a movie. It isn’t until a social event like a wedding or funeral, where things are quiet and you have time to reflect, that these infractions of common manners become so imposing.
Cell Phones are the worst culprit in modern times. Texting, talking and (God forbid) playing games on your phone during a wedding is rude, don’t do it. Unless you are expecting an urgent call, you don’t even need your cell phone during the wedding…. leave it in the car. If you do need your cell phone with you, turn the ringer off and carry it in your pocket, when the urgent call comes through excuse yourself and go outside where you can converse without interrupting everything. There is nothing more annoying than trying to carry on a conversation or eat dinner with someone who is glued to their cell phone.
Chewing Gum is another no – no. Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Mentos work very well for a case of stale breath. Chewing gum in church ( or other place of worship), in the receiving line, giving a toast or dancing is tacky. The worst part is when people forget they are chewing gum and it shows up in a picture…. YIKES!
Dressing appropriately is hard for some people so, this is a tricky one. I sat behind a man in a hoodie at a funeral this week and couldn’t stop staring at his bright red fleece garment the entire time, thinking to myself, “Is that all you’ve got?” It was distracting to say the least. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it is likely that he may have slipped out of work to be at this somber event and I know deep down that he had a really good reason for being inappropriately dressed. You don’t have to wear a pricey designer suits or gowns to be well-dressed. Too much cleavage, not enough skirt, anything denim are all good indicators that you need a wardrobe intervention. If you are unsure about what to wear, take a closer look at the invitation and it should tell you everything you need to know, if you are still stuck, call a wedding professional like a photographer or florist who has been to dozens of these events and they will be able to guide you.
Gossip is also a touchy subject. Asking questions about the cost of the gown, reception, gifts or anything wedding related is tacky, speculating on whether or not the marriage will last is morbid, and the most glaring offense of all is wondering (out loud) if the bride is pregnant. Unless the couple has announced that they are expecting, leave that commentary for another time. Basically, you are there to lend your support, not to openly critique every detail of the wedding. Save that for late , or not at all.
Let’s face it – you can’t legislate good manners. You can’t expect everyone to behave, dress, speak or act properly at all times. All you can do is lead by example and cross your fingers that they all follow your lead. By the time a person is an adult, they should know these few common rules of etiquette and if they don’t – there is nothing you can do to help them. Your best bet when faced with these offenses is to smile and politely excuse yourself from the situation. You will laugh about it later…. or not.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago