A quick guide to wedding etiquette

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When your best friend, cousin, or soon-to-be-in-law asks you to be a part of his or her wedding party, it’s quite an honor. They’re essentially asking you to be a part of one of the biggest days in their lives. It also means you have a very important role to play, and remembering a few key etiquette rules and responsibilities will help you make sure you fulfil that role.

Carve Out Some Time to Help with Planning

If you’ve been asked to be in a friend’s wedding, expect to carve out some time for helping to plan the big day, as well as for other pre-wedding parties and events. Being in the wedding party will require more from you than just showing up the day of—you’ll likely play a key part in some very important decisions—so be prepared to take on some extra responsibilities.

Bridesmaids can anticipate helping with bridal fittings and may even have a hand in planning showers and and the bachelorette party, The maid of honor, especially, will be called to task, essentially whenever the bride may need a second pair of eyes—or hands.

Groomsmen have some tasks, too. Getting fitted for tuxedos is something two or more of the guys may opt to do together, or all together. The best man or another groomsman should volunteer to pick up the groom’s tuxedo, so it’s one less thing for him to worry about.

You want the bride and groom to have as carefree of a wedding experience as possible; setting aside time for these responsibilities or any others they ask of you will help keep you from transferring any stress onto them.

Take Things in Your Stride

You love your best friend, but it’s been obvious from the second grade that the two of you have very different tastes, and it appears that bridesmaid attire will be no different. While you may feel a bit dizzy looking at that cyan dress, reminiscent of the 1980s, smile, and keep reminding yourself—it’s only for one day.

You want the bride to remember having all of her friends and loved ones by her side supporting her, not how they huffed and guffawed at her color choices. You know she would do the same for you!

Remember Your Responsibilities

For many members of the bridal party, your role will be to stand with the bride and groom and provide moral support during the ceremony. For others, like the maid of honor, best man, and even some junior attendants, you will likely have other tasks as well. This starts even before the ceremony, with helping the bride or groom dress and get to the venue.

During the ceremony, some important roles include furnishing the rings for the vows, fixing the bride’s train, if necessary, and if you’re the second bridesmaid in line, letting the maid of honor hand you the bride’s bouquet while she does so. Paying attention at the rehearsal will help you remember your cue when you’re standing in front of so many friends and family.

After the ceremony, it’s common for the maid of honor and best man to act as witnesses for the signing of the marriage license and/or help organize the wedding party for photographs. After the ceremony and reception, some of the attendants may need to assist in getting the gifts home to the bride and groom, while the maid of honor may also be in charge of taking the bride’s dress if the couple is immediately departing for their honeymoon after the reception.

So while dashing off to find the nearest flute of champagne is understandable, and certainly deserved, just make sure you’ve addressed all necessary matters first.

Try Not to Be a Distraction at All Costs

If you’re known to cry at weddings, this tip is especially for you. It’s completely acceptable to tuck a little tissue or kerchief into the palm of your hand if you get a little teary during the ceremony. It may be easy for those initial tears of joy to sneak up on you, but try your hardest to dab at your tears and breathe deeply.

On another note, if you see your goofball cousin in the front row, and he always makes you crack up, you may want to avoid looking in his direction. While an initial smile or nod is inconspicuous enough, spiraling into an all-out giggle fest during the couple’s personalized vows will definitely detract from the main event. After all, all wedding guests’ eyes are trained on the bride and groom, and you want to do your best to keep it that way!

Remember it’s the Couple’s Day and not yours

Most importantly, when you’re tempted to make requests or protest a certain aspect of the big day, just remind yourself that it’s the bride and groom’s wedding, and you’re there to support them. It may be as simple as standing beside them on this most special of days, or as complex as helping out with the dreaded seating chart, being as unflaggingly supportive as possible will ensure you’ve done your job. After all, there may come a time when you will need a return favor for your own wedding!