Are You a Wedding Guestzilla?

No one likes a bridezilla. We’ve all heard the horror stories of brides smashing their fists into offending wedding cakes and locking themselves in hot cars to weep through their receptions. But did you know that wedding guests are in danger of treading into dreaded “zilla” territory, too? If you value your friendship with the lucky couple, make sure you don’t cross the line!

Noticing the Negatives

It’s sometimes easy to overlook the effort that goes into creating the special occasions you attend. After all, a flawless special event is supposed to flow seamlessly from beginning to end. Much like watching a professional dancer or Olympic gymnast, it’s often tempting to mistake gracefulness for ease. However, just because it’s the imperfections that may be the most noticeable, don’t forget to focus on all the parts of the wedding that are going right.

If you have to walk a long way from an inconvenient parking spot, for example, try not to focus on the way your toes are cramping in your special-occasion heels. Instead, think about how nice it was for your hosts to arrange designated event parking in a crowded neighborhood.

If you find yourself straying into guestzilla territory over menu options you don’t like, try to appreciate the generosity that went into providing everyone with free meals. Even when everything seems at its most inconvenient and uncomfortable, you still have one positive aspect to appreciate: the hosts love you enough to invite you to their wedding.

Griping over Gifts

Nothing takes a cheerful guest and turns her into a guestzilla like the pressures involved in gift-giving. It’s strange, but societal expectations of wedding gift etiquette are so hotly debated (and emotionally charged) that even friends who know each other well can hit a boggy patch when it’s time to give out wedding invitations. The best way to avoid becoming a guestzilla is to step away from the whole gift-etiquette mess and do what feels right.

You’ll find plenty of experts giving advice on both sides of the debate. Is gift-giving mandatory when you’ve received an invite? Are invites just ways of grubbing for gifts? Should a gift be expensive enough to cover the cost of your wedding dinner? Is giving a cheap gift worse than not giving anything at all?

And, of course, there is the ongoing debate of whether gift registries are rude or helpful (and whether giving a registry item is useful or impersonal). There are conflicting opinions of whether cash makes a good wedding gift. And as for honeymoon funds…the debate goes on and on.

No matter what gift you give (or don’t give), you’ll find some etiquette expert who will back you up. So step back from the stress of what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do, and just do what feels right. Give a gift that you genuinely believe the couple will like–if you feel that gift-giving is appropriate, that is–and call it a day. Your happy, non-stressed presence at the wedding is the best gift of all.

Stealing the Spotlight

The saddest kind of guestzilla is the one who doesn’t even realize he’s being one. If you’re worried you might inadvertently land in this category, just keep this one rule in mind for the next wedding you attend: don’t steal the spotlight! Don’t be the uncle who drinks too much, loses his inhibitions, and asks the bridesmaids to pose for naughty pictures. Don’t be the sister who shows up wearing a full-length white dress. Don’t be the groomsman who grabs the microphone and gives a 20 minute speech about high school hijinks. Don’t be the mother who brings a car full of kids with no supervision. Don’t be the friend-of-a-friend who decides, on her own, that it’s time for karaoke.

If you’re not sure whether something is appropriate for a wedding, just ask! Since you’re (hopefully) friends with the bride or groom, it’s a mark of good consideration to get your plans approved ahead of time. Maybe the couple has a secret fondness for Journey songs and would actually love for you to get up and sing some at the reception.

Maybe dressing like a clown and bringing your own duck-toss booth is actually the perfect touch for the venue lawn. The important part is asking first. After all, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to be a wedding guest. The answer is different for every couple. If you’re worried, just concentrate on being thoughtful and helpful. Consideration is the anti-guestzilla.