The 10 Commandments of Graciousness

By: Kathryn Bechen

Today’s weddings are beautifully celebrated in a variety of sizes, themes and styles, but there’s one thing that never goes out of style: good manners and respect. So we’ve come up with the “Ten Commandments” of how to be a gracious host and hostess to your guests at your own wedding, and how to likewise be a mannerly wedding guest.
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  • Thou shalt treat thy guests how you’d like to be treated.
    Yes, it’s your big day but you also want your friends to celebrate with you in a fun and joyous way, so be considerate of their needs too and thankful they chose to spend time with you and your families.
  • Thou shalt review the guest list with your fiancé and families.
    Be sure to discuss the final guest list a week or so before the wedding to avoid any uncomfortable situations or topics.
  • Thou shalt not be late.
    Be sure to arrive for your ceremony and reception in plenty of time and schedule your professional photos so your guests will not be kept waiting.
  • Thou shalt satisfy your guests’ physical needs.
    While it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time, be sure to provide adequate water and enough food at the reception.
  • Thou shalt say hello to all your guests.
    Be sure to say hello to every guest and thank them for being part of your big day.
  • Thou shalt choose a wide variety of music.
    Ask your DJ to play a wide variety of music at a medium decibel level so guests can visit with each other easily.
  • Thou shalt make careful seating arrangements.
    Carefully choose seating arrangements to avoid uncomfortable family situations and so that guests will be able to have enjoyable conversations with someone interesting to them.
  • Thou shalt choose a varied reception menu.
    Choose a caterer who can provide several entrée choices, including one vegetarian choice.
  • Thou shalt provide non-alcoholic beverages.
    Be sensitive to the fact that not everyone drinks alcohol for one reason or another and provide plenty of hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Thou shalt send prompt thank you notes.
    Send out your thank you notes right after you return from your honeymoon. It shows you are both grateful and gracious.


  • Thou shalt RSVP to all wedding invitations.
    Brides and grooms depend on an accurate head count for both their ceremony and reception, so be sure to RSVP as soon as possible and should you need to cancel at the last minute, notify the bride and groom.
  • Thou shalt not bring a gift directly to the wedding or reception.
    Find out where the bride and groom are registered and send the gift to the address on their registry rather than bring it to the wedding or reception.
  • Thou shalt offer a creative gift if you’re on a tight budget.
    If you’re on a super tight budget, offer your expertise in lieu of a traditional wedding gift. Perhaps you can help update the bride and groom’s website, invite them to your home for a festive get-together after they return from their honeymoon, or help them decorate their new abode.
  • Thou shalt check your coat and your personal challenges, at the door.
    Remember to bring your happy party face to the wedding and leave your own personal challenges at home.
  • Thou shalt ham and glam it up.
    Be a good sport and willingly participate in posed or candid photos.
  • Thou shalt not bring uninvited guests to the wedding or reception.
    The bride and groom need an accurate head count for food and beverage costs. Only bring guest(s), including your significant other and/or children if the invitation says “John R. and Guest” or “The Johnson Family.”
  • Thou shalt dress appropriately.
    Take your cue from the wedding invitation, location and setting and dress appropriately. For an elegant venue, a cocktail-style dress is suitable for women, and a dark suit for men applies. If the setting is a zoo, beach or vineyard, more casual attire is suitable. And never try to upstage the bride by wearing white or ivory.
  • Thou shalt get to the ceremony on time.
    You certainly don’t want to enter the ceremony after the procession has begun, so be sure to arrive in plenty of time to park your car and get seated.
  • Thou shalt not attend just the reception.
    If you’ve been invited to both the wedding and reception, attend both. It’s not polite to skip the ceremony and just attend the reception, no matter how busy you are.Practice the “golden wedding rule.” Conduct yourself at family and friends’ weddings as you hope they will one day conduct themselves at yours.


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