This weekend our family attended the wedding of my nephew and his lovely bride. It was the first of many upcoming nuptials. The last time we were scheduled to attend so many events was when our friends group was getting married.
Now, we are the “older” people. Not yet the age for a special corsage and boutonniere but definitely the age you do a little recon to see the parking situation or if a second pair of shoes to walk from the ceremony site to reception is necessary. Also the point in life where after realizing you just did that, comes the overwhelming desire to prove you’ve still got it on the dance floor. Which is apparently as amusing to the younger people today as it was for us a few decades ago.
So, that hasn’t changed.
But what has changed are the rules of engagement. And in an effort not to be as out of touch with current trends as our decades-old dance moves, here are some observations, and advice for wedding guests today.
When I say rules of engagement have changed, that is literally and figuratively. There is no set timeline or sequence of events anymore for the happy couple to be officially betrothed. They could be dating for a matter of months or years. Many are already quite settled prior to settling down. They buy homes, build careers, enjoy grand adventures and even have children before they decide to pop the question.
Given that the answer to the question is known beforehand, the moment when the couple can officially call each other fiancé is really a formality. Maybe that’s why so many make it a group affair with professional photographers or a private posse lurking in the shadows, cellphones in hand to witness and capture the proposal to share with the world. This also marks the beginning of what has become a series of Instagrammable events leading up to the wedding.
First, the couple-to-be proposes to their wedding party. Boxes or gift bags are delivered and unpacked by the recipients and shared on social media channels announcing they have been chosen to be part of the big day. It’s a strange departure for a generation that abbreviates everything they possibly can and communicates mostly via text.
Next up, the shower, sprinkle, or thunderstorm—call it what you will. Gone are the days of a potluck style event hosted at the home of a close family member or friend. Today’s rival those weddings of 30 years ago with ornate décor and photo backdrops for social media content.
No matter how old you are, don’t expect to attend a raucous, all-night blowout bachelor/bachelorette party. These bashes have evolved into multi-day, invitation-only events for the wedding party and those closest to the couple.
Of course, after all the pregaming comes the main event.
Personal wedding websites keep guests in the loop. They save the couple and inner circle the hassle of fielding questions about the registry, accommodations, pre- and post-wedding gatherings, dress codes and, yes, even parking. Guests just need to use them. Given that so many couples are already established, the registry is very helpful for gift giving.
It’s no longer considered bad luck for the couple to see each other before the “I do’s.” A “first look” is set up and captured by the photographer. After, there is often a multilocation photo shoot with the entire wedding party before the ceremony even takes place. This cuts down on the time away from the celebration and makes it possible for the photographer to get some private shots of the married pair after the I do’s.
Because the pros have it covered, guests should actually put away their phones before the ceremony and save the picture-taking for the reception. There, they should be aware of the photographer during planned moments like special dances and cake-cutting. Oftentimes, excited well-wishers end up in the sight lines of the professionals hired to capture the day.
And finally, guests who do snap some shots shouldn’t share them on social media until the happy couple have done so themselves. In this carefully curated world of weddings, etiquette dictates that the first shared pictures should come from them.