How to Be a Gracious Guest: Advice from a Wedding Planner Turned Bride

Last week, we shared the elegant wedding of Courtney and James Gabelbauer, a story we were particularly excited to snag because of Courtney’s insider perspective on the industry as a wedding planner and the owner of Fabulously Chic Weddings. In addition to all the teeny, tiny details that went into making the Gabelbauers’ wedding a dream come true for the couple, Courtney also shared with us some of the lessons she took away from the experience—for guests.

How to Be a Gracious Guest: Advice from a Wedding Planner Turned Bride | Weddings Illustrated

Photos by KT Merry Photography and Kelly Dillon Photography

 Heading to a wedding soon? Here are four tips, straight from a real-life wedding planner turned bride, that will help you navigate your friends’ nuptials with utmost grace and good form.

  1. Don’t ask the bride if she’s nervous or stressed. “She probably is, and if she isn’t, now she’s thinking, ‘Should I be?'” says Courtney. “You’re potentially putting negative thoughts in someone’s head by just asking! I wasn’t nervous in the days leading up to the wedding, at the rehearsal, or even our wedding day, but I was asked at least 20 times if I was. I think nerves go hand and hand with the unknown. I knew what was coming, so the scariness just wasn’t there. However, I now have a new understanding of what brides go through leading up to the wedding. Why do so many people ask if you’re stressed or nervous?! Keep it positive!”
  1. Send in your RSVP when you get it. “Having 70-something still-pending guests on your RSVP date is enough to make a bride lose her mind. Just return it. Please.”

  2. Don’t be greedy with the bride and groom’s time; 100 other guests want their attention, too. “
    I kept getting stuck in conversations and had to wrap them quickly to give my attention to the next person,” Courtney says. “I’m always trying to prevent my clients from getting stuck in these situations, but experiencing it firsthand made me even more aware of how frustrating it can be.” That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t approach the newlyweds, Courtney says. “[As the bride], of course I want you to say hello. Of course I am happy to chat for a minute or two. But, this isn’t the time for long stories when I’m on the way to sit down to eat my dinner. This sounds a little horrible, but if you’ve been married, I know you get it!”
  1. Don’t take 15 of my chocolate favors. It’s not polite. “I wanted to cry when I didn’t get one,” says Courtney of missing out on her own edible wedding favors. “Okay, so my awesome venue coordinator put one in my bag with my to-go food, but seriously, somehow, more than one per guest wasn’t enough. Just take one—one favor per person so other guests don’t miss out. Simple as that!”

Keep these tips in mind so that, the next time you wish your friends well as they head down the aisle, you’ll be a most gracious guest. And stay tuned for Courtney’s advice for brides.

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