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the honour of your  presence the good guest's guide to weddings |  1 2 3

The first wedding invitation I ever received arrived in my college dorm mailbox in the spring of my junior year, a heavy white envelope, hand-addressed in proper black ink with my name and dorm mailing address. Just my name Ė not my parentsí or my brothersí or anyone elseís. There it was, ďMs. Yee-Fan Sun,Ē inked in careful script and standing all by itself on the envelope. At the ripe old age of twenty, Iíd finally graduated from being just another kid in the ďand familyĒ part of an invitation, to being my own, separate person. Like a real adult. Sort of.

Of course, a real adult would have had a clue or two regarding at least a few of the intricacies of proper wedding etiquette.  I, on the other hand, was a complete wedding moron. Did I buy my own gift or sign my name on the gift from the rest of my family?  If the former, what to buy and how much to spend? And how was I supposed to figure out how dressy of an affair this was going to be? Were we talking something along the lines of piano-recital-flower-print-dress type of dressy, or cocktail-dress-and-real-pearls sort of formal?  

Itís a vexing fact of life that you will not know how to be a truly great guest until you have planned a wedding of your own, a truth Iím beginning to realize now that Iím 26, and smack dab in the middle of my own pre-wedding chaos. By the time you get to this point, of course, much damage will have already been done, and youíll be embarrassed to think back upon the many, many social faux pas you have already inadvertently committed. (To all those brides and grooms who were unlucky enough to have had me as a guest in my more wedding-inexperienced, etiquette-impaired days, many profuse apologies.) But to those of you just starting out in the quasi-adult world of reply cards and gift registries, a ray of hope: armed with a little knowledge, it is possible to avoid making a complete fool of yourself as a wedding guest. A few tips for the quasi-adult on what the real adults feel you already ought to know about the rules of proper wedding behavior, but are naturally too polite to tell you straight out should you somehow manage to violate them.

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