Weddings provide a lot of fun to look forward to. You get to hang out with your family and friends for the night while you celebrate the bride and groom. There’s not much that could ruin that night, but a fine dining experience gone wrong can cause embarrassment — or even disruption — that you’d probably prefer to avoid.
Whether you’re the bride hosting the wedding or a guest who doesn’t want to make a dining mistake, it’s time to read up on wedding meal etiquette. Here’s a crash course for dinner do’s and don’ts when it comes to wedding meals. Brush up on some rules that may surprise you so you’re prepared when it comes time to sit down and eat.
Do: Wear Your Best Clothes
A wedding that has the kind of meal where there are dining rules to be followed is also most likely the kind of wedding that will require your best clothes.
Everyone wants to look nice at a wedding, but fine dining means you don’t wear the scuffed up heels you’ve had for years or the suit jacket with the faded mustard stain. Go shopping for some new clothes, even if it means stopping by a department store for new shoes on your way to the venue.
Presenting yourself well at a wedding shows that you’re happy to be there. Don’t go wildly over budget to buy finery, but always pay attention to the location’s standards. If you’re still feeling lost, read about dress codes at different dining venues to figure out what’s most appropriate for where the wedding will take place.
Don’t: Leave Your Ringer On
Obviously, you don’t want to leave your phone on during the wedding ceremony, but the same rule still applies during dinner. You’re there to make conversation with the people around you, especially if the bride has taken the time to plan out where everyone’s supposed to sit.
Keep your phone on silent and away from the table. Even if you’re antsy to take pictures, remember that’s what the photographer is hired to handle. You can check your device later when everyone’s on the dance floor or mingling before dessert.
Do: Get There Early
Every wedding is different, but it’s always smart to arrive at least 30 minutes early to whichever part of the night you’re invited to.
Whether you’re there for both the ceremony and the dinner or just the dinner, getting there early shows polite manners for a few reasons. You’ll show that you care enough to not risk being late, and the reception staff will be able to help you to your seat and get back to preparing the meal without interruptions.
Don’t: Clink Glasses for the Toast
Every wedding features at least one toast, meant to send the newly married couple off into happy bliss. In a fine dining scenario, the toast is still appropriate, but don’t clink your glasses together.
Clinking could accidentally crack or shatter the fine glasses. It also makes a loud ringing sound when everyone does it at once, which will only disturb other guests. Instead, focus on maintaining eye contact with the person next to you during the toast, which is much more polite.
Do: Use the Correct Silverware
When you sit down for the wedding meal, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of silverware around your plate. That’s why everyone should review how to use the correct silverware before the wedding begins.
Use the smaller fork for your salad and the larger fork for your meal. Know the difference between your soup, salad and dinner plates, as well as your butter plate. Depending on what’s being served, you may even have an oyster fork to contend with once you sit down.
The silverware is a key part of what sets fine dining apart from other meals, so know how to use the correct utensils to pay respect to the venue and the married couple.
Don’t: Rush Through the Meal
One last crucial thing that everyone at a fine dining wedding reception should be aware of is that you’re never to rush through your meal. Savor each bite and chew thoroughly before taking your next one. After all, if the happy couple has shelled out for fine dining, it only makes sense to thoroughly enjoy each pricey dish.
Taking your time is part of being aware of fine dining etiquette. Follow these tips so you’re ahead of the game for your upcoming wedding and fine dining experience.