That鈥檚 right. I鈥檝e been to 44 weddings, and I鈥檝e got five on the docket for this year. I鈥檓 basically a professional wedding guest. Now you might think, HOLY BALLS, 44 weddings? It鈥檚 true. Though if you subtract my own, it鈥檚 43, and if you subtract the ones I went to before I was an adult it would be 40. Still a whole heck of a lot, right?

Ian-ZoesWedding

In my decade as a pro wedding-goer, I鈥檝e learned a LOT. I鈥檝e learned that weddings are really fun for guests and extremely important for the people getting married. I鈥檝e learned that something will always go wrong at any given wedding, and that鈥檚 okay. I鈥檝e also learned that you BEST be ready to dance. Read on for 44 more things I鈥檝e learned from attending 44 weddings.

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Just look at all those blushing brides ;)

1. Text the soon-to-be-marrieds the week before the wedding. People usually think they should leave the soon-to-be newlyweds alone the week before the wedding, but you know what they say about being lonely at the top. Send them notes of encouragement and excitement, and use their wedding hashtag when you take a selfie on the plane ride to their wedding 鈥 they鈥檒l love it!

2. No, you definitely should not wear white. The bride won鈥檛 actually care, but everyone else at the wedding will. And yes, dresses that are mostly white with a small pattern or flower still count as white. If you have to convince people that it鈥檚 a really, really pale blush or a very subtle light gray, then it鈥檚 probably white. Save your fancy white dress for a summer cocktail party, girl.

Help

3. If you offer to help, expect to actually help. If you don鈥檛 have time to help, don鈥檛 offer it. Though it may seem like a nice gesture, it will ultimately be frustrating for you and the couple if you can鈥檛 actually do what you said you could. This is not a case where 鈥渋t鈥檚 the thought that counts鈥 comes into play. It鈥檚 most definitely the action that helps. If you鈥檙e going to offer to help, set realistic expectations. If you鈥檝e volunteered to address the invitations with your mad calligraphy skills, let the engageds know when you can do it and how much time you鈥檒l need to complete the job. If you know you won鈥檛 have time to help with anything in advance but are happy to help all wedding weekend, then say that. Clarity is key here.

4. Always carry insect repellent and blister blocker. It pays to be prepared. No one thinks to bring insect repellent to a wedding, and a LOT of weddings are outside in the summertime. Usually they happen right around sunset, which is prime time for mosquitoes. Blister Blocker is a genius invention that makes your feet way less prone to blisters, even once they start. I鈥檝e also used it on my inner arms (TMI?) when wearing sequins that tend to be scratchy.

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5. Take (a few) photos during the ceremony. Even though this is a known wedding faux-pas, I can give you the names of about 20 people who have thanked me profusely for doing this. Your wedding is such a dream that sometimes it鈥檚 hard to believe it鈥檚 real. And if you鈥檝e got a fancy wedding photographer, you probably won鈥檛 get to see photos for at least a month. It doesn鈥檛 even matter if your photos are high quality or not 鈥 the two that just said 鈥 I do鈥 will appreciate them. But be subtle. Get an inner aisle seat, be sure to turn off the flash, use the zoom feature and limit yourself to five photos max. And do NOT reach your arm out into the aisle. Not okay.

6. Use the couple鈥檚 wedding hashtag. Don鈥檛 be too cool. Don鈥檛 create your own 鈥渂etter鈥 hashtag. Better yet, start using it way before the wedding to help act as a hype machine. You know that mega collage at the top of this post? ALL from Instagram. And ALL hashtagged.

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7. Pay attention during the couple鈥檚 first dance. It might not be the most riveting moment of the wedding, but chances are the couple feels a little weird about slow dancing while everyone watches. Ideally, they get lost in each other鈥檚 eyes and arms about 20 seconds after the song starts, but if they see people looking bored or talking, they鈥檒l get totally bummed out.

8. Don鈥檛 complain about travel time or windy roads. At least not to anyone in the wedding party, and definitely not to the bride and groom, groom and groom or bride and bride. They鈥檒l immediately feel guilty that they made you travel all this way, which is likely something they were nervous about when they chose an obscure but beautiful location.

9. Do what you鈥檙e told. When the officiant asks you to say 鈥淲e Do,鈥 do it. When you鈥檙e handed a kazoo and asked to play it the moment the couple kisses, bust out your kazoo skills. Don鈥檛 use your own lighter to light the sparklers 鈥 use the wedding-sanctioned lighters to do so. Don鈥檛 try to rock the boat. Unless it鈥檚 late night and rocking the boat results in a hilarious story where you lose your shoes in a lake and have to walk home barefoot.

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10. If you鈥檝e got skills on the mic or the dance floor, please drop it like it鈥檚 hot. Surprise performances RULE. They have been some of the most memorable moments I鈥檝e experienced at weddings. Flash mob-style surprise dance routines are a surefire fan favorite. Dropping a toast in the form of a beatboxing breakdown is also amazing. I鈥檝e personally performed 鈥淭he Humpty Dance鈥 on a mic at five different weddings (it鈥檚 kind of my thing) 鈥 it鈥檚 always a hit, makes people guffaw, gets the dance floor going and helps break up the night.

11. Prepare a short toast in case of an open mic/awkward silence combo. We鈥檝e all been there. Or at least I have, more than once. It鈥檚 the night before the wedding. You walk into the rehearsal dinner and see a mic. The soon-to-be-marrieds take the stage and say a few words about how happy they are that everyone traveled all this way to celebrate. And then it happens: OPEN MIC. No schedule, no roster, just straight freestyle. And then there鈥檚 a pause. Umm, I didn鈥檛 know there鈥檇 be an open mic, and I鈥檓 a bridesmaid. I didn鈥檛 prepare a toast. Crap. To be an extremely awesome guest, prepare a short toast, and save the day. It can be one sentence! People will give you props, the couple will feel loved and everyone wins.

12. Bring a backup late-night dance party playlist on your phone. Time and time again, people forget to have an emergency playlist at the ready. Those people are amateurs, and I am not one of them. Take your latest party playlist and edit it ever so slightly for the vibe of the wedding. If you鈥檙e a Spotify user, be sure to save it for offline listening. That way if the band鈥檚 set ends earlier than expected or something goes wrong with the DJ equipment, you鈥檝e got backup. Even if it doesn鈥檛 come in handy at the actual wedding, it will definitely be clutch at the after-hours hotel party.

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13. Use your judgment when it comes to wearing sunnies during the ceremony. This is a tough one, because wedding ceremonies DO tend to take place in sunny, beautiful places. I鈥檝e definitely been to some weddings where it seems totally fine to wear sunglasses, but you can spot those sunglass-wearers a mile away in the ceremony photos, which is less than ideal. This one鈥檚 kind of a judgement call, but if you can stand to take them off, do it for the 鈥榞ram.

14. Send in that RSVP card. RSVP cards are not just a dog and pony show in your mailbox. They are extremely useful and show that you care enough to check a box and mail a pre-stamped envelope. And if you鈥檝e got dietary restrictions, please, oh please, make note of them.

15. If you鈥檙e running late, wait at the reception area. Accidentally walking down the aisle because you鈥檙e late is far worse than missing the ceremony, both for you and the newlyweds-to-be. It doesn鈥檛 matter if you have a good reason, crazy circumstances or what 鈥 hang back or wait at the reception area so you don鈥檛 mess up the flow of the event.

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16. Dance your face off. When it comes to the dance floor, you should most definitely BRING IT. This is no place to be shy with your rendition of the Sprinkler, the Jerk, the Dougie, the Whip (is that even what it鈥檚 called? Kids these days), the Bernie or the Electric Slide. (Photo via Catherine Farquharson)

17. Take your wedding favor (even if you don鈥檛 want it). Whoever spent hours and hours making, sourcing or hand-lettering the favors is going to be bummed to the max when they see that most of them were left behind. It鈥檚 usually a pretty small thing, so take yours and keep it forever because you love it, or give it away (or leave it in your hotel room).

18. Even though it seems sweetly old school, don鈥檛 bring your gift to the wedding. Guess what? The newlyweds have a lot of post-wedding details to deal with already, and making sure to remember your gift should not be one of them. Exceptions to this are: cards with checks inside (though that is also pretty risky), handmade artwork (but make sure it鈥檚 packaged well and let them know that you鈥檙e happy to ship it to them if they don鈥檛 have space to take it home) and PUPPIES. Omg. Just kidding. Don鈥檛 bring any live animals as gifts to the wedding.

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19. Unless your invite says 鈥渁nd guest,鈥 you do NOT have a plus one. And don鈥檛 ask for one!

20. Tame your side boob. This is not your high school or college reunion, even though it might seem that way. Keep your side boob in check, at the very least during the ceremony and dinner. No one鈥檚 grandma wants to see your bosoms popping out in the background of the official family photo, or even worse, in the background of the couple walking back up the aisle. If that means donning a pashmina, do it 鈥 at least until the sun鈥檚 gone down.

21. Make sure the newlyweds always have a drink (even water). Because everyone wants to talk to the guests of honor, it can be tough for them to get to the bar or even to their table to grab a sip of water. Be an awesome friend and check in with them periodically to make sure they have what they need, and remind them to drink lots of water.

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22. Stay hydrated. Speaking of hydration, you should make sure you drink lots of water as well. It鈥檒l do wonders for your hangover and will keep you energized throughout the night.

23. Bring a pair of flats or flip flops. You might think you鈥檙e really good at wearing high heels, but then you鈥檒l be one of those people who is barefoot on the dance floor. While that seems romantic and fun, what if a glass breaks? What about all the times you鈥檒l get stepped on? Flip flops or flats won鈥檛 make these things go away, but they鈥檒l definitely make them less painful. You also don鈥檛 want to be that pain in the butt who complains about having to walk four blocks to the after party.

24. If the bouquet toss is happening, please play along. No matter how hip and non-traditional you are, everyone鈥檚 allowed their dose of corniness. Enter the bouquet toss, an age-old tradition that鈥檚 had a nice return in popularity thanks to Beyonc茅鈥檚 classic, 鈥淪ingle Ladies.鈥

Dave-Glowsticks

25. Bring surprise party props. Glow sticks, bear costumes, confetti poppers 鈥 all of these are perfect party surprises. But I鈥檒l tell you what takes your party to the next level: PARTY RATS. What in the world are party rats? Only the weirdest thing I ever received at a white elephant party and then became instantly obsessed with. They are tiny plastic light-up rats that you can wear as rings, and boy, do they bring the party. Seriously. I鈥檝e brought the same batch of party rats to three weddings in the last year. Are they always a hit? HECK YES. (Photo via Matt Reamer)

26. It鈥檚 okay to bring flasks to beer + wine only weddings. It happens. People book a venue and only later realize that it鈥檚 beer and wine only. But dudes and dudettes, that鈥檚 why flasks were invented. Now, I鈥檓 not suggesting you take a flask to your face the moment the wedding begins 鈥 but sharing a nip here and there with your compatriots is totally cool. The most important piece of advice? Don鈥檛 leave the newlyweds out of it. Sharing is caring.

Laughing

27. Don鈥檛 heckle anyone during their toasts. Toasts are hard enough as it is. The awkward sister, the overly emotional brother, even the naturally charming actor best friend all worked hard to put together a few words about the happy couple. Heckling them is lame, even if you think you鈥檙e extremely hilarious. Guess what鈥檚 worse? Heckling the brand new marrieds during their thank you toast. (I can personally attest to this one.) On a positive note, hooting and hollering in appreciation of toasts is most definitely encouraged!

28. Don鈥檛 be the person who asks them when they鈥檙e having kids. Give them a day, people!

Pool

29. If there鈥檚 a pool, lake or ocean nearby, be prepared to jump in. Every summer wedding I鈥檝e been to that has a body of water nearby has resulted in late-night swimming. So what does this mean for you? Pack a swimsuit or be prepared to jump in wearing your skivvies.

30. Prepare to be more emo at weddings *after* you鈥檝e gotten married. This was a huge surprise for me. Before I got married, I would get reasonably emotional at certain people鈥檚 weddings, but no actual tears, nothing too crazy. Now I鈥檓 a mess! I look at the couple getting hitched, remember my amazing wedding day (self-centered, but true) and I think about how these two are going to have the best day ever, and are having the most surreal moment right this very minute. It鈥檚 a tear-fest, and I accept it.

PhotoBooth

31. Hit the photo booth (and monopolize it if no one鈥檚 using it). We love us a good photo booth here at Brit HQ, so it should be no surprise that my advice to you is to hit it. That being said, it鈥檚 easy to forget about photo booths while you鈥檙e dancing and drinking and reminiscing with old friends. So make sure to participate 鈥 especially if it鈥檚 an official photo booth with prints and the whole shebang.

32. Don鈥檛 switch your place card with someone else鈥檚. Dude, that鈥檚 just rude. First off, the recently wedded couple probably spent hours upon hours poring over the seating chart. Second, it will definitely make the person you were originally seated next to feel bad. There鈥檚 no need for this, especially for a part of the evening that usually only lasts an hour.

33. If you see something, say something. That鈥檚 right. I鈥檓 borrowing this one from the MTA. If something looks off to you, tell the wedding planner or closest equivalent. If a branch looks like it鈥檚 about to break off over someone鈥檚 table, say something. If the bride鈥檚 lipstick is smudged, tag is out or bra is showing, say something. If someone鈥檚 toast is going too long and getting inappropriate, say something.

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34. It鈥檚 okay to take selfies with the newlyweds. Just don鈥檛 be obnoxious about it. They鈥檙e your friends who got married, not celebrities who you don鈥檛 want to bother. In fact, they probably want to be bothered by you instead of their new spouse鈥檚 great aunt once-removed who they鈥檝e literally never met before.

35. Don鈥檛 compare their day to yours (or anyone else鈥檚). You can say things about it being THE GREATEST DAY EVER and how you love being married and isn鈥檛 it the besttttt, but other than that, leave your wedding out of it.

36. There are times when you *should* fly more than six hours for a four-hour event. Rough one, right? There are cases when this is worth it. If you truly can鈥檛 take a half day off work to fly to your sister, brother or best friend鈥檚 wedding, then redeye that 鈥榠sh and caffeinate your way through the ceremony and reception. If you鈥檙e invited to a 300-person wedding and you鈥檙e not even sure why you got invited or you honestly haven鈥檛 spoken to the person in two years, it鈥檚 okay not to go. In fact, a really awesome gift will likely be more appreciated (and will probably be less pricey!).

House

37. If you don鈥檛 stay at one of the official hotels, be prepared to drive. While it鈥檚 pretty rad to rent a baller vacation home, try to stay within walking distance of the official wedding hotels so you can catch shuttles and cabs that have been organized. If the wedding is somewhere with Uber and Lyft, you鈥檙e good to stay anywhere. And if you don鈥檛 mind driving, the lodging world is your oyster.

38. Tell the newlyweds鈥 parents how awesome their kids are. Parents LOVE their kids. Duh. Congratulate them and tell them how much you love their kid, and maybe even throw in a heartwarming anecdote. Brownie points for life.

39. Sign the guest book. It鈥檚 okay if you don鈥檛 have something mind-blowing to write. Just tell the couple you love them, congrats and maybe one funny anecdote or song lyric. Or if you鈥檙e feeling creative, a little doodle goes a long way.

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40. Save the lemon drops for the after party. The crew I roll with isn鈥檛 exactly shy at the bar, especially if it鈥檚 an open one. But it鈥檚 not the greatest idea to start taking shots when people haven鈥檛 eaten dinner yet. Save it for after all the official wedding moments (the first dance, the toasts, the dinner), and don鈥檛 forget to hydrate in between cocktails.

41. If you鈥檙e beyond tipsy and drinking red wine, stay away from the bride. I repeat: STAY AWAY FROM THE BRIDE.

42. Accept that someone might spill a drink on you. On the topic of potential drink spillage 鈥 hopefully it doesn鈥檛 happen, but be mentally prepared so you don鈥檛 end up being a vibe killer.

Details

43. If you love the decor/band/food, tell the happy couple. What they don鈥檛 tell you about getting engaged is that between the time of your engagement and your marriage, you are going to have to develop very strong, definitive opinions about things you鈥檝e never considered. Bruschetta or caprese skewers? IDK. Ranunculus or peonies? Wait, what? Reclaimed barn wood or driftwood tables? Whoa. So, appreciate all those itty bitty decisions they made.

44. It鈥檚 okay to leave early, just don鈥檛 try to convince other people to get on your (probably lame) early train. Oh, you want to get up and go for a run? So you鈥檙e going to leave at 9pm? What the HECK. Unless you鈥檙e running in a half marathon the next day, don鈥檛 do that. Just stop drinking but keep hanging out. That being said, if you DO have to leave early (it happens, especially if you鈥檙e rolling with older folks or kiddos), don鈥檛 try to get other people to share a cab with you or ride in your car. Leave the party people in peace.

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ABOVE ALL ELSE. Don鈥檛 forget to hang with the just-marrieds! I鈥檝e touched on this a few times already, but I can鈥檛 stress it enough. People constantly forget to hang out with the people that just got married because they assume they鈥檙e too busy to hang. They鈥檙e not. They invited you to this major event in their lives because they love you and you love them.

Now, go forth and be a good guest!

(All photos via Anjelika Temple unless otherwise credited)

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