Weddings are, to some people, one of the most significant and important days in their lives. It's a great time to bring friends and family together to celebrate love and make a public declaration of that love and commitment.
So much time and money can go into planning a wedding so if you are invited to one, it's important that you know proper etiquette, or even just brush up on them if it's been a while.
It's important that you get your RSVP in as soon as possible. Venues are often times limited in how much they can hold or vary based on how much the love birds can afford. If you can't go, fine. Just make sure you get the RSVP in the mail. I've flubbed this before and it can really make things difficult for the couple or the planner. I try to get it in the mail within the week of receiving it. That way you can make sure you are able to take time off work if it requires travel.
Pay attention to what you are RSVPing for. Sometimes there is an option for you to pick your entree, or a place to indicate a guest.
I've heard so many different things about gifts, when you should give them, and how much you should spend. Generally speaking, you should take into account who the person is getting married and their relationship to you. If you are able you should try to spend $50 or more or whatever you are able to afford.
There is a long standing "rule" that you have up to 1 year to give your wedding gift but unless there is a particular reason you need to wait, generally day of is your best option so you don't forget. If you aren't able to get a gift, that's fine!
In the card, you address it the person you know the best first.
It is never okay under any circumstances to bring an uninvited guest to any party or event unless specifically stated, especially a wedding. If your invitation only has your name, it is only for you. Only if the invitation has your name "and Guest" are you able to bring a guest.
If you have RSVP'd and your indicated guest has changed, make sure you follow up to update the couple as soon as you know there is a change so that name cards can be changed if that's a thing.
Declining an Invitation:
If you need to decline a wedding invitation that you would like to attend, it's good practice to follow up with a call or in person to explain. Make up for it with your gift. If a meet up isn't necessary, just make sure that you RSVP "not attending".
Declining a Spot in the Wedding Party:
Sometimes there are people out there who consider you their best friend and you had no idea until you get asked to be a part of the wedding party. It's definitely okay to say no, but the important thing is to be honest. If you can't say anything else, just stick with "I'm sorry, being in weddings makes me uncomfortable, but I'd be happy to celebrate in the crowd with the rest of your guests".
Bringing the Kids:
Let the invitation be your guide. Similarly to bringing additional guests, you should never assume. If the invitation is addressed to you and includes "and family", it's safe to assume you can bring your entire immediate family. If it is not included, but you want/need to bring your children, talk to bride(s) or groom(s), someone in the wedding party, or parents of the bride(s) or grooms(s) to verify, but don't put them on the spot. The best way to ask would be, "Has the couple decided not to invite children to the wedding so I can plan".
If you're uncomfortable asking and your children are not listed on the invitation, it's best not to bring them.