Newly married couple
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Essential etiquette tips for cottage wedding guests

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Being a wedding guest is a lot more complicated than simply showing up. There are always delicate etiquette issues you need to be conscious of – spending enough on a gift, inviting an appropriate date, expressing proper gratitude and well wishes to the newly married couple. If you don’t go out of your way to be considerate, it could result in bad blood between you and the bride and groom. And if your friends or family members decide to get hitched up at a cottage, you can expect to deal with a whole host of new etiquette issues. Here is a list of tips that should keep you out of trouble.

Be aware of the limited resources

Even small weddings can put a strain on cottage water supplies and septic tanks so think twice before you spend half an hour in the bathroom throwing water on a rogue cowlick or trying to wash a stubborn stain off your dress. And if you see a sign that reads, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow,” always obey it! It may not be the fanciest set of instructions you’ve followed at a wedding, but they’re important ones.

Don’t whine about the weather (or the bugs)

Your hosts chose to celebrate their love in a rustic outdoor locale because it speaks to them. You’re there to witness their union and share in their joy. It’s not your day, so don’t start grumbling if it’s chilly or rainy or the mosquitoes are out in full force. You’ll only make your hosts feel guilty that you’re not having a good time or resent you for dampening the mood. Grab an umbrella, generously apply bug spray, and suck it up.

Dress to impress—even if it’s a casual wedding

Most cottage weddings are not full suit and tie affairs, but you still need to put some effort into your appearance. If the invite says “casual,” nice sundresses and pressed khakis should be fine, but don’t show up in flip-flops—if the couple is into them, they’ll likely be provided. Just because the couple is getting married at the cottage, don’t assume they’re not interested in maintaining an air of elegance.

Respect the neighbours

Not all cottage lots are expansive, which means neighbouring properties may be in full view and well within earshot. The bridge and groom should have discussed their wedding plans with the neighbours out of courtesy, but guests still need to be considerate. Don’t go wandering off to explore surrounding properties or hang out on neighbouring docks, even if it looks like the owners aren’t home. You should also help keep the noise level reasonable, since sound travels over water.

Don’t mess with the natural surroundings

Nature provides a gorgeous backdrop for cottage weddings, but with so many people tramping around it can also get damaged during a party. Along with soaking up the beautiful atomosphere, you should respect it as well. Stay on marked paths and lawns wherever possible. You don’t want your lasting impression to be a trampled garden or broken branches.

Bring a gift that’s easy to take back to the city

Cash is always appreciated at weddings (and it’s incredibly easy to transport), but if you want to stick with a traditional present, keep in mind that couples will have to drive back to the city with all their gifts in tow. Making two trips would be a huge hassle with an out-of-the-way location. Pick up a gift that’s small in size and easy to move. A toaster? Yes. A portable air conditioner? Not so much.