This is it. The big day is finally here. Your new(ish) significant other was invited to a wedding, and they’re allowed to bring a date. That date is you. Hooray! Here’s everything you need to know about meeting friends and family, behaving appropriately, giving a gift, and just overall not coming off like a total horse head (see above photo for reference).

Be as Accomodating as Possible
Remember: you are the guest of someone’s guest. Now is not the time to demand to book outside the hotel room block or make a dinner request off-menu simply because you don’t like the options. Make it a priority to be flexible and cause as little fuss as possible.

Skew More Conservative With Your Attire
You want to look polished, and you don’t want to steal the show. Opt for a slightly longer skirt (near-the-knee works great) and show a little less skin on top. This is especially true if you’ve never met the bride or groom and don’t know what the level of attendance from older family members will be.

Don’t Ignore the Gifting Part
If you and your date are in a serious relationship, the gift can be given from both of you. If your situation is more casual, it’s perfectly acceptable for the gift to only come from them. Discuss with your date to determine what’s most appropriate. Either way, it never hurts to send a thoughtful thank you card after the fact.

Introduce Yourself 
Be it during a receiving line or when the couple makes their rounds to your table, be sure to say hi! Here it’s most polite to let the couple approach you—they’ll have several people to talk to throughout the night and you don’t want to take up too much of their time. When approached, keep the conversation warm but short. Thank them for having you, and be sure to compliment something about the celebration.

Look to Your Date for Cues 
Perhaps there’s a cultural or religious tradition you aren’t familiar with, or certain topics of conversation to avoid when interacting with a certain great aunt. Ask your date if there’s anything you should know ahead of time, and have them walk through any new rituals with you once or twice before the wedding. Overall, you’ll feel more comfortable walking into the new scenario if you have an idea of how to handle unfamiliar situations.

Be Tactful About the Guestbook
If you’ve never met the couple and you’re not in a serious relationship, it’s best to let your date handle the words of congratulations. If you don’t know the couple but are seriously involved with your SO< your date can sign for the both of you. If you’ve met the couple socially on more than one occasion and you’re seriously involved with your date, feel free to sign on your own.

Instagramming is A-OK! 

Inquire around about the wedding hashtag, and feel free to use it! Complimentary photos and captions only, please.

Get to Know the Other Attendees
This is especially true if you’re in a more serious relationship and this is your first time meeting your SO’s close friends or family. Don’t aim to be the life of the party (that role is typically reserved for one of the groomsmen), but do put in extra face time with the people your date is closest to. If you find yourself stranded with complete strangers and have no idea what to talk about, there is one fail-safe wedding ice-breaker: How do you know the couple?

Remember Your Role
As mentioned above, you are the guest of a guest at what is one of the most significant celebrations of someone else’s life. Be yourself, but avoid attention-getting behavior—both the good and bad kinds. Don’t party too hard, don’t make any impromptu speeches, and don’t feel compelled to be at the center of every dance circle. Instead, focus on doing whatever you can to help the people closest to the couple feel like the stars of the show.

Have Fun & Participate
Top of every couple’s priority list: ensuring their guests have a great time. Do your part to make that dream come true! Instagram the decor, sample the signature drink, get low when the band plays the quiet part of “Shout”, and wave that sparkler with fervor during the send-off. The couple spent a great deal of time and money on this celebration; it’s your duty to participate in as many aspects as possible.

by Sarah Zlotnick