5 Tips for Attending Your Partner’s Relative’s Wedding

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The only thing more stressful than attending a family wedding is attending your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family wedding. It’s like all the pressure of meeting the parents, cubed, plus plenty of opportunities for social faux pas.

Last weekend, my boyfriend’s sister got married. It was an awesome day, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering if I was doing anything that would potentially embarrass my boyfriend or cause his sister to look at her wedding pictures and wonder who that annoying girl in the back was. Here are a few things that I tried to keep in mind this weekend.

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Play it safe, stylewise.

If you’re not sure what to wear, ask your partner for advice since he or she knows what’s normal in their family. Always err on the side of more conservative, and consider layering. (For example, you might want to bring a bolero or wrap if you need to be covered up for a religious ceremony but can be more casual at the reception.) Also, find out what color the bridesmaids are wearing and avoid it, since you don’t want to look like you’re trying to horn your way into the bridal party.


Don’t expect to be included in the official family photos.

Since you’re not married or engaged, you might not get invited to join in for the official, pro-photographer pictures. These are the pictures that stay on the mantel forever, so some family members might be skittish about including someone who isn’t related. If they do ask you to jump in, though, be gracious. Meanwhile, for the candid dance floor shots? Do your thing.


Pitch in.

The thing about weddings is that there’s always some last-minute job that needs to get done. Volunteer to help put out place cards, hang up coats, amuse a cranky toddler, or any other task that helps keep things moving along smoothly. You’ll win permanent family goodwill this way.


Don’t get drunk.

Although you may feel like it’s morally wrong not to get your money’s worth at an open bar, you do not want your boyfriend’s cousin calling you The Girl Who Faceplanted In Front of Grandpa for the rest of your life. (Or the rest of your relationship’s life, however long that may be.) If this is the first time you’re meeting some of his or her relatives, booze might seem like a good way to calm your nerves, but too many drinks might make you say or do something you regret. (“Oh, we’re not supposed to mention that Carrie failed out of college? Oops.”)


Give compliments and say thank you.

Here are some things you can never go wrong with at a wedding: “You look beautiful.” “The bride looks beautiful.” “The flowers look beautiful.” “The table settings look beautiful.” You get the idea. Going overboard will make you look like you’re just sucking up, but a lot of people worked hard to make the day happen, and you should a) let them know what a great job they did and b) thank them for the fun afternoon/evening.