Friends, bride and groom making wedding toast

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Love is in the air—along with the aroma of fresh flowers—prepping us for this year's whirlwind wedding season. Of all the events on the spring social menu, weddings should be the best of all because they celebrate love, hope and new beginnings. Which, last time I checked, are all things we like. So why is it many of us dread the arrival of that oversize invitation in the mail? Is it the extensive checklist of intrusions and annoyances that go with the party? Forget them—here is my advice on how to have a fabulous time while being a great wedding guest!

How to choose the perfect wedding gift
Wedding present with bride and groom

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Find the Perfect Gift
Remember to consult the wedding party (instead of pestering the harried bride) to find out where the couple is registered and send the gift to the couple's house (instead of bringing it to the wedding).

Do not think of the gift tradition as a quid pro quo transaction, a hunk of silver or a heavy kitchen appliance traded for multiple trips to the buffet, several glasses of champagne and dancing until your feet hurt. If budget is bugging you and you're considering skipping the event to avoid skimping, rethink your intentions and offer your expertise in lieu of a traditional gift. Tech-savvy? Offer to keep the couple's wedding website updated with information, photos and videos. Extraordinary kitchen skills? Make their favorite childhood treats to serve at their shower or engagement party.

Also, giving something from the registry may sound impersonal, but at least you know it's stuff they actually want. Put your personal stamp on it with simple tweaks, like a panini grill given with your favorite gourmet grilled cheese recipe. Or wine glasses given with a bottle of wine from the year you met. Or, go in with a group to by a big-ticket item and fill a mini paper photo album with snaps of each of the participants as the card.

How to be the life of the party
People dancing on the beach

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Bring Your Best Self
Don't even think of missing out on the celebration. Sure, you can think of a million excuses not to go—Outfit: Feels like cling-wrap! Gift: Credit card maxed! Babysitter: Unavailable! When you get the invite, RSVP ASAP. Go to the event even if you are invited without a guest, dress happy, enjoy the cocktails...just not too much!

There's a secret to being a great guest, and it's simple: Always bring your best self to the party. In other words, take this opportunity to check your troubles at the door. Work, relationships, financial troubles—toss 'em out the window for a few hours. Make it your mission to get the party rolling. Burst into the room with a twinkle in your eye and ignite the fun fuse.

Put romance on the menu
Couple walking in grass

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Up the Romance Opp
Married? Consider the wedding a date for romance and be especially affectionate with your honey. On the way to the ceremony, program the car with your personal greatest hits album to get psyched up (for me, it's Gavin Rossdale's "Love Remains the Same"). Once you arrive, break the ice for the other guests with public displays of affection.

If you're flying solo, remember that even if you arrive alone, you need not remain alone. This is an opportunity, a potentially life-changing-for-the-better opportunity—seize it! Steal a flower from a centerpiece and wear it in your hair (or your lapel), or present it with great pomp to someone who looks fun. Hit the singles' table with a bucket of optimism. Be open to the possibility of surprise in the form of an interesting stranger or even an old friend. Okay, you might not meet The One (cue the trumpets), but you never know until you do, and that's certainly worth rolling the dice.

Be camera-ready with these tips
Bride and friends taking photos

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Strike a Pose
Hiding in the last row because you think you're not photogenic? Be part of the history of the event! Angela Janklow, the former managing director of Dolce&Gabbana, gave me the best advice on this one (she should know, she once had to pose for Vanity Fair mag with Brooke Shields). Her cheat sheet for surviving that photo session, and each one since, reproduced for your reading pleasure, is as follows:

  • No one takes great photos straight on. Figure out which is your best side.
  • Turn 3/4 to the camera with your best side facing the camera.
  • Slightly lower your chin and raise your eyes.
  • Avoid multiple cameras taking the same shot (they all won't catch your best side).

The most important advice is to summon joyful emotional energy and throw it at the camera. This makes a huge difference; Angela calls it "flirting with the camera." Since the eyes of the individual taking the photo are hidden by the camera, you have nothing to connect with—most of us pull back and the camera catches us in that state. Imagine that you are sending forward an unspoken happy message with your eyes, and really, the camera will catch it! Try it, you'll see.

Now you all you have to do is make sure the happy couple have the greatest night of their lives!

Download an excerpt from Allana Baroni's book Get Social!

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Couple in Just Married car

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