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6 Ways to Recover from Cringe-Worthy Wedding Guest Fails

Spilled on the bride’s dress? Phone rang at the ceremony? An expert explains what do next.

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Yikes! You spilled something on the bride’s gown

Even the sight of a nearby guest holding a colorful drink can send some brides into a panic. Stay safe by placing your glass and plate on the table before getting too close. If anything does happen, you’ve got some major apologizing to do, says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. “Apologize profusely,” she says. “If it’s stained, offer to pay for the dry cleaning. Beyond that, offer to have it preserved and boxed up.” This is how dry cleaners wish you treated your clothes.

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You forgot someone’s name

This can occur in any setting, but at a wedding it might be with a family member whose name you should have committed to memory by now. But don’t fret: If you’re drawing a total blank on the first name of your great aunt, simply ask someone else at the wedding. If that fails, own up to your brain freeze and say, “I’m sorry, please tell me your name again." It’s not as bad as you think. This is how to handle life’s most embarrassing moments.

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A joke from your toast hurt someone’s feelings

If you accidentally hurt someone’s feelings in your toast, own up to it. “I’d send them an email apology or give them a call after the wedding,” says Whitmore. In general, steer clear of topics that could be secrets, inappropriate for younger guests, or that showcase anyone in a bad light. Your toast should make the couple feel great. These clever wedding jokes and quotes are perfect for any speech.

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You were caught hooking up with another guest

As long as it’s not with someone who’s already taken, it’s not that big of a deal. Whitmore suggests letting people forget about it quickly. “My grandmother used to say, ‘the more you stir the worse it’ll stink.’" These are the wedding etiquette rules you must follow.

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You drank too much and caused a small scene

The same goes for causing a scene. Recover as quickly as you can—if you fell on the dance floor, get up; if you dropped a glass, tell the waiter—and then cut yourself off. These are the secrets wedding planners would never tell you for free.

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Your phone rang during the ceremony

You knew you should’ve turned it off, but you forgot—and now your phone’s alarm is going off in the church. Turn the ringer off immediately and never bring it up again. “It’s unnecessary to apologize at the reception,” says Whitmore.