Etiquette 101: The Dos And Don'ts Of Being A Good Wedding Guest

April 24, 2015 by Linda DiProperzio
shefinds | Weddings

While being a wedding guest is a relatively low pressure job, you do want to make sure the bride and groom doesn’t walk away from the event wishing they’d left you off the list. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind before showing up to someone’s big day.

DO RSVP on time. One of the biggest complaints from brides and grooms are guests who don’t RSVP on time–or at all. The couple has given you a respond date, not to mention a postcard or envelope with a stamp on it, so they’ve made it as easy as possible for you. The veryleast you can do is respond by the deadline.

DON’T ask to bring uninvited guests. The way the envelope is addressed will tell you if you’re invited with a guest (if you’re single, it will read, “Ms. Jane Smith & Guest”) or if your kids can come (it will read, “The Smith Family” instead of just “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”). So don’t go to the bride and groom and ask if you can bring along an uninvited guest–it will only add to their stress and cause an uncomfortable situation for all of you.

DO abide by the dress code. The invite will also tell you what you’re expected to wear to the nuptials. Whether it’s black tie optional in a hotel ballroom, cool and casual for a beach wedding, or plaid and preppy at a yacht club, let the bride and groom guide you on your guest attire.

DON’T wear white. Although this tradition has eased up over the last few years, it’s still not a recommended practice (unless the couple requests it). Otherwise, remember it’s the bride’s day and she should be the only one wearing white.

DO make it to the ceremony on time. The last thing you want to do is cause any type of disruption during the ceremony, so make sure you’re on time. And try not to be one of those guests that skips the vows and only comes to the reception–the actual union of these two people is the most important part, and they invited you because they wanted you to witness it.

DON’T use your cell phone during the vows. You should be fully present during the vows, so put your cell phone away. That means no photos (you don’t want to risk getting in the photographer’s way), Tweeting, status updates, etc.

DO buy a gift. Be sure to purchase something off of the couple’s registry, even if you’re not able to attend the wedding. It certainly doesn’t have to be the most expensive item on there, but buying something for the couple lets them know you were thinking of them on their special day.

DON’T wait a whole year to send it. Although etiquette says you have an entire year to send a wedding gift, don’t wait that long. The couple will think you forgot, feelings will be hurt and relationships can suffer. And you wouldn’t want to wait an entire year to receive the thank you card, right?

DO have a good time at the reception. The couple has planned food, drinks and music–and they want you to enjoy it all. So don’t be the person sitting at the table all night. If you don’t like to dance, make sure you at least mix and mingle with your fellow guests.

DON’T get wasted. While many weddings feature an open bar, try not to overdo it. You don’t want to be slurring, stumbling, or even worse, puking the night away.

DO snap photos during the reception. It’s fine to take some fun selfies during the party–and be sure to take at least one nice shot with the happy couple. They might even have a hashtag set up so guests can post their photos online.

DON’T leave before cake. No doubt it’s been a long day, but you shouldn’t even think about leaving until after the cake is served. Once guests start to leave the party, it can send the wrong signal to other people that the fun is ending and it’s time to go. You don’t want to be the guest that starts that exit!

Be sure to check out 8 bachelorette ideas that don’t involve alcohol and the dos and donts of planning a bridal shower.





Linda DiProperzio is a weddings expert and freelance writer based in New York.

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