How to be the best wedding guest? As a wedding guest, it’s an honor to witness this special moment and share in the couple’s happiness. However, being a good wedding guest also comes with responsibilities and etiquette expectations.
From what to wear to how to behave, there are certain rules all wedding guests should follow to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll outline 31 essential rules to follow as a wedding guest, so you can be confident in your role and make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
1. Be a Great Wedding Guest – RSVP on Time
RSVP on Time is an essential rule of wedding guest etiquette that all guests should follow. When you receive an invitation to a wedding, it’s important to respond promptly. Let the couple know whether or not you will be attending by the RSVP date.
The couple needs an accurate headcount to plan for catering, seating arrangements, and other logistics, especially if this is a destination wedding.
If you delay in sending your RSVP, it can cause unnecessary stress and inconvenience for the couple.
Ideally, you should respond within a week of receiving the invitation, even if you’re unsure about your availability.
It’s better to decline early than to wait until the last minute or no-show, which can cause frustration and added expenses for the couple.
2. Fill Out the Paper RSVP Card Accurately
When responding to a wedding invitation, it’s important to Fill Out the RSVP Card Accurately. Use common sense.
The couple has taken time and effort to create an RSVP card that includes all necessary details such as the event date, time, venue, and meal choices.
By filling out the card accurately, you can help the couple plan for their wedding more efficiently and avoid confusion. Destination weddings take more time and effort to organize, so please, be conscious of that.
If the invitation allows for a plus-one, be sure to indicate the name of your guest. Also, carefully select your meal choice if the couple has provided a menu selection.
Finally, make sure to send the RSVP card back to the couple before the deadline mentioned.
3. Send Your Reply to and E-mail Wedding Invitation Promptly
When you receive the invitation, it’s important to RSVP promptly by sending your reply to the email address provided by the couple.
In your email reply, be sure to indicate whether or not you will be attending the wedding, as well as any additional information requested by the hosts.
This may include details about dietary restrictions, the number of guests you will be bringing, or other special requests.
4. Do Communicate your Dietary Restrictions Early
If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, it’s important to communicate them to the wedding hosts or caterers as early as possible.
This can help ensure that there are appropriate options available for you to enjoy during the reception. It also allows them to communicate this information to their wedding planner.
When communicating your dietary restrictions, be clear and specific about what you can and cannot eat. This can include allergies, food intolerances, or dietary preferences like vegetarian or vegan.
5. Plus One Invitation Etiquette
Single guests often wonder whether or not to bring a plus one to a wedding. This depends on the invitation that was extended to you.
Typically, wedding invitations will indicate whether or not a guest is allowed to bring a plus one.
If the invite does not explicitly state that you may bring a guest list a plus one, it’s best to assume that you were invited alone.
Unsure about whether or not you’re allowed to bring a plus one? It’s best to reach out to the couple or their designated point of contact to clarify.
6. Can We Make Some Exceptions for Our Adults-Only Wedding?
Making exceptions to an adults-only wedding can be a delicate situation. If you’ve decided to have an adults-only wedding make it clear on the invitations and website from the start.
You can include phrases like “adults-only reception” or “we politely request no children” to make sure guests understand your wishes.
However, if there are extenuating circumstances, such as a guest having a newborn baby who is exclusively breastfeeding, you could make an exception.
7. Don’t Assume Kids Are Invited
Don’t Assume Kids Are Invited is an important rule to follow when attending a wedding. Just because you received an invitation to a wedding, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your children are invited to attend as well.
If the invitation doesn’t explicitly mention anything about children, it’s best to assume that the wedding is adults-only (a child-free wedding) and plan accordingly.
It’s not appropriate to ask the couple if you can bring your kids. This can put them in an awkward situation and create unnecessary stress for them.
If you’re unsure about the guest policy, check the couple’s wedding website. Alternatively, speak to someone in the wedding party to clarify the situation.
8. Be a Great Wedding Guest – Do Choose Your Wedding Gift From the Couple’s Registry
By choosing a gift from the registry, you ensure that you are giving the couple something that they truly want or need.
It also helps to avoid the possibility of gifting them with something they already have or not liking.
Additionally, using the registry saves you time and effort in searching for the perfect gift.
9. What if There Is No Wedding Registry
If you’re unsure of what to get the couple or if they don’t have a registry, consider giving a gift card to a home goods store or restaurant, or a monetary gift to help with their honeymoon or other expenses.
These gifts are always appreciated, and they give the couple the flexibility to use the gift in a way that best suits their needs.
10. Do Explore Their Wedding Website
The website typically contains all the important details about the event, such as the wedding date itself, time, location, dress code, and any other pertinent information that guests need to know.
By taking the time to explore the website thoroughly, you can get a sense of what to expect and plan accordingly.
Additionally, the website may provide helpful resources, such as travel tips, hotel recommendations, and gift registry information. By reviewing these resources, you can make sure that you’re fully prepared for the wedding and have everything you need to enjoy the celebration.
11. Be a Great Wedding Guest – Don’t Wear White
Avoid wearing white at all cost! It is a well-known rule and a standard etiquette, that all wedding guests should follow. Wearing white to a wedding can be seen as disrespectful and is considered a major fashion faux pas.
On a bride’s wedding day, she typically wears a white wedding gown to symbolize her purity and innocence.
By wearing white to a wedding, you risk taking attention away from the bride and appearing rude or attention-seeking.
Remember, the focus of the day should be on the couple and their wedding celebration, not on your outfit.
12. Not Following the Dress Code Is a No-no
Not following the suggested dress code mentioned in the wedding invitation can be seen as disrespectful and inappropriate.
If you’re unsure of what to wear, it’s always better to ask the couple or someone in the wedding party for guidance.
You can also refer to the wedding website or social media pages for clues about what to wear.
Remember, while the dress code may seem like a minor detail, it’s an important aspect of the wedding planning process and should be taken seriously.
By dressing appropriately, you can show your support and appreciation for the couple. The last thing you want is to show up at a black-tie wedding in cargo pants.
13. Be a Great Wedding Guest – Attend Both the Ceremony and Reception
As a wedding guest, it’s important to attend both the ceremony and reception, unless there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from doing so. This is especially true if this is a small wedding.
The ceremony is where the couple officially exchanges their vows, and it’s a significant moment in their lives that they’ll want to share with as many loved ones as possible.
Meanwhile, the reception is where the newlyweds and guests celebrate the joyous occasion and enjoy food, music, and dancing.
If you’re unable to attend both events, be sure to let the couple know as soon as possible and provide a brief explanation for your absence.
14. Smoke Only in the Designated Areas – Even at an Outdoor Event
It’s important to be mindful of smoking etiquette when attending a wedding. Even if it takes place outdoors. Smoking can be a health hazard for others, and guests who choose to smoke should do so in designated areas.
If you need to smoke, ask the hosts or staff where the designated smoking areas are located. If no such areas are available, consider stepping away from the main area to smoke in a location that is not near other guests.
15. Arrive Early to the Wedding Ceremony
Arriving early to the wedding ceremony is a sign of respect and consideration for the couple. It allows you time to find your seat, get comfortable, and settle in before the ceremony begins.
16. Do not take Pictures During the Ceremony
While taking pictures of the first kiss is super tempting, it can also be very disruptive.
Let the photographers do their job and save your memory space for the more casual parts of the celebrations.
There will be plenty of opportunities to snap a thousand pictures as the big day goes on.
17. Be a Great Wedding Guest – Follow the Seating Plan
When attending the ceremony, it’s important to follow gracious wedding guest etiquette, especially when it comes to the seating plan that has been arranged by the hosts.
The seating chart is usually displayed at the entrance to the reception hall.
The plan is designed to ensure that guests are seated in an organized and respectful manner and to make sure everyone has a good view of the ceremony.
The whole seating chart plan may be arranged according to family relationships, friendship groups, or other factors.
Whatever the arrangement, it’s important to follow the plan and avoid changing seats or moving around during the ceremony.
If there is any confusion about where you should sit, don’t hesitate to ask the ushers or staff for guidance.
18. Follow the Dress Code
As already mentioned, following the dress code is an important aspect of being a respectful and considerate guest.
If you’re unsure of what to wear, don’t hesitate to ask the couple or someone in the wedding party for guidance.
You can also refer to the website or social media pages for clues about the dress code.
19. Don’t Get in the Photographer’s Way
The photographer has an essential role in capturing special moments of the day and creating lasting memories for the couple.
To avoid getting in the photographer’s way, try to stay aware of your surroundings and be mindful of where the photographer is positioned.
If the photographer asks guests to move or adjust their position, comply as quickly and quietly as possible to help ensure that they are able to capture the best possible shots.
20. Put Your Cell Phone Away
As a part of gracious wedding guest etiquette, please follow this rule.
While phones can be useful for taking wedding photos, checking directions, and staying connected with friends and family, they can also be a distraction and take away from the experience.
If you do need to use your phone, be sure to do so discreetly and avoid being a distraction to others. Keep the ringer on silent mode, and refrain from talking or texting while the ceremony is in progress.
During the reception, it’s fine to use your phone to take photos or post on social media, but be mindful of others around you and avoid blocking the view of the couple or the photographer.
21. Do Not Complain about the Weather
Complaining about the weather can detract from the joyous occasion and make the event uncomfortable for others. Instead, try to make the most of the situation by adapting to the conditions and finding ways to enjoy the festivities regardless of the weather.
22. Do Not Touch the Seating Plan
Following traditional wedding guest etiquette, it’s important to respect the seating plan that the couple has created.
The seating charts are carefully designed to ensure that guests are seated in a way that makes them and their fellow guests feel comfortable and ensures that everyone has a great time.
It also gives a place of honor to the immediate family members.
While it might be tempting to try and rearrange the seats r move to a different table, it’s important to remember that doing so can create confusion and disrupt the flow of the event.
23. Do Not Complain about the Food
While it’s understandable that everyone has different tastes and preferences, complaining about the food can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.
If you have any dietary restrictions or concerns about the food, it’s best to speak with a member of the wedding party or the couple themselves, who will do their best to accommodate your needs.
24. Be a Great Wedding Guest – Do Not Critique the Bride’s Dress
Critiquing the bride’s dress, whether it’s in person or on social media, is not only impolite but can also hurt her feelings and create unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Remember, she has likely spent a lot of time and money choosing the perfect dress for her special day, and she deserves to feel beautiful and confident.
25. Do Not Judge Any Details of the Wedding
Be appreciative of the couple’s choices, even if they differ from your own preferences or expectations.
Judging any details such as the venue, decorations, food, or music, can create negativity and detract from the celebrations.
26. Don’t Drink Alcohol in Excess
It’s important to drink alcohol responsibly. Most weddings offer an open bar following a cocktail hour.
Drinking in excess can not only lead to embarrassment and discomfort for yourself, but it can also detract from the enjoyment of the wedding for others.
Remember this especially before you hit the dance floor.
If you choose to consume alcohol be mindful of your own limits and pace yourself accordingly. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages and to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
27. Be Gracious and Socialize Responsibly
Attending a wedding is an opportunity to celebrate the love and commitment of the couple and to connect with loved ones and friends. To make the most of this occasion, it’s important to be gracious and socialize responsibly.
Socializing responsibly means being mindful of your actions and behavior, and avoiding behaviors that may detract from the celebration.
This can include drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding controversial or divisive topics of conversation, and being respectful of other guests’ personal space and comfort levels.
28. Do Not Bring up Family Issues
Weddings are a time for families to come together and celebrate the love. Bringing up family issues can create tension and detract from the joyous occasion.
If there are any family issues that need to be addressed, it’s best to do so privately and away from the festivities. The wedding is not the time or place to air grievances or discuss sensitive topics.
29. Keep Speeches Short
When it comes to speeches, it’s always best to keep them short and sweet. While it might be tempting to list all the life stages of your best friend or share all the wonderful memories and anecdotes you have about the couple, it’s important to remember that other guests are waiting to speak, eat, dance, and enjoy the celebration.
To keep your speech short and engaging, focus on the most important aspects of your message, such as how much you love and support the couple and how happy you are to be part of their special day.
Aim for a speech that is no more than two to three minutes long.
30. Do Not Monopolize the Bride and Groom
When attending a wedding, it’s important to be respectful of the happy couple’s time and attention.
While it’s natural to want to spend time with the newlyweds, it’s important not to monopolize their time or attention.
For example, you could offer congratulations during the ceremony.
Or when the couple arrives at the reception, share a dance or toast during the reception, or take a photo with them during the festivities.
31. Savor the Day and Be Present
Attending a wedding is an opportunity to celebrate the love and commitment of the happy couple, and to connect with loved ones and friends. To make the most of this occasion, it’s important to savor the day and be present in the moment.
Savoring the day means taking time to appreciate and enjoy the special moments, such as the exchange of vows, the first dance, and the toasts. It also means savoring the smaller moments, such as the joy and laughter shared with friends and loved ones.
Being present means being fully engaged and focused on the wedding festivities, and avoiding distractions that may detract from the celebration.
This can involve putting away your phone, avoiding work-related conversations, and being fully present and engaged with the people and events around you.
Remember, the wedding day is about celebrating love and creating lasting memories. By savoring the day and being present in the moment, you can help ensure that the day is enjoyable and memorable for everyone involved. So relax, have fun, and savor the moment!
By following these tips, you can help ensure that you create beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. Above all, you will have so much fun! Remember to show your support and love for the happy couple. Offer congratulations, share memories and anecdotes, and let them know how much you appreciate being part of their special day. By doing so, you can help make the day even more meaningful and memorable for everyone involved.