How to Be a Great Wedding Guest
There are plenty of tips on throwing the perfect wedding, but what about being a great wedding guest? We’ve all been to weddings where someone in the family is fighting, or someone gets trashed. Don’t be that person. Take a look at what not to do!
Don’t Bring Your Own Plus One
This is a hugely rude wedding guest mistake! If you know anything about wedding planning, you know that every guest costs about $100 between the space, food, and drinks. Because of this, couples often have to trim their wedding guest list down much more than they would like, and often have to leave off people that they would have loved to have there. So if you show up with an uninvited friend, the couple will not appreciate that. If you’re given a plus one, it will state that on your invitation. If it doesn’t say “plus one”, don’t ask for one.
Ask About Bringing the Kids
When couples choose to have an adults-only wedding ceremony, they typically state this on the wedding invite or on their wedding website. Even if they have not mentioned kids attending their wedding, if you have children, it’s a good idea to ask them about it—just to be sure. It’s better to be clear than to just assume and bring your kids when the couple would prefer them not to be there.
Whether you’re attending a casual beachside wedding or a black tie affair with a dress code, respect the instructions and dress appropriately. It’s the couple’s special day, and a good wedding guest will wear what they have requested. If you don’t have the right attire, borrow it from someone, or rent what you need. Special attention should be given to weddings that have a color-coordinated dress code, since you’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you ignore the rules. Also, this should be common knowledge by now, but don’t wear white unless you’ve specifically been asked to.
Don’t Bring Your Drama
Weddings tend to bring together lots of people who have bad blood between them. If you’re one of those people, do not let that ruin the couple’s special day. Be a good wedding guest and put aside your ten-year feud with the groom’s brother or your cousin and allow the day to be peaceful and beautiful. Even if it has nothing to do with the other wedding guests and you’re going something else, try to leave any problems or drama at home and put on your best face. Enjoy several hours with the couple, and don’t be a bummer.
Arrive on Time
Obviously. It’s silly that this one even needs to be listed, but it does because there’s always someone who arrives late. It’s so rude. Don’t do it. Allow for extra time if you have trouble getting to places on time.
Avoid Poking Around the Venue
This one should be obvious, but wedding guests do this more often than you’d think—especially if the wedding venue is a particularly old or beautiful building. No matter how dazzling the venue may be, resist the urge to go exploring. Don’t wander away from the other guests. You might end up barging into the bridal suite, and that’s just embarrassing for everyone. Stick to the designated spots.
Wait to be Seated
You may be dying to sit down before the wedding ceremony, but most of the time there are ushers to guide you where to sit. Make sure to wait for an usher to direct you where to go so that you’re not sitting in someone else’s spot.
Respect an Unplugged Ceremony…
More and more these days, couples are choosing to have an unplugged ceremony. This helps the wedding guests to be in the moment instead of being attached to their phones. It also keeps the wedding photos free of a sea of smartphones, helps the hired photographer’s shots not to be blocked, and ensures that no “boop-boop-ding-beeps” sound off during the wedding vows. If the couple has chosen an unplugged wedding ceremony, respect this and turn your phone off—and don’t use your camera. And hey, even if they haven’t chosen an unplugged wedding ceremony, why not still keep your phone turned off? Be the good guest whose phone isn’t making noises and ruining the pictures.
…But Hashtag if They Want You To
While unplugged wedding ceremonies are gaining steam, it’s also very popular for the couple to have a wedding hashtag. If they’re announcing this, they definitely want you to post using the hashtag, so do that!
Don’t Post Photos Until it’s Allowed
Whether the couple decides to have an unplugged wedding ceremony or they provide a wedding hashtag for guests to use, always make sure you’re not posting their wedding photos until they say it’s okay to. Even if they are doing the hashtag, they still might want you to wait until after the reception. Privacy is very important to couples these days, so be aware of their rules.
Don’t Get Wasted
Yes, lots of wedding guests drink at the reception. It’s to be expected. However, there’s a big difference between feeling good and getting messy. No one wants their reception ruined by an obnoxious groomsman or a sobbing bridesmaid. And vomiting? Absolutely not okay! Instead, pace yourself and know your limits. The wedding day should be remembered for the couple, not for how Cousin Amy passed out in the foyer.
No Impromptu Speeches
Unless you have been asked or invited to make a speech at the reception, don’t do it. It’s simply rude. Speeches are typically reserved for the best man, the maid of honor, and the parents of the couple. Sometimes exceptions are made, but if they are, you’ll be told. Don’t assume you can just grab the microphone and start talking. If you truly feel the need to express yourself to the couple, include a letter with your wedding gift instead.
Mail Your Gift
More and more wedding guests are mailing their gift to the newlyweds. Why? It helps cut down on the amount of things that will need to be hauled away from the reception. Unless your gift is terribly heavy or fragile, it’s a nice gesture to mail it to them instead. And this should go without saying: get them a gift from their registry!
This is perhaps the biggest wedding guest faux pas: not sending your RSVP. It’s smartest to simply send it as soon as you know if you can attend or not. Don’t put it off. Life gets busy, and we procrastinate—but the couple will definitely be waiting on your response in order to plan important parts of their wedding. If you can’t make it, they can invite someone else, but they’ll need time to do that. So even if you can’t go, RSVP as soon as you know.
Share Dietary Restrictions
Most RSVPs these days have an area to point out any dietary restrictions, so be sure to check for this on the card and fill it out appropriately if it’s available. If it’s not and you do have serious dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to write this on the card yourself or to let the wedding couple know some other way.
Ask Questions In Advance
If you have any questions about the wedding, be sure to ask the couple in advance. Don’t wait until the wedding day, or even the wedding week. By that time, they are going to be very busy and distracted, and any added questions will probably stress them out. Whatever you have to ask, ask it as soon as it comes to mind. And if you do have to ask a question the day of the wedding, try to ask it from someone besides the couple.
Okay, there may be some annoying things going on at the wedding. The ceremony may go on forever. There may be a cash bar. Maybe the meal doesn’t have any gluten-free options. And maybe you really wanted to bring a date, but didn’t get a plus-one. But no matter what the situation is, don’t complain. There may be very good reasons for these choices, so just grin and bear it, and allow the couple to have a wonderful, guilt-free time. It’s their day.
Shake Your Moneymaker
There’s no sadder scene at a wedding reception than an empty dance floor. If the couple has paid for a band or DJ and no one’s out there partying, be a great wedding guest and go cut a rug. Normally it just takes a few guests on the dance floor to get more people out there. The couple will appreciate this effort. Be sure to also participate in wedding traditions like the bouquet toss or the garter throw, or watching the cutting of the cake. If something’s going on, be there for it.
Don’t Ask the Couple for Anything
It doesn’t matter what you need or how badly you need it: do not ask the wedding couple for anything. Even if the groom was supposed to bring the $500 he owes you, don’t ask for it on his wedding day. If you want the bride to snap a quick photo of you with your dad, don’t. If you need the number of the groom’s cute cousin, get it from someone else. Just don’t bother the couple—they have quite enough on their minds!
Wait to Drink the Champagne
When you get to the reception hall and you’re seated at the dinner table, most of the time there will be a half-filled glass of champagne waiting for you. This is for the toasts, so don’t begin sipping it yet (as tempting as that may be). The rule is one sip per toast, so make it last! You don’t want to toast the newlyweds with an empty champagne glass.
Let Them Know About Cancellations
Whatever the reason, there may be a situation that happens that causes you to have to miss the wedding. If this happens, be sure to let someone know. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the couple—it could be the wedding planner, the maid of honor, or a parent of the couple. It may sound silly, but they may be able to ask someone last-minute to attend if they know you can’t make it.
Feeling ready to be the ultimate wedding guest now? Hopefully this list shed some light on a few areas you may not have considered before. No matter what, just do your best to help the couple have a wonderful wedding day. Have fun and good luck!
Great post. Very informative. It was about time someone wrote about guest etiquette, what to do, and what not to do. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Lillian, thanks for the kind words!