Wedding Guest Etiquette

by Kristina Domitrovich

1. Don’t assume you can bring a plus one

If your invitation did not specify “and guest,” by no means are you to bring a date. There’s so much time, money, effort and energy that goes into planning a wedding – and the headcount plays a huge role in every step of the process. 

2. RSVP, and RSVP the way the couple has requested

If the invite gives you a website link to RSVP, use the link. If there’s an RSVP card, return it in the mail. Do not text the bride your RSVP, and do not tell her in person. First off, it’s rude; but it’s also too much to keep track of, especially on top of everything else going on.  RSVP however they request (yes, even if you’re a family member), and do so within the time frame they have specified.

3. Send your gifts ahead of time

Most of the time, once the bride and groom leave, the family and wedding party stay behind to clean up. After a very momentous day in their lives, too, the last thing these people want to do is pack up your gifts. Wedding registries allow you to ship the gifts to an address the couple has specified – ship your gifts directly to them, and bring a card to the wedding if you’re hung up on being empty handed.

4. Speaking of gifts, buy off the registry

Here’s the thing, sure, cousin Ed crafts beautifully made mailboxes, but unless it’s on the registry, odds are the couple isn’t as pumped to receive it as you are to give it. If you hate everything on the registry – or if you waited too long and all your price-range options are already taken – cash/gift cards are totally fine. 

5. Be on time

There’s a difference between being on time and being too early. Don’t show up 30 minutes early. Don’t show up 5 minutes late. Weddings start on time, so be a stickler about the clock.

6. Sign the guest book

There’s so much going on for the happy couple on their big day. Looking back, they would love to reminisce about who was there to share their big day with them – even if they won’t remember immediately.

7. Let the photographers do their job

First off, don’t use your phone’s flash, but especially not during the ceremony. During the ceremony, you should probably just put it away entirely. Don’t poke your arm into the aisle or above your seat to snap a quick pic – you never know what shot the photographer is trying to get, and your hand and phone might just ruin it entirely. While you’re minding your p’s and q’s, don’t tell the photographer what you think they should take a photo of (“You have to get them in front of that window”), and don’t photobomb. If you want a photo with the happy couple, feel free to simply ask the photographer to take it – that’s what they’re paid for, after all.

8. Don’t track down the bride before the ceremony

This one goes beyond just letting her enjoy her day in peace – don’t try to sneak a peak to gawk at the bride before the ceremony. Walking down the aisle serves as a big reveal, one the bride has likely been looking forward to for months, and trying to see her in her dress beforehand can be a bit of a bummer.

9. If the invite says “Adults only,” find a sitter

Odds are, the couple went back and forth on specifying this to begin with, so if it made it onto the invite, be respectful of their wishes. If you bring little Susie anyways, then cousin Cynthia is going to wonder what’s so horrible about her little Johnny that he wasn’t allowed to attend. Before you know it, you accidentally stirred up a whole family issue of picking favorites in a game of “whose kid is worse” that could have been completely avoided. It’s nothing personal, so save everyone’s feelings and leave the little tots behind.

Obvious facts: 

  • Don’t wear white 
  • Turn your phone off or put it on do not disturb
  • Don’t get wasted & take bottles from the bar

Bonus: If you attend the shower, don’t give lingerie unless it’s a lingerie shower

Everyone loves lingerie showers, and they are very fun; but there’s nothing more embarrassing for an unexpecting bride than having to whip a teddy out of a gift bag in front of her flower girls, future mother-in-law, grandmother or, perhaps worst of all, her longtime church friends. Buy off the registry, bring the platter or towels, but do not bring lingerie.

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