7 Wedding Etiquette Rules You Should Never Break

A group of wedding guests at a reception.

While there is definitely some leeway when it comes to forgoing some traditional wedding etiquette rules (i.e., you definitely don’t need to have the same number of bridesmaids to groomsmen) there are still some that you just can not break. So whether you’re the bride or a wedding party member or guest and you’re wondering which etiquette rules are a must, you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven wedding etiquette rules you can’t break. Not even a little bit.

1. You Must RSVP

Yes, life sometimes gets in the way. Whether it’s kids or work or the dog eating the homework, there’s usually something going on that distracts you from sending in your RSVP. However, this is a non-negotiable when it comes to wedding etiquette. Nothing is more frustrating for a couple than not knowing who is or isn’t coming to their wedding. Knowing the number of wedding guests is imperative to planning, and the sooner they know, the better (and more stress-free) they will be. So be a friend, and RSVP as soon as possible. If you’re a close friend of the bride or groom and need a bit more time to figure out your schedule, let them know that you’ve acknowledged the invitation and give them a deadline regarding when you will let them know about your attendance.

2. Adhere to the Dress Code

A group of weddding guests toasting with champagne.

Unless the bride and groom specify that casual dress is okay, you must assume that running shoes and jeans are a big no-no. Don’t have super fancy clothes? Even business casual dress attire is better than nothing. Another important thing to remember? Guests should never wear white to a wedding. More than likely, the bride will be wearing a beautiful white wedding gown and it’s in poor taste to wear the same shade as her. It’s her night to shine, after all.

3. Be Clear About Plus Ones

This is a good rule of thumb for both the couple and the guests to follow. If you’re the bride and groom, it’s imperative to be clear about what a “plus one” means. Are you allowing only significant others as plus ones, or can your guests bring a date? If you know who your guest’s plus one would be (such as a long-term partner) it’s a nice touch to add their name onto the invitation rather than “guest.” As for guests, remember that weddings are expensive. If you’re not in a serious relationship, it’s best to fly solo to the wedding. If you really want to bring a date, run it by the bride and groom first. It’s considered rude to show up with a date unexpectedly.

4. Be Conscientious of Your Wedding Party’s Budget

Three bridesmaids wearing neutral-colored dresses.

As the bride and groom, it’s important to be aware that weddings are expensive for everyone, including your wedding party. While this is supposed to be your big day, it’s going to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth if you disregard the finances of your loved ones, especially when they’ve agreed to be part of the celebration. Choose attire that is within everyone’s budget and don’t be over the top with demands. Be a good friend, and let the day be a special memory for everyone.

5. Register for Gifts at Every Price Point

If you’re going to have a wedding gift registry, then the best and most thoughtful thing you can do is to ask for gifts that can reasonably fit within everyone’s budget. Your guests are typically happy to give you something special for your new life, which is why you want to make it easy for them with having gifts at every price point, from $10 to $100. It looks really bad if you’re only registered for the super expensive gifts. You definitely don’t want your friends to break the budget over that new china you’re only going to use once a year.

6. Bring a Gift

A selection of small wrapped gift boxes.

Speaking of gifts, if you’re a guest, bringing a gift is pretty much mandatory unless it was otherwise specified that the couple doesn’t want any. It’s a thoughtful way to express your gratitude for being part of their big day as well as a nice token to send them off into their new marriage. Keep in mind there are no rules when it comes to the actual gift that you bring. You can definitely choose something from the couple’s registry or you can give them something a bit more personal. As always, gift what you can afford.

7. Send Thank You Cards

Yes, more snail mail. But this is a must for couples to send if they’ve received a wedding gift from a guest. You typically have a year to send a thank you card, which is more than enough time to offer your gratitude. Your guest will really appreciate the sentiment, so it’s definitely worth the postage.

No one really likes rules, but sometimes they’re in place for a reason. As the above rules suggest, following them will not only honor everyone’s feelings, but the wedding has a greater chance of going off without a hitch.

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