Avoid These 17 Wedding Guest Etiquette No-No’s

Some people love attending weddings—free food, dancing, friends, and family all coming together. Others, not so much. Regardless of how you feel about them, you’re bound to get invited to a wedding every now and then.

The bride and groom have enough on their plate in the weeks leading up to, as well as the day of, their wedding; they really shouldn’t have to worry about how their guests are going to behave on top of everything else. So if your social calendar has weddings on it, consider these few things before attending.

1. Forget to RSVP

There’s a reason invitations request those planning to attend the wedding to RSVP by a certain date. The happy couple needs to know who is going and how many people there will be in total so they can plan out the menu, seating chart, and more. The best way to RSVP is to follow the instructions sent with the invitation, which could be sending an email, calling, or sending the RSVP card through the mail.

2. Unexpected Plus One

For the same reason you should RSVP, you shouldn’t bring an unexpected plus one. First, make sure bringing a plus one is even an option. If it is, be sure to include that on your RSVP card when you send it in.

Sitting children dressed as a bride and groom

3. Bring Your Children When They’re Not Invited

Some people don’t want any children at their wedding. This will most likely be specified on the invitation, and if it is, definitely do not do it. If it isn’t specified whether or not children are welcome, make sure you ask well in advance. And don’t take offense if your little tykes aren’t invited, as it most certainly isn’t anything personal against you or your children; some people just prefer having “adult-only” weddings.

4. Skip the Ceremony

Unless you have a really good reason, you shouldn’t skip the ceremony and only attend the reception. The whole point of being invited to a wedding is to watch the couple get married, not just party with them afterwards.

5. Show Up Too Early

As a guest you should aim to be there about half an hour early, sometimes even a little bit earlier than that. Realistically, though, try to be there at the time written on the invitation. That time was carefully and strategically planned. Don’t arrive too early, because other than having to wait around for a long time, they might still be setting up.

6. Show Up Late

Don’t show up too late either. A lot of people use the excuse that ceremonies never start on time, but a lot actually do. Coming late will be disruptive and is very rude, and you risk the chance of having to miss the entire ceremony.

bored woman texting on phone

7. Social Media Posts

There’s a time and place to update your Twitter or Instagram, and in the middle of a wedding ceremony is not one of them. While a lot of couples do offer a hashtag their guests can use when posting about their wedding on social media, consider what you’re posting and when you’re posting it. Don’t post unflattering or embarrassing pictures of people, don’t post pictures of the bride before she walks down the aisle and don’t spend more time posting online than actually being present. And remember, some couples would prefer that no pictures of the wedding are posted at all, and you should respect that.

8. Be On Your Phone the Whole Time

That being said, you should also avoid being on your phone the whole time. Whether you’re busy adding pictures to your new Facebook album or simply texting a friend, save it for another time, like after the wedding.

9. Complain to the Bride and Groom

It’s never appropriate to complain to the bride or groom about their wedding. Not before, not during, and not after. If you don’t agree with their decor or choice in music, keep it to yourself. This day isn’t about you. If there’s a mishap or an accident that takes place, don’t complain then either. The bride and groom are probably doing their best to keep it together as it is.

10. Get in the Photographers Way

Everyone’s a photographer now with their own DSLR cameras and smartphones at the ready. While the bride and groom may be thankful to have some extra shots of their special day, do not get in the way of their hired professional.

11. Share Dietary Restrictions at Reception

This should have been done well in advance, most likely on your RSVP card. If you get to the reception and notice there isn’t much selection for you because of a dietary restriction you forgot to mention, or perhaps they weren’t able to cater to, bringing it up at the reception is not ideal. Do your best to find something you can enjoy rather than complaining when there’s nothing they can do.

12. Make A Surprise Toast

Chances are the bride and groom have already selected a few people they want to make toasts at the wedding. Do not try to take over the microphone and make a surprise toast.

drunken couple at a wedding

13. Drink Too Much

Drinking can be a lot of fun, when it’s done responsibly. Drinking too much at a wedding reception is definitely not responsible and it’s a big no-no. If you’re at a wedding that has an open-bar (or not), try to control yourself and pace yourself throughout the night to avoid any embarrassing or disruptive behavior.

14. Ignore the Dress Code

It can be safely assumed that most weddings are formal, and therefore require formal attire. However, a specific dress code might be noted on the invitation. If that is the case, you should be respectful and follow that rather than ignore it.

15. Wear White

No matter what the dress code is, never wear white to a wedding unless you are the bride.

16. Ignore the Registry

Some couples may choose to create a gift registry, which can be super organized and helpful for any guests who want to select a gift that the couple will like or need. Stick to it when selecting a gift for them. However, if you would rather give something more sentimental, that should be fine, but don’t pick something that is not on the registry just because you think it’s better than what is listed. A good registry should offer a variety of items in various price ranges and types, so you should be able to find something to give them that you are comfortable with.

17. Bring the Gift

Once you’ve decided on a gift, should you bring it to the wedding or mail it directly to the couple’s home? It used to be quite common for guests to bring their wedding gifts with them to the ceremony or reception. However, it’s becoming more common now to mail it to them, or if you purchased it online, have it sent directly to them. If you’re unsure you can always ask. If you choose to send a gift, the proper time to send it is between three months before and three months after.

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