10 wedding guest DOs and DON’Ts


Whether this is the first wedding you have been invited to, or this is your seventh one in the past year, it is important to remember that as a guest there are some etiquette guidelines that remain steadfast and you should remember to follow.

It’s true that modern weddings are a lot more bespoke, often laid back and do away with a lot of traditions that our parents and grandparents included as that was what was expected. But a little common sense and manners go a long way when you have been fortunate enough to be invited to share a couple’s special day.

Here are some wedding guest DOs and DON’Ts to follow to be the perfect wedding guest.

DO RSVP in a timely manner

The beautiful invitation has arrived in the mail and you have three weeks to confirm your attendance. Avoid the temptation to put it aside and risk it being buried underneath a stack of other paperwork if you already know if you will or won’t be attending.
RSVPs are not just about the couple having a collection of cute cards with the names of their guests on them, they are also an important strategic wedding planning tool as suppliers need to know the number of guests attending a wedding weeks out from the event to adequately plan for food, drinks, and table placements.

DON’T assume you have a plus one

You may be single or newly dating, but if the wedding invitation arrives and it only has your name on it, do not take the liberty of inviting someone to accompany you.

Couples are usually on a strict budget and even one unexpected guest showing up can blow out their budget by a couple of hundred dollars by the time you add in their foot, an extra table setting, wedding favour, and other elements.

It is best not to even approach the couple to request your new love join you, as this will place them in an uncomfortable position. It is just one day after all, so respect their wishes.

The same applies to children. If the invitation does not expressly include the word ‘family’ or name each of the members of your family, the couple have decided to go kid-free so it’s best to start making arrangements for a babysitter.

DO be on time

Weddings can, and often do, run late. But the only person that has a green pass to be as late as they want is the bride.
Guests should plan to be at the ceremony 20 minutes to half an hour earlier than the ceremony start time on the invitations. This will allow a buffer for any traffic hiccups, last-minute petrol station visits and trying to find a car park at the venue.
If the worst becomes a reality and you arrive after the ceremony has begun, keep a low profile at the back of the venue and don’t scurry around trying to find a seat, your disturbance will be noticed and might upset the couple about to be married.

DON’T bring a large gift to the wedding

It can look impressive to lug in the largest box and place it onto the gift table, where it towers above the rest. But it could pose a logistical nightmare for the person who is responsible for collecting the newlywed’s gifts and other reception keepsakes at the end of the reception.

If it is a gift you have ordered online, you can consider having it sent directly to the couple’s home, or you can leave a card on the gift table and let the couple know you will drop the gift by before they head off on their honeymoon or when they return.

DO adhere to the dress code

If the couple has asked you to wear something yellow, do everything in your power to respect their wishes. It doesn’t mean you have to turn up looking like a buttercup, but simply adding a yellow belt to a men’s suit or a yellow headpiece to your outfit will show that you have made an effort.
Where the dress code is much more generic, follow the request to ensure you don’t end up being the odd one out who is either totally under-dressed or looks like they are ready for the red carpet when everyone else is in much more casual attire. Dress codes are included on invitations so you can avoid these kinds of embarrassing situations.

Also, keep the venue in mind. You don’t want to wear killer stiletto heels in a garden setting, where you will be sinking into the turf all day.

DON’T wear white

Even if the bride herself is going left-of-center and has chosen a hot pink gown to wear – no guests should wear white or shades of light ivory.

DO congratulate the family

You may have only ever seen the couple’s parents sitting quietly in the corner of a birthday celebration five years ago, or never have met them at all, but it is respectful to seek them out and introduce yourself to them during the wedding.

If their names were on the invitation as the hosts of the wedding, this is your opportunity to thank them and tell them how much you enjoyed the celebration.

DON’T forget to turn off your phone

No one wants to hear a muffled version of the Crazy Frog emanating from the middle of the ceremony venue right when the couple are exchanging their emotional vows – Don’t be that person!
Not only are phones a ringtone hazard, but more and more couples want a ‘switched-off’ wedding, where they can look out at their guests and see their faces rather than dozens of phones and the backs of iPads trying to get photos of them to post onto social media.

The rules are somewhat more relaxed when it comes to reception time, but phones are a definite no-no during the ceremony.

DO shake your groove thing

Many couples spring for a DJ or live entertainment of some form to create a real party atmosphere once the official segments of the reception are complete and there is nothing worse than seeing an empty dance floor when you have gone to all of that effort.

It may be early in the evening, but get on your feet, mingle with friends, and meet new people on the dance floor and have a good time. It really will lift the atmosphere and the newlyweds will relax when they see people having a good time and not sitting static in their seats.

DON’T get wasted

Open bars are a great perk of weddings, but do not abuse the privilege. Pace yourself, drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol and make sure you eat so that you don’t be that person who throws up and makes a fool of themselves. It is a sure-fire way to be remembered for all of the wrong reasons and can take the shine off the day for the newlyweds.

Discover wedding inspiration from real newlyweds! 


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