If you’ve recently been invited to a wedding, you know what to expect: dressing up in your finest formal outfit, meeting several people, mostly family and friends of the bride and groom, eating amazing food, and pulling out the dance moves in the party afterward.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that don’t know proper wedding etiquette causing unnecessary stress to the couple and other guests. While it’s definitely a joyous occasion, you would do well to understand what are the general wedding day dos and don’ts at a wedding ceremony and reception. Make sure you mind the following, and you’ll be a perfect wedding guest.
1. Do Not Treat the Couple like Travel Agents
If you need hotel accommodations or transportation to the wedding, it is your responsibility to secure those. Don’t expect the couple to book accommodations for you or secure your travel arrangements. The first thing you should check is the wedding invitation, or check if they have a wedding website or Facebook page for updates.
The couple will usually include information related to traveling to the wedding and reception venue, hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests, and parking areas. This should be enough to help you figure the rest out with a bit more research. Check into a spectacular hotel that will make you enjoy your stay, and make sure you book early to avoid mistakes or end up not being able to find a place to stay.
2. Do Not Wear White
While certain white attires really make most people look absolutely stunning, you want to avoid wearing white when you go to this wedding. White is reserved for the bride, whether she chooses to wear it or not. Unless the invitation explicitly includes white in the dress code, generally, female guests need to skip on their white dresses. Go for the color motif or pastel shades. Let’s give this day to the bride, and let her shine as she deserves it.
3. Do Not Disregard the Dress Code
Following the "don’t-wear-white "rule, is following the actual dress code that comes with your wedding invitation. Your invitation usually includes this. To all the weddings we’ve been in, it’s probably one of the first things the couple or the wedding coordinators make sure is included. You’ll either be told it’s a ‘Black Tie’ wedding, or formal or semi-formal. You might even get one that’s a ‘White Party’. Then, and only then, can you wear white to a wedding? Otherwise, stick to the dress code.
4. Do Not Forget to RSVP
While at some point you might feel that you’re just a lowly wedding guest and that the couple would not even notice if you didn’t go, it’s actually quite the opposite. The fact that you received an invitation to the wedding means one thing: you were one of the selected few they are willing to pay dinner for and join them in celebrating their union. If you can’t make the wedding, don’t assume that it is understood if you do not RSVP. Save the couple the trouble of having to do guesswork, and let them know by the deadline if you are able to make it or not.
5. Do Not Bring a Plus-One if You Weren’t Offered One
If your invitation does not indicate that you may bring a plus one, then no, you may not bring a plus one. Most wedding invitations will indicate how many seats are reserved for you or will indicate if you have a plus one. This helps the bride and groom budget for an exact number of guests. If you happen to be one of those several guests that bring an uninvited plus-one, you’ll either have to send them home or skip the reception altogether -- and who wants that?
6. Do Not Show Up Late
It should go without saying that you should never show up late to the wedding, most especially if it is the wedding ceremony. Not only is it very disrespectful to the bride and groom, but your late entrance might also come in an untimely manner where the marriage officiant asks the congregation to ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’, and you can only imagine what might happen next.
On a serious note, most wedding ceremonies impose a strict schedule and will close doors once the ceremony has started. If you arrive late, you won’t be allowed inside until a certain time when it is less disruptive for the ceremony, so unless you want to be left standing outside, arrive early.
7. Do Not Post Photos of the Bride on Social Media
In current times, you need to consider social media etiquette when you are attending weddings. If the groom cannot see the bride before the ceremony, then neither should the rest of the world. Don’t ruin the element of surprise for the bride by leaking photos online.
It’s fine to snap photos for your Instagram account after the wedding is over, and at the reception, especially if it’s included in one of the wedding reception games. But no matter how excited you are to show the rest of the world this wedding you’ve been invited to, please wait until after the ceremony is completely over.
8. Do Not Switch Seats
If you happen to be in an unfortunate situation where you are seated at a table with other guests you don’t know, or guests you know but have nothing in common with, it can be an uncomfortable dinner. Unfortunately, if you do switch seats, you’ll actually cause problems for everyone including the seat monitor. Remember, the bride and groom, and possibly other members of their family took a lot of time figuring out a wedding seating chart so that you can still enjoy the reception. Now if this ever happens, you have the option to move around, after dinner, where you can walk around, mingle with your friends at other tables, or spend the night dancing.
9. Do Not Make Spontaneous Toasts
If you are given the task of giving a toast, do not wing it. The bride and groom -- and the entire wedding party -- will be looking forward to what you have to say to the bride and groom. Plus, you can expect that this will be captured on video, so make sure you prepare for your speech and have it reviewed -- yes, reviewed -- by the bride or groom to ensure that there aren’t any unwanted surprises.
On the other hand, if you are not given this task, do not try to upstage the best man or steal the show with a spontaneous toast. The weakest thing that can happen is you’ll suddenly get tongue-tied and you’ll end up spouting a funny blurb that the guests might have a laugh at -- or worse, you can end up saying something that will totally embarrass the bride or groom, or both. Don’t do it.
10. Do Not Take Photos or Videos During the Ceremony
Listen to the unplugged wedding signs if they are there! There is a reason why the couple is paying for a photographer and videographer. They want professional shots of the best moments of their lives and their guests.
They certainly won’t want their album to look like it’s been riddled with paparazzi unless that’s totally a look they’re going for. But when you are there, enjoy the ceremony. Keep your phone away. Besides, getting shots of the bride and groom’s backs won’t really make much in your photo gallery.
11. Do Not Bother the Bride or Groom
No matter what, under all circumstances, you are not to bother either the bride or the groom. Let them enjoy their peace and let them focus on their special day. Save any important wedding questions for the family members or wedding coordinators assigned to handle any concerns that the guests or members of the wedding party might have.
Kara has been with Wedding Favors Unlimited for 2 years. She’s been giving wedding and style advice for the past 5 years from bridal magazines to bridal boutiques. Feel free to ask Kara a question below!
What's on This Page
- 1. Do Not Treat the Couple like Travel Agents
- 2. Do Not Wear White
- 3. Do Not Disregard the Dress Code
- 4. Do Not Forget to RSVP
- 5. Do Not Bring a Plus-One if You Weren’t Offered One
- 6. Do Not Show Up Late
- 7. Do Not Post Photos of the Bride on Social Media
- 8. Do Not Switch Seats
- 9. Do Not Make Spontaneous Toasts
- 10. Do Not Take Photos or Videos During the Ceremony
- 11. Do Not Bother the Bride or Groom