The 7 Deadly Sins of Guest Etiquette
Follow our tips to wedding etiquette so you don’t end up making a guest gaffe.
Put your best foot forward as soon as you’re officially invited. The first step in the long process leading up to the wedding is to make a decision about going (especially for destination weddings) and return the card as soon as possible. Most RSVP cards have a deadline date -- never return the card late or not at all! Take careful note of whose name is on the card. Unless the card specifically says “and guest,” you may not bring a date, and don’t ask to bring one either; this applies to prewedding parties as well. The bride and groom worked hard on the guest list and didn’t leave anyone off by mistake.
Showers, rehearsal dinners, and bachelor/bachelorette parties are filled with excitement, but don’t get too carried away. Even if the rules are slightly more lax, you should still be on your best behavior. Don’t reveal anything inappropriate about the bride or groom in front of friends and family. Just because you think it’s funny, it doesn’t mean that others will. Never ask the bride if you can try on her engagement ring; it’s a special token that means a lot to her, and your request could come off as rude or just plain tacky.
The ceremony is the most important part of the wedding. While the bride and groom are exchanging their vows, there shouldn’t be any disruptions. Don’t text on your phone or talk to the person next you, and if you find yourself in the middle of a coughing fit or sneezing attack, leave the premises immediately. You should always arrive on time, and if you’re late, stand in the back so you don’t interrupt the ceremony. Most importantly, never skip the ceremony and then attend the reception.
It’s okay to let loose at the reception…within reason. Don’t take advantage of an open bar and drink too much. This can only lead to further disasters like X-rated dancing, giving an impromptu drunken toast, or worse. Pace yourself throughout the night and remember to eat, dance, and have fun -- minus any horrifying gaffes.
Following a wedding dress code can be complicated, but there are a few rules to which you should always adhere. Under no circumstances should you wear any variation of white -- including ivory or cream. You don’t want to take any attention away from the bride by donning a similar color. Also, don’t come underdressed or wear something too revealing. When in doubt, opt for a simple knee-length cocktail dress unless otherwise stated on the invitation. Avoid dresses that are too short, tight, or low-cut.
Although you already bought the couple a shower gift, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from giving a wedding present. Guests should give a wedding gift regardless if they attend or not. If you do attend the wedding, don’t bring the present with you; instead, ship it to the couple’s home. When choosing a gift, always use their registry -- it’s there for a reason.
Whether you’re flying just outside the US or halfway around the world, there are a few things to keep in mind when attending a destination wedding. Always be prepared. Have your passport, ID, plane tickets, hotel confirmation, money, prescriptions, and toiletries (make sure they’re packed in FAA-approved containers). Secondly, don’t complain about the destination or the price of the trip. Calculate how much it’ll cost you, leaving room for emergencies, and decide whether it’s feasible. If you do decide to attend, have fun and stay within budget.