Wedding Guest Etiquette – Some helpful Do’s and Don’ts

Wedding Guest Etiquette – Some helpful Do’s and Don’ts

Wedding Guest Etiquette – Some helpful Do’s and Don’ts


Adding guest etiquette blog - JB Moments PhotographyI seem to be writing a lot about weddings at the moment…I guess it is the wedding season. As a guest it can be a bit of a minefield. When I was researching this blog there was SO MUCH advice! The good news is that I have read through the good, the bad and the downright ridiculous articles to whittle it down to the ones that most of the ‘experts’ agree on.

Do RSVP – it’s NOT optional

This is something everybody agreed on. I get it…you can barely get out of bed without multiple reminders, let alone be expected to send a reply card via snail mail within four weeks of receiving a formal invitation. Nevertheless, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And when it comes to letting people know whether you’ll be attending their nuptials, you ought to summon the will. Don’t be the person who waits until the last minute (or lets the deadline pass altogether) for no good reason.

Many details of a wedding depend on having a final headcount, and once the invitations go out, the couple will desperately be trying to finalise their guest list, make seating charts, and even invite other people to fill spots if some people decline. Don’t add to the chaos by making them follow up with you because you couldn’t get your s**t together. They’re spending a lot of money, time, and effort on this thing; show them the respect of responding to their invitation within the requested time period.

Don’t assume you can bring a Plus-one

In an ideal world, in which venue capacity and money are no object, the couple might be happy to have your bestie, or your new Tinder match, or your upstairs neighbour, or even your pet cat tag along to their wedding. But that is not the world we live in. If you weren’t invited to bring a guest, there’s a reason. The couple may be trying to save money, or there may be limited space at the venue. Or maybe they’re just trying to minimise the number of strangers with whom they share this personal event. Either way, asking to bring an uninvited guest puts them in a very uncomfortable position.  As Refinery 29 put it, “If not bringing a guest presents an insurmountable dilemma for you, then politely decline to attend — and be glad you don’t have to shell out for a gift or a new outfit”.

Do remember who the day is about

Sorry, but it’s not you. Take the couple’s lead and respect that this one day is entirely about them.  As Brides Magazine says, “Yes, you may have to wait an hour while they have photos taken or queue for a while in the receiving line. But it’s totally worth it seeing your best mates tie the knot, right?”

Don’t post it on Social Media…yet

Imagine if the first photograph you saw of your big day was a blurry, unflattering camera-phone snap that popped up on somebody else’s Facebook feed. Not cool. Always let the bride and groom post the first picture and take their lead on what is shared. There’s a growing trend for couples requesting that their ceremony be ‘unplugged’. And even if they don’t, most brides would prefer to see your face as they walk down the aisle, not your flamingo-print phone case. In contrast, if they have a wedding hashtag, you’ll know about it, so share the love. Read more on this at Marie Claire along with some great advice about what to wear (hint – not white and floor length unless you are the bride to be!) 

Do be on time

Fashionably late? Not in this case! Only the bride is allowed to be late – to make her grand entrance all the grander (and maybe to give the groom those five minutes of doubt: is she or isn’t she?) Other than that- everyone is required to be on time. This is a very grand occasion (even if it’s a BBQ at her parents’ allotment) – timekeeping is a sign of respect.

Don’t ask the Bride or Groom loads of last minute questions

The invitation provided you with all the important information: the whens, wheres, whats, and in most cases, the what-to-wears. So when you text the bride the night before her wedding asking what time you should be there, or whether it’s black-tie, she’s going to be justifiably annoyed. In the event that there really was crucial information missing from the invitation or wedding website, consider asking someone else — a family member, another guest, or a member of the wedding party.

Do remember your manners

Make your mama proud! Remember to respect the bride and grooms parents and congratulate the family on the joyous union. You might not like sugared almonds/shots/tablet/whiskey but the couple have put a lot of thought into the wedding favours so take it with you (you can dispose of it later – just don’t leave it on the table)! Finally, you may find guest books cheesy and be too cool for school but the day will be a blur for the Bride and Groom and this will be a nice reminder for them of who was there.

Don’t forget to Party

The Bride and Groom want you to have a good time so party like it’s 1999! Dad dance, make new friends and gorge on cake. Enjoy yourself.

Finally…do stay out of the Photographers way

Got to thank  Glamour magazine for this one! The happy couple have probably invested quite a lot of cash in their wedding photographer and you getting in the way with your smart phone will delay them and might mean they don’t get all the shots the couple were after. Resist the urge to photobomb!