A Guide to Exemplary Wedding Guest Etiquette

As engagement season approaches, wedding invitations begin to flood the US postal service once again. While you fill out your RSVP cards and send them back to your loved ones, your friends here at Conklyn’s Weddings & Events want to remind you of a few wedding etiquette rules to keep in mind as you prepare for your attendance. From inviting a plus-one to choosing the perfect outfit and enjoying the open bar to sending a gift, this guide will answer all of your questions and ensure you are an A+ guest.

Couple holding hands

Don’t Assume a Plus-One

Once you receive a wedding invitation, it is of the utmost importance that you read each detail carefully without making assumptions. For instance, some couples prefer their guests do not bring a plus-one to the wedding. Whatever the reason, as a guest, it is your duty to respect the couple’s wishes for their big day. If your wedding invitation neglects to say “and guest,” then the couple is requesting only your presence for their big day.

Woman picking out a tan dress

Dress Up

Weddings are typically formal events, and you can often tell the extent of the formality based on the wedding invitation. Some couples explicitly state their dress code, such as black-tie, semi-formal, or ask guests to wear a particular color. If you are unsure which type of wedding attire is appropriate, it is always best to dress as you would for a classy social event held in that season and time of day, or simply ask the couple. As a rule of thumb, dress pants, suits, and cocktail dresses are best. You also may want to stay away from the color white, including off-white and ivory, as well as casual attire like jeans and shorts.

Wedding guest taking photos of couple during ceremony

Unplug During the Ceremony

One of the leading wedding etiquette rules to follow is being mindful of your cell phone, especially during the ceremony. Ensure your phone is in silent mode or shut entirely off so that you do not disturb other guests or the couple getting married. If you must make a phone call or answer a text message, do so outside. Not only is it rude to turn your attention away from the couple, but if they have hired a videographer, you may also be caught on camera using your phone. Finally, while it is nice to capture the memory of the couple getting married, it is crucial to stay clear of the aisle, remain seated, and keep your flash off. This way, the photographer that the couple has hired can safely and adequately do their job.

Wedding guest holding a glass of champagne during ceremony

Respect the Open Bar

Weddings are supposed to be fun for both the couple and their guests, and sometimes an open bar can get the party started. Even so, you should be respectful as you are still at a formal event. If the couple has opened the bar before the ceremony, it is appropriate to order a drink before taking your seat. However, just take one, leave a small tip, and try not to sip too much during the ceremony. If the couple shuts down the bar during speeches and first dances, please respect their wishes and respect the bartenders. Simply take your seat, be present during these moments, and then return to the bar once it is open again.

Wedding card box at reception

Send a Gift or Bring a Card

Traditionally, guests have one year to send a wedding gift after the event. However, make it easier on yourself and begin shopping as soon as possible. Whether the couple includes their wedding registry on the invitation or offers a link to their wedding website, do not feel obligated to purchase an item from their list if you have something else in mind. Once purchased, send your gift to the address listed on the wedding invitation. That way, you nor the bride or groom need to worry about handling the gift on their wedding day. Cards are a little easier to handle on a wedding day, and most likely, the couple will have a designated card box or table.

Wedding guests dancing

Dance and Have Fun!

Brides and grooms want nothing more on their wedding day than to see all of their friends and loved ones having a wonderful time and enjoying the little details they put into their day. After dinner, be sure to hit the dancefloor and participate in any other celebratory events, moments, or games that the couple has planned. After months or perhaps years of planning their wedding, it is time to help the bride and groom enjoy their special day.

The top three things to remember when attending a wedding are being polite, respectful, and enjoyable, just as you would act at any other event, party, dinner, or gathering. It’s that simple! Before you decide to head out, make sure the cake has been cut and no other ceremonial traditions are planned. Then, track down the couple’s immediate family for a final goodbye as well as the happy couple themselves to share your well-wishes and thank them for a beautiful and fun day. For more wedding tips and advice, consult the experts here at Conklyn’s Weddings & Events.