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Weddings

July 8, 2020

You’re Invited – Now what? Wedding Guest Etiquette

I don’t know about you – but being a guest at a wedding is fun! Maybe I love it a little extra because as a wedding planner I am usually working the wedding instead of enjoying it, but who wouldn’t love a night of celebrating their friends and family, free food and alcohol and just having a good time?!

However, a lot of people may not know that there are certain etiquette rules that you should follow as a guest of a wedding. With my background in wedding planning, I thought I would share some of the most important.

Rad Red Creative
  • Don’t assume you have a plus one. Whoever is listed on the invitation is who is invited. If the invitation says your name “and guest” that means you have a plus one or if there is a specific person accompanying your name, that is who is invited. Never assume you have a plus one. Brides and grooms are paying per person for many things at their wedding and a lot of thought goes into the plus one decisions.
  • Send your RSVP back correctly. First of all, if you receive an RSVP card in the mail – it is meant for it to be returned… Don’t ignore it. Second, make sure you put your name on the RSVP if it isn’t already listed. Sometimes guests forget to put their names and the couple has to figure out who it belongs to. Make sure to check if you are going to be there or not and if there is a meal selection option, make sure to actually provide your selections! You’d be surprised how many RSVP cards we get back that are not filled out correctly – so just take your time when filling these out and make sure you put everything that is needed.
  • Dress the part. Many invitations will state what the dress code will be and it is not a suggestion, it is a request. You should follow that dress code. So, if it says black tie attire, you need to be dressed to the 9’s. IF there is not a dress code listed, it is best etiquette to assume that you should dress in business casual attire. Ladies, that means a dress or nice pants and blouse. Fellas, that means slacks or khakis and a button up or nice polo.
Jenn Guthrie Photography
  • Kids at weddings: if they were listed on your invitation, they are invited, if they weren’t, they are not invited. Respect that request! If your children are invited to your wedding, then there are also a couple of things to keep in mind. If your child is being loud during the ceremony (which hey, they are kids, it is okay) but you should quietly remove them from the room. It can be very distracting during a ceremony and often times the ceremony is being filmed. Next, keep an eye on your children throughout the entire wedding. Don’t let your kids run off without having someone looking after them – many times have kids accidentally bumped into DJ equipment or been too close to the bride and groom during toasts and are distracting the crowd, etc.
  • Let the couple eat dinner. It is not uncommon for guests to find dinner a great time to go and say congratulations to the bride and groom (and you aren’t wrong), but wait just a bit until you know that they have had a moment to get some food in their bellies. Also, many brides and grooms will stop by their guest tables to say hi to everyone!
  • It is appropriate to leave after cake cutting or dessert, if desired. If you don’t plan to or can’t stay the whole evening, that is quite alright. It is common etiquette that the cake cutting or dessert serving is the signal that it is okay to leave if you need to. This typically happens fairly early in the wedding festivities (usually right after dinner or shortly into the open dance floor).
Vine and Light Photography

  • During the ceremony, put those cell phones down. I repeat, put those cell phones down. They hired a professional photographer, so they will have all the photos they need and want of their ceremony – but what looks really bad in photos is a bunch of cell phones hanging over the aisles. Also, if you are snapping a photo because you want to share it on your instagram story, don’t do that either. Typically the bride and groom don’t want the first public photo of their ceremony being a blurry photo taken from row 10 at a wedding.
  • Respect the couples decisions. Many times I have guests come up to me and ask things like “are they serving coffee?” “Is it an open bar?” “When are we moving on to toasts?” The vendor team is executing the decisions made by the couple and that’s it. This is their day and guests should be happy with whatever that may entail (+ should never take it out on a vendor)
Sarahdipity Photos

So, if you are going to check yes to that RSVP, then make sure you are following proper wedding guest etiquette! It should go without saying, but you also don’t want to be that guest who gets belligerently drunk and causes a scene – so just drink responsibly!

Are there any other rules that you think wedding guests should follow? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments!

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