Dos and Don'ts for Wedding Guests

Check out our list of dos and don’ts for wedding guests to avoid any embarrassing wedding faux pas.

bride and groom kissing with guests cheering and holding sparklers
Photo by Oliver Pan

So you’re invited to a wedding? Congrats—you made the Guest List and are on your way to celebrating by the couple’s side on the big day. Whether it’s your first time attending a wedding or this is one of many nuptials under your belt, there’s a lot you can do (and not do) to ensure that you’re a great guest. Check out our list of dos and don’ts for wedding guests to avoid any embarrassing wedding faux pas.

The Dos

  • RSVP on time. Responding late can result in awkward situations—like not having a seat and/or meal.
  • Communicate dietary restrictions early. The sooner the hosts know about any special food needs, the more likely they can accommodate them.
  • Buy a gift on the registry. The couple chose these gifts for a good reason. Get them what they really want/need!
  • Mail your gift (or cash/check). It’s a hassle for the couple or hosts/planners to keep track of gifts at the reception (and they’re easily lost).
  • Let the hosts know if you have to cancel. If something comes up, it’s not okay to just not show.
  • Follow the dress code. Trust us, adhering to attire recommendations is always a good idea.
  • Watch the weather (and be prepared for it). Is Mother Nature raining on this parade (literally)? Arrive with an umbrella in hand.
  • Wear comfortable shoes (or bring a backup pair). Don’t let sore feet and blisters hold you back from enjoying the entire evening, dancing included.
  • Leave any drama at the door. It’s not your party and you can’t cry if you want to. (Happy tears are an exception.)
  • Sit where you’re assigned (if applicable). As with boarding an airplane, disregarding the seating chart will only lead to chaos.
  • Sign the guest book. It only takes a second, but leaving your name and a sweet message will let the couple look back and remember your presence at their big day.
  • Silence your phone. Getting text alerts during the vow exchange = majorly embarrassing.
  • Stay out of the photographer’s way. The back of your head blocking a key moment like the first kiss won’t be appreciated.
  • Get acquainted with other guests. “How do you know the couple?” is a great way to get conversation flowing at your table.
  • Drink responsibly. Feel free to have fun, but this isn’t a college rave.
  • Dance! No couple dreams of an empty dance floor on their wedding day.
  • Congratulate the couple. Seriously, a simple “Congrats you guys!” or “What a beautiful wedding! Thanks for inviting me” will do.
  • Remember your favor. Even if it’s an item you’re not thrilled about, it’s still good form to take home your wedding favor. The couple or hosts went through a lot of thought and work to provide it.
  • If you have to leave very early, say goodbye to the couple. Ghosting isn’t cool, but especially so at a wedding celebration.

The Don’ts

  • Text/call the couple on the wedding day. Let them enjoy their day and soak up the memories in the making without interruption from you.
  • Bring uninvited +1s. This causes major problems when it comes to seating and meal arrangements. Flying solo for one night won’t kill you, we promise.
  • Dress to draw attention. Go ahead and look cute (it’s encouraged), but remember that all eyes should be on the couple.
  • Wear white. Breaking this cardinal rule of wedding attire is a serious no-no.
  • Be late. Plan to arrive at the ceremony and settle into your seat ~10 minutes before the event start time.
  • Assume kids are welcome. Unless your invitation specifically invited your whole family, book a babysitter.
  • Skip the wedding ceremony. Unless you have a good reason that you’ve discussed with the hosts prior, it isn’t okay to just show up for dinner, drinks, and dancing. The vow exchange is the whole point, after all.
  • Take photos or videos during the ceremony. You aren’t the photographer. Sit back and be present in the moment.
  • Give an unrequested toast or speech. This isn’t open mic night. If you haven’t been specifically asked to give a speech, leave the public words to those on the official timeline.
  • Request inappropriate songs. Grandma doesn’t want to get down to your raunchy jams, and the entire wedding probably doesn’t want to hear your favorite niche band.
  • Ask the couple financial or personal questions. It’s none of your business how much they spent on the florals or if they plan to have kids.
  • Propose to your significant other. Someone else’s wedding isn’t your time to shine (or bring out the bling).
  • Make a big announcement. Similarly, don’t steal the spotlight to announce pregnancies, career moves, relocations, or any other personal news. Remember whose day it is.
  • Abuse the open bar. We get it: free drinks are hard to pass up. But you’re at a private event, not at Mardi Gras.
  • Share opinions about the decor/details. Not digging the peach palette? Keep it to yourself.
  • Dine and dash. It’s a good rule of thumb to stay until at least the cake cutting.
  • Get competitive during the bouquet or garter toss. These rituals are supposed to be clean, good-natured fun—not look like a scene from The Hunger Games.
  • Criticize the food. The meal may not be to your taste, but it’s better to keep your lips sealed on this one.
  • Try to take food to go. We don’t blame you for wanting to take a slice of cake home with you, but it’s considered bad etiquette to ask the waitstaff to box up leftovers for you.
  • Overdo it on PDA. Love may be in the air, but excessive displays of affection won’t be appreciated by the other wedding attendees.
  • Hit the dance floor before the first dance. Unless the DJ or bandleader specifically requests it, the dance floor isn’t officially open until the couple’s first dance is finished, even if there’s music playing.
  • Dominate the couple’s time with a long conversation. Save that trip down memory lane for another time. This pair has a lot of folks to talk to tonight.
  • Tell embarrassing/awkward stories about the couple. You’re in mixed company—play it safe and keep your stories PG.

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