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Proper Wedding Etiquette: How to be the perfect guest at a wedding

A wedding is a joyous time to celebrate the love and coming together of two people. Although it is a good time to have some fun, it does require some good manners and proper wedding etiquette for guests while attending this special event.

To help you navigate your next wedding, here are some rules on proper wedding etiquette that you should know.

The invitation and the RSVP

It is important to fill out your RSVP completely and return it in a timely manner.

So, you received a wedding invitation, but what’s this “RSVP” about?

RSVP is a French expression and means répondez s’il vous plait, which translates to “please respond.” When you receive an invitation with an RSVP it means the host of the event is asking for you to respond by a set date, usually four to five weeks in advance, to let them know whether you will be attending the ceremony. This is important, because they need to know how to set their budget, how many chairs and tables to order, and how to plan for the food and catering for the big day.

An RSVP will usually arrive with a stamped addressed envelope and a card for you to record your response. Please do not ignore it. Even if you cannot attend the ceremony, fill it out and send it back. An unanswered RSVP is an inconvenience to the event planner. Please note some RSVPs will state “Regrets Only”. In this case, you will only need to respond if you cannot attend the ceremony.

With today’s modern technology, RSVPs are sometimes sent through the internet and will allow you to respond with a simple click.

Bringing extra guests

Your invitation should state whether you are allowed to bring an extra guest and it should also request this response on your RSVP card. Unless stated, you should not bring anyone with you. This includes children also as many wedding ceremonies want an all-adult atmosphere.

Wedding Etiquette Dress code

Most weddings are formal affairs and proper attire is requested; however, always follow the wishes of the bride and groom.

A wedding is usually a black-tie event, and the attire is formal. However, you should dress for the venue and follow the instructions given by the bride and groom. You don’t want to overdress to a casual wedding, and you also don’t want to dress too casually for a formal affair. If you are planning to wear a dress, skirt, or pantsuit, you should never wear white, ivory, or any shade of the “bride”. This is rude and offensive as it is the bride’s day to shine.

Be on time

You should plan to be at the ceremony at least twenty minutes before it is scheduled to start. Attempting to “sneak” in is not a good idea as there are doors to open and aisles to walk down which will be a distraction to the ceremony.

Wedding Gifts: To buy or to not buy?

Even a small gift is a classy way to express your appreciation to the bride and groom.

Although it is not required, you should always bring or send a gift, even if you cannot attend the ceremony. Even a small gift will express your sincere appreciation for the invitation to the wedding. It is also a nice way to congratulate the couple and send your blessings on their new life together.

Most couples have a registry to help you select what to give. When in doubt, cash is always a great option. Just make sure you give it directly to the bride or groom in an envelope with a nice card. Also, make sure that your gift is to the couple and not to the individual you are associated with.

Gifts should be delivered before, or shortly after, the wedding. There is no minimum or maximum dollar amount to spend but try to be generous if you can.

Cell phones and talking

Please do not talk during the wedding ceremony.

Taking pictures of the ceremony with your phone is okay, but make sure you turn the ringer and sound notifications “off”, so you do not disrupt the ceremony.

Voices travel so it is important to avoid talking during the ceremony, especially during the exchange of vows. It is okay to whisper, when necessary.

Signing the guestbook

Always sign the guest book before leaving the wedding.

This may seem insignificant, but please sign the guestbook before leaving. By signing your name and leaving a sentimental note or message, the bride and groom will remember who attended and shared their special day with them.

Respect social media requests

The bride and groom, and in some cases the family, just spent months of planning and money for this special occasion. Please respect any social media request and allow them to post the first pictures of their wedding day. However, if the bride and groom encourage social media posting, then please use a requested hashtag and always keep your sentiments positive and focused on them.

Drinking at the reception

Have fun but drink in moderation.

Just because there is an open bar, does not mean it is okay for you to get totally wasted. This will not make a good impression on you, and it will appear as if you are abusing the bride and groom’s generosity. They want everyone to have a good time, but no one wants to deal with an obnoxious drunk. Make sure you pace yourself when you drink and have food in your stomach. It is also a good idea to drink water with your alcoholic beverage. If you drove to the reception, call a taxi, Uber, or ask a friend to take you home.

Keep your opinions to yourself

This is supposed to be a celebration and the newlyweds spent a lot of planning for their special day. If you did not like the meal, the decorations, or the bride maid’s dresses, well, keep your negative opinions to yourself. Anything that does not warrant your opinion, unless it is a positive one, should not pass your lips.

A wedding can be a festive and jubilant occasion. Keeping these helpful wedding etiquette tips in mind will help you to not only make the day more memorable, but to also create the perfect wedding day for the bride and groom.

Author Bio

Isabella Boston

Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the creator of Bella’s Attic Studio. She has several years of experience in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies. She is a diarist and the author of Passion of Flames. She has special interests in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, and natural healing as it pertains the body, mind, and soul. When Isabella is not writing, she enjoys playing the violin, learning new languages, and reading books of substance.


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[1] Andersen, C. H. (2023, February 20). 16 wedding etiquette rules everyone should follow in 2022. Reader's Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from [2] Lee, E. (2021, November 17). 13 tips for being an amazing wedding guest. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from [3] Wedding guest etiquette 101: 20 ways to be an exceptional guest - zola expert wedding advice. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from


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