Etiquette When Attending a Wedding

Guests toasting at a wedding

Attending a wedding may seem like a simple thing, but failing to follow basic rules of etiquette can cause huge headaches for the people planning the event, people who are already facing a lot of stress and a million things to do. Be a considerate guest by respecting the time and money of those who value you enough to invite you in the first place.


RSVPs are immensely important to wedding planners. They tell them how many meals to prepare and tables and chairs to be ordered. Wedding planners may also invite additional people if a lot of invited guests are having to decline.

People who do not RSVP force the planners to guess. Do not think failing to send an RSVP will be taken as a decline. Such inaction causes huge headaches for the people attempting to wrangle the guest list and everything associated with it.

Do Not Bring Uninvited Guests

RSVP requests are directed to specific people. Sometimes invitees are allowed to bring a guest, but if that’s not expressly stated, don’t presume it’s appropriate. Extra guests mean extra spending on things like food, and limited space can easily become an issue. Don’t call the bride or groom asking for permission, either. That puts them in the awkward position of saying no to a friend or saying yes out of politeness. It’s not fair to them.

Turn Off Your Phone

Like many events, a ringing phone is completely inappropriate. Turn off both the ringer and the vibration mode for the ceremony, and consider how to handle the phone at the reception. You don’t really want it going off in the middle of the best man’s toast, after all, although it’s probably fine to escape the Chicken Dance because of a call.

Wedding guestbook on table

Sign the Guestbook

Guestbooks may seem clinical and unmemorable, but if the couple didn’t want it signed, they wouldn’t have put it out in the first place. Most importantly, the guestbook helps them keep track of who they need to send thank you cards to. And while you may feel a thank you to be unnecessary, it’s a common point of etiquette, and the couple will likely feel bad if they overlook someone.

Don’t Interfere with the Photographer

When the photographer is at work, leave him be. It can be tempting to sneak in a few pics of your own. After all, the bride and groom are already very nicely posed. But you’ll likely get underfoot, especially if you’re using a flash, as it throws off the photographer’s calibrations.

This isn’t just about pictures of the couple either. When the photographer is working with guests, steer clear.

Also, resist to photobomb, no matter how funny you think it is. Professional photographers are hired precisely because they can create memorable, classy pictures of the entire event. You making funny faces in the background ruins what they are trying to do.

Drink in Moderation

There’s no reason not to drink at a wedding. If there was, the couple wouldn’t give you the option. But drunks are obnoxious in so many ways. In addition, people shouldn’t be left wondering about your safety when, for example, you leave for the night.

Weddings are complicated affairs. You have been invited because the wedding couple wants to share their happy day with you. Don’t impose on them. Do everything you can to lighten the load they bear concerning wedding preparation and participation.

Images copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo and rikl64 / 123RF Stock Photo

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