Wedding Guest Etiquette

Throughout the years of planning weddings, clients have often reached out to me with questions about etiquette. When should Save-The-Dates be sent? How many hotels should we request for blocks? Should we provide guest transport? Who should we invite to brunch the following day? More often than not, couples are very accommodating for their guests, and some go above and beyond to make sure everyone who attends their wedding day is treated incredibly well.

Sadly, sometimes, I wish it were the guests contacting wedding planners for etiquette tips, because there are certain things some guests do that are just downright rude. I find that no wedding is immune to this either, as we have produced weddings over $100K that still encounter the same issues. Perhaps such guests don’t realize that being asked to be a part of a wedding means that they are indeed special, just not special enough to merit demands.

So, without further ado, here are 10 etiquette tips for guests and the reasoning behind them.

1. Don’t assume that you can bring a guest. Some couples are very particular with their guest count, perhaps based on the maximum capacity of a venue, budget restraints, or quite possibly they only want people they really want to be there to actually be there. Unless the invitation clearly states that you PLUS a guest are invited, you should assume that you are the only one who should attend. I would also advise to refrain from asking the couple whether you can bring a guest, as this may put them in an awkward situation of having to say, “no.”

2. Respondez s’il vous plait means you should seriously send your answer per the invitation’s response date, whether it’s through a response card, email, website or pigeon! Even if you are not attending the wedding, be courteous to the couple and let them know if they should expect you. Without a doubt, they are anxiously waiting for their final guest count, so that they can move onto creating seating arrangements.

3. Don’t ask what the menu will be if you are not given options in the response card. OK, we understand. Food from the last wedding you attended may have been less than appetizing. Perhaps you have an allergy. Seriously, there is really no reason for you to ask what will be served. If you have a certain dietary restriction and are unsure of the food, you can ask the caterer at the wedding.

4. Don’t be THAT guest. A wedding is a beautiful celebration, and many times, the beer, wine and spirits are free flowing. However, that does not mean that you need to cross the line. You know, THAT line. When you just know that one more glass of wine, or that cocktail will send you from the happy drunk to the belligerent fool. People will talk (including the vendors,) some will get embarrassed, some will get upset. Don’t make a scene with your drunken antics.

reddit horse head wedding

OK, so this is actually the groom, and he was just having fun… and we actually LOVE horse and unicorn heads.

5. Don’t pull a switch-a-roo. If you have been designated a table, please stay at that table. Keep in mind, the wedding couple spent some time reviewing their attendees and had to decide where each person should sit for dinner. This process takes a while, please respect it. You will have plenty of time after dinner to mingle with other people you wish to be with.

6. It’s a buffet, not an All-You-Can-Eat dinner. That means, if there is a buffet and you have been served your plate, don’t be surprised or get upset if the caterer packs up the table. They will always have extras on-hand, but dinners are purchased on a per person basis, so that really limits 1 plate per guest. You may have been rushed and didn’t get to eat breakfast, or perhaps the passed appetizer plate never got around to you during cocktail hour – this is still not a reason get in a huff that the buffet station disappeared.

buffet dinner

7. Don’t try to outshine the bride. It’s not your wedding, dear. This is really geared more towards mothers and future mother-in-laws. The truth of the matter is, regardless of the intense 10-hour labor you may have gone through, or the checks you may have had to sign for the wedding – the spotlight should be on the bride and groom, not anyone else.

8. Place nice, little warrior! If there are any family or friend conflicts with other guests, or perhaps even the bride, or groom – the week leading to the wedding, and especially the wedding day is certainly not the time to release any negative energy. As a guest, just breathe deep and walk the other way… and certainly, don’t be THAT GUEST (see #4.)

9. Stay away from the dessert table. If you happen to enter the reception area and there is a lovely spread of cakes, cupcakes, pies, cookies and other delectable treats, it is safe to assume that this heavenly table is the dessert table. As such, you must fight all urges to pick up that lovely sea salt caramel mini cake. This table is off limits until the cake has been cut – and that is usually AFTER dinner… you know, when dessert is usually served.

vintage dessert table buffet

10. #notaweddingfavor – I have to share. I once had a gorgeous and very classy vineyard wedding, where a 24” metal lantern went missing, and it was assumed that a guest must have walked away with it. Let me repeat that… it was a 24” lantern, that’s TWO FEET tall! Regardless of how beautiful décor may be, they are not wedding favors and often times need to be returned to the florist.

I genuinely hope that these 10 tips will help guests play nice, or at the very least, have wedding couples feel much better about talking how insane so-and-so is for being unreasonable.


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