Be Our Guest: Wedding Guest Etiquette Tips

Black and white image of a crowd dancing at a wedding to illustrate wedding guest etiquette

Wedding season is in full swing with many making up for lost time during the pandemic. Plenty of time is spent talking about planning a great wedding for your guests and indeed this is important. But, what about the etiquette around being a great wedding guest to your hosts?


My Wedding Guest Etiquette “Golden Rule”

Let’s start with my golden rule of wedding guest etiquette: Avoid anything which may cause stress or worry to the Bride and Groom.

RSVP – The Sooner the Better!

Good guest etiquette begins well before the big day by ensuring you RSVP on time. Ideally, as soon as you know you will attend, send your response. We all know guest counts are crucial to the planning process so giving your hosts ample notice is a great courtesy.

And of course, please, please, please do not show up to the wedding if you did not RSVP. This would send the couple, family, and planner into a tailspin trying to accommodate you. See my golden rule above.

Be Our Guest: Wedding Guest Etiquette Tips


May I Bring a “Plus One?”

Unfortunately, if the words “and guest” didn’t appear on your invitation, the Bride and Groom are inviting you and only you. Much of wedding expenses are based on headcounts and they simply may not be able to afford for everyone to bring a guest.

Unless you are married, engaged, or living with someone, etiquette deems it acceptable for the couple to invite you on your own. Furthermore, it is considered impolite to call the couple to ask if you may bring a guest. Take it as an opportunity to sow your social oats! You may have more fun when you don’t need to worry about whether or not your date has met so-and-so from college.


What Should I Wear?

Follow the Dress Code as closely as possible, taking into account the location, time of day, and predicted weather. You may also want to find out what the wedding’s colors will be to inform your decision. Reaching out to a bridesmaid or groomsman is a good way to learn this information without troubling the couple. If you need help decoding dress codes, click here.

Kindly avoid wearing white. This is the Bride’s color and should be avoided so as not to detract from her big day. That includes off-white and cream shades, too. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the wedding invitation states it is a Black and White theme (even so, I’d opt for black to be on the safe side) or if you are specifically asked to choose shades of cream as a bridesmaid, both increasingly popular trends among wedding parties.

Finally, a note on wearing black… Did you know that in days gone by, wearing black meant you were displaying your disapproval of the marriage? Mon Dieu! Today, that is no longer the case and it is widely accepted that you may wear black to a wedding, but be sure to consider the context. A black dress at a sunny beach wedding may be less fitting than in a glamorous winter ballroom.


Wedding Gift Etiquette

If the couple has a registry, it really is best to choose something from there. Etiquette dictates you should send the gift to the couple before or after the wedding, rather than bringing it to the venue. Otherwise, someone will need to collect it at the end of the evening, which is an added stress and coordination.


Punctuality at a Wedding is a Must

Arriving on time is always polite and weddings are no different! When it comes to the wedding itself including welcome parties, rehearsal dinners, and the big day, kindly arrive on time. Weddings are significant occasions and the bride and groom have put a lot of thought into the events of and surrounding their wedding. Arriving on time means all plans can go forward smoothly!


Be Respectful

Be present and avoid talking during key moments. This includes the entire ceremony, toasts, first dance, and during announcements. It is utterly impolite to whisper to a friend during these special moments. The chatter can certainly wait.

Furthermore, participating in wedding activities is simply good manners. Each of the events of the day was carefully chosen by the Bride and Groom, which means they are important to them. Even if catching the bouquet isn’t “your thing,” join in anyway.

KWP ROWE 1821 v Be Our Guest: Wedding Guest Etiquette Tips
Be Our Guest: Wedding Guest Etiquette Tips 3 Wedding Guest Etiquette



Introduce Yourself

One of the best things about weddings is the merging of worlds. Being a great guest means making an effort to be friendly and outgoing, provided it is something you are comfortable with. Introduce yourself, make new friends, and if you see someone standing on the sidelines who may not know many people, bring them in on the fun. Your hosts will be grateful that all their guests were comfortable and having a good time.


Dance the Night Away!

The conclusion of the Bride and Groom’s First Dance is, in most cases, the signal that guests may join the dancefloor. However, be sure to pay attention to the emcee or coordinator as special moments such as Father-Daughter or Mother-Son may be scheduled too.


Have Fun (But Try Not to Overdo It!)

Most couples want their guests to have a rollicking good time but it’s important to know when to temper your alcohol intake. I recently read an article where brides shared their biggest regrets. One noted how she wishes she hadn’t had to spend her evening caring for a too-drunk friend. No one wants to be that person.

An overly messy attendee can spoil the fun for others and in some cases, the bride and groom themselves! Don’t forget you are an invited guest, mind your consumption as best as possible.

Above all, wedding guest etiquette involves being considerate. Think about how you’d want your guests to behave if it were your big day. Be present, be thoughtful, be friendly, and have fun!

With a wink and a smile,
xx LL



Lisa Lyons is a renowned wedding and event designer, and owner of Lisa Lyons Events & Etiquette based in Winter Park, Florida. As an eagerly sought-after event stylist, Lisa Lyons has created extraordinary celebrations for an astute roster of clients, including copious celebrity sports figures, five star corporations and respected private individuals since 2003.





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