How to Be a Good Wedding Guest
There comes a season in life where many find themselves going to multiple weddings in one year. It can be tiring and expensive, but also a lot of fun filled with great memories. See my tips below on how to be a good wedding guest and not become one of those stories people talk about for years after.
There is something really great about celebrating someone else’s love and happiness at weddings. I have been to weddings as an adult and as a child, as part of the wedding, as a guest and a bride. So, I speak from personal experience with a lot of this advice on how to be a good wedding guest.
How to Be a Good Wedding Guest
The key to how to be a good wedding guest is to remember that you are just there to celebrate the couple getting married. The best guests are ones that are drama-free and respectful.
RSVP before the required date
Having been on the other side as a bride, it is so frustrating having guests that wait until the last minute to RSVP or ones that don’t respond at all.
The reason couples send out RVSPs is so they can give a head count to their venue and caterer. If you don’t RSVP, you risk not having a plate or seat to sit at.
As a bride, I remember specifically having to hunt down a few guests to get them to commit to a “yes” or a “no”. I felt horrible having to add that pressure, but my venue needed an answer in order to get an accurate number so they could plan (and charge) accordingly.
Hot Tip: Be a good wedding guest by responding well before the official RSVP date. I like to do this the moment I get an invite so I don’t forget to do it later.
Don’t bring kids
Many couples like to have kid-free weddings as a way to avoid child meltdowns, but also as a way to allow parents a relaxing night away from the kids. Respect the couple’s wishes and don’t bring kids if they are not invited.
I was a horrible wedding guest when one of my best friends was getting married. Last minute, our kids weren’t going to visit their biological mom and they ended up traveling with us. I foolishly asked if they could come to my friend’s wedding, which in hindsight was a bad wedding guest faux pas.
My friend clearly understood the situation since we were coming in from out of town and helped us arrange for a babysitter. If you find yourself in a similar bind, talk with the bride to see if they have suggestions for other arrangements, but do not just assume you can bring kids along if they weren’t invited.
Don’t bring extra guests
Going along with not bringing kids, do not bring extra guests. Remember that weddings are usually priced per person. Some weddings are upwards of $200/person.
The bride and groom likely have a budget and you bringing an extra guest can cost them in a big way.
I see this typically arise when someone starts dating a new person and wants to bring them along. While weddings might feel a little uncomfortable solo, be aware of the couple’s wishes and don’t bring anyone not invited.
Wedding guest dress code
I have seen some weddings have very strict dress codes. ALWAYS follow the wedding guest dress code. If you have a question about what is acceptable to wear, ask the couple before you go!
The biggest mistake a wedding guest can make is wearing something white or bridal looking. For some brides, that might not make a difference but remember it is their big day, not yours.
In that same vein, I personally like to wear neutral colors to a wedding. There will be a million photos taken of this event and you don’t want to stand out as the person in a hot pink dress.
Casual Wedding Dress Code: You will find casual attire at more backyard weddings or beach destination weddings. This can be khakis and a button-down for men or a nice sundress for the ladies. Unless you know the couple and their style, I would avoid wearing jeans.
Semi-formal Wedding Dress Code: Most weddings will fall into this category. A nice knee-length cocktail dress will do. Men can wear slacks with a button down and sports jacket, which they can take off during the reception.
Black-tie Wedding Dress Code: Typically, only the fanciest of weddings will require a black-tie dress code. Men will wear a tuxedo and women tend to wear longer evening gowns.
Hot Tip: If you are attending an extra fancy wedding, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress, try Rent the Runway. It allows you to borrow designer gowns for the night without the designer price.
Be on time
One of the most annoying things at a wedding is to have guests arrive in the middle of the ceremony and “quietly” try to find a seat. It is a distraction and it is rude.
If you happen to get stuck in traffic or are running late (it happens!), hang in the back of the ceremony venue to keep the focus on the bride and groom.
Keep phones off during ceremony
It is becoming more popular to have “unplugged” ceremonies. Couples often pay a lot of money to have a photographer take incredible photos of their special day. Trust me, their photos will be better than yours.
Keep your phone in your pocket and turn it off. You don’t want to accidentally get a phone call in the middle of “does anyone object?”.
Don’t post on social media
Speaking of those nice wedding photographs, it is polite to wait to post anything on social media until AFTER the bride and groom do. Wait for them to announce their marriage first and on their terms.
Brides often spend a lot of time choosing their dress, hair, and make-up. Let them be the one to put their first photos out there rather than one you took that they might find unflattering.
Give a gift
When I say give a gift, it does not need to be anything elaborate, but something to celebrate the couple. Do not give more than you can afford. Any little bit will be appreciated.
I strongly recommend following the couple’s wedding registry. They will likely have gifts at all different price points and it will be items they actually need.
Explore More: If the couple doesn’t have a wedding registry, then check out my complete wedding registry checklist for some good gift ideas.
Attend pre-wedding events
If you are in the bridal party or perhaps an immediate family member, be prepared to attend certain pre-wedding events. This might include the bridal shower, bachelorette party, or perhaps wedding dress shopping.
Only plan on these if you are actually invited! However, do not feel obligated to attend if you cannot afford to. I hear of too many women that go broke attending destination bachelorette parties beyond their means.
Explore More: For more pre-wedding events you can expect, head over to my pre-wedding events timeline post.
Sign the guestbook
Part of how to be a good wedding guest is to sign the guest book! The married couple-to-be wants to remember who was at their wedding.
For our wedding, we used a framed canvas that said “Be Our Guest” and all of our guests signed it. It hangs in our living room and is a constant reminder of our wedding day. However, I do look at it and notice the few names of people who I know didn’t sign it.
Remember that this day isn’t about you as a wedding guest, but it is a day to celebrate the lovely couple. Stay respectable by showing up on time, staying drama-free, and not being that sloppy drunk person.
Obviously, you aren’t going to make that mistake though since you are here learning how to be a good wedding guest!
Ask if you can help
Brides are often stressing in the final hours leading up to the ceremony. Therefore, go above and beyond by reaching out and asking them if you can help with anything before their wedding day.
Leading up to our wedding, it was all hands on deck to get things done. My aunts were in charge of baking and organizing the cookie table, my uncles were responsible for hanging string lights, and my friends provided snacks and music for the night before and morning of.
My team of amazing family and friends helped keep me relaxed. I could have not done it without their help.
Don’t call the bride
As I mentioned before, on the wedding day itself, both the bride and the groom have so many other things to worry about. If you are running late, don’t know the address, or all of a sudden can’t make it, do not call the bride.
Instead, call one of the bridesmaids or another close family member. They likely know the timeline of the day and can relay any important information to the bride if needed.
Remember how to be a good wedding guest. This day is about the couple, not about you. So, do not add to their stress by giving them something else to worry about.
Explore More: Taking calls on behalf of the bride is just one of the many things bridesmaids can help with. Check out my post on creating realistic bridesmaid expectations for more ways you can help.
Wedding Photos Credit: Asheville Wedding Photography