Wedding Guest Etiquette

So, you’re a guest at a wedding and you’re not quite sure if you can bring your new boyfriend, what gift to buy your best friend, or what you should even wear. As a planner, I’m asked similar questions all the time and I’m often advising my brides and grooms on wedding etiquette from the planning perspective. Today, I wanted to turn the tables a little and offer some advice to the wedding guests and help answer some of your burning questions as well.

 Image Courtesy of  Sophia Barrett Studios

Image Courtesy of Sophia Barrett Studios

1.       The Plus One: When it comes to the invitation, it’s addressed to the people that are invited, whether to a couple, family, or a single person. Typically, if the guest isn’t married, the plus one is considered and often reserved for those that are engaged or in long-term relationships as opposed to someone who simply wants to bring a date so that they don’t have to come alone. The invitation will be addressed to Mr. & Mrs. John Doe or Mr. John Doe and Guest. This way, the message is clear as to who’s invited. If there’s no “and guest” on the invitation, you can assume that your plus one isn’t invited and it’s impolite to ask the couple if it’s ok to bring someone that wasn’t invited.

2.       The RSVP: One of the biggest issues with the guest list are the responses, or lack thereof. When receiving a wedding invitation, it’s polite to send your response by the deadline indicated. Your response helps determine the final guest and meal counts, total number of tables needed, and so on. When you fail to respond by the deadline or fail to respond at all, you can make things a lot more difficult for the bride and groom.

 Image Courtesy of  Sophia Barrett Studios

Image Courtesy of Sophia Barrett Studios

3.       The Children: As much as we love the little people, it’s no ok to assume that yours are invited. You’ll have to look at the invitation to determine just who was invited. Was the outer envelope address to Mr. John Doe and Family? Does the inner envelope have everyone’s name listed on it? If so, it’s safe to assume that you and your children were included in the guest count. If not, the invitation was meant for just you.

4.       The Gift Registry: Of course it’s nice if everyone decided to bring a gift to the wedding. However, it’s not required that wedding guests bring gifts. If you want to know where your friends are registered, you can do one of two things. If they have a wedding website, you can check there. Couples are likely to include any pertinent wedding information, such as hotel accommodations, important times, and any gift registries. Secondly, you can ask their immediate family members or the bridal party. They’ll typically know often disseminates the information to the wedding guests on the couple’s behalf.

 Image from Trudy & Conrad's Wedding; Courtesy of  Neville Simpson Photography

Image from Trudy & Conrad's Wedding; Courtesy of Neville Simpson Photography

 Image from  Derrick & Joel's Wedding ; Courtesy of  Knight Weddings

5.       The Ceremony Time: The invitation states what time the ceremony starts. If you’ve been to a dozen weddings and they’ve all started late, it’s still not ok to arrive to someone’s ceremony late. I’ve done countless weddings and guests have shown up 20 and 30 minutes late and nearing the end of the ceremony. It’s best to arrive on time and wait for the ceremony to begin than be disruptive by trying to find a seat after the bride has already walked down the aisle. If you live in a high traffic area, allow yourself extra travel time.

6.       The Unplugged Ceremony: In today’s modern and social media frenzy world, everyone wants to take pictures or record everything to post on various social media outlets. Because of this, a lot of couples are opting to have unplugged ceremonies, instructing their guests to not take photos during the ceremony.  If you see a sign asking that you keep your camera put away, it’s best to honor the couple’s wishes and not take any photos. You can surely understand them not wanting their first kiss plastered all over the internet before they’ve had a chance to look see any of the photos.

These are just a few guidelines to help you be a stellar wedding guest. You may be thinking “this stuff is self-explanatory.” But, you’d be surprised as to what I see and the questions that I’m asked. So, get dolled up and enjoy your friend’s nuptials!