Wedding Etiquette For Guests

Like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, you may have an impressive wedding resume, but do you practice an equally impressive wedding etiquette? Many guests often take for granted the invitation and overstep their boundaries, resulting in awkward situations. Guests might unintentionally disrespect or embarrass the couple by showing up with a plus one or uninvited guests. It might be just a regular wedding you’re attending, but to the bride and groom, it is a day they will commemorate for the rest of their lives. These Dos and Don’ts will help you to be the perfect wedding guest.

Photo by Renatus Photography




Receiving a wedding invite means that the newlyweds value your presence at the wedding, it is only polite to RSVP as soon as possible, so the couple can plan ahead. In fact do take note of the deadline, instead of leaving the card lying around on the coffee table and getting lost amidst your stacks of catalogues.

– Do Bring a Red Packet

Giving red packets at Chinese weddings is considered auspicious; it’s almost compulsory to give a monetary gift at weddings. The red packets rates however, differ for each guest. Depending on how close you are to the couple and the venue of the wedding banquet.

– Do Be Punctual

Most weddings tend to drag on but it doesn’t give you an excuse to arrive late! A safe buffer time will be reaching the venue 20-30 minutes earlier, if you’re treading into unfamiliar territory, leave even more time to get lost on the way to the wedding.

– Do Take Note of the Dress Code

If the dress code states formal, leave your Havaianas at home, and strap on some stilettos instead. As a form of respect to the couple, follow the dress code as much as you can, unsure what ‘Beach Formal’ means? Check with bridesmaids or the bride’s close family members, but never the bride herself. She is probably too flustered about her own gown to be bothered with yours.

Photo by Livesnapps

– Do Behave

You know how there’s always a troublemaker at every party? The one that kicks up a huge fuss out of nothing, the one that makes everyone else in the room writhe with second-hand embarrassment? Don’t be that guy. If you know you are easily intoxicated, stay away from the open bar, if you travelled quite a distance to reach the venue, don’t complain. Instead keep your behaviour in check, do not hit relentlessly on other guests nor should you discuss the relationship history of the bride or the groom.

– Do Stay Out of the Photographer’s Way

The photographer is hired for a reason, simply to immortalise every precious moment in pixels. Not Photoshop out all your attempts to photo bomb in the background of every picture. What may seem like a split second of cheekiness from you ruins the entire picture for the couple. Be alert and smile for the camera only when it’s your turn to.

– Do Sign the Guestbook

It’s not a lot to ask from you, pen a few heartfelt words in the book for the couple to read through once the wedding is over, it’ll help them cope with post-wedding syndromes (if they have any). The wedding day may be a blur for the couple, flipping through the guestbook may aid them in remembering who was present.

– Do Respect the Bridal Suite

The Bridal Suite is a private room for the bride to prepare and get ready for the ceremony and reception after. Most of the time there will be an usher to ensure the area is clear. If you’re thinking of popping in to say hi to the bride, remain from doing so, she is probably coping with all sorts of pre-wedding jitters while her make up is being slathered on. Your presence is not going to be helpful, wait until after the ceremony to wish the couple well, you have plenty of chances then.

– Do Take the Wedding Favour

The sea salt jars may not be to your liking, and the framed pictures of the couple may seem impractical, but the couple must’ve invested a lot time and thought into them nonetheless. It is courtesy to bring these wedding favours back, even if you ultimately thrash them as soon as you reach home.

Photo by Annabel Law Productions

– Do Live It Up!

A wedding is a party, so you have every reason to have fun! Go mingle with other guests, partake in whatever wedding activities planned in the programme, and enjoy yourself while you’re at it.



– Don’t Bring Uninvited Guests

Only when the invitation card explicitly states ‘plus one’ are you expected to turn up with a guest, otherwise don’t assume you’re allowed to bring a date! The couple’s budget may not allow including plus ones into the guest list, asking the couple for permission to bring a plus one might lead to an awkward situation. If making a solo wedding trip makes you uncomfortable, find out if anyone else you know is invited too! Make the most out of it and socialize! The same applies for children, some couples prefer having an adult-only wedding, check who the invite is addressed to, if it only states your name, the couple is expecting no one else other than you.

– Don’t Swap Place Cards

Just because that cute blonde winked at you, it is not enough reason to swap seats or place cards just so you can be at the same table as them. Guest may be seated in a configuration based on dietary restrictions; changing seats will cause unnecessary trouble for the wait staff. Not to mention that there is probably reason beyond diet that explains a particular table seating. Exes, rivals, estranged family members are most likely seated apart, so unless you want to be unknowingly caught in an entanglement keep to your assigned table!

Photo by Kinici Photo

– Don’t Wear White

The only one in white should be the bride and no one should turn up at the wedding in similar cream or ivory shades. However non-bridal your white outfit is, out of respect to the couple, it is best to leave that white dress in your wardrobe.

– Don’t Get Drunk

The worst gift you can ever leave the couple with is an uninvited toast in your drunken stupor, slurring all over the place. You want to leave that position to Aunt Marge, so keep your composure and drink responsibly. You don’t want to guzzle entire bottles and wake up the next day hungover, only to see that the couple has ‘unfriended’ you on Facebook and all sorts of unflattering images of you on your profile. The embarrassment is not only yours to bear but the couple too, so be self-aware and resist the urge to drink past your limit.

– Don’t Talk Too Long

Greet the bride and groom but don’t hold them up by talking too long while they make their rounds, you aren’t the only guest, your 10 minute conversation might be brief to you, but for the couple, 10 minutes for each guest is simply not feasible. Keep it short and they might even have some time to grab a few bites!

Photo by Avior Pictures

– Don’t Propose

Perhaps the romance of the day envelops you and you would like to propose to your girlfriend on a whim- please don’t. It is never a good idea to propose at someone else’s wedding, in fact, do not do anything that takes away the spotlight from the couple. It is their wedding day and it belongs to them only so focus on celebrating their love.

– Don’t Talk During Toasts

The list of toasts can go on and on, from teary toasts to overly revealing ones, whether the too graphic images make you laugh or cringe, it is only polite to be attentive to the speeches. Even if you zone out halfway, refrain from chatting to your neighbour, what is there to talk about? The credibility of the anecdote the best man is retelling? You have plenty of chances for socialising after.

– Don’t Post On Facebook

You may be excited to flood everyone’s timeline with pictures of the bride and groom at the wedding but before you post, ask for permission. The couple may want to wait for the pictures from the photographer before they share their pictures online. Wait until the couple publishes their wedding album on Facebook, or when you see a family member of the couple posting, then you know you are good to go.

Photo by Affinity Pictures

Attending weddings might only be fun if you’re going with a date, but always be mindful that weddings are never about you but the couple. Whenever you’re in doubt, speak to the wedding planning committee rather than the bride and groom directly. It’s just 4 hours of your time with a decadent menu, eyecandy (hopefully) and a celebration of love, so be on your best behaviour and be a great wedding guest.

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