How to Be a Well-Mannered Wedding Guest

May 16, 2014 | By | Comments (12)

Now that we’ve discussed wedding guest etiquette for before the wedding, we’re moving right along to how to be a well-mannered guest on the day of the wedding. From the dress code to the seating chart, there’s a lot to navigate, so let’s jump right in!

Swan House wedding; Photo: Pink Shoe Photography

Swan House wedding; Photo: Pink Shoe Photography

Be mindful of the dress code. The dress code will often be specified on the invitation or the wedding website, but if not, make an educated guess using the venue and time of day as a guide. For example, a sundress and wedges is probably fine at an afternoon barn wedding, but an evening ballroom wedding requires at least a cocktail dress. Don’t forget to pay special attention to the attire guidelines for ceremonies held in houses of worship.

Don’t wear white. Unless the bride and groom expressly ask you to wear white, don’t do it. Some people consider this rule out of date, since no one will mistake a guest for the bride, but even if you know the bride won’t mind, it’s very likely that other guests will find your choice of attire rude and disrespectful. Err on the side of good manners and leave the white sundress at home.

Arrive at least fifteen minutes before the ceremony. Give yourself time to park your car, pick up your program, and take your seat without even the chance of running into the bride before her walk down the aisle! Weddings are one occasion where there is no such thing as fashionably late. If you do arrive late, despite your best efforts, an usher may be able to direct you inside at an appropriate time. If not, wait for a “louder” part of the ceremony, such as a hymn, before quietly seating yourself in the back.

Keep your camera and cell phone put away (on silent) during the ceremony. Many couples now specifically request “unplugged” ceremonies (see our post about them here), but even if they don’t, resist the urge to snap pictures at the ceremony. Not only is taking pictures distracting to you and the people around you, it can also make the professional photographer’s job more difficult if you’re reaching into the aisles or standing in their way. Additionally, follow the bride and groom’s lead before posting anything on social media. If a “wedding hashtag” sign is up at the reception, feel free to post, but otherwise, don’t share any pictures before the bride or groom post their own.

Don’t attend the reception if you don’t attend the ceremony. It goes without saying, but the ceremony is the most important part of the wedding, and the reception is a celebration of that—not just a party. If you don’t want to attend both, it may be best to stay at home.

Sit in the appropriate seat. If the bride and groom have specified table numbers and seating assignments, sit where they ask you to. They have probably made very thoughtful decisions about where to seat everyone and it’s polite to respect their wishes.

Have fun at the reception! Chat with other guests, enjoy the meal, get on the dance floor, sign the guest book, and wish the bride and groom well. They’ve worked hard to make their reception a wonderful evening for you as well as them, and they’ll be happy to see you having a good time.

Do you have any wedding guest etiquette questions? Let us know in the comments and we’ll address them in upcoming posts!

COMMENTS

  1. TRAURINGE-HochzeitsBlog in Feingold

    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    June 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm
  2. Homes for Rent in Dallas, TX

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

    June 25, 2014 at 8:48 am
  3. Sharon Leuliette

    These are all sound and good tips. It’s all good.

    June 21, 2014 at 9:01 am
  4. Wedding Guest Etiquette: Dress Codes | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] you read in one of our past guest etiquette posts, any well-mannered wedding guest takes special note of the wedding’s dress code and arrives […]

    June 6, 2014 at 10:30 am
  5. Wedding Guest Etiquette: After the Wedding | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] We hope these wedding guest etiquette posts have been helpful! If you missed them, check out our tips for before the wedding here and during the wedding here. […]

    May 23, 2014 at 10:31 am
  6. Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine

    […] continued our wedding guest etiquette series with tips for the day of the […]

    May 17, 2014 at 5:01 am
  7. Lisa Olson

    Carol: For both of these questions, we think it’s primarily up the bride! As long of the mother of the bride’s dress matches the formality of the wedding, the colors and style can be whatever the bride and her mother agree on.

    May 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm
  8. Lisa Olson

    Ed JoAnne Baldwin: Definitely! We compiled some of our tips for being a well-mannered guest before the wedding here: http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2014/05/09/wedding-guest-etiquette-before-the-wedding/

    May 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm
  9. Lisa Olson

    Yarns: Hi! We suggest asking your wedding party at least nine months before the big day to give them plenty of time to prepare, and of course, to help the bride and groom with wedding tasks as needed!

    May 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm
  10. CAROL A. GILLESPIE

    I DO HAVE TWO QUESTIONS ACTUALLY….FIRST, IF IT IS A MORNING WEDDING MAY THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE WEAR A LONG DRESS IF SHE CHOOSES?
    NEXT, CAN THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE WEAR A DEEPER SHADE CHAMPAGNE DRESS IF THE BRIDE IS WEARING A CHAMPAGNE GOWN??

    May 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm
  11. Ed JoAnne Baldwin

    do not take your children unless they were invited.

    May 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm
  12. Yarns

    How long before the wedding should the bride and groom ask people to be in the wedding party?

    May 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

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