10 Wedding Guest Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow

As a wedding planner, I see many wedding mistakes that are made time and time again by guests. No one wants to be the person who sits in the wrong pew or the wrong table. From making sure you’re dressed appropriately to knowing when to call the open bar drinks quits, we want to prepare you to be the #1 guest at each and every wedding you go to, so here are 10 common rules that all wedding guests should follow.

As a wedding planner, I see many wedding mistakes that are made time and time again by guests. No one wants to be the person who sits in the wrong pew or the wrong table. From making sure you’re dressed appropriately to knowing when to call the open bar drinks quits, we want to prepare you to be the #1 guest at each and every wedding you go to, so here are 10 common rules that all wedding guests should follow.


  1. RSVP on time

With the gift of technology comes the ability to get and receive information quickly and efficiently. You’re on your phone 24/7 anyways, so instead of waiting until the bride and groom have to personally text you to see if you’re coming to celebrate the big day, just RSVP online the day you get the invitation. Not only will it make you the best wedding guest ever, but the bride and groom will appreciate not having to hunt you down to see if you’ll be in attendance.

2. Pay Attention to Dress Code

Like mom used to say, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. If the bride and groom haven’t put a specific dress code on their invite or wedding website - ASK! To play it safe, a nice cocktail dress with wedges is great for women and khakis, button down and a sportcoat are always safe bets for men.


3. Don’t Assume You Get a Plus 1 (and don’t ask for one!)

Remember, for many of the wedding contracts, brides are having to pay per guest. The process of pulling together an invite list, the drama of figuring out which family members will be invited, making sure you invite enough people to fit your venue but not overfill it drives bridal couples crazy. Please don’t add to the stress by asking for another person the bride and groom don’t know to attend their wedding. When you receive your invitation, the person (or person’s) names that are on the envelope are who is invited to the ceremony and reception. (i.e. an envelope addressed to “John Doe” means only John Doe is invited, “John and Jane Doe” equals two invites and “The Doe Family” equals John, Jane and their three kids. However, speaking of kids…..


4. Watch Your Kids or Hire a Babysitter

If the wedding you’re attending is kid friendly, feel free to bring your little ones along, however - if your child is young and unruly, sit in the back and take your child out of the chapel if they make noise. There are too many special moments during a wedding ceremony that don’t need to be interrupted by the screams, laughs, howls or gurgles of your little one. Too many times have I been in a ceremony where the child was taken out of the chapel far later than they should have been - leaving guests feeling uncomfortable, the officiant peeved since they’ve had to pause the ceremony, and the bride and groom regretting letting any kids come. If you think your child won’t be able to make it through the ceremony, then hire a babysitter for the night and make it a date night with your boo!


5. If there aren’t seat assignments, leave the first few tables for family members

I’m a huge fan of table assignments, since it allows everyone to know where to go, and not have an awkward situation where a couple has to sit on other ends of the room due to the lack of spaces at each table for them to sit side by side. If you’re at a wedding that doesn’t have seating assignments, leave the first few tables closest to the bride and groom open, as that is where the couple’s family traditionally sits.


6. Wait until your table is dismissed before going to get food

I understand you’re hungry, trust me. As the day of coordinator, I’ve been at the venue longer than you have and my stomach is growling very loudly as well. Instead of running to the buffet table like wildebeests in The Lion King, wait until your table is dismissed to get your food. There is a method to the madness of a wedding, and if you’re at table 15 and get up when you want to get food, I’m sure table number 4 won’t be very happy with you and they *might* end up bumping you on the dance floor.


7. Don’t Eat Dessert Before the Cake Cutting!

For photography purposes, please don’t start taking the sweets from the dessert table before the cake cutting. It doesn’t look great when the couple gets photos back of an empty dessert table during their cake cutting ceremony. Even though I know those cupcakes, pastries and brownies look absolutely divine, we can all practice some self-control and wait until the cake is cut and photos are taken!


8. Be Respectful During Toasts

When it’s time to give speeches and toast to the bride and groom, pay attention! Turn down those conversations and turn your heads to the area where speeches are being made and raise your glass when asked. If you need to continue your conversation during toasts, take it outside and come back in afterwards.


9. Take a Drink, but Be Careful...

I can attest that I am the biggest lover of margaritas, wine, beer and many mixed drinks. A wedding that has a bar is a fun way for guests to let loose and enjoy their time together, as long as everyone is responsible. It’s crazy to think that some people will go overboard and get a little *too* tipsy. No one wants to take care of the inebriated guest.


10. Don’t Bash the Wedding

If you have an issue during the wedding, seek out the onsite coordinator or day of coordinator - we are always happy to assist you and make sure your evening is pleasant. However, if you’re (pardon the word) snooty and have comments regarding the wedding, reception, vendors etc. that aren’t kind, keep it for the car ride home. As vendors, we work tirelessly to make sure each event is fun filled and memorable, and even if the event is not up to your standards, don’t worry, you didn’t have to pay the bill anyways.