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Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Etiquette | Wedding Guest Edit | Pro Wedding Tips

On the heels of our wedding etiquette do's and don'ts for couples it seems only fitting that we follow up with the list of do's and don'ts for wedding guests. Many of the expectations of guests are clearly expressed by the couple via their invitations and wedding website, while the rest are tried and true traditions that have stuck around for a reason. From following dress codes to showing up on time, there are a few wedding guest rules that are never going out of style, and we have them covered for you below to stop any potential faux pas in their tracks.

How to be a good wedding guest
Danielle Harris Photography

Do Show Up On Time

This should probably go without saying, but it takes simply attending a wedding or two to know that this bit of etiquette is often overlooked. Weddings are one of the events in life where being late is a huge faux pas, so be sure to build in lots of time for unexpected emergencies. Double and triple check the invitation to be sure you're adding enough of a buffer for emergencies and if you're traveling in from out of state on the day of, be sure you're looking at the right timezones! If you're late to the ceremony check with someone at the venue to see if the wedding timeline happens to be running behind as well. If that's the case, by all means, grab your seat for the nuptials! Otherwise, heavily consider if sneaking in mid-ceremony will do more harm than good. There are some cases where just staying back until the reception kicks off is the way to go.

Don't Bring Surprise Guests

Your invitation will let you know if you're allowed to bring a plus one, or if the invitation is meant for you and your immediate family. If there is any uncertainty it's completely fair to ask the couple if they have planned for you to bring a guest. Pay close attention as well to any notes about whether or not it is an adults-only affair or a kid-friendly soiree. Making assumptions here can lead to wedding day chaos so be sure you're allowed to bring a guest before asking anyone to join you. Once you're in the clear on the details, send your RSVP back promptly and include the name of anyone joining you.

Wedding Guest Etiquette
Wandering Heart Photography

Do Follow the Dress Code

This one is non-negotiable. A guest should always follow the dress code that is stated on the invitation or wedding website. When in doubt, just reach out. Of course, no one wants to overwhelm the couple with questions, but this is one they will be happy to clear up. If you're still unsure, follow the age-old advice that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. With so many options for gown and suit rentals and loads of budget friendly options online, there's no dress code that is out of reach! With that in mind, we do recommend reserving your rental or buying your wedding day look as early as possible, as the fashion industry has certainly not been immune to the world's Covid shipping delays and high demand.

Don't Party Too Hard

Don't let this heading scare you off ... we are not against a good party! By all means, have loads of fun. Just don't be the one to cause a problem at the event. Every venue has a damage deposit built into the rental and the couple is responsible for paying it should anything go wrong. Best way to look at this is, don't do anything you wouldn't want to be done to your own wedding venue. We've seen wedding guests scale buildings, trespass into office spaces with sticky fingers, and catch things on fire - all of which, are things that are a one-way ticket to a forfeited damage deposit. Save your wildest partying for the pre-wedding parties (there's a reason so many go to Vegas for this bit!) and know your limits for the big day.

New Orleans Wedding Planner
Danielle Harris Photography

Do Keep the Registry In Mind

This one comes with a little asterisk - if you are extremely close with the couple and know of something extra special that they would absolutely love, whether that's a customized gift or something you've made, it's okay to go rogue here. Otherwise, we do recommend sticking to the registry. Curating a registry can be quite time consuming, and for many couples this is an opportunity to get those items checked off their list that will make easing into newlywed life easier. If the couple has requested a charity donation in lieu of gifts, but you have an item (maybe one of those listed above) that you positively can't imagine not giving to them, we recommend doing a small donation in addition to the physical item to show that you respect their wishes. Generally though, it is best to stick with what they have specified, whether that's a registry item or a donation.

Being a good wedding guest is always the goal and really quite easy to accomplish. By following the requests of the couple and sticking to the timeless bits of etiquette that have been around for decades of weddings, it is easier than ever to be the best guest. So, next time you have a wedding to attend, get that dress code perfect outfit on, arrive a little early, and party just hard enough!

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