It’s wedding season and there are some definite ‘Do’s & Don’ts’ when it comes to being a good guest at a wedding. Follow these tips to ensure a great time and to make a good impression with the happy couple. If you can think of any more tips, feel free to add your own down in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
1. RSVP in a timely manner
The couple most likely has a significant amount money allocated for food & beverage for everyone on the guest list. They need to know if you’re coming or not so they can make arrangements based on accurate head count. Also, don’t bring or ask to bring more people that what the invitation specifies. If it specifies a +1, only bring one guest, not 3.
2. Be on time
Give yourself plenty of time to get there, especially if it’s a venue that you’ve never been to before, or if you think there might be a difficult parking situation. You don’t want to be walking in trying to find a seat while the ceremony is taking place. Blame the traffic if you want, but you could’ve given yourself more time.
3. Turn your phones off or to vibrate
This is a biggie. There isn’t much that’s more disrespectful or embarrassing than your phone ringing during the ceremony. Switch it to vibrate as soon as you get there. Also, if the officiant or anyone else asks for an “unplugged” wedding ceremony, don’t even take your phone out during the ceremony. The couple just wants you to be present and to pay attention. The bride & groom spent good money for professional photographers and videographers to capture their day. The last thing they want to see is you standing up or extending your arms out to get a photo with your phone. This interferes with the photographers and videographers ability to get critical shots. There’s plenty of time for party photos with your phone later.
4. Pay attention to the dress code and dress up
Most likely (unless otherwise specified on the invitation), it’s an occasion that you need to dress up for. If you’re not sure what the specific dress code is, feel free to ask the couple or someone close to them. The bride and groom, family, bridal party and just about everyone else will be wearing dresses or suits. If you show up in jeans and sneakers with your shirt untucked, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb for all the wrong reasons. Not adhering to the dress code shows a lack of respect for the occasion by not dressing appropriately. If you don’t own a suit, go with slacks, dress shoes and a dress shirt that’s tucked in.
5. Tip the bartender
Tip the bartender well and early, especially if it’s an open bar. If you tip well, they’ll remember you and will be more inclined to take good care of you throughout the evening.
6. Don’t get drunk
Tip well, but don’t be greedy and take advantage of the open bar and don’t be ‘that guy’ who ruins the night or that everyone talks about tomorrow. If it’s an open bar, this means the couple is being generous and they want you to enjoy yourself, but be mindful that someone has to pay that bill. No matter how close you are to the groom, always remember, this isn’t “your night”. It’s theirs. Even if you’re the comedian of the bunch, always remember to be respectful. Let them cut loose and just be there to enjoy it with them. A lot of time these days there will be some sort of after-party, so be sure you can make it to that.
7. Be respectful of any official choreographed events
There is usually a very rigid timeline of how the day is laid out and when certain things need to happen. Be mindful of that. If you are immediate family and the photographer is calling for all immediate family for a group photo, don’t wait. Get a move on. There’s a good chance that the schedule is behind and the photo and video crew are working overtime to get it back on track. The same rules apply if you’re a friend. Be respectful of the timeline and don’t keep the bride or groom tied up if the photo and video crew needs them to be somewhere.
8. Participate in dances & activities
The bride and groom want you there and they want you to have fun. Sitting on your thumbs because you can’t be bothered to dance doesn’t fly. If they have a photo-booth set up, go through it and have fun. The bride and groom want to see you in those photos. They want to know you were there and that you had a good time. Be involved in any group activities so you can be a part the celebration. When they look back on their wedding photos and video, you’ll be in them because you did more than just show up.
9. Say hello and goodbye to the bride & groom
The bride and groom went through the process of sending you a formal invitation because they want to include you in their big day. Be sure to say hi and let them know you’re there. Just be mindful of any timeline events and that they probably can’t spend a lot of time with you personally. There’s usually plenty of time to socialize during dinner and at the reception. They have a lot happening and the day becomes a blur for them, so during cocktail hour or the reception, be sure to say hi and thank them for including you.
10. Don’t give a speech unless you’re asked to
Unless you have been specifically asked to give a toast, don’t. This can get real awkward real fast. Even if you guys go way back, you need to refrain. Save whatever comments you might have for a private moment with the couple. It’ll be appreciated much more. Also, please don’t heckle anyone giving the toast.
*Bonus Tip: Don’t leave early
If you can’t be present for the entire celebration, send regrets and don’t attend. It’s disrespectful to duck out early and it sends the message that it’s not important to you. When you do leave, be sure to say goodbye to the couple and thank them for including you.