Wedding Etiquette

5 Tips For Being The Perfect Wedding Guest

Summer flowers are in full bloom, beautiful aromas are in the air, and wedding season is upon us. We all know what to expect at a wedding – food, open bar, and dancing, right? But do you know what is expected of you as a wedding guest? Whether you’re just receiving your first wedding invitation or if you’re a seasoned wedding attendee, let’s review a few tips and tricks to ensure you will be a perfect wedding guest this season. 

Say Yes … To the Invitation

The first step to being a great wedding guest is letting the couple who invited you know that you’ll be coming. You’re likely to hear the term RSVP, which comes from the French phase “Respondez, s’il vous plait.” Loosely translated, this phrase means “Please respond.” Although the inclusion of the word “please” makes it sound like replying to an invitation is a suggestion, this is a must. Be sure to RSVP by the reply-by date listed. If asked, provide a food choice and only indicate a selection for those who are listed on the mailing envelope. Lastly, honor any special requests listed by the couple. No means no, whether that means no children or no “plus one.”

Gifting Guide

While you may be inspired to get creative with your gifting, avoid going over the top and stick to the basics. When selecting a gift, review and select an item within your budget from the couple’s wedding registry. When purchasing, do the couple a favor and send a gift directly to the address listed on the registry. While all newlyweds love receiving gifts in celebration of their nuptials, it’s often a nuisance to receive them at weddings. If you insist on giving the couple something on the spot, consider cash, a check, or a gift card. Note that while old etiquette guidelines state it is acceptable to send a gift up to one year after the actual wedding date, it’s best to send within two or three months pre- or post-wedding.

Leave the Photos to the Photographer

As a society, we have come to embrace a selfie culture. While acceptable at some social events, a wedding is not the time to try out your amateur photography skills. Leave the DSLR at home and your cell phone in your purse, and let the professional photographer and videographer do the jobs they were hired to do. If a couple asks for the wedding to be unplugged, meaning no one takes picture, do the couple a favor and comply. 


When attending a wedding, it’s no surprise that everyone is anticipating the bride’s dress, but the guest attire is also important. Review the invitation to get a clue about how you should dress. For men, tuxedos or suits are always en vogue, while a simple sport coat and trousers will also suffice. If all else fails, a collared shirt with a tie and slacks will do. For ladies, a cocktail dress or evening gown may be acceptable based on the invitation, wedding venue, or couple’s theme. When in doubt, a simple black dress never fails. And remember – unless asked by the bride, never ever, under any circumstances, wear white, ivory, off-white, or any other shade of white.

Just Have Fun

When it comes to the wedding ceremony and reception, participation is key. During the ceremony, when the officiant instructs the guests to “please rise,” be sure to stand quickly. At cocktail hour, socialize and mingle. At the start of the reception, cheer on the happy couple during their grand entrance and make your way to the dance floor when instructed by the wedding DJ. If single, join in on the bride’s bouquet toss or the groom’s garter toss. And for goodness sakes, eat the wedding cake! And last, but certainly not least, be sure to thank the couple and their families for including you in their special day and congratulate the newlyweds before leaving the reception and calling it a night.

Photo courtesy of Donnell Perry Photography.