The Well-Intentioned Guest: How to avoid wedding etiquette faux pas


The wedding season is upon us! Wedding invitations are arriving in our mailboxes and couples across the nation are preparing to say “I do.” Once you have been invited to someone’s wedding, there are some basic etiquette rules that you should follow as a good friend and guest of the hosts. Below are some tips to avoid some of the biggest wedding etiquette faux pas currently being committed by the well-intentioned wedding guest. 

1.) If you get an invitation, make sure you RSVP. Tell the couple yes or no as soon as you can. Weddings are expensive, and the couple needs to know if you’re coming or not. It’s not just about the price of the food; it’s also the table you sit at, the flowers at that table, the chair you sit in, the china you eat off of, and so on. The couple needs to know how much to order and your RSVP is their answer. And while I am on the topic of RSVP’s, if the couple does not extend an invitation of a plus 1, don’t assume you can add one. The couple has spent hours on their guest list, and some of their friends and family did not make the cut. Please understand there are reasons you have not been extended a plus 1.

2.) For God’s sake, PUT THE DAMN PHONE AWAY! I cannot tell you how many times I have seen wedding guests trying to get that perfect picture on their phone so they can show everyone on social media. Remember that the couple is spending thousands of dollars for a professional photographer to catch that perfect picture. You are merely in their way. Plus, no one wants to see their guests in professional pictures holding smartphones. Is this how you want to be remembered 20 years from now when the couple looks at the pictures? If you want a picture, take one with the couple AFTER the ceremony sometime during the reception. And most professional photographers will be happy to share pictures with you if you ask.

3.) Don’t wear white, leave that to the couple. Trust me—if you do wear white, people will talk about you.

4.) During the reception, please let the couple eat before you try to talk to them. I often see guests walk up to the couple while they are eating to say hi and try and have a conversation with them. Do you like people talking to you while you eat? Remember, this is probably the only downtime they have gotten all day. So please give them 10 minutes to eat. They’ll be done soon and ready to engage all of their guests.

5.) Most importantly, have fun. Remember, it’s a party! Please don’t sit there like a bump on a log during the reception. There is a reason the couple invited you. Your presence is a reminder as to why they are friends with you and want you in their lives. Be charming. Talk to people you don’t know. Dance. Eat, drink and be merry! Just find something to do other than hold the chair down.

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Emmett Hickam is owner of and
With almost 10 years of experience in the wedding planning industry, he brings creativity, inspiration, passion and organization to every event he produces. Whether it’s an intimate gathering for 25 or a no-holds-barred wedding for 450, there are not many things that he has not seen.