Wedding Guest Etiquette

There are tons of books out there for Brides and Grooms to help with the wedding planning process…the do’s the don’ts the how to’s…but there are few books out there for the actual guests. We don’t want you to feel left out or forgotten, you may have some questions for us as well!I’ve had plenty of family and friends who were invited to a wedding and have come to me with questions. So here you go, a Wedding Guest FAQ!


  • RSVP in a timely manner
  • You do not get to bring a guest unless indicated (John Smith & Guest)
  • If the invitation is addressed to you and your significant other and not your children, don’t assume they are invited. A lot of couples are doing “Adult Only Receptions” to cut down on price
  • There is a time on the invitation for a reason, don’t be late. If the invitation says ceremony begins at 4:00pm, don’t show up at 4:00pm, show up at 3:45pm. Weddings follow a timeline (and of course there is some wiggle room) but once one element gets pushed back 15 minutes, then so does everything else: dinner, first dance, cake cutting, toasts, etc.

Proper attire:

  • If the invitation doesn’t indicate what sort of dress attire is preferred don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Don’t assume because it’s an outdoor wedding that jeans and flip flops are ok.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, don’t show up to a casual summer wedding in a floor length sequin ball gown.
  • Attire is probably one of the questions wedding guests ask about most. It absolutely does not hurt to ask the couple or bridal party what type of attire is preferred. Besides, nobody wants to be “that wedding guest” who stands out like a sore thumb 😉


  • Rule of thumb: the first two rows at the ceremony are reserved for close family members, everywhere else is open seating.
  • Don’t rearrange the seating chart. Just because you want to be at table 7 instead of table 8, it doesn’t mean you can switch place cards with someone else. Sometimes if it is a plated dinner, the seating chart indicates who ordered what.

Wannabe Photographer:

  • Of course everyone wants their own pictures of the bride and groom on their special day, but be aware of the actual paid photographer the couple has hired to capture all of the special moments of the day.
  • Don’t stand in the aisle trying to take pictures of the first kiss, don’t get up close and personal during the first dance or cake cutting, all those special shots will be taken by the professional. And I’m sure the bride and groom would be happy to share those pictures with you when they get them J

Family & Friend Involvement:

  • Of course family and friends want to be involved and help out as much as they can, but sometimes they may overstep their boundaries. People (especially close family members) sometimes forgot who is actually getting married…they want to invite their best friend’s cousin’s mom from college. But with each number added to the guest list is an easy extra $50 minimum a head.
  • You are invited to go look for a wedding dress or meet with the florist, it doesn’t mean YOU get to make the final decision. The reason why the bride or groom has invited you is because they feel close to you and value your opinion, but at the end of the day it is not your call to make. You can give your opinion when asked and even some constructive criticism, but remember to go about it in a sensitive and helpful way.

This is a wedding, not a college frat party:

  • Of course the couple wants everyone to have some drinks, dance, and have fun…but this does not mean it’s ok to drink like a fish, take your shirt off, and dance on top of the table…unless, of course, the bride and groom are dancing on the tables too 😉

Helpful Tips:

  • Mail your gift to the couple’s home prior to the wedding. This saves the couple having to lug around all those heavy gifts from their wedding, to their hotel, then back to their house.
  • The bridal suite is for the bride, bridal party, and close family members (usually mothers) to get ready in the morning. This is not an open invitation for everyone to go say “hi” or “good luck” before the big reveal. You’ll have plenty of time for the hi’s and hugs after they say “I do”.
  • Don’t forget to say an extra “congratulations” to the family members (especially the parents) as well. This is the day that two families are joining together; it’s special for them as well.

At the end of the day, this is going to be one of the most special and memorable days in two peoples lives, try to help make it the best day possible. Have fun, let loose, and celebrate the amazing day, cheers!


Sacramento Wedding Planner