wedding etiquette guide for guests

Wedding Etiquette Guide

Susan Shek New York Wedding Photography

Whether you’re a wedding guest, part of the wedding party, or even a vendor, it’s important to know what to do and what NOT to do at a wedding. There are certain times to stand out amongst a crowd – but your friend’s wedding day is not that time! Remember, it’s all about the couple and how they want to celebrate. As someone playing a supporting role, it’s your job to help add to the magic, not the stress. They will greatly appreciate having you by their side and making their big day unforgettable! Here are a few things you can do to make their day flawless by practicing proper wedding etiquette. 

How to have proper etiquette at a wedding

  1. RSVP – On time! The very first step in being a thoughtful wedding guest is to actually send in your RSVP card (or these days, submit it electronically). What if you just found the card and realized it’s past the RSVP date? You should still send it in. Even more considerate, reach out to the couple personally with your answer. 
  2. Ask how you can help. Instead of watching people run around, offer to deliver a message or tie up any loose ends so that the couple can relax and enjoy their big day a little more. If nothing else, please do not go to them for any problems that may arise. Either find a solution or find a staff member who can help.
  3. Follow directions. If the couple asks for an “unplugged ceremony” (or even if they don’t), please do not play games on your phone or try to get a five-minute video from the aisle during the ceremony. Respect the couple’s wishes.
  4. Be on time. Whether you are part of the wedding party or a guest arriving just before the ceremony, make sure you are where you need to be at the appointed time. If you know you tend to run late, plan on being there half an hour earlier. Unfortunately, if the ceremony has already begun or the wedding party is entering, it’s probably best to just meet at the reception or wait outside. Using your best judgment, you might be able to find a very discreet side entrance. Please, do NOT enter through the grand entryway or main doors after the ceremony has begun!
  5. Don’t post photos without permission. Some couples prefer to be the first to post and announce their marriage on social media. Plus, they’re paying for professional photography. Please don’t be that person who posts an awkward mid-blink shot of the couple on social media or blurry photos.

5 Things NOT to do as a Wedding Guest

  1. Setting your belongings down in the reception hall before it is ready – Oftentimes, wedding planners and vendors must rearrange while setting up. It’s difficult for them to work around your stuff. Not only that, but there’s also a possibility that your things may get misplaced or broken. It’s best to keep them in your car or in a designated area until guests are welcomed in.
  2. Eating in line during cocktail hour or while waiting in the buffet line – It’s awkward, impolite, and not exactly sanitary. It’s best to wait until you get back to your seat. Plus, who wants to risk getting cocktail sauce on their dress or button-down?
  3. Wearing white as a guest or family member – It’s no big deal to wear a white shirt or accent with the rest of your outfit, but stay away from all-white suits, dresses, or formal wear as that is reserved for the bride.
  4. Wearing jeans or sneakers – Unless the couple specifically asked otherwise, stick to traditional wedding wear: either a cocktail or formal attire, according to the invitation. 
  5. Zoning out while standing at the altar – This is for the wedding party. I get it. It can be a little awkward standing up there throughout the ceremony. Although all eyes are mostly on the couple, it’s important to look engaged with a pleasant look on your face. No need for an ear-to-ear grin the whole time. However, for photos, please do not stare blankly at the ground. 

Reach out to me to learn more about Wedding Etiquette!

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