Tips & Tricks

The Wedding Guests You Don’t Want to Be | Wedding Guest Etiquette

I wrote this blog post almost 2 years ago,  for New Creations Weddings but I feel like it’s necessary to share every year! 

The rules of guest wedding etiquette have undoubtedly evolved over the generations. Some rules have been tweaked and others have been completely thrown out of the window. However, there are still several that are not up for debate. Frustratingly, we continue to see many of these unmannerly moves over and over again and we think it’s time for a lesson in proper decorum. If you will be attending a wedding this year, listen up!

To be a model wedding guest, DON’T be these people:


1. Don’t be the Non-RSVPer

Axis Pioneer Square wedding travel themed wedding invitations

If you don’t RSVP, there’s a chance there won’t be a seat or a meal for you. Just showing up can make things awkward for everyone. The couple has most likely made it very easy for you to respond via response card, including addressed envelope and postage. Alternatively, they may have created a customized email address for collecting RSVPs. It is important to respond the way the Bride & Groom have requested. It’s possible they have someone else collecting RSVPs for them and that person shouldn’t have to hunt down your RSVP across all mediums.

REMINDER: mention any dietary restrictions at the time of RSVP. Every catering company that we have worked with is happy to accommodate you as long as they have the advanced notice. They will not be very happy if you bring up your gluten allergy as dinner is being served.


2. Don’t be the guest that shows up with a +1 or children that were not specifically invited

Woodinville wedding ceremony at Bastyr University Chapel

If the Bride & Groom have allotted you a +1, the invitation will be addressed to you and your guest’s name or to you “and guest”. Don’t just assume that you are allowed to bring a +1 and don’t ask the couple if it is okay to bring someone after you have received an invitation. Deciding on the guest list can be one of the most difficult tasks during the wedding planning process. The couple may have had to cut out family members or friends and there’s even a chance there were tears over it so know that their decision was deliberate.

When it comes to kids at weddings, preferences are across the board. As a general rule, the invitation will be addressed to the entire family if it is okay to bring your children. If your whole family is not invited or the invitation requests no kids, respect that. Your children are not the exception despite how cute and well behaved they may be. Call up Grandma or a babysitter and treat the wedding as a date night!


3. Don’t be Mr. or Ms. Too Casual

Wedding Guest attire at Roche Harbor Resort San Juan Island

You know the old saying, “It is better to be overdressed, than under-dressed.”? Well, it’s still true. Be sure to pay attention to to the invitation. Attire is typically stated there. Please don’t wear whatever you feel like wearing. This is the Bride & Groom’s day, not yours. Use this an excuse to get dressed up! Below are some easy-to-follow guidelines.

Black Tie: Gentlemen, you will be going in a black tuxedo and ladies, a long-mid length gown for you

Formal: A suit for the gentlemen. We recommend a long-mid length gown, your classiest cocktail dress or dressy separates for the ladies

Semi-formal: Gentlemen, this is where you can play around with it a little bit. Wear a suit but feel free to rock it without a tie or without the jacket. Ladies, think Sunday’s best or cocktail attire. Cocktail attire does not mean club wear! Be mindful of the fit, length of skirt, the neckline, etc.

Casual: For the love of all that is Holy, put the jeans back in your closet. We don’t care who’s wedding you are going to, whether it is at a beach or in a backyard–gentlemen, put on some khakis or linen pants. They are equally as, if not more, comfortable than jeans. Pair with a polo or casual button down. Ladies, just keep it classy!


4. Don’t be the Late-comer

Marissa & Tyler's wedding at Foss Waterway Seaport

There is a common misconception that weddings always start late. (Obviously these people have never been to one of our weddings.) Always try to arrive 10 minutes earlier than the invite time. Again, this is the couple’s day, not yours. If the ceremony does happen to start a few minutes late (because things do happen) and you have to wait on them, fine but they should never have to wait on you! If you do show up after the ceremony has begun, wait until the processional is over and quietly sneak up a side aisle.

Something to note–unless the invitation specifically states that you were only invited to the reception, you were invited to both so you should attend both! This is a special day for the couple and they invited you because they want to share it with you. Despite what you may think, they WILL notice your absence.


5. Don’t Play the Amateur Photographer

Bride & Father of the Bride walking down the aisle at Fremont Foundry

Some couples do encourage photos with special hashtags, etc. but if you’re not sure whether you should have your phone out or not, err on the side of caution–turn it off and live in the moment. If you do decide to snap a few shots, do so discretely. Please, NO IPADS and do not lean into the aisle or stand up to take a picture. We know you have the best intentions but the Bride & Groom probably spent a small fortune to hire a professional photographer. Don’t give the photographer the tedious task of photo-shopping out you or your giant tablet.


6. Don’t be the 1st one to the dessert bar

Deru Market coconut wedding cake with gold letter cake topper

There has been a surge in the popularity of dessert bars over the past few years so I know this one can be a little confusing but the same old rule applies. The dessert bar does not open until the Bride & Groom have cut the cake. The couple doesn’t want to take photos in front of a half picked through table. Quite often, this is the first time they will be seeing the dessert bar and/or cake that day. Some couples will opt to do a separate cake and dessert table and will allow guest to eat dessert first but wait for an announcement or an okay from the catering staff before you dig in. If you’re not sure, wait!

Bottom line–don’t be a jerk (consciously or unconsciously), follow these guidelines and most importantly have fun celebrating!


If you are a Bride or Groom that needs assistance planning your big day and hosting your, now perfectly polite, guests contact The Greatest Adventure Weddings & Elopements for a complimentary consultation today!

Cheers and happy planning!



Photos by:

 Lionlady Photography

Tony Asgari Photography

Sara Parson Photography

Berty Mandagie

 Angela Lyons Photography

Tonie Christine Photography

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