Wedding Guest Etiquette: How To Be A Perfect Guest

Wedding Guest Etiquette:  How To Be A Perfect Guest


There are some people who love a wedding, and don’t hold back when it comes to considering etiquette, if they even consider it at all.  And there are others who dread the endless faux paux possibilities.


They question their dress code, don’t know if they’ve rsvp'd adequately, and well,  the gift … that’s the start of nightmares. Things become tougher these days with modern day weddings that are less traditional and probably have their own set of rules.  


Here’s a list of the most important things to remember. If you stick to this etiquette, whether the wedding is traditional or unique, you won’t offend anybody, and you can sit back and enjoy the day.  


Hidden Dress Codes

Ok, so we all know the major rule when it comes to dress code don’t we?  The don’t wear white rule has been around sometime. But what happens if the bride wears ivory, or another colour.  What do you do then? And how do you find out what colour the bride is wearing if you are not in their direct circle of friends.  


This problem becomes worse when you start to see all of the beautiful white wedding guest style outfits that are ever present in the shops.  It starts to cause you to question whether there really is a rule about white in the first place and whether it’s considered ok to wear a white dress with a pattern.  


We know somebody who plays it safe with the ‘white dress’ rule, but who was still caught out, even though they applied much attention to the rule. Their mistake?  They wore a dusky pink dress which just happened to be the exact same colour, and length as the bridesmaids dresses. They were mortified.


Here’s what we suggest, if you want to play it really safe - avoid white, cream, and ivory - even if it has a pattern on it.  And in addition avoid plain pastel colours, navy, and burgundy (unless it is colour blocked, or has print on it. Anything to avoid looking like a bridesmaid, and being asked if you are a bridesmaid (cringe).  


If you don’t mind some risk, then just avoid plain white, ivory or cream and go for anything else.  Our friend above - they are choosing patterned jewel tones every time from now on! Regardless of your risk level, and even if you wouldn’t be phased if somebody wore white at your wedding.  It’s worth paying attention to, so that you can avoid potentially upsetting somebody else on their big day, just over a dress.


It’s probably worth mentioning here, that aside from wearing white, and blending in with the bridesmaids, you also want to tone down the sex appeal.  Keep it respectful, and don't show up looking like a ‘bunny girl’ straight out of Hefners mansion, keep it classy and you’ll be perfect.


Dress Changes

Another complicated matter is what to do about your day attire versus evening.  Do you wear the same outfit all day, or do you switch it up for the evening?


If the wedding is around 4pm to 5pm, consider wearing something that can be jazzed up for the evening.  But if the reception starts after 6pm after an early wedding - a different dressy, outfit is usually required.  The outfit should relate to the theme of the wedding, if it’s a traditional wedding think elegant, cocktail outfits.  If it's more relaxed, formal but chic style will do.


RSVP Please!


RSVP’s matter.  The Bride and Groom need to make plans for the tables, food etc.  So it’s quite inconsiderate if you don’t RSVP, and just turn up. So if you don’t RSVP - don’t turn up!  


Stick to a simple rule, of RSVPing every time, as quickly as possible, and well within the RSVP date if there is one.  That way you won’t forget, you won’t turn up unexpectedly, and you won’t be late.


If there isn't a response card, purchase a wedding acceptance card and complete that - just make sure your full name is on it. Just incase the couple know more than one person with the same first name as you.  


Plus One Politics

The ‘plus-one’ situation is a common problem.  Of course, you’d like to take your new partner with you to the wedding, or you would like to take anybody (to avoid turning up alone) but if the couple don’t know your guests, they might not be invited.  


We feel your pain, if you are an eternal singleton, it can be hard to attend a wedding alone.  If you find yourself in this position, try to arrange to meet up with friends at the wedding so that you don’t have to walk in on your own or turn into a wallflower at  the reception.


Asking for a plus one is the same as asking the couple to pay for an extra meal for somebody, and usually that isn’t etiquette that many would follow on a normal meal out.  So don’t change that etiquette for a wedding. We realise that it’s not great for you, and so do the couple but they’ve had to make some tough choices and create some boundaries -  that should be respected.


Gift-Giving Basics

If a couple have a registry, it makes sense to buy something from the registry. After all, the couple have made choosing a gift really easy for you.  But if for whatever reason you need to go off registry, then consider something like a gift certificate, so that you don’t buy them something for the home that isn’t aligned with their tastes.  


If you cannot attend the wedding, it’s up to you to decide whether you’d still like to purchase a gift.  Nobody will be expecting one, but you might like to do so, to help them on their way. Of course, there is a school of thought that a present should always be bought - but we suggest that this should be left entirely up to your discretion.  


Tip!  If you can, get onto the registry asap, that way you’ll get a good choice of items before everybody else starts buying, and won’t be left to buy the most expensive item that is left on the registry.  And you won’t be stuck wondering what to buy!


Keep your Behavior in Check

The one rule of thumb when it comes to behaviour, dress, and attitude is to never outshine the bride.  Don’t propose to your fiance at the wedding, don’t start dancing on the tables, or join in with the entertainment, don’t start an impromptu speech - in general avoid the stage, and mic.  


Finally, never talk about the bride or groom’s past relationships, or arguments.  And don’t become so tearful and emotional that everybody is coming over to you to hug you and check you are ok.  


Also avoid any arguments including those with your own partner!  

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