TOP 20: A guide to being a good wedding guest (for the young, and the young at heart!)

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Being a guest at a wedding is a honor and a privilege. You have been cordially invited to share in one of the biggest, baddest, and most important days in a couple’s life. However, through our eyes, the eyes of the wedding planner, the person who spent upwards of 12-18 months planning out every last detail of this event, we see SO MANY guests behaving badly. And it’s about time we teach YOU, the future wedding guest, “How to be a good wedding guest!”

After planning well over 400 weddings the past 15 years, you can imagine that we have seen it all. So here is a comprehensive list that we would like to share with you, so that you will get invited to another wedding. This is going to be blunt, so take it in stride. Not here to offend anyone, just teach you how to be the perfect wedding guest. (you’re welcome 😉)

  1. PLEASE DO NOT BRING A GIFT. (especially if it is a destination wedding) Cards with money 👍🏻 Cards with Cash ✅ A dozen stemless wine glasses in a larger than life box, no bueno. 97% of all couples register well before the wedding date approaches. Do them a favor, and either have the gift shipped ahead of time or send it after the wedding. You technically have a year to buy them a gift. Lugging a bunch of gifts home after a wedding is a real pain (for everyone!)
  2. DO NOT GO INTO THE RECEPTION AREA UNTIL YOU ARE ASKED! Get out of here! (we are thinking) while you are plopping down your Burkin bag and Pashmina on your seat. First of all, we may not be ready for you. Secondly, we NEED our photographer to photograph the space before you start staking your claim at Table 6 (like how I did that). We promise you, you are NOT going to lose your seat or your table if you wait to come in when you are called!
  3. DO NOT CALL OUT THE FAMILIES MISTAKES! They happen. It’s a wedding. They might have spelled your new last name with an “ie” instead of an “ei”. Cut them some slack. Is it really that big a of a deal? NO! So be a lady, or a gent, and let it go. Pointing out mistakes to the family who just invited you to their daughter or son’s 6 figure wedding is completely unnecessary. Remember, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! You might think you look smart, but really, you are just going to offend and embarass.
  4. PLEASE MOVE WHEN YOU ARE ASKED. Cocktail hour is a great time to slosh down a few drinks and stuff your face full of Ahi Tuna Cones, but when you are asked to “Please move inside to the reception space and take your seats for dinner”, then MOVE! (right then!) As a wedding planner, there is nothing more frustrating then trying to move 200+ guests into another space in the 15 minutes we’ve been given. It’s time for the next part of the wedding, so be a good guest, and move when asked. You can get a drink inside (promise!) There will be more food inside (promise!) And you will still have at least 4 hours to carry on that mindless conversation about RHOC you were having with your sorority sister from 20 years ago!
  5. PLEASE RSVP ON TIME! Could they have made it any simpler for you? They even gave you the stamp. So send that bad boy in with your choice of Beef or Fish (on time!) Late RSVP cards cause a lot of stress. We already have enough of that. You are either coming, or your not. No one should have to personally call you to know if you are going to make it. And on that note, please fill out the RSVP card completely! (as in, don’t leave your name off!)
  6. PUT THAT CELL PHONE AWAY DURING THE CEREMONY! (no further explanation needed) Well, maybe one! The couple doesn’t want to look back at their wedding ceremony photos with YOUR cell phone in the way of the Photographer’s camera. We will share the pics. Promise!
  7. GIRL! DO NOT WEAR WHITE! (or Ivory) Champagne is even pushing it. (unless of course it was requested) There are a gazillion colors out there, can’t you pick something else? You might be able to break the “white after Labor Day rule”, but the “Bride is the only one wearing white” rule is one you should abide by! Don’t even flirt with other shades.
  8. DON’T BE TRASHY! Does the gorgeous custom cake table dressed in a $250 couture linen really seem like a great place to set your drink down and your half eaten lamp chop bone. NO! C’mon. Find another spot for your trash. A highly photographed table is NOT the place to leave your mark.
  10. CATCH A GLIMPSE OF THE BRIDE (OR GROOM) BEFORE IT’S TIME. PRETEND LIKE YOU DON’T SEE THEM. We know you are dying to tell her how beautiful she is (or how dapper he looks), but you will have plenty of time to do that later. Couple’s can sometimes be caught taking photos, and you just might happen to show up at that time. Let them be! (please)
  11. DON’T MONOPOLIZE THE COUPLE’S TIME, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE TRYING TO EAT! C’mon Uncle John (who won’t stop talking). Give a hug, a few compliments, and move along. Not only are there other people that would like to give their “Congratulations” but wedding couples are kept on a pretty strict timeline (by us) and the night goes by so fast in their world. So let them enjoy a little. And definitely DON’T go to talk to them while they are trying to eat dinner. They probably haven’t eaten in a month.
  12. PLEASE DON’T COMPLAIN (about ANYTHING!) Beef overcooked, Sorry! Cold and Windy, too bad. Don’t like your seat, tough! Again, being the BEST wedding guest means remembering “It’s not about you!” If you’re unhappy, we would rather you leave gracefully than complain. (and so would the family)
  13. TIME YOUR BOWELS CAREFULLY! Deciding to go to the bathroom when the couple is about to be announced and do their First Dance is BAD PARTY PLANNING! (on your part) Either hold it, or try to be more “aware” of what is coming up next, and prepare accordingly.
  14. GETTING WASTED IS NOT COOL! We all want you to have a GREAT time, and weddings are about celebrating. But  nobody needs to clean up your barf off the floor, or see you get arrested during dinner for snorting cocaine at cocktail hour. (Yes, these things have actually happened!) Keep it classy! You’re at a wedding, not a frat party.
  15. ASKED TO GIVE A SPEECH? (no longer than 5 minutes MAX!) Prepare! Don’t ramble. No one wants to hear you go on and on, nor do they want to watch you sweat and TRY to be funny while you are winging it. Hire a speech writer if needed. (and try not to do all the dreaded cliche’s found on Google!) Be engaging, and be quick! And no impromptu speeches if you weren’t asked to give one.
  16. THE WEDDING PLANNER WAS HIRED BY THE FAMILY, NOT BY YOU! The guest experience is very important to us, but the families experience is even more important, and our focus is going to be on them! Have a question? Happy to help! Need another Gin and Tonic (please get it yourself)
  17. DON’T SWITCH ENTREE’S We know 2 months ago you wanted a big hunk of Beef. But yesterday, you became a Vegan. Sorry! Might have to take one for the team on this one. Entree’ counts, selections, and allergy info has already been planned and accounted for. Keep that in mind when you are checking that meal box. (or eat before you come)
  18. PLEASE STAY PUT! Seating charts are a royal pain in the butt for everyone. But they are almost always thoughtfully thought through by the couple. So stay where you are placed. Switching tables is not acceptable! (and just causes more work for those around you) Think wedding, not football awards banquet. You most likely won’t have to be there for more than 60-90 minutes anyway.
  19. PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING UNTIL IT’S TIME! Just because you were timely and arrived at the ceremony AN HOUR early, doesn’t mean its time to peruse the entire area and start taking things…like your Place Card for instance. Not only are they most likely not ready for you yet, but you don’t need to know where you are sitting until it’s time to sit! The couple wants pictures of ALL the pretty things that were planned (in their entirety), so would be best that you let that happen. (Please, and thank you!)
  20. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! If you can just go into the wedding, repeating this mantra to yourself, we KNOW you are going to be the best wedding guest ever. And trust us, we will ALL notice (and appreciate you!)

Hopefully this list was helpful to you, the future wedding guest! Please feel free to leave comments. Also, we know we shared a lot of “What NOT to do”, but here is a request. Go into the wedding dressed to the nines, ready to celebrate, and full of compliments, will make you SHINE future wedding guest!


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