Wedding Guest Etiquette: Top 3 Dont’s when Attending the I Do’s

Heather and Matt | Wedding Guest Etiquette
Me and My Hubby at a Wedding in Cabo, Mexico

After more than 18 months of lockdowns, social distancing, mask mandates, and canceled events we are getting back to a more “normal” wedding season with full guest counts and celebrations that run well into the night.

We are fortunate to have locations in desirable wedding destinations, such as Colorado and Florida. Between the reschedules and the news biz, our calendars are packed, and we are doing about twice the number of events that we normally do. We know at some point this will normalize. But, for now, we press on.

For the past 17 years, I’ve planned more than 500+ weddings in places like Colorado, Mexico, the Caribbean, California, Florida, the Hamptons, New York, and beyond. Maybe it was the lack of social interaction during the pandemic, but we are seeing some wedding guests behaving badly, and some etiquette that needs polishing. We are also seeing some downright bad manners amongst wedding guests in 2021. So, we felt it was time to offer a quick refresher on “How to be a good wedding guest”- wedding guest etiquette. In fact, want some REAL entertainment, watch my YouTube segment on this. I cover much more there than I could here.

Wedding Guest Etiquette:
Top 3 Dont’s when Attending the I Do’s

RSVP on time and properly!
2021 may well go down as the year of “the last minute”…I’m talking EVERYTHING. I’m not sure why but 2021 has been the year where people have seemed to wait until the absolute last second. I’m talking brides writing their vows 5 minutes before they walk down the aisle when they’ve had two years to write them. (I digress!) Regarding being a good wedding guest, we are seeing this last-minute shit when it comes to wedding RSVPs also. Save The Dates are typically sent out 6-12 months prior to the wedding, followed by a formal or online invitation 8-16 weeks before the big day. Our clients make it SO EASY to send your RSVP back. They even stamp the envelope for you. C’mon people. WHY aren’t you sending them back. PLEASE! Spare us all. Say Yes or No, Beef or Chicken, and let’s move on.

When you receive the invitation make a note of the due date and send it in on time! There are so many details to a wedding that is dependent on the final guest count, not just your seat and meal preference at the reception. Planners are factoring in all sorts of things like catering orders, alcohol purchasing, reception venue layout, rentals, transportation of guests, finalizing seating charts, ordering escort cards, menus, ceremony seating. (just to name a few). When you decide that you are coming 2 days before the wedding, it REALLY makes it hard on the client, the family, and especially us. So just DON’T do it! (please)

Also, be sure to fill out the RSVP in full. You wouldn’t believe how many RSVPs we get back with the Yes box checked, but no name filled in. And please place your initial by your entree’ choice, yet there are 2 checkmarks. What are we to do in that case? I tell you what we do. We pick Beef for the man and Chicken for the woman. Take your time, read the instruction, and RSVP completely. It really helps us all!

Stay out of my Reception Space – Until It’s Time!

This is perhaps my number one pet peeve of all time. Don’t bust into my reception room to plop your stuff down at your table. Also, do not start rearranging place cards at the table, so you can sit next to Aunt Judy or roam around looking at all the pretty things. Don’t do it! Stay out! If you have an assigned seat at a table, why would you feel the need to come in and put your stuff down? Don’t want to carry it around cocktail hour. Too bad! You should have rented a locker. (Just Kidding) But in all honesty, here is why it really bothers us. We are (most likely) still setting up last-minute details, organizing escort cards, menus, floral arrangements, lighting candles, etc. The catering staff is setting tables and doing their final prep as well.

Also, we want our photographers and videographers to capture a pristine reception venue before it’s “lived in”.  The bride and groom, and their families have gone to great expense to put on a fabulous event for you to enjoy with them. Nobody is going to steal your spot, the families have carefully and thoughtfully crafted the seating chart (NOT the planner, this is a common misconception – we do not pick who sits where). So, until you’re asked to be seated in the reception room, please hang on to your purses, jackets, wraps, and other items you may have lugged into the wedding. Remember, you’ll have loads of time to see all the details and visit Aunt Marge once the reception begins. So please, please, don’t go into any wedding spaces until you are invited. We do have a method to our madness.

Kindness Counts

If you are coming to one of our weddings, you must show up in your best manners. Again, I’m not sure if it’s post-pandemic petulance or just a lot of built-up anger, but we are seeing an increased amount of rudeness among guests this year. You are the guest at a very exclusive event. It’s not open to the public and not everyone gets to attend. You are an honored guest of the couple and their families. Not only that, but weddings are very expensive. They are usually more than a year in the making, requiring a significant investment of time, logistics, creativity, love, and resources to put together.

The big day is just that, lots of moving pieces and details to execute. As a guest, your focus should be on the couple, enjoying the celebration. As professional wedding planners, we are in the hospitality business for a reason, and it’s our mission to ensure a fun and flawless event. If you need help, have a problem, or complaint, please use discretion on whom you complain to, and how. For some reason, as planners, we get blamed for EVERYTHING! And I mean everything. The shuttle went the wrong way. Our fault. No salt and pepper on the table, our fault. The chicken was cold, again, our fault. And at the end of the day, it is NOT our fault. We can only do so much to control situations, then we must leave it up to our vendors to pull through on their responsibilities. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. But, if you REALLY feel like complaining to someone, just come to us! Do not go to the couple or their families.

In conclusion, I’d like to say I’m beyond blessed to have been planning weddings for close to two decades now. I’ve come across far more gracious guests, brides, grooms, and families than not. (thankfully) This post on wedding guest etiquette is simply an observation of what we at Table 6 Productions have seen from guests in 2021. Hopefully, it’s just a blip on the radar due to the cancellations and chaos of 2020.


Table 6

Table 6 Productions is an award-winning luxury wedding planning and event design company who has been planning fresh, flawless, elegant events for more than 17 years. We pride ourselves on our unique approach to event design as well as the immense focus we put on the guest experience. Our company has multiple locations around the world, which allows us to offer Colorado Wedding Planners, Florida Wedding Planners, California Wedding Planners, New York Wedding Planners, Mexico Wedding Planners, as well as Destination Wedding Planners. We service clients all over the world. Our passion for planning fabulous events can be read through our online reviews or you can view our extensive work in our gallery or on our Instagram. We can’t wait to be your premier wedding planning team.