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Could You Be a Better Wedding Guest? 7 Things Not To Do Before or During a Wedding

I’ve been inspired by the picture of the man who decided that it was the right decision to propose to his girlfriend at SOMEONE ELSE’S wedding that has gone viral along with this Glamour article on bad wedding etiquette to come up with my own list of seven things NOT to do before and or during a wedding. What I’m sharing below is based on my personal opinion and experiences at both my own wedding and others. Follow these and use your common sense (fingers crossed) and you will be on your way to being an even better wedding guest.

#1 – RSVP

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Just send back the RSVP.

The bride and groom took the time to think about the special people that they wanted to share their I Do’s with. Making their list and checking it probably more than twice because they aren’t inviting you to some casual drop-in Saturday BBQ on their deck but to their (hopefully) one and only wedding day. It might be just another wedding invite to you to consider because you’re just that popular but to the couple who sent it to you it represents their hope to share something special with you and oh, plus you know, the cost of the invitation, the save the date card that they probably sent you before the invitation like six months before, the meal preference card, the direction and information card, the return and already addressed envelope to make sending back your RSVP easy and the $3 in postage for the three stamps they’ve purchased. The bride and groom made it practically dummy proof for you to respond and you decide that you won’t send it back and instead wait for someone to email or call you to confirm your attendance because you just can’t be bothered. Don’t be this person.

#2 – Dress Code

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Follow the dress code.

Most couples will include a dress code on their invitation to make it clear about what kind of wedding they are having. Unless it’s maybe a country theme hoedown and the invitation comes in the form of a Mason Jar with the invite stuffed inside and a burlap bow and then you just know…  But for every other invitation that comes with a dress code? Just follow it. Don’t own a suit? Borrow one. Always wear jeans or shorts? Keep them in the closest for the paltry amount of time you will be at the wedding and put on a pair of khakis. Love the jean jacket that you just bought on sale so much? Please. Don’t even. Leave it at home. The couple getting married have thought about their wedding day for a really long time and pictures do really last forever so don’t be the sore thumb that sticks out and just follow the dress code. You will feel more comfortable not standing out and the couple getting married won’t get hives every time they see the group shot.

#3 – Meal Selection

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Don’t change your meal selection at the wedding.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered something only to have it arrive and then decided that you want something else. Imagine the look on the server’s face. Probably not that thrilled. Plus the restaurant only orders specific quantities of every meal on their menu because they don’t  have a money tree in their kitchen. You know who else doesn’t have a money tree or an extra serving of the salmon fillet? The bride and groom and their food vendor. When you are invited to a wedding where you are asked to select your meal ahead of time (i.e. not a buffet) and you send back the card and your RSVP (you get a gold star!) than YOU ARE LOCKED IN. No going back unless you have the audacity to perhaps call the bride and groom and change your meal before the wedding. You picked your meal so please don’t tell the server that you want anything other than what you ordered.

#4 – Arrive on Time

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Don’t be the person or couple that arrives late because you won’t go unnoticed.

Our wedding invitations said that our wedding would begin at 6:00PM. When my wedding day coordinator came to me and said that not all of our guests had arrived I decided to push back the start time to 6:15. Cue the harp music, the bridal party and the officiant. We all made it down the aisle and my husband and I were seated (it was a Persian wedding) facing our guests. Do you know what I was distracted by out of the corner of my eye? Two different couples pretending to magically be invisible and arriving late. I pushed the annoyance out of mind and later listened to one couple’s excuse as to why they were late (they later contradicted themselves) and went back to being happy and enjoying the moment. Extreme circumstances notwithstanding just try to arrive on time or at least 5-10 minutes before the time on the invitation because people really are waiting for you.

#5 – If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say Don’t Say Anything At All

Maybe you are naturally pre-dispositioned to be a complainer. Life sucks for you and you need to tell everyone around you just how miserable and unhappy you are. Fly in your water? Food not piping hot? The washroom needs more toilet paper and no one had a square to spare? Don’t bother the bride or the groom with it. Tell the wedding planner or the venue staff and just deal with it rather than doing anything other than letting the happy couple float around in a cloud of enveloping happiness for just one night.

#6 – Don’t Get Drunk

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Don’t over do it with at the bar.

Most couples planning their wedding will spend a lot of time deliberating and debating the pros and cons of having an open bar versus a cash bar. I’m going to venture a guess that for most budget conscious couples that the #1 con will be the cost of having an open bar and the #2 con will be the fear that certain guests will take advantage of the generosity of the couple (and their financial backers if they have any) and hit the bar a little or maybe a lot too hard. Just don’t do it. Drink responsibly and keep it in check with what’s reasonable. That being said, maybe the couple getting married met in Mexico doing shots (bottles) of tequila and drinking is their thing. If that’s the case, than go for it. But if it’s not than refrain yourself and think about how you would like guests to behave at your own wedding (assuming it hasn’t happened yet or your on your second or third wedding). Someone or is footing the bill and it isn’t you so don’t overdue it.

#7 – Ceremony Selfies and Photography

We live in the age of selfies. I take them, you take them, we all take them. But I’m guessing (hopefully) that you will refrain from taking them during the wedding ceremony unless you are the bride and groom because if that’s the case it’s your wedding or it’s before or after the ceremony. Save the duckface for a more appropriate time. And on the same theme, you might be world’s best photographer and the happy couple hired you to take their wedding pictures. Congratulations. Or maybe you think you’re the world’s best photographer but the couple spend thousands of dollars hiring photographers and maybe even videographers to capture their big day. Sit yourself the eff down because there are probably people behind you that can’t see. Just don’t. Keep your bum firmly planted in your seat from the time the ceremony starts until it’s over unless otherwise instructed.


Keep these tips in mind when you receive your next wedding invite and you will be on your way to being an even better wedding guest. Did you have a crazy guest at your wedding or an awkward moment you can’t forget? Share it in the comments below!


Photo credit: Blue Olive Photography

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