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How To Be A Great Wedding Guest

As a wedding guest, you play an important role in making the day special for the couple. Here are some tips on how to be a great wedding guest and ensure you contribute positively to their big day. A big thank you to the local vendors who chimed in to add to this blog!

RSVP Promptly. One of the simplest ways to show respect to the couple is by responding to the wedding invitation as soon as possible. This helps the couple plan for seating, catering, and other logistics. As for the invitation itself, here are some specific tips: The only ones invited are the ones on the invitation envelope. No kids names? Don't bring kids. No plus one listed? No plus one is invited. Please understand that the guest list is agonized over and some people might not make the cut.

Follow the dress code. Respect the couple's wishes regarding attire. Whether black tie, casual, or themed, make an effort to comply. If you're unsure about what to wear, it's better to ask for clarification. Please don't wear white to a wedding, don't wear shorts, don't wear tennis shoes. It's better to be over dressed than under dressed. I've seen some wildly inappropriate attire at weddings.

Arrive on time. Punctuality is crucial. Punctuality is also respectful. Arriving late can disrupt the ceremony and draw attention away from the couple. Plan to arrive 15-30 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start. This gives you time to find a seat and settle in. Arriving too early can also be problematic. The ceremony space may not yet be ready, and vendors may be adding their finishing touches. When you do arrive, don't go searching out either the couple or anyone in the wedding party. They're busy preparing for the big moment. You'll have plenty of time to see and chat with them later. If you arrive late, sit in the back row so you aren't disruptive. If you arrive once the ceremony has started, DO NOT walk into the ceremony space.

Be present and attentive. Turn off your phone or set it to silent, and avoid taking photos or videos unless the couple has explicitly permitted it. If the couple has a social media policy (e.g. no posting until after the ceremony), be sure to follow it. Don't be that person whose phone rings in the middle of a ceremony. Photographers are expensive. Don't ruin the couple's photos by having your phone (or even worse, an iPad) out in their pictures, or using flash photography.

If you are attending a wedding ceremony with your young child in tow, and said young child becomes fussy, remove yourself with said young child from the ceremony as quickly and as quietly as you can.

If the reception space is closed for cocktail hour, please don't attempt to get in to "drop off" your bag, coat, or drink. The couple paid a lot of attention to setting up a beautiful reception space for guests to walk into. Oftentimes, the photographer will be taking photos of the space prior to the reception starting.

Sit in your assigned seat at the reception. Seating charts are stressful to create. But they've been created for a reason. If there are escort cards neatly displayed on a table, find your name, and take the card with you. This is especially important if there is a plated dinner. If there is, make sure your card is easily visible to the catering staff so you receive the correct meal. If there is no seating chart or escort cards, may the odds be every in your favor.

If you're asked to give a toast or a blessing at a wedding reception, please keep if brief. If you're giving a toast, it should be 2-3 minutes max (see my previous blog "Why A Toast Is Not A Speech") - and keep it classy.

Mind your alcohol intake. Overindulging can lead to embarrassing situations and detract from the event. Pace yourself, drink water between alcoholic beverages, and know your limits. If the venue has a "no shot" policy, don't ask the bartenders to bend the rules. People can get fired for bending the rules. Pay attention to when the bar will be open. It's generally not open before cocktail hour, and often during dinner. Don't forget to tip the bartenders!!

Don't touch things that don't belong to you. Camera equipment, video equipment, and DJ equipment are VERY expensive. Don't remove centerpieces from a table unless you are explicitly told to do so. The vessels containing flowers are often rentals and may need to be returned.

Pay attention. Listen for announcements for things like the couple's grand entrance, cake cutting, first dances, and toasts. When these special moments happen, be respectful and attentive.

If you see the couple walking around with their photographer or videographer, please don't stop them to chat. They are on a mission! You'll have plenty of time to talk with them throughout the reception.

Please don't allow your child on the dance floor when the couple is having their first dance or parent dances.

Be nice to the vendors.

A good wedding guest is on time, dressed appropriately, brings a gift, and generally happy for the couple. You would think it's not that difficult to do - yet here I am, writing this blog.

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1 Comment

What a great post!!! I wish every wedding guest would read this!!


Cleveland Wedding Officiant
Wedding Day Management (Day of Coordinator)

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