Wedding Guest Etiquette

I’ve been to many weddings. I’ve been a guest, I’ve been a bridesmaid and I’ve been a co-ordinator. I have seen many awkward moments that could have been avoided if guests had a little more tact. Below is a list of some things that guests can do to assist the couple in keeping calm on their wedding day as well as a few ways that couples can help this happen.

Don’t wear the same colour dress as the bridesmaids


I’ve been a bridesmaid a few times and there is something so special about wearing matching outfits that have been chosen by the bride. A lot of thought goes in to picking a colour scheme and making sure the bridal party looks good. Having guests wear the same colour dress is not only a little bit annoying, but it can detract from the special status that bridesmaids have. I once heard a bride’s family member say “My dress is exactly the same colour and material as the bridesmaids dresses. I thought I should get a dress that matches the wedding colour scheme”. No, you should not get a dress that matches the colour scheme. And don’t ever ever ever ever ever wear a white dress to a wedding.

Bride Tip: Most guests are a little more clued up than the guest I just spoke of, so if you clearly indicate the wedding colour scheme in your invitation, guests should know which colours to avoid. Be bold in the way you present your invitation so that the colours you have chosen are noticeable. 

Don’t call the bride or groom for directions (on their wedding day!)


I don’t think it needs to be explained how stressful weddings are – specifically on the day. You may think that you are the only person asking for directions, so it’ll be fine, but I assure you, this happens often. Any “small” requests like that, add up and cause a lot of stress. Keep your invitation handy so you know where to go. Or, if you lose the invitation, phone another guest, or even a member of the bridal party.

Bride tip: Make sure you put a map and/or directions on your invitation so guests know where to go. It helps to have a point person on the day (a wedding planner, bridesmaid or family member) and put that person’s details on your invitations so guests know who to call.

Don’t cancel on the day

wedding planner

People get sick. It happens. Cancelling on the day is often the only option, and most couples will understand. However, calling the bride or groom on the morning of their wedding to tell them you aren’t coming is not a good idea. Call the wedding planner/trusted friend/bridesmaid/etc. Just don’t call the bride or groom.

Bride tip: Create a ‘B list’ of guests you would invite if last minute cancellations happen. Trust me, they happen. Tell those guests they are on the list and they will receive a call closer to the time if they are able to come to the wedding. Most guests won’t mind being on standby. Then put someone in charge of sorting this out. You will be none the wiser until you start greeting your guests. Wedding planners, or on-the-day co-ordinators are handy with this sort of thing.

Don’t steal the decor


A lot of couples collect decor that they intend to keep. A lot of them hire decor that has been collected by someone else that costs a lot of money. If you were to take the decor home, you would be depriving the couple of something they wanted to keep, or worse – you would be asking them to pay their decor hiring company for something you have taken.

Bride tip: the best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is for your guests to know you either want to keep the decor or you want to give it back to the hiring company. A sneaky way of communicating this would be to thank your decor company in your speech, or thank your family for helping you collect the items. Maybe even mention that you’ll use them to decorate your home. 

Don’t request songs from the DJ

wedding dj

Ok, a lot of couples may not even notice and they probably wouldn’t care. I know I have a list of songs I absolutely hate and would not want to hear them at my wedding. If a guest were to request one of those songs, I would notice and I would not be impressed. Couples pay a lot of money to hire a DJ that will play the music THEY choose.

Bride tip: If you feel the need to know all (or most) of the songs that will be played at your reception, why not give guests the opportunity to choose a song. You could put a spot on your RSVP card for guests to choose a song, knowing how happy they’ll be when they hear it. If you don’t like that song choice, just don’t add it to your playlist.

Don’t be late


It’s an unwritten rule that brides will be later than the arrival time specified on the wedding invitation. And that is ok. Just don’t overestimate the amount of time you have, as a guest, to get ready and get there. It is always best to arrive at the wedding 15 minutes before the arrival time that is stated on the invitation. That way, you are guaranteed a good seat and there is no risk that you will walk in after the bride has walked down the aisle.

Bride tip: Don’t plan on walking down the aisle at 3pm if that is the time you put on your invitation. You could even say the wedding is at 2:30 for 3pm and then walk in at 3:10. 

Don’t leave before the bridal couple

wedding 1

If you are attending the reception, it is considered rude to leave before the bridal couple. I have done this before, and I felt really bad, but I swore never to do that again. My excuse was that it was late, I had to drive far to get home, and I had no idea what time the couple would leave. That said, a lot of couples plan special ways they will exit – pretty sparklers, a group photo, etc. Don’t ruin that for them.

Bride tip: Let your guests know what time you are planning on leaving, and stick to that. If you know your wedding is an hour’s drive for most of your guests, try keep your end time reasonable. You could even provide your guests with information about nearby bed and breakfasts, so they can stay over. 

Not all weddings have to be awkward. Just use your common sense and try to help your friends enjoy their wedding day. Most times they don’t notice the little awkward moments because they are so happy they are finally married, but hey, why not help them make this a stress-free day 🙂

Leave your comments if you have any other suggestions, tips or pet peeves about weddings and guests 🙂



Filed under Wedding

4 responses to “Wedding Guest Etiquette

  1. Reblogged this on Fresno Wedding – Fresno Wedding Planners – Fresno Wedding Consultants – Fresno Wedding Planning -Music Express Weddings and commented:
    This seemed like a post many of you brides would like so I am sharing it with everyone who is getting married in Fresno and Clovis!

  2. Sarah

    Hi Kelly!
    Great post! I just think one thing to add (and you would assume that this is obvious, but it happened at our wedding) would be don’t make nasty comments about the wedding in earshot of the bridal couple on the day. Or ever. At my wedding I overheard a friend of my husbands commenting about how the music sucks, and it really annoyed me. If something isn’t to your taste, just keep it to yourself- it’s not your wedding, and the poor bride and groom have put so much hard work and effort into the day. The music didn’t end up being exactly how we wanted it to be, but honestly, we probably wouldn’t have noticed if someone hadn’t commented.

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