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Wedding Guest Etiquette 101: How To Be Perfectly Polite

by Lisa Beth Miller

It is so much fun to be invited to a wedding! From the time the elegant invitation arrives in the mail, guests feel flattered and honored to be included in such a momentous occasion. It is important, however, to show your appreciation by following proper guest etiquette! Here are a few critical rules to keep in mind:

1. The first rule should be obvious, but many guests ignore it. Be sure to send in your RSVP for the wedding by the date specified on the invitation, whether or not you plan attending. Failure to do so can be considered rude since the bride and groom must provide a head count to the caterer a week or two before the wedding. The bride and groom have plenty to do in the days before their big day; they should not be on the phone calling guests that have not sent in their RSVP cards on time!

2. Actually read the invitation. What names are written on the inner envelope? Unless children are named on the envelope or the invitation is addressed to you “and family,” you should not plan to bring your children. The bride and groom must pay for every guest that attends the reception. If your children were not specifically invited, it is considered rude to bring them. And don’t cleverly write their names on the response card if they were not invited! This puts the hosts in a very awkward position.

3. The same etiquette follows for bringing a date as it does for children. If “and guest” does not appear by your name or a space is not available for an additional name on the response card, it is not acceptable to bring a guest. It is also inappropriate to show up with a guest that you did not RSVP for. Many bride and grooms allot for assigned seating and if you bring an additional guest, there may not be anywhere for him to sit. Bringing uninvited guests is simply not a good idea.

4. It is polite  to send a gift even if you are unable to attend the wedding. If you are attending, it is fine to either purchase a gift on the gift registry or give cash or a gift certificate.  Do not obsess on calculating the “correct” amount to spend on a gift. Look over the registry and select something that you feel would be meaningful, or give an amount of money you can afford. Do not try to figure out how much the hosts are spending on dinner for each guest and “repay” them with that amount of cash as a gift. That is NOT what gracious gift giving is about.

5. If attire is addressed on the invitation, it is proper etiquette to comply.

6. Be on your best behavior at the wedding. Just because there is an open bar, does not mean you should drink excessively! Do not be “that guest” who is memorable for all the wrong reasons!

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