Whether you are planning your own wedding or preparing to attend the wedding of a friend, it’s important to know what wedding guest behavior is appropriate. While it can be helpful to think, “Would I want someone to act like this on my big day?” it’s also crucial to keep in mind the different standards that people have for decorum. Even if you’re a laid-back bride who is fine with people wearing or doing whatever they want, you should still match the tone and formality of any wedding where you are invited as a guest.
The following is a list of don’ts for those who have the honor of attending a loved one’s special day. You might not need it for yourself, but there’s a good chance that there is someone who you’re inviting that might need these hints. Perhaps this can even help with some wedding etiquette debates you’re having with your future in-laws. Everything on the list below is what you should NOT do at a wedding.
1. Don’t bring a plus one when you were not granted one. Also, asking for a plus one can be seen as a faux pas – the couple put a lot of thought into their guest list, and you don't want them to feel obligated to make any changes.
2. Don’t wear white – or a similar shade to a wedding. A lot of people say this is more acceptable nowadays, and the bride might even claim to be fine with it; however, other guests are likely going to think less of you, and is it really so important for you to wear that lace ivory sundress? Find something else in your closet.
3. Don’t underdress – follow any wedding attire suggestions. If you’re unsure about what’s appropriate, ask someone in the wedding party in the months leading up to the big day and check out our guide to wedding formality.
4. Don’t bring your children to an adults-only reception. If the invitation listed just your names, then your children are not invited.
5. Don’t abuse the open bar. For one, you don't want to embarrass yourself at such a beautiful event, and you also don't want to upset the bride or groom.
6. Don’t give a wedding toast if you were not asked to do so. Save any toasts for the rehearsal dinner, or share your sentiments privately with the couple at a later date. People want to get the party started!
7. Don’t make an inappropriate romantic connection at the wedding. If it’s going to cause drama, it’s not worth it.
8. Don’t be on your phone the whole time, or at all during the ceremony. This is true especially if the couple has labeled the celebration as an unplugged wedding.
9. Don’t forget to RSVP. This is one of the most common wedding guest faux pas. Our advice is to RSVP the minute you know you'll be able – or unable – to attend, so you don't forget.
10. Don’t offer any less-than-glowing feedback about the wedding. Any gossip can wait for an occasion where the hosts or their closest loved ones aren’t in earshot.
11. Don’t call the bride with questions on the big day. She’s going to be a tad busy. Settle any concerns beforehand, or if you’re truly desperate, contact a bridesmaid or someone close to the couple. Always try a fellow guest first though.
12. Don’t try to steal the spotlight; for example, by announcing a pregnancy or proposing to your significant other. While there are exceptions to this rule, they should always approved by the couple before the big day.
13. Don’t forget to put your phone on silent. You don't want your ringtone to interrupt the ceremony, vow exchange, or any important toasts.
14. Don’t enter the ceremony after it has started. The time listed on the invitation is the start time – not when you should show up! This is not the time to show up fashionably late.
15. Don’t talk the bride or groom’s ear off. They have a lot of people they need to visit, so keep your well-wishes simple and brief. You'll have their whole married life to share all of your sweet sentiments and stories!
16. Don’t get in the way of the photographer, especially when they’re capturing moments like the first dance or the cake cutting. Oftentimes, this is even included in a couple's contract with the photographer, so you don't want to be the one to have them breach it.
Opening photo by Braedon Photography; Planning & Design by Mindy Weiss Party Consultants; From Real Wedding: Rustic-Elegant Celebration on a Ranch in Bakersfield, California