Wedding Guest Etiquette

Believe it or not, there are some guidelines you should follow when invited to a wedding ceremony.

  • Even if you know the bride or groom well, never assume that you are invited to the wedding and do not ask
  • Be prompt in accepting or declining the invitation.  Use the enclosed reply card or write a personal note to whoever is hosting the wedding.  Their names will usually be on the first line of the invitation (e.g. parents of the bride).
  • If the invitation is addressed to you only, do not ask if you can bring a guest/date (it is a numbers thing).  However, it you are engaged, you may bring your fiancé/fiancée.  If you are living with someone, be discreet in your request and do not be upset if the answer is “no.”  Again, it is usually a numbers thing.
  • If your children’s names do not appear on the invitation envelope/inner envelope, do not ask to bring them.  Even if your young children are included in an evening wedding and reception, you may want to give it a second thought for your own enjoyment.
  • You should not be invited to a shower if you are not invited to the wedding.  Please do not ask to bring a date/guest to a shower.  Reply promptly by phone, email or letter.  Remember that a shower gift is not a substitute for the wedding present.  Save the big gift for the wedding.  If you must decline the shower, a gift is not required, but is a nice gesture if the bride is a good friend.  If you are invited to multiple showers, do not feel obligated to attend more than one.  The additional shower gifts are up to your discretion in this situation.
  • If you are a close friend of the bride, groom or family, it would be a nice gesture to buy a gift even if you decline the invitation or receive a wedding announcement.  However, a gift is not a requirement.  Also, you really do not have a year to send the wedding gift unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Nothing beats a great sale, but if you buy a wedding gift on sale, be sure it can be returned and enclose a gift receipt.  That goes for all gifts.
  • Out of town guests should pay their own hotel bills and do not expect an invitation to the rehearsal dinner
  • Try very hard to attend the wedding ceremony.  It is disrespectful to skip it for no good reason and only go to the party.  Plan on arriving at the wedding site about 15 minutes early.  The ushers will not seat you after the mother of the bride has been seated.  This is when you stand at the back or quietly slip into an unoccupied seat.  Stay seated after the recessional until the ushers excuse you.  Please no pictures during the wedding ceremony if it is in a house of worship.

Here are a few reception reminders. 

  • If there is a receiving line, please do not put down your beverage, hors d’oeuvres, etc. and go through the line introducing yourself.
  • Do not forget the guest book.  Sign your name – Scott Jones; if married, Mary and Scott Jones.
  • Remember that the first people on the dance floor are the bride and groom.
  • The reception is not a toast making event like the rehearsal dinner.  Only make a toast if asked by the newlyweds.
  • If you need to leave early, try to wait until the cake is cut.
  • When the bride and groom leave the reception, it is you signal that the party is over.

A nice touch, write the host of the wedding reception a thank you note.  Their work sometimes goes unnoticed. It will be much appreciated.

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