Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Guest Etiquette….. Tips to being a Great Guest!!

You’ve just received the invitation!  What a fabulous couple, you can’t wait to attend their spectacular wedding!!  What’s the next step??  How do you make sure you’re the best guest ever??

Sometimes, people do not know how they should behave when attending a wedding. Although most people assume that wedding etiquette is reserved for the bride, her groom and their family members, certain etiquette applies to guests too and starts well before the day of the wedding.

Embarrassing the bride, groom or their family should be avoided at all costs especially during the most important day for the newlyweds. The rules for the guests are much easier to follow and they come naturally to most people. Here are a few tips you should be aware of that will help make you a great wedding guest!
Each invitation has an RSVP date. Because an accurate count is needed well before the date of the wedding, it wouldn’t do to respond late, even if you don’t plan to attend. Failure to respond in a timely manner is considered rude and disrespectful and can be very stressful to the bride and groom. Many vital decisions are based on the number of guests who will be attending a wedding and it is therefore very important and polite to confirm one’s attendance as soon as you can, to make work easier for the couple and the planners. From meals to décor to the seating list, if the bride and groom don’t have their guest count, many things cannot be finalized and their budget remains in flux. There are enough last minute details they will have to handle, try not to make your RSVP one of them.

There are other things to note on the invitation. For instance, if you’re allowed to bring a guest, this will be indicated as “and guest” next to your name on the envelope. If this isn’t indicated, you should assume the host is requesting only the honor of your presence and not that of your guest. It’s very bad manners to show up at the wedding, guest in tow, when you didn’t RSVP for two people. This means the caterer will have to scramble to make sure they have enough meals, and the host will have to pay for that extra meal and place setting after the reception. In addition, if children are invited, this too will be noted on the invitation, either as “and family” next to your name on the envelope, or inside the invitation where children’s names will be notated. If this isn’t the case, assume you’ll need to hire a baby sitter.

Don't assume that the couple to be wed should be your first stop with all your questions simply because it's their wedding. Not sure where they're registered for gifts? Wondering about which hotel to stay at? Will there be transportation? Need to know if there will be a babysitter at the wedding reception?..….. Don't pick up the phone and immediately call the bride or groom -- chances are, they've got enough wedding stress of their own. First try the bridesmaids and groomsmen, or the couple's parents. Find out if the couple has a wedding website (look on the invitation), which could very well have all the information you need. If you still have no luck, it's okay to contact the couple -- just make sure you've tried other avenues first.
When you’re picking out your wedding day wardrobe, do try to be respectful to the bride and groom. Traditionally, only a bride wears white to a wedding. For another guest to show up in white is disrespectful, no matter how cute the dress is.
On the other hand, in the case of a beach destination wedding, it is often requested that all the guests wear only white. Be mindful of the wishes of the bride and groom. If they have requested all white, this is not the time to let your unique personality shine and wear your new fabulous red outfit…. leave that for your own wedding where you’re setting all the rules.            

Wedding in Puerto Vallarta

Black is also considered disrespectful in some cultures. Although these days it is very acceptable to wear black, you’ll still want to check with the bridesmaids or the couples’ parents to make sure you’re not wishing bad luck for the bride and groom, before you choose this color. It’s probably best to err on the side of caution and wear something a little more colorful if you’re not sure. Keep in mind as well, that black can be a very hot color to wear in a tropical destination or a summer outdoor wedding.
Always take the location of the ceremony into consideration. For instance, if the ceremony is held inside a church, it is often considered disrespectful to bare ones shoulders or wear something considered risqué. Make sure you check the rules, regulations, customs and traditions.
No matter how far you've traveled to attend a wedding, the couple isn't required to pay for your hotel -- or even let you crash on their couch. Many couples will reserve blocks of hotel rooms to get a good rate for their out-of-town guests, but don't expect them to foot the bill. If you're not sure where to stay, ask a member of the bridal party for recommendations.


The first rule is getting to the wedding on time. All wedding invitation cards indicate the time the wedding ceremony is scheduled to start and as a guest it is your responsibility to arrive on time, actually at least 15 minutes before the ceremony time is the rule of thumb. Arriving just as the bride is walking to the front of the church or ceremony location is a big NO-NO! If you are late, stand in the rear of the wedding location and watch from afar. Walking down the aisle after the bride and shuffling around trying a find a seat is a HUGE faux pas!

Wedding in Puerto Vallarta

Another simple wedding rule to remember is silence. The only noise to be heard should be as directed by the officiate in order to treat the wedding ceremony with sanctity. This act of silence shows the deserved reverence and also creates a sense of order for the event itself. In addition, it is important to follow the leads of other guests or the officials if the ceremony requires guests to sit and stand during the ceremony. 

Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
Even though we always see wedding guests snapping away during the ceremony, in reality it’s considered bad manners to take pictures. Even worse is getting in the way of the professional photographer and/or videographer to get “that perfect shot”. The bride and groom have hired a professional for a reason and it is very important to them that you don’t interfere with the professionals doing their jobs. The photographer will have copies you might want to purchase later, or you can wait until after the ceremony is over…you can take all the pictures you want at the reception!
At the reception it’s likely you will have assigned seating. Your hosts have taken the time to see that you will be seated with people you know or are at least compatible with. If you’ve never made the acquaintance of some of the people at your table, start off the evening by making introductions. Before long, you’ll all be chatting like old friends.
Changing seats or even worse, tables, is considered disrespectful to your hosts. They have planned every detail carefully and have thoughtfully seated guest where they have for a reason. Also, changing places can wreak havoc with the dinner service. The caterer will have been given a schematic of all the tables and where every guest is seated. They know, seat by seat, who gets the fish and who gets the chicken, that the guest at table 6, seat 5 is allergic to nuts and there are vegetarians at table 1, 2 and 3 in seat 3, 7 and 9 respectively. Changing places and/or tables can end up resulting in guests getting the wrong meal and being unhappy…. or even worse. It’s not something the bride and groom need to deal with on the happiest day of the lives.
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
In the same vein, make sure you remember which meal you chose on the RSVP that you sent back to the couple. The bride and groom have only ordered and paid for a set quantity of each entree according to what was pre-ordered by their guests. Changing your selection during dinner service not only confuses things it may also mean that another guest will not receive the entree they ordered because it was given to you.
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
The caterer receives a list from the bride and groom with the names of each guest and the meal that they ordered. This list is used by the wait staff during dinner service. If you feel there was an error on the list and you did not order what it says, or you’ve just decided that you want something different from what you ordered, instead of causing a commotion and interfering with the rhythm of the dinner service (as well as stressing out the bride and groom) wait until all the tables have been served and then speak to your waiter, the wedding planner or the caterer about a possible entree change. Generally the caterer prepares a little extra of each entree and will be more than happy to accommodate you.
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta

Be mindful of speeches and announcements and the first dances. Guests conversing amongst themselves while something important is going on is not acceptable behavior.

Watch your alcohol consumption….everything in moderation. An open bar is fabulous but it’s no reason to overindulge and there’s nothing more apt to ruin the day for the bride and groom than a drunken and unruly wedding guest. Guests should show the newlyweds that they are happy for them but they should not embarrass them while doing it.


The most important rule of attending a wedding is to enjoy the day!! Leave your worries, gripes and moods on the doorstep! The bride and groom planned this special day in celebration of a joyous affair and took their guests’ comfort and entertainment into heavy consideration. Be respectful, be polite and be a good guest and everyone will have a wonderful and memorable time!!!
Wedding in Puerto Vallarta Wedding in Puerto Vallarta
Now test your skills…..Here’s a link to The Knot and their Are You a Great Wedding Guest Quiz….. Have fun!!

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