A Guide to Becoming a Model Wedding Guest

As we enter another holiday season and engagement announcements start popping up, the US postal service will, once again, begin to see a flood of wedding invitations. Whether you have a few winter weddings already on your calendar or receive “save the dates” and wedding invitations soon, your friends here at Flora D’ Amore are helping you prepare for your attendance. From choosing the best outfit to “unplugging” at the ceremony and sending a gift to tearing it up on the dance floor, this is your guide for exemplary wedding guest etiquette.

Wedding guests holding hands

Don’t Assume a Plus-One

Many times, couples like to encourage their friends and family to bring a significant other or close friend to their wedding. However, this cannot always be assumed. Regardless of their reasoning, some couples prefer to keep their guest list at a minimum and do not extend the invitation to include a plus-one. If you receive a wedding invitation that neglects to read “and guest,” then you must respect the wishes of the bride or groom and attend their big day solo. This does not mean you will be alone at the wedding. Often, other friends, family members, and acquaintances will also be in attendance and excited to see you again.

Woman picking out a tan dress

Dress Up

Choosing the perfect outfit for a wedding can sometimes be a difficult task, as you want to ensure you are not underdressed, overdressed, or clash with the style or theme of the wedding. Oftentimes you can indicate if a wedding is a semi-formal or black-tie affair based on the langue in the wedding invitation. However, if it still seems unclear, you cannot go wrong with dress pants, a suit jacket and tie, or a modest cocktail dress. Steer clear of shorts, jeans, casual shirts, and the color white, especially if you plan to wear a dress. You surely do not want to draw attention away from the bride.

Wedding guests using their phones and taking picture of ceremony

Unplug During the Ceremony

Since cellphones at weddings are distracting and inhibit guests’ ability to be present during the ceremony, many modern couples are holding “unplugged” wedding ceremonies. This means that your phone should remain off and in your pocket, purse, or car. If a wedding ceremony is not officially “unplugged,” it is still best practice to at least turn your phone on silent mode and avoid using it at all. If you want to snap a few photos, be sure to do so discretely, remain seated, and ensure the flash is off. This way, the photographer and videographer hired by the couple can adequately and safely do their job, and you have a better chance of staying out of the photos, too.

Woman wearing black holding glass of champagne during wedding ceremony

Respect the Open Bar

When couples splurge for an open bar, this signals to guests that they want their day to be enjoyable for all. While you take advantage of the drinks, be sure to respect the bartenders, leave a small tip, and not get too carried away. After all, you are still a guest at a formal event. If the bar is open before the ceremony, of course, it is proper etiquette to order a drink and nonchalantly sip throughout the ceremony. If the bar closes during important speeches or dances during the reception, honor the couple’s wishes and be present during these moments. You may return to the bar once it opens again.

Wedding card box at reception

Send a Gift or Bring a Card

Although it might seem customary to bring a gift to a wedding, it is not always the most convenient. It is proper etiquette for guests to send the couple a gift up to one year after the wedding. While some gifts on their wedding registry or website can be large and a hassle to handle, give yourself and the couple a break by sending it right to their home. Instead of a wrapped present, you may also write out a card with a lovely note and well wishes and include a monetary gift. Card boxes are usually found at weddings so the couple can keep them together and easily take them at the end of the evening.

Wedding guests dancing

Dance and Have Fun!

Nobody likes a party pooper, especially on one of the most important days of their lives. Brides and grooms certainly have invited you to their wedding to partake in the merriment and festivities, so lay back and enjoy. Hit the dance floor with enthusiasm and participate in any other activities that the couples has planned. After all, they have spent months ensuring their big day is nothing but perfect, fun, and full of love.

Ensuring you follow proper wedding guest etiquette boils down to being pleasant, respectful, and polite. Remember, although you are celebrating with friends and family, weddings are still formal events. As the party comes to an end, be sure to say your goodbyes to the newlyweds as well as the immediate family. Thank them for the lovely time you had, and wish them well on their new chapter together. For more expert advice or wedding tips, the professionals here at Flora D’ Amore are always happy to be of service.