Tips on How to Secretly be an AMAZING Wedding Guest


let’s attempt to read your mind, did you recently get invited to a wedding?

If so then you might be wondering if there is any special protocol. Just getting the invitation means that another human being has hand-selected you to attend one of the biggest moments of their lives.

That is a pretty big honor when you think about it. Just consider that guest count is the reason for over budget weddings & you still made the cut.

being an amazing guest isn’t rocket science, but let’s cover some ground rules first

If you haven’t been to a wedding recently, then you might not know the common courtesy expected from guests. You want to make the newlyweds proud & might even be such a good friend that you are hired to work the wedding.

There are a few things you need to follow during their special day. We’ve listed our top tips that will help you make the most of the night.

Average Read Time: 3 minutes 55 seconds

RSVP ASAP

RSVP before the deadline if you want to be a great wedding guest. The couple needs this information to confirm numbers with their caterer and plan for guest seating arrangements.

one of the top pet peeves that couples have is their guests forgetting to RSVP

Even if you don’t plan to attend the wedding you are still expected to reply. Make sure you let them know about your absence so they can plan for catered food.

Arrive On-Time

The best thing you can do to be a great guest is to arrive on time. Arrive 20-30 minutes before the ceremony time. Weddings are meant to start on time, and it is rude to disrupt the festivities by coming in late.

There are several reasons why a wedding guest should arrive on time:

  • Respect for the couple: Arriving on time shows respect for the couple and the planning that has gone into the wedding. It also ensures that the ceremony and reception will run smoothly and on schedule.
  • Seating arrangements: Guests who arrive on time are more likely to get a good seat and to be seated with their desired group.
  • Missing important moments: Guests who arrive late may miss important moments of the ceremony such as the bride’s entrance, the exchange of vows, and the first kiss.
  • Interrupting the ceremony: Arriving late can be disruptive to the ceremony, as it can cause a disturbance and draw attention away from the couple.
  • Food and drink: Guests who arrive on time will be able to enjoy the full selection of food and drink that is offered.
  • Group photos: Guests who arrive on time will be included in the group photos that are taken before the ceremony.
  • Building relationships: Arriving on time will allow guests to socialize and build relationships with other guests.

if too many guests arrive late, the itinerary can be pushed back & dinner can be late

Is the ceremony or reception taking place in an unfamiliar or unknown location? We recommend that you set aside extra time for any inconvenience. You never know if you won’t be able to find parking, get stuck in traffic or make a wrong turn.

Follow the Dress Code

If one is suggested, pay attention to the dress code and the location of the wedding when picking out your attire. Some weddings have themed dress codes like all-white parties. If the invitation does not state a dress code, you can ask the wedding couple.

There are several reasons why a wedding guest should follow the dress code attire:

  • Showing respect: Following the dress code attire shows respect for the couple and the planning that has gone into the wedding. It also shows that the guest is taking the occasion seriously and is making an effort to be presentable.
  • Creating a cohesive aesthetic: The dress code attire helps to create a cohesive aesthetic for the wedding. It ensures that the guests will be dressed in a way that complements the theme and style of the wedding, which can add to the overall ambiance of the event.
  • Avoiding discomfort: Following the dress code attire ensures that guests will be dressed appropriately for the occasion and will be comfortable during the event.
  • Avoiding distraction: Dressing inappropriately can be distracting and take away from the beauty and elegance of the wedding. It can also draw attention away from the couple.
  • Building relationships: Following the dress code attire can help guests to build relationships with other guests. Being dressed in a similar way can create a sense of camaraderie and belonging among the guests.
  • Following the couple’s wishes: The dress code attire is usually an expression of the couple’s wishes and preferences. By following it, the guest is showing that they respect and appreciate the couple’s wishes.

if a dress code isn’t given then assume it is semi-formal/cocktail attire

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Don’t Ask for a Plus One +1

Always respect the invitation. If it says plus one, it means you can arrive with one. Do not bring not four friends. If it says family, it means your direct family, not your sister from another mister.

Some invitations request children not be included. If so, then make plans as soon as possible so that someone you trust can take care of them.

Remember, much of wedding expenses are based on headcounts. The couple may not be able to afford everyone to bring a guest.

A Good Wedding Guest Participates

The couple has spent so many hours planning their wedding for you to enjoy. Every part of it was carefully picked.

Make sure you enjoy it and appreciate their thoughtfulness. If there is something new that you are not used to, then step outside your comfort zone and participate.

the worst thing that might happen is you might have a little fun, but isn’t that the point

Show them your love and support by putting on your best smile and actively participating in their big day. Did they set up a photo booth? Get your picture taken. Is there a guest book? Sign it.

Are people taking a while to get onto the dance floor? Get out there and dance! Be a “yes” person at the wedding and enjoy everything the couple has planned for their big day.

Channel Your Inner Social Butterfly

A wedding is always fun when you get up from your seat & start mingling with everyone. This is what makes the atmosphere of a wedding great for striking up conversations with new friends.

a great starter question is to ask how they know the couple, then ask about them

  • Introduce yourself: One of the best ways to start mingling with other guests is by introducing yourself. This can be done by simply saying your name, asking someone their name, or commenting on something about the wedding.
  • Join a conversation: Look for a group of people who are having a conversation and try to join in. You can also start a new conversation by asking someone a question or making a comment.
  • Look for common ground: Look for guests who have something in common with you, such as a shared interest, occupation, or background. This can be a great way to start a conversation and build a connection.
  • Be open and friendly: Be open and friendly with other guests. Smile and make eye contact, and try to be approachable. This will make it more likely that other guests will want to talk to you.
  • Be a good listener: Be a good listener when you are talking to other guests. This will show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, and it will make them more likely to want to talk to you again.
  • Offer to help: If you see someone who looks like they could use some help or assistance, offer to help. This can be a great way to start a conversation and make a new friend.
  • Take a break: If you feel like you’ve been mingling for a while and need a break, take a break. You can go to the bathroom, get a drink, or take a short walk. This will give you a chance to recharge and refresh.
  • Have fun: Remember that the most important thing is to have fun. The wedding is a celebration, so enjoy yourself and make the most of the occasion.

If your table has people you have never met, introduce yourself when you sit down. Chances are you are at that table because the couple feels you will mix well with them.

Follow the Instructions

Sometimes wedding days come with ‘rules’. For example, couples often do not want their guests to see their reception space before it starts.

If the staff at the venue is telling you not to go somewhere yet, listen to them. They are likely speaking on behalf of the couple.

event areas might temporarily close so staff can prepare that space for later use

If there is a specific seating arrangement, make sure to sit in your assigned spot. The couple planned it this way for a good reason.

Do not switch seats with someone else. There is probably a good reason behind their seating chart.

don’t use the photo booth during speeches it is too distracting

Be kind & courteous to the people working the wedding. The servers, bartenders, wedding photographers & party planners help make your friend’s day the best.

Do not talk or disrupt during key moments. This includes the entire ceremony, best man toast, first dance & announcements.

Drink in Moderation

It can be easy to drink one too many cocktails, especially if we are talking about a summer wedding. You get thirsty and next thing you know you are on your 4th drink… 5th drink? So it is especially important to keep track of your alcohol consumption and switch out for water now and then.

If you feel yourself getting too tipsy, slow down or stop drinking altogether.

  • Have a designated driver: If you plan on drinking, make sure to have a designated driver or arrange for a taxi or ride-sharing service to get you home safely.
  • Don’t pressure others to drink: Don’t pressure others to drink more than they’re comfortable with. Respect their choices and allow them to make their own decisions.
  • Be mindful of your behavior: Alcohol can affect your behavior, so be mindful of how you’re acting and try to avoid getting too rowdy or loud1

Bring a Wedding Gift

buy gifts off the registry so they don’t get multiple of the same item

When the couple has a gift registry, the best you can do is buy them a gift they picked. This also helps prevent a situation where two guests buy the newlyweds the same gift. You do not have to spend a fortune.

Gifting is all about:

  • giving a useful gift

  • knowing how close your relationship is

  • giving an appropriate gift

If you still are not sure about what to give as a wedding gift, then money in an envelope is perfectly okay.

It is all about the Bride & Groom

Though it seems common sense, it is good to remember that a wedding is about the couple. Things like family or friend drama, personal issues, or last-minute problems should all be tabled until a later date. Honestly, the couple will be too busy trying to avoid common wedding mistakes.

do not bring up any drama, especially right before the wedding

A common guest problem is for parents to not get along and to make a fuss about other parents. Also, do not be that guest who points out all the mistakes or complains about dinner. Everything was chosen to suit the bride and groom, and that is all that matters.

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Stay Until the End, Don’t Leave Early

Receptions tend to last about four to six hours. It’s always best to stay until the end, but you definitely shouldn’t leave until after the cake is cut.

When you decide to leave, try to give the couple one last hug. Also thank a member of the bride’s or groom’s immediate family for inviting you.

what is your favorite wedding memory, tell us in the comments below

While there may seem to be a lot of ‘wedding rules,’ do not worry; just make sure to be respectful and excited. This is an important day in the life of someone you care about. The most important thing is that you are there to support the couple getting married.

Be present, be thoughtful, be friendly. Couples want to plan a wedding that guests love & have an unforgettable night. If you need help with rentals then we encourage you to browse Ship Our Wedding® for DIY lighting, wedding draping & other popular services.

XO Team Ship

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