Wedding Guest Etiquette

May 11, 2018

There’s certainly a wedding guest etiquette, but it’s often unspoken. How, then, is one to know what to do and what to avoid?

Some guest etiquette is common sense. But thoughtlessness sometimes enters into it.

I know, as a celebrant, that being a guest can sometimes prove to be less than simple.

If you’re not careful, you can get it wrong –  and, potentially, months before the big day!


It’s easy to put off responding to the invitation because you’re want to be sure you are free. (Or because you forget about it!). But consider those making the arrangements. They have to book all manner of things (not least, the venue and catering), and this has to be done well in advance. Deposits need to be paid. They need to know numbers fairly soon.

If you’re able, then be one of those who responds as soon as possible.

Tweaking The Invitation

You may want to bring your child(ren), but if there is no mention of them on the invitation, then accept it. (It’s not meant as a snub, but there simply have to be limits on the numbers invited.) Obviously, the same goes for other people you may feel should be invited.

You may have a new partner, but don’t assume you can bring them. (For one thing, you might disrupt the seating plan.)


You could get asked to take on a role at the ceremony. Maybe as bridesmaid or usher. It’s an honour, so make sure you find out well in advance what the expectations are of your role. Will you have to attend a rehearsal the day or morning before or wear particular attire?

If you don’t want to (or can’t) do it, then give maximum notice Then there’s time to replace you, if necessary.

On the Day – Punctuality

Arrive well (30 minutes?) in advance – and don’t upstage the bride by a tardy, flustered entry. If you have been delayed, then you should simply wait until the end of the ceremony – just don’t interrupt it.

If you’re the Best Man, you should arrive an hour before the ceremony starts. If you’re going to be late, try and call the groom, at least, and warn him.


You will normally be given guidelines in the invitation. Go with what you are asked to wear, even if you might prefer a different style of attire.

At the Ceremony

Ushers may show you to your seat. If that’s not the case, leave the front two rows free for the family and VIPs.

Is the Ceremony “Unplugged”?

There will probably be an official photographer in attendance and his/her photos will matter a lot to the couple. It would be far better if they could show your smiling face rather than an iPhone held in the air. Take photos after the ceremony, by all means. Always respect any requests in this regard in the invitation or on the day.


It should go without saying that you ought to drink responsibly afterwards (and even more so, if you start before the ceremony!). Likewise, don’t trash the venue or embarrass yourself or the couple by loud or aggressive behaviour.

This is the biggest day in your friends’/relatives’ lives, so be grateful that they have chosen to include you. Enjoy the day – and enhance it for the happy couple. Make them glad they invited you!