Weddings are monumental occasions that celebrate the wedded union of two individuals and mark the beginning of their journey together. Whether you’re a guest attending the festivities or a member of the wedding party, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with proper wedding etiquette. Like it or not, there are dos and don’ts of wedding etiquette for guests and the wedding party. By adhering to these time-honored customs and guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and memorable experience for all involved.



When you receive a wedding invitation, do respond promptly. This will help the couple finalize their guest count and make necessary arrangements for seating, catering, and accommodations. Be realistic about whether you can attend, and consider that the couple is responsible for paying for your meal and seats. If you commit to attending, don’t back out at any point, barring a personal emergency. If you have children, read your invitation to discover if they are also invited to the wedding. If not, don’t be petty. Instead, be gracious and understanding. There are many reasons couples may choose not to invite children to their weddings, and ultimately, this is their special day.


Do follow the indicated dress code on the invitation. If no dress code is specified, it’s best to err on the side of dressing more formally than casually, as weddings are typically formal affairs. Wedding dress codes can range from black tie formal, to black tie optional, formal, cocktail, beach formal, semi-formal or dressy casual, to daytime/casual. Remember that as a guest, it is your responsibility to honor the couple’s wedding day wishes, so regardless of your preference or opinion, it is your privilege to help them celebrate in the way they request. Don’t wear all white unless specified in the invitation, and steer clear of attire that is too flashy, over the top, or distracting from the wedding couple and wedding party.


Arrive at the wedding ceremony and reception on time or slightly early. Being punctual demonstrates respect for the couple’s special day and ensures that the proceedings run smoothly. Don’t arrive too early, as this can interfere with other scheduled events on the wedding day, but be sure to arrive early enough to be seated before the wedding party lines up for the procession. If you arrive as the ceremony is beginning, be sure you do not enter the ceremony venue during the wedding procession. Wait until the procession is complete and everyone in the wedding party has reached their place before slipping quietly and quickly into your seats.


Gifts are a customary way to express your love and well wishes for the newlyweds. Consult the wedding registry if one is provided to select a suitable gift. If no registry exists, consider thoughtful and personalized options that reflect the couple’s tastes and preferences. It is customary to send or bring the gift within a reasonable time frame, typically within three months of the wedding. Monetary gifts are always well received and can be given with a tasteful card and genuine sentiments.


During the ceremony and reception, don’t use your cell phone unless it is necessary. Keep your attention focused on the couple and the events unfolding around you. If you must take a call or use your phone, step away from the main gathering area and be mindful of what is happening around you. Whether the couple has stipulated they want a device-free ceremony or not, keep in mind that they have hired wedding professionals to document their wedding in photos and video, and they do not want the images they have paid for to reflect their guests absorbed in their devices instead of enjoying the ceremony and reception. They want you to be fully present and enjoy this momentous occasion with them!



If you are asked to be a member of the wedding party, consider it an honor. Responsibly fulfill your duties, including attending rehearsals, dress fittings, and any pre-wedding events. Be supportive and enthusiastic throughout the planning process, and take care to choose an upbeat, grateful attitude. Don’t grumble, complain or make snide remarks about your wedding party duties, and above all, don’t back out! They could have asked anyone to spend this important time with them, but they wanted you by their side. Appreciate the honor and accept with delight!


Maintain open and clear communication with the couple and other members of the wedding party. Promptly respond to messages and attend any meetings or gatherings as requested. Work collaboratively to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the couple’s vision is executed smoothly. Don’t waste time with redundant questions due to inattention. If you have questions, be clear and concise, and be mindful of your delivery. Weddings can be a source of stress for the happy couple, as well as those close to them, and as a member of the wedding party, you have the opportunity to help alleviate some of the stress by being a willing and helpful support in the days, weeks and months leading up to the wedding, not to mention on the wedding day.


Adhere to the dress code and guidelines provided by the couple. Attend all dress fittings and make necessary alterations to ensure a proper fit. Be aware of important dates and deadlines for fittings, delivery, or pick-up in your calendar. You are responsible for your attire; don’t expect the bride or groom to carry the stress and remind you of important deadlines. Keep in mind that as a member of the wedding party, you are a reflection of the couple’s chosen aesthetic and should strive to enhance the overall ambiance of the event. If they give you a measure of freedom in choosing your dress style or color, be sure to ask if the choice you are leaning towards fits their preferences.


You may be assigned specific responsibilities such as giving a speech, organizing the bach party, hosting or co-hosting a bridal shower, or assisting with setup and clean-up. Approach these tasks with enthusiasm and dedication, ensuring that you fulfill your duties to the best of your ability. One of your most important responsibilities is to be supportive and helpful to the couple in any way possible leading up to and on the day of the wedding, so communication is key. Don’t lean into celebrating so hard that you become a burden rather than a help on the wedding day. Enjoy yourself, but remember that you are there to help them celebrate their milestone.


Throughout the wedding day be a source of support and encouragement for the couple. Help them remain calm and focused, and be prepared to assist with any last-minute needs or emergencies. Be prepared to help move the couple’s belongings, clean areas where everyone got ready, or arrange transportation if it is needed. Don’t disregard their wedding timeline, and do your best to help keep everyone moving toward the appropriate destination at the appropriate time.

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