The Complete Guide to Wedding Guest Etiquette
By Felicity Newburry

28 February 2016

Etiquette may seem like an old, out-dated word to apply to a wedding, but in actual fact, it’s still very important! Adhering to guest etiquette is just being a respectful, grateful and wonderful guest, not the drunken aunt or uncle everyone cringes to remember. As weddings become more and more easy going, important responsibilities of guests seem to be going amiss; this article is here to remedy that! Read on for the basics of modern guest etiquette.

R.S.V.P - A.S.A.P

Make an effort to confirm your attendance as soon as you possibly can. Don’t be the friend or relative who leaves their RSVP until the very last minute, after the set date or, even worse, turn up without RSVP-ing! This truly happens and it translates as a lack of respect for the effort and planning involved.

Don’t Pike

Piking is not flattering. Sometimes things happen that can’t be avoided, but have some respect for the fact that the couple spent money on your attendance. At the very least, give your hosts an explanation if you do not turn up. 

If You’re “in”, Then You’re in for it All

Do not - we repeat - do not skip the ceremony and just turn up for the reception. You may as well say you’re just coming for free food! If it is absolutely beyond you’re ability to make it to the ceremony but you can attend the reception then you must tell the couple. Don’t keep it to yourself and then rock up to the reception ready to celebrate the nuptials you missed!

Follow Instructions

Your invitation is essentially an elegant and polite set of instructions: follow them. If it says the ceremony starts at 2pm, then make sure you arrive half an hour before! If the invitation says it’s a suit and tie affair, don’t turn up in jandals!


Another set of instructions is the gift registry. If you’re going to give a gift, chose something from the registry. The couple has specifically supplied those suggestions because they don’t want you to trouble yourself finding anything else and they’re avoiding double ups. It’s a polite way of saying “no cheesy monogrammed mugs,” so don’t get them cheesy monogrammed mugs. The worst thing that can happen is you coming across as saying, “I knew what you wanted but I didn’t care.”

Respect the Seating Plan

If there is a seating plan, please, please take time to consider how much thought went into creating it. Seating plans are something many couples tear their hair out over and the least you can do is sit down at your assigned seat! If you don’t know the people either side of you, make an effort to get to know them. It’s likely you were placed there for a reason.

Dress to Respect, not to Impress

We get it, you worked out all summer and you’ve got the hottest body in town or maybe you’ll be seeing old school chums for the first time in 10 years, but a wedding is not the place to show off. It may seem silly, but one or both newly weds might feel like you’re stealing their thunder on their big day if you’re wearing a revealing outfit. Remember, they spent countless dollars and hours selecting what they are wearing, and the biggest no-no? Wearing white.

Wait for the Cake

So you’re really tired and you’ve got an early start. Either don’t attend the reception, or stick it out a little longer and wait for the cake to be cut. From that moment on, it’s polite to leave.


Weddings are fun, exciting and romantic. The atmosphere can be just as intoxicating as the bar tab; but please maintain some decorum. Do not get obnoxiously drunk. Don’t be the person that other guests raise their eyebrows at. Don’t overrun the reception with your drunken antics, no matter how funny you think you are when drinking. Remember it’s not about you.

Last but not Least…

Be the fountain of positivity that you’re expected to be. You may not be a party person, but go to this wedding with a grin on your face and a bounce in your step. Don’t hug if you’re not a hugger, but don’t be aloof either. Help keep the mood up, rather than bringing it down by sitting gloomily in a corner. Parties aren’t for everyone, we get that, but just try to soak up the marital bliss and share the happiness around. It’s only one day.