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Wedding Guest Etiquette – Do the Right Thing

21st June 2012 |By | 3 Comments

Weddings are wonderful romantic events and we all like being invited to see two people in love finally tie the knot. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with family and friends, both old and new. The day is, of course, all about the  happy couple, but guests and their behaviour can make the day even more memorable, and if a few basic etiquette guidelines are followed then everything will run smoothly and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Bride and Groom with wedding guests throwing confetti

Image courtesy of Olivia Shaw


RSVP is a French acronym, short for: ‘répondez s’il vous plaît’ and simply means ‘reply please’! One of the most annoying things is to send out invitations, and then not receive a reply in a reasonable time. Always put an ‘RSVP by’ date on your invitations, and maybe stress, nicely of course, that you must have a definite answer by then.

Guests: Please RSVP promptly, as the happy couple, and the venue do need to know how many to cater for, and it makes arranging seating plans so much easier if they know who is coming. Remember – a stress-free bride is a happy bride!


Don’t you just love the little angels? You want your wedding reception to be for everyone, including kids, but there is nothing worse than a bored, grumpy child causing a fuss – and I don’t just mean the groom! Give a ‘goodie bag’ of colouring books or puzzles to each child (depending on their age) to keep them amused. Make sure that child-friendly food is available for the meal or buffet, and perhaps add some healthy snacks to the goodie bag such as raisins or Organix snacks, as a hungry child can soon become a noisy child! If possible, book a reception venue that has a play area or, better still, if you have several guests bringing children, hire a wedding crèche.

Guests: If you are bringing your child to a wedding then do keep them quietly entertained, particularly during the ceremony. Encourage them to play with other kids, and do have a dance with them, so they don’t feel left out. Keep all booze out of reach!

What to wear

The bride wore white (usually), the groom wore a tux (also usually), and a few fascinators could be spotted amongs the guests… at any wedding, there are two people who stand out – the bride and the groom. Then, you can usually tell who the both sets of parents are – the mothers-in-law-to-be looking stunning, and the fathers dashing in their suits. Make no mistake, this really IS the most important day in the couple’s life!

Guests: Please do dress appropriately – don’t wear white and don’t ever try to upstage the bride, because it’s futile and everyone will hate you for it! A wedding is usually a formal occasion so dress smartly and suitably. Follow the dress code if there is one, don’t just rock up in ripped jeans and a Motorhead shirt – unless it’s that kind of wedding!

The Presents

One of the biggest issues for guests is, ‘how much should I spend on a wedding present’? Assuming the happy couple have not filled their gift list with 50” plasma screens and Blu-ray players, it is possible to get a lovely gift for a fairly modest outlay. Recent research from online bank First Direct shows that the average amount spent per present is £51.00, so there is no need to break the bank.

Guests: If there is no gift list, it can be a conundrum to decide on a present. If in doubt about what to buy, phone the parents or best friends and ask for advice. Failing that, give gift vouchers for a department store so they have some choice, and if you are really feeling the pinch and are a bit handy, then an attractive home made gift a la Kirsty Allsop can make a lovely present.


Fashionably late? Not in this case! Only the bride is allowed to be late – to make her grand entrance all the grander (and maybe to give the groom those five minutes of doubt: is she or isn’t she?) Other than that- everyone is required to be on time. This is a very grand occasion (even if it’s a BBQ at her parents’ allotment) – timekeeping is a sign of respect.

Guests: Don’t be late for the ceremony, because it’s a real wedding that you would be disturbing, not a Hugh Grant film. If you are unfortunately late in arriving, enter discretely, quietly and don’t make a fuss. Make profuse apologies later, if you find yourself shunned by the bridal party for your terrible faux pas.


Above all else, enjoy the day and celebrate the happy occasion with smiles, laughter and good cheer! Men, remember – at the reception it’s your duty to dance like a geography teacher. It is cool, and it does impress the ladies.

Mike Foley is a writer and reviewer specialising in lifestyle, music and home entertainment, who resides in Lancashire with his lovely wife, two cats, three rabbits and an assortment of Guinea Pigs.

Read more great advice on Confetti’s wedding planning pages!

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3 Replies to “Wedding Guest Etiquette – Do the Right Thing”

  1. KateThompson

    Hilarious! And useful too. Love the last line!

    Reply· Jun 21, 2012 11:46am
  2. Mike Foley

    Thank you! 🙂

    Reply· Jun 23, 2012 12:42pm
  3. Ange Cartmel

    Wow mike well done and totally brilliant advice

    Reply· Jun 23, 2012 5:19pm

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