The Complete Wedding Guest Etiquette Guide

As wedding season rolls around, you're looking for a refresher course on wedding guest etiquette rules; you've got to make sure you aren't committing any major faux pas. 

Wedding etiquette for guests can include everything from when guests should RSVP by for a wedding to the basic rules for wedding gift etiquette—and we've got the answers to all your burning questions. 

This guide will become your source of wedding etiquette for guests. The advice in this guide will help you demonstrate the utmost care & respect for each couple you celebrate. 

Wedding Guest Etiquette Do's and Don'ts 

Do you want to be the best wedding guest in town? Or, out of town—if it's a destination wedding? Follow the wedding guest etiquette tips below to feel confident about what to do and crystal clear on what not to do as a wedding guest. 

  1. RSVP as soon as possible! 

  2. Buy a gift early so you have plenty of time to wrap & send it. 

  3. Pay careful attention to the dress code. 

  4. Arrive early—aim for approximately 30 minutes early. 

  5. Show respect for the couple, other guests, and the venue by behaving appropriately. 

  6. Keep your "hello" brief if you speak with the bride & groom. 

  7. And, of course, have fun! 


  1. Assume you get to bring guests. 

  2. Be late; respect the couple's time & plans. 

  3. Take or share photos & videos on social media without permission. 

  4. Steal the spotlight with rambling speeches or personal announcements. 

  5. Forget to participate—sign the guest book, dance, take photo booth photos, and remember your wedding favor! 

  6. Get drunk & rowdy. (See also: don't steal the spotlight & be respectful.) 

  7. Change plans at the last minute. If you RSVP yes, make it a priority. Likewise, if you RSVP no, don't expect a seat at the last minute. 

Wedding RSVP Etiquette

You've already saved the date on your calendar. So, what's the proper etiquette for RSVPing once the invitation arrives? Weddings are expensive, and the bride & groom have often deliberated—and even agonized—over these decisions before sending invitations. Honor them by responding ASAP and respecting their wishes.

  1. Follow the directions. Wedding invitations usually clarify the next steps—when & how to respond.

  2. Refrain from assuming you get to bring guests. The RSVP card will indicate a "plus one" option if there is one. If the whole family is welcome, the invitation will note, "and family." Read carefully, and ask when in doubt. (With an understanding & open heart to accept the answer.) 

  3. Select your meal preference. Take one less decision off the bride & groom's plate—while ensuring what you want will be on yours. 

  4. Indicate your travel arrangements. Share any travel plans & hotel arrangements. 

  5. Respond by the date indicated. Show consideration by not leaving them guessing; they have many decisions to make. 

When Should Guests RSVP for a Wedding? 

RSVPing to a wedding can be emotional, whether you're disappointed to decline or kind of dreading going. It's ok; we won't tell anyone

Yet, responding on time—or early even—is essential: it helps the bride & groom plan for the venue, food, tables, etc. It allows them to save money & ensures you'll receive any final details regarding their website, transportation or hotel plans, and schedule. 

Wedding RSVP etiquette is essential—and pretty straightforward. Responding on time & accurately by completing the entire RSVP card helps the happy couple arrange each detail of their perfect day. 

Wedding Gift Etiquette 

What about wedding gift etiquette? What do you buy, how much should you spend, and should you send it beforehand or show up to the wedding with a gift? Oh, and what if you have to decline the invitation? 

Here are some helpful tips: 

  1. Follow traditional rules if you can. One tradition is to spend around what the bride & groom will spend hosting you. Often, this works out to approximately $100 per adult guest. 

  2. Give with love. However, your gift depends on your relationship with the couple and your financial situation. It may be challenging to provide a lavish gift if you've paid your way to a destination wedding. You may be in a tough spot right now. The most important thing is to give with love.

  3. Read any instructions carefully. They may prefer you shop from their registry, bring wrapped gifts, or mail them to their home. The key here: follow their wishes, even if you'd do things differently. Etiquette is all about honoring their wishes. 

  4. Be creative. You can't go wrong with a registry gift—but if you're close with the bride & groom, feel free to get creative with personalized gifts, experiences, gift certificates, or well wishes inside a beautiful wedding card

Wedding Card Etiquette 

A wedding card is a lovely gift, especially when sending a check, gift card, or thoughtful note. Here are a few simple rules for sending wedding cards:

  1. Be positive & personal. Share a meaningful memory & your optimistic hopes for their wedding day & life together. 

  2. Be brief. Share thoughtful—yet concise—well wishes. They can be funny, religious, or formal. Just keep 'em short & sweet. 

  3. Sign your name. As with any other card, sign your name at the bottom for that finishing touch. 

  4. Make it unique. A beautiful pop-up wedding card will wow the happy couple & evoke happy memories of their special day.

Whether you accept or decline a wedding invitation, these rules apply. Happy gift-giving this wedding season! 

Wedding Guest Dress Etiquette 

What to wear, what to wear? Wedding guest dress etiquette is all about dressing for the occasion. These go-to tips will help you choose the perfect outfit. 

A few wedding dress code "do's":

  1. Dress with the weather, season, and location in mind. A breezy spring beach wedding requires different clothing than a luxurious ballroom in winter. 

  2. Wear layers. Weather, A/C, sunshine, and even hot flashes may require wardrobe adjustments. Be prepared, so you can relax and enjoy the ceremony. 

  3. Dress with the dress code. Know the difference between casual, semi-formal, and black-tie weddings, and dress appropriately. 

And wedding dress code "don'ts": 

  1. Don't wear white or loud patterns. You don't want to take any eyes off of the bride.  

  2. Don't choose a confusing color. You don't want to be mistaken for a bridesmaid (or the bride), so avoid off-white, gold, or the official wedding colors. 

  3. Don't wear jeans—unless the dress code specifies. Instead, choose khakis or slacks. 

Wedding Reception Etiquette 

It's party time! Wedding receptions are the best, especially when everyone is mindful & respectful of the couple's wishes & the venue's rules. 

  1. Arrive on time. You don't want to miss the newlyweds' entrance, special dances, or cake-cutting, so arrive a few minutes early. 

  2. Dress appropriately. Let loose, but remain in the dress code out of respect. 

  3. Keep speeches short & sweet. Mission: keep the focus on the happy couple.

  4. Drink responsibly. Know your limit. You don't want your actions putting a damper on a loved one's special occasion. 

  5. Bring a nicely wrapped gift. If you bring a gift rather than mailing it, present it appropriately. 

  6. Enjoy! A wedding is a momentous occasion, so relish every moment!

From wedding RSVP etiquette to wedding reception etiquette, these simple guidelines will help you plan for each wedding you attend. 

Wedding etiquette for guests is all about communicating love! Let love & careful consideration guide you as you RSVP on time, choose the perfect gift, shop for your wedding 'fit, and select the most romantic pop-up wedding cards.

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