Wedding Guest Rights and Responsibilities You Need to Know
There is a lot of wedding etiquette for a wedding guest to keep track of, and so many wedding guest missteps are the result of guests simply not knowing better. (We cringe when we think of how long it took us to send back RSVPs in our younger years!) To help you survive wedding season, we’ve put together a list of the wedding guest rights and responsibilities every guest (and engaged couple!) should know.
Photographer Olivia Leigh
You have the responsibility to…
Send in your RSVP by the date requested. It’s so simple, but a surprising amount of guests don’t do this, meaning the couple has to track people down for RSVPs. The invitation typically includes a stamped envelope for the RSVP card, so there’s no excuse for not dropping it in the mail as soon as you know whether you’ll be able to make it.
Actually show up if you RSVP “yes.” The couple has to give a head count to the caterer several days before the wedding, and they are charged for your plate whether or not you actually show up. If you’ve already sent in your RSVP and something comes up, give the couple a call or send them an email to let them know; there may be still time for them to change the count.
Arrive at the ceremony on time. A late guest is a distraction for the couple and the other guests — and just might ruin a meaningful moment. If you arrive late, listen at the door for a song or a break in the action, and then sneak in quietly.
Adhere to any dress codes mentioned on the invitation or wedding website. If the dress code says “semi-formal,” don’t wear jeans. And yes, the old rule of not wearing white to a wedding is still in effect.
Not bring anyone to the wedding who wasn’t specifically invited. Unsure if your guest was invited or not? Here’s how you can tell: if the invitation is only addressed to you, and there’s no mention of “and guest,” then your guest is not invited. Similarly, if the invitation’s inner and outer envelopes are both addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” your children are most likely not invited.
Silence your phone during the ceremony. This should go without saying, but no one should hear a phone vibrating or ringing as he or she says “I do.” If you’re worried about not being able to take a call from your baby-sitter, let him or her know your phone will be off from, say, 3:00-3:30, and to send a text if it’s an emergency. If you notice an urgent text during the ceremony, you can step outside to return the call.
Respect the couple’s wishes with regard to taking photos/sharing photos on social media. If the couple is having an unplugged wedding or has asked that you not put any photos of them on social media, you should respect that.
You have the right to…
Expect a wedding invitation if you receive a save the date. This is pretty standard etiquette, so you can politely ask the couple about it if the wedding date is nearing and you haven’t received an invite yet.
RSVP “no” if you can’t or don’t want to attend. The couple will understand…trust us.
Call or email the couple if you need clarification on any aspect of the wedding. If you’re confused about the plus-one situation or the dress code, feel free to shoot them an email to get answers.
Send a gift after the wedding or not send a gift at all. That’s correct: a gift is not the price of admission at a wedding. And you can send one for up to a year after the wedding; if it’s been several months and now you feel awkward, make it an extra-special holiday gift.
Expect a timely thank you note for any gifts you give. Give them a little time after the wedding to breathe, but if you haven’t received one after a few months, it’s totally fine to ask the couple if they received your gift.
Take advantage of the open bar. As long as you don’t get belligerent or make an embarrassing speech, feel free to let loose.
Bust a move on the dance floor. Couples love when it seems like everyone is having a good time at their wedding, so they’ll appreciate it if you’re the first one on the dance floor and the last one to leave it.
Now, send in those RSVPs!
Planning a wedding? Get the step-by-step wedding planning guide.