Your Guide to Wedding Etiquette: Tips & Tricks for Guests


As the royal wedding is getting near, you might also find yourself being the guest of a wedding for a family or friend. For the special couple getting married, the big day has most likely been in works for many months, being as monumental for them as the wedding of Amy and Sheldon for Big Bang Theory fans. In sharing the honor of attending your family or friend’s wedding, we bring you helpful wedding guest etiquette, tips and tricks to make the day as memorable for you as it is for the newlyweds-to-be.


Whatever the way you receive the invitation, RSVP as expected. The wedding planning process gets hectic, so not RSVP-ing as requested (whether by card or online) can just throw in a wrench for the bride or groom’s planning. The bride or groom will put time aside to organize the RSVP cards when they’re ready, so RSVP-ing in the manner requested will assure your seat at their wedding (avoiding any conflict because they forgot you told them at the coffee shop that hectic Thursday).

Guest of the Guest

Weddings aren’t the best place to get to know a date, so keep in mind that the plus one is typically reserved for long-term beaus and spouses. Another consideration is that if you are being invited as a family bunch, unless the host outright gave the OK (such as being assigned the ring boy or flower girl), newborns should stay at home. This is a special event that has taken a lot of effort, time and money to put together for the host. While it may be hard to part with your newborn to attend the wedding, it would be quite the discomfort for all parties if a newborn begins to cry during the vows. If arrangements can’t be made, it is OK to turn down the invitation if the family or friend is distant by relation.


The simplest gift (and probably the most desired one unless otherwise stated) for a wedding is money. Here are some tips on giving a gift for a wedding:

  • A Card with Money: More often than not, the couple will have a system in place to receive cards. This can either be in the form of a box where you can put in your money card, or a family or member of the wedding will be close by to collect them on behalf of the couple. The rule of thumb is to give at least the worth of your meal at the table.
  • Virtually Sending Money: Save a bit of hassle and send them money before the wedding. If you don’t have a way to transfer the funds beforehand, many couples are using websites like Zola, which doubles up as a gift registry and honeymoon fund website.
  • Gift Registry: While the bridal shower is typically where actual gifts are given, you can also alternatively gift the couple for their wedding through the registry. If you do choose this route, do not come to the wedding donning a large gift (order it before the wedding). The couple will be inundated with many things the day of the event, so a large gift, while appreciated, will risk getting lost in the piles of many other things at the wedding.


From the get-go, for ladies, an outfit that is all-black or all-white is a hard no, unless it specifically states that it is a black-and-white affair. Another consideration is that your outfit should not upstage the bride or groom (even the royal wedding states “simplicity is the rule”). For men, at the very minimum, an outfit of slacks, button-up shirt and a vest. For the sure side of things, a formal suit and tie always works. While the level of elegance may vary location-to-location (beach wedding vs. banquet hall), the rule of thumb is overdressed is safer than underdressed.

Bring Cash

While a vending machine is now available for last-minute wedding needs, one thing that should be planned ahead: having cash at hand. One of the scenarios to prepare for is that drinks might come from a cash bar rather than an open bar. No matter the set-up, for the cash bar, the reason is pretty straightforward. For an open bar, unless it is self-service, tips are always appreciated. While gratuity is usually charged upfront to the host, giving a tip personally as a guest is a great way to assure your drinks are made with some extra love and warmth. And, of course, when drinking, stay classy and safe.

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