guests watching wedding ceremony
Photo: Honey Honey Photography

Wedding guest etiquette is pretty simple—in fact, most of the time, it's just a matter of practicing common courtesy. It's all about being a conscientious friend or family member and recognizing the importance and purpose of this momentous occasion in your loved one's life. From RSVP'ing promptly, to checking the couple's wedding website regularly for updates, and arriving on time (and not in the middle of) the ceremony, there are several ways to be an exemplary wedding guest. Here are five ways to do just that.


Remember to RSVP.  

Make sure that you respond promptly when you receive the wedding invitation. Some RSVPs involve mailing a return envelope, others an online form via the couple's wedding website. Whichever way, set aside the time to respond as soon as you can. Don't show up at a wedding that you haven't RSVP'd for.

Give the bride and/or groom their space. 

A wedding is an unusual event in that everything revolves around two people. There are groups that don't know each other that feel equally close to the couple. Even at a birthday party, the guests' lives are usually more interwoven. Recognize the difficulty this puts on the couple and their event schedule by not monopolizing their time and energy. Engage them in a moment of celebratory conversation during the receiving line, but don't expect much more than that.

Arrive on time!

Don't show up to the ceremony late—just don't do it. Be sure to check the couple's wedding website for information on travel time—they'll likely include the best route to take to avoid delays—and parking options. Remember that the time shown on the invite is the time the event starts, not the time you should arrive. It's a good rule of thumb, unless otherwise specified, to show up between 20-30 minutes before the wedding begins.

Stay out of the photographer's way. 

Yes, your new phone has a sweet camera. But the couple's photos shouldn't be filled with shots blocked by you holding it up in front of their (very expensive) photographer's lens. While some couples encourage phone camera use with Instagram hashtags, others might have signage stating their preference that you stow your phone. Respect the couple's wishes either way, but always be aware of the major shots that the photographer needs (the first kiss, first dance, cake cutting, etc.) and be cognizant of remaining out of the way.

Drink responsibly.

Do not be a cautionary tale—after all, it's pretty embarrassing to be the person that pops up in conversation at all family gatherings, thereafter. Know your limits and partake accordingly. Keeping yourself relatively sober will ensure that you don't break out any embarrassing dance moves, sloppily trip into the punch bowl, or tell scandalous stories about the groom to his grandma. If you do drink too much, make sure to call for a cab and not to argue that "you're fine" to drive, when you clearly aren't.