Here comes the bride, dressed all in white…or so she thinks. Unfortunately for her, some guests disregard the most basic wedding rules and end up ruining what’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful days in a couple’s life. From twining with the bride or bridesmaids or giving an inappropriate toast to bringing an extra date, or worse, showing up uninvited, here are 27 things that wedding guests should avoid doing at a wedding at all costs.
You arrive too early
It’s one thing to be as good as your word and arrive on time and it’s a whole different story to arrive too early and become an obstacle for the ones who are trying to make the final arrangements. If you arrive thirty minutes earlier than the hour stated on the invitation, just wait in your car instead of stressing the bride and groom with your presence, recommends the founder of Perfectly Posh Events, Holly Patton Olsen.
You arrive too late
When it comes to the wedding ceremony, the general rule is that you should arrive at the wedding venue and sit where you’re supposed to 10 minutes before the ceremony starts. One of the worst things you could do at a wedding is walking in as the bride or groom is walking down the aisle. Not only will you ruin the moment itself, but you will also destroy whatever pictures the photographer and wedding guests are trying to take, warns Brand Hammerstone, owner of All Events Planned.
You dress like a bridesmaid deliberately
There’s no way every female guest at a wedding can know what the bridesmaids will wear, so as to steer clear of their designated color. If you dress like a bridesmaid completely unintentional, you might feel a bit weird but it’s not the end of the world. However, if you choose to wear something in the same color palette as the bridesmaids on purpose, it’s just rude.
According to Anne Chertoff, wedding etiquette trainer at Beaumont Etiquette, to be respectful towards the bride and the bridal party, it’s best to avoid wearing the exact same color or models and being mistaken for one of the bridesmaids.
You take the vase full of flowers
It’s actually quite common for guests to take home the floral centerpieces on their dining tables. In fact, some of them are designed to be picked up after a party. So, if you also want to take the beautiful flower arrangement home, just make sure you’re not also taking the vase, for no other reason that the newlyweds might be asked to pay for the missing vase. You don’t want to add that to their already high wedding bill, do you?
You get aggressive during the bouquet toss
No matter how competitive you might be (or eager to get married!), there’s no need to become aggressive when it comes to catching the bouquet. Not to mention that alcohol and heels don’t usually make a good match at all.
Don’t go elbowing the other ladies who want to get their hands on it by elbowing them or chasing the bride like you’re on a football field. You’ll only seem extremely desperate, warns national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “For the sake of appearance and civility”, keep your wits and manners and wait for the bouquet to land where it’s supposed to. If it’s in your hands, then so be it!
You switch your order at a plated dinner
At a plated dinner, guests are required to choose from various options, such as beef or chicken, fish and vegetarian food. If you’ve chosen the chicken dining option and then have a change of heart and go vegetarian at the very last minute, you’ll just add one more problem to the general chaos called a wedding party.
The only time you can change your choice is if you find out that the dish includes an ingredient you’re allergic to. In that case, “politely asking to switch from fish to chicken may be appropriate,” says Gottsman. Otherwise, stick to your initial choice.
You immediately inform the couple when something’s wrong
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In other words, you may simply want to help the newlyweds but notifying them the minute something goes wrong is not the best way to do it. Between enjoying this special, and hopefully unique moment in their lives and making sure everyone is enjoying themselves, the last thing they need is to hear there’s a problem somewhere.
“You don’t want to add any stress or frustration during the big day,” says Josh Spiegel, Creative Director and President of Birch Event Design. If there’s something that needs immediate attention, inform the venue staff or a family member of the bride or groom.
You complain about the quality of the food
Since we’re on the subject of food, complaining about it at a wedding is simply unacceptable. Not only will you seem ill-mannered and flat-out rude, but you will also ruin the dining experience for the other guests at your table. “Keep your opinions to yourself and be grateful you are included in the couple’s special day,” advises Gottsman.
Even if it’s not the most expensive menu out there, that still doesn’t give you the right to criticize something that the newlyweds invested their time and money in.
You act tired or bored
You might not be in the best mood for another wedding party, especially since you’ve been doing it all summer long, but that doesn’t give you the right to act bored and disinterested all throughout the reception. Once you’ve RSVPed and arrived at the wedding venue, put on your best face and give it your all, suggests Spiegel. The last thing a couple needs is for their wedding guests to spend the entire night checking their watches every ten minutes.
You start feeling sad about your romantic life
If your love life is not all rainbows and sunshine, it’s understandable that weddings may not bring out the best of you. Add a couple of glasses into the equation and you’ve got yourself an emotional disaster waiting to happen.
To avoid becoming too emotional and possibly embarrass yourself in front of complete strangers, “remove yourself from the situation until you can gain your composure,” recommends Gottsman. And if you know a wedding will make you feel unhappy and sad because of a certain situation you went or are currently going through, just decline the invitation.
You ignore the dress code
Wedding dress codes are there for a reason. So, if you see “black tie optional” on the invitation, don’t take it as your cue to wear your comfortable sandals and sundress or Hawaiian shirt. The best thing you can do to avoid standing out from the crowd in a negative way, is to stick to the dress code, especially if you are attending a religious ceremony. “If the ceremony is in a house of worship that requires covered shoulders,” says Chertoff.
You don’t take your wedding favor
You might not like or find any use for the wedding favor but that’s not reason enough to leave it behind. Even if the newlyweds won’t actually know who left it behind, they’ll still be sad that someone didn’t appreciate it enough to take it home with them.
On the other hand, if you’ve accidentally forgotten it, don’t go asking for it after the party. “It’s possible that the couple has a few extra favors at home that a guest could pick up, but in most instances, a guest shouldn’t attempt to track one down,” says Chertoff.
You don’t inform anyone that you can’t make it
Even if you regret RSVPing “yes” to a wedding invitation, there’s nothing you can do about it but go. On the other hand, if you have a serious reason for not attending, don’t just skip the event without informing anyone about your absence. If you know you can no longer attend before the wedding day, talk directly to the couple; if it’s on the wedding day, get in touch with a family member or close friend of the couple and let them know instead. Whatever you do, don’t go MIA!
You don’t try to acknowledge the happy couple
It’s understandable at large weddings that the happy couple doesn’t get the chance to speak with all their guests, between all the toasts, dances and emotional moments. But it is your duty somehow, as a guest, to say at least hello, congratulations and goodbye. If you didn’t have time at the wedding to extend your congratulations and praises about the wedding ceremony, reception and so on, call the next day and tell them what a lovely time you had. It’s the least you can do, says Chertoff.
You text the bride or groom on their wedding day
You might want to find out something very important, but trust me, the bride and groom have better things to do than give you directions to the wedding venue. It’s even more annoying if you’re texting or calling to ask for advice on what to wear. First of all, that’s what dress codes are for. Secondly, they already have a lot of things to worry about, you shouldn’t add one more issue to the list.
If you do text them, send another text message to inform them that you’ve solved the problem (even if you didn’t) or ask someone else for help. Let them enjoy their big day without any interference!
You RSVP for one and then bring a date
If you’ve found a new partner too close to the wedding date, it might be better to fly solo this time. Don’t get me wrong! There’s nothing weird about bringing a date to a wedding, but if you’ve already RSVPed for one, you might throw things like food, beverage and guest party favors off balance, explains Elaine Swann, founder of The Swann School of Protocol.
You forget to turn your phone on silent during the ceremony
There are a few things worse than your ringtone interrupting the emotional moment when the bride and groom say their I dos. Unfortunately, these things can happen, even to you. If you do forget to turn your phone on silent and everyone hears your “Mission Impossible” ringtone, try to turn off your phone as quickly as possible and focus on the ceremony. Your mistake will determine others to be more careful and turn off their own phones.
You don’t respect the religious rituals
Even if you’re not a religious person or have different beliefs, a wedding is not the right time to make your preferences, or lack thereof, known. The couple’s religious ritual might go against your faith, but you don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Making everyone feel awkward by telling them their religious rituals are stupid is never a good approach!
You can simply remain silent or gracefully bow out of participating in the ritual without offending anyone, suggests Swann.
You sit in the front row
The front row at a wedding ceremony is not just for everyone. It’s usually reserved to close family members and friends. So, if you’re not among them, don’t plop a front-row seat even if haven’t been invited to do so, warns Jennifer Porter, party planner and owner of Satsuma Designs.
It really doesn’t matter if it’s just a casual ceremony. Stick to the unspoken rules and traditions and allow the family and bridal party to occupy their designated seats.
You bring a big present at the ceremony
No matter how generous you might consider yourself, bringing a large gift at the ceremony will only be seen as a hindrance. Imagine the bride carrying a heavy box of kitchenware back home! Sure, the newlyweds have a car to drive back home with their presents, but it’s most likely full of all sorts of gifts. Your big present will only make their mission more difficult, says Alice Fay, senior catering manager and wedding expert at Fairmont Copley Plaza.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with buying larger gifts, as long as you send them to the couple’s home instead of bringing them to the ceremony. But more importantly…whatever you do…don’t come empty-handed! That’s even worse than showing up with a larger than life gift.
You post pictures on social media without consent
Sure, you’re really excited for the happy couple and want to share your happiness (and theirs) with the whole world. After all, you shouldn’t be the only one admiring the beautiful bride as she is walking down the aisle or the groom’s excitement. However, unless you know for sure that the newlyweds have no problem with Facebook and Instagram hashtags, you might want to keep those photos and videos to yourself until after the I dos.
According to Shawna Orwoll from Away We Go Weddings, a wedding ceremony, whether it’s religious or not, is a special and solemn moment and should be treated as such.
You buy a gift that’s not on the bridal registry
Speaking of gifts, wedding registries are meant to take the sting out of one of the most pressing questions a bride can receive: ‘What would you like as a wedding gift?’ Hence this centralized system. Therefore, before you go way overboard with your creativity and come up with something that is actually of no use to the couple whatsoever, or a duplicate present, consult the registry, suggests Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard, authors of Treating People Well.
The good thing about registries is that you can be sure you offer the newlyweds something that they want or need and if the item is too expensive, other guests can join you in buying larger presents.
You interrupt the newlyweds
It might be the “duty” of the bride and groom to make sure their guests are having a good time but they also deserve their moments of peace and allowed to enjoy the party, their wedding menu that they selected and so on.
So, don’t be that guest who interrupts the newlyweds whenever they sit down to catch a break and ask them for selfies or to come to your table, says Hovik Harutyunyan, owner of Harutyunyan Events. You don’t have to bother them while they are trying to eat or relax for a minute just because you remembered something. They will be there all night. Be a nice guest and give them the space that they need!
You don’t stick to the couple’s no-kids policy
Your kid might be the cutest and nicest in the world but if the wedding invitation said “Adults Only”, your kid stays at home. Period. Their presence might not affect you, but in some cases, children can mess up an elegant and mature event that the bride and groom struggled to organize, says Harutyunyan. Besides, you might put the newlyweds on the spot for allowing you to bring your child while other guests were told not to, even if that wasn’t really the case.
You told an inappropriate toast
A wedding toast should consist of a few nice words, wishes or blessings for the newlywed couple. Short and simple. Unfortunately, there’s always someone who forgets the general rule of toasts and starts talking about exes, funny dating stories, dysfunctional families or vent about some irrelevant drama. Don’t be that person! A wedding is not the time to talk about things unrelated to the couple.
You don’t sit at your assigned table
Seating arrangements are never easy. The bride and groom have to make sure their guests will enjoy the company at the table and have a good time in general. Putting the bride’s uncle next to his ex-wife or the best man at a table with his childhood nemesis will only make things worse, so who sits where is extremely important for the smooth running of the party.
If you change your assigned seat and move to another table, you’ll ruin the entire arrangement and even influence others to switch places as well. Imagine the chaos!
You drink too much
The wedding reception might include an open bar, but it doesn’t mean you should become its number one customer. Nobody has time to deal with a drunk party guest, much less the newlyweds. So, know your limits, keep things under control and drink responsibly. After all, you wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of the wedding guests.
You wear a white dress
Seriously? Is there really no other dress in your wardrobe than a white one? It might seem like a given, but there are many young ladies to choose to twin with the bride, thinking it’s just a stupid rule anyway. Well, it’s not. You have so many colors to choose from so why match the bride on her special day? or worse? outshine her?
A white dress might look great on you and compliment your features but white is reserved for the bride only, so, unless it’s a white party and you are specifically required to wear it (which would be highly unlikely), save the dress for another occasion, one that doesn’t involve a wedding ceremony.
You steal the show
Asking your girlfriend to marry you while attending someone else’s wedding might seem like a great idea to you, but others will just see it for what it is: stealing the spotlight from the actual bride and groom. You might feel like it’s the perfect moment to pop the question, being surrounded by all that love and joy, but, trust me, you’d just be ruining someone else’s big day. If you do want to get engaged, you have 364 other days to choose from, preferably as far away as possible from another wedding ceremony. That way, both you and your fiance as well as the other couple, will remember your special, unique moments.
You talk during speeches
You might not feel particularly moved by the speech given by the father of the bride or interested in the best man’s toast, but that’s not a good enough reason to disturb others around you, or worse, the newlyweds, with your constant blabbering. Speech time is an important moment for the bride and groom as well as for their family member or close friends who have prepared for this special occasion for months. So, unless it’s an emergency, just be a good guest and put your phone back in your purse or pocket, stop talking and just enjoy the moment.