April 5, 2020

Essential Etiquette

While times and traditions are certainly changing, wedding guest etiquette has remained intact as it applies to expectations and attendance. If you are planning your own wedding or attending one soon, the following rules may still apply. Take a glance at these guidelines for wedding invitations and attendance.


RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase “Répondez S’il Vous Plaît” which translates to “Please Respond.” When a couple asks you to RSVP on their wedding invitation, they are asking for you to either accept the invitation or kindly send your regrets. RSVP-ing within the requested time frame is important for several reasons:

  • Most brides and grooms have made difficult decisions to narrow down their guest list. They are including you in one of the most important days of their lives and have likely had to leave out other friends or family members so that you could be there.
  • Planning food and beverage quantities are required by most catered well in advance of the wedding – sometimes 30 days in advance. Last minute changes can cost the bride and groom hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
  • Seating arrangements are time consuming as the bride and groom try to arrange tables so that everyone has a great time celebrating. Knowing you can or can’t attend within the requested time frame will help the couple design their tables and seating chart.

Children and Plus One’s:

If your invitation is addressed to the entire family, you can assume that your entire household, including children, are invited to attend. If your invitation is addressed to your name, and does not mention “and guest,” you should assume that you do not get to bring a “plus one.” Many brides and grooms have to cut plus ones for their single guests in order to accommodate a venue that is limited in space. If you are seeing someone, have recently gotten engaged or you’re living with someone and a plus one was not included, you can certainly ask the bride and groom politely if there may be room for you to bring a guest. 

Dress Code:

Couples may want to create an ambiance for their wedding that may include a dress code. Refer to the invitation to see if it reads “Black Tie,” “Cocktail Attire,” or maybe something entirely unique! You never want to be overdressed or underdressed. Another big no-no…avoid wearing anything in the white/ivory color palette. 

Be on Time:

Out of courtesy, it is suggested that you arrive to all wedding related events, including the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and reception, 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled event time. Try to familiarize yourself with the route prior to the big day if you are unfamiliar with the area. If you have any questions, you can ask the couple or a member of the bridal party for clarification.  The couple will surely appreciate your timeliness.  

Don’t Leave Early:

You don’t need to stay until the last song, but at least stay for dessert! You won’t want to miss out on any of the fun. If you have another event on the same day, politely let the bride and groom know in advance.  

Photos and Cell Phones:

Leave it to the professional photographer! There is a right and wrong time to be taking photos. Taking pictures of the couple during the ceremony can take away from the sanctity of the moment. The professional photos will be shared with guests and you don’t want your cell phone interrupting the perfect professional shot. These photos will capture lasting memories for the bride and groom, so save your cell phone for the reception. 


The bride and groom spent time and money putting together a special menu from the cocktail hour to the dinner and of course, the wedding cake. Depending on the time of day of the event, it may be several hours before food is served. Consider having a light snack before the wedding – you won’t want you to drink on an empty stomach.  

Etiquette can be confusing for a wedding guest. To be on the safe side, always ask yourself, “What would I expect on my wedding day?” or “How would I feel if this happened to me on my wedding day?” If you are invited to a wedding, you are very important to the bride and groom. Your presence and thoughtfulness will be appreciated.