Easy Etiquette Tips for Guests


This summer while interning at a wedding & special events venue I had the opportunity to work tons of events and interact with tons of guests. Some of these guests were the nicest most considerate people and others were not. I was surprised to see how many people didn’t understand the common etiquettes of being a guest at someone’s wedding. Here are some helpful tips for anyone whose recently sent in that response card.

  • Don’t wear white. This is pretty obvious but still some people just don’t get it.
  • Don’t assume you can bring a plus one. If the invitation doesn’t state your name and “guest”, but you feel uncomfortable attending the wedding alone, reach out to the couple and ask if you can bring someone. This is a better alternative than just showing up with someone the bride and groom did not invite.
  • Don’t assume kids are invited. Unless the invitation has the children’s names or says “and family” hire a babysitter and enjoy your night out alone.
  • Don’t bring a large gift. The last thing the couple wants to be doing after the wedding reception is wrangling a bunch of gifts into the back of their car to deal with before the honeymoon. Save yourself and them the trouble, ship the gift directly to their home.
  • Do be on time. Plan ahead. The couple invited you to their wedding so you could witness their ceremony. If some unforeseeable incident occurs that causes you to be late, don’t interrupt. Wait until they’re done and then join in for the rest of the party.
  • Do turn off your cell phone. Nobody wants to be that person who ruins the most memorable moment of someone’s life. Just turn it off.
  • Do congratulate the family. Even if you’ve never met them or don’t know them very well, introduce yourself. A simple congratulations, a thank you and compliment about the day can go a long way in the eyes of a parent.
  • Do keep conversations short. You want to say hello and talk to the bride and groom on their special day, but don’t talk forever. There will be lots of people they need to get around to as well.
  • Do take your favor. The bridal party and family put a lot of time and thought into those parting gifts so make sure you don’t leave yours behind.
  • Don’t get wasted. Once again, don’t be that person. Just because there’s an open bar does not mean that you need to drink the whole bar.

In addition to these ceremony and reception do’s and don’t’s, there are etiquette rules for social media.

  • Don’t post a photo of bride until she’s officially married
  • Don’t use your cellphone during the ceremony, leave these photos to the professional photographer they hired. Cellphones and photos can be distracting to the couple as well as other guests
  • Don’t congratulate the couple on social media until they’ve personally announced their marriage on that social media platform

A June Bride

I have gotten a little behind on my event updates due to my other job, but on Saturday I worked another wedding.  Every wedding I work is just a little different than the last.  Some couples choose to get married on-site, others prefer a church.  Some couples decided to do a first-look, others decide their first moment seeing each other should be walking down the aisle.  Some have large bridal parties, some small.  Every aspect of the wedding has to be perfectly catered to the couple and then translated to the timeline of the event. Saturday was the wedding of Dr. and Mrs. Bonner.  I arrived at 2:30 and was promptly put to work on the tables.  I had to put all the table numbers on the tables while following the floor layout.  The difficult part of that task was the fact that the ball room was not set up yet.  When a couple chooses to get married on site, approximately 1/3 of the ballroom is used for a ceremony space, then that space is flipped during cocktail hour.  For the wedding on Saturday, they had over 300 guests so it was necessary to use 1/2 of the ballroom for the ceremony.  Therefore, while setting up table numbers, I had 33 tables in half of the actual ballroom.  I had to imagine which tables would move once the partition opened and which would stay, and try to get the numbers as close to the floor layout as possible so they didn’t have to move a ton of tables during the flip.  After I was finished putting all the numbers and menu cards on the tables, the florist guys from Beautiful Blooms were able to put the centerpieces on the tables.

Set-up of part of the ballroom

Set-up of part of the ballroom

2/3 of the ballroom used for the ceremony

1/2 of the ballroom used for the ceremony

After I finished the table numbers, it was time to set up the couple’s accessories brought.  This couple provided a birdcage for their cards.  The birdcages have been a big trend seen lately at weddings.  This couple didn’t have a ton of accessories, but they did have some photos of family members at their weddings. photo 1 (3) Once it was time for the ceremony to start, I was positioned at the top of the elevator to check in any guests that used the elevators and turn away any unwanted crashers.  Most of the guests use the escalators located at the front of our venue, so a lot of the elevator person’s position is telling girl scout troops and tourists that One Atlantic is a private venue that isn’t open to the public and they have to ride the elevator back down. When a couple gets married on-site, its important to hold any late guests at the door of the venue until after the bride walks down the aisle.  A lot of guests get really angry with us because they want to see the start of the ceremony and the bride, but the reason we do this is to not ruin the bride’s special moment.  After the bride enters and the guests’ eyes follow her down the aisle and continue facing forward, we slip the late guests in in the back.  While the ceremony is happening, I put out the posters that were used in replacement to placecards. photo 2 (2) photo 3 (1) All the planners were so shocked with the number of presents the couple received.  They informed me that it is against wedding etiquette to bring a gift to the wedding.  If a guest wants to give a gift, they are supposed to send it to the couple’s home so that the couple doesn’t have to deal with it at the end of the wedding.  This was something I never realized before but it makes a lot of sense.  These are the types of things that wedding planners think of that others do not. After the ceremony, there was the usual 1 hour cocktail hour.  Then it was time for the reception to start.  By this time, the planner is less involved other than timings of the blessing, toasts, and special dances.  When the reception begins, that’s when the banquet manager goes into high speed. For the rest of the night, the greeters and interns rotated from sitting near the elevator or in the study by the cigar bar.  At the cigar bar we had to make sure the lighters and cutters didn’t leave the table and remind people that they could only smoke outside. photo 2 (4) At the end of the event we have to make sure that all guests leave with their shoes on and without any alcoholic beverage or glass.  Some guests completely understand this policy and then there are others who will argue with you over their free beer for 5 minutes.  This is always a really interesting part of the night.  Overall, this wedding ran very smoothly and it was enjoyable.  As guests left we received tons of compliments from guests stating everyone did a great job and they had a really good time at the wedding.

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This was the first wedding of June, which is the most popular wedding month of the entire year!

Photography by: Marie Labbancz Photography