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Wedding Guest Etiquette

Date

MJ Angel

Wedding guests: from the film "Love Is All You Need Still"

Wedding guests: from the film "Love Is All You Need Still"

There is no shortage on information for putting on the perfect wedding. However when you find yourself on the guest list of someone's special day, what is correct wedding guest etiquette?

What are the modern do's and don'ts for being a good guest?

Kathy Apostolidis, wedding planner and founder of Sydney's Events By Nightingales answers our most common questions.

Deciphering the dress codes...

Garden – casual

For Spring/Summer choose light colours and comfortable fabrics, a sundress or skirt and top for the ladies and for men a suit, collared shirt and tie (optional) is recommended.

*Garden weddings can also be formal, so read the invitation carefully.

Lounge/Cocktail/After 5

Same as Garden, men should wear a suit and tie and for ladies, opt for a formal suit or cocktail dress.

Black/White Tie

This is a formal dress code, gentlemen should wear a Tuxedo and bow tie or cravat and ladies can opt for an elegant long gown or glamorous cocktail length dress.

Is it OK to wear black to a wedding?

Yes, especially After 5 weddings, as it's a formal evening colour.

For women, are any colours off limits?

As a general rule, avoid white, however it's fine if worn with other colours, I would also recommend checking the bridesmaids' colours, to avoid wearing the same tone.

What clothing is unacceptable at a wedding?

Shorts, runners, thongs and t-shirts!

Guests should be respectful in their attire; the couple has gone to great effort and cost to put on a beautiful event, so please dress accordingly!

What's the correct procedure when you RSVP?

If an RSVP card is included with the invitation, the guest should send this back before or by the set date.

For less formal weddings, if the RSVP information is on the invite, such as an email address or telephone number, always respond before or by the date.

How much should be spent on a wedding gift?

For a gift registry, choose what you would love to give and spend as much as you can afford or comfortable with.

For Wishing Wells, there are no set amounts, just be comfortable with what you give.

If you have a new partner, can they come to the wedding too?

It's respectful to not ask, as numbers at weddings can be limited for good reason.

If you're in the bridal party should you have to pay for your own dress/shoes/etc?

It's acceptable to ask the cost of the dress if you're invited to be in the bridal party. If you're asked to pay for your dress, it's also okay to politely decline if you can't afford it.

Most Brides do pay for their bridesmaids' dresses (same goes for groomsmen), as it's only fair, when they're asking for something so specific be worn. Usually shoes are chosen to suit the dress, some brides will pay for the shoes, whilst others will expect you to pay.

Children and Weddings

Children can attend the ceremony but are best left with  babysitters for the formal evening events.

Is it OK to skip the ceremony and just turn up to the reception?

Only if you have a good reason, otherwise the ceremony is the most important aspect, so it's respectful to attend.

What if I don't like the table I've been seated on?

You shouldn't move, but after dinner guests usually can mingle and move around.

Mobile phone etiquette?

Turn it off!

Social Media etiquette, is it okay to post pictures?

This can be difficult to control, if there's a note or announcement made, requesting no social media posts, the couple's wishes should be respected.

When is the appropriate time to leave a wedding?

You should stay till the end or at least until the formalities/speeches conclude, preferably after the Bridal Waltz.

If I can't make the wedding should I still send a gift?

If you wish, a nice card is also acceptable.

What's the most appropriate way to thank the bride and groom?

In person on the night or if they're too busy an email or a note after the wedding is a nice gesture.

 

 

 

38 comments

  • One should never leave the reception before the bride and groom - unless elderly or unwell.
    Black tie is only appropriate for evenings, regardless of the occasion. The daytime equivalent is morning coat (think, Royal Wedding) which is a bit too formal here, so lounge suit is the best option for formal day wedding.

    Commenter
    Etiquette Pro
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 26, 2013, 11:39AM
    • Yes - I worked in a reception centre for years through uni and I couldn't believe the rudeness of guests who left before the bridal couple.

      Commenter
      Anasatasia
      Date and time
      July 26, 2013, 3:36PM
    • Anastasia - generally i would agree with you, but that assumes brides and grooms leave at a reasonable hour. We were at a wedding recently and left at midnight which was before the bride and groom. Had already purchased a decent gift, taxi fares to and from wedding, hairdresser, etc etc, the babysitter had already cost $100 and after midnight is $25 per hour . Think as a long as you're polite in the way you leave, its ok, brides and grooms, whilst it is their big day , need to understand that their guests also have costs and budgets (& other necessary expenses they need to pay for) and should be reasonable in understanding if people do need to leave earlier.

      Commenter
      BettyBobbitt
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 26, 2013, 5:33PM
    • my wedding 4 weeks ago was a lunchtime reception finishing at 2.30pm. the guests only stayed til 1pm. Completely ruined our reception. All because we didn't have an open bar ( very tight restrictions on the hall). I was crying the whole way to our honeymoon.

      Commenter
      mumsii
      Date and time
      July 27, 2013, 10:55AM
    • Um mummsi, did people know there would be no open bar? This is poor form for a wedding and perhaps you should have changed halls to accommodate? Most people go through an awful lot of effort for weddings. I've stayed in hotels, travelled interstate, paid for my own gear, given large cash gifts and the married couple often don't think of or remember the sacrifice especially the wedding party go thru. They just wanted a drink. I know you feel upset but in hindsight, would you or your other half had stuck around? I don't drink but my hubby would leave and I'd have to go with him. I think you cheaped out on your wedding, people were unimpressed and this is how they showed their unhappiness. I'm just glad you didn't hear what they were probably saying before they left. Bad judgement on your part here lovey. Next time if you can't go all the way, elope. What did you want and expect your guests to do? I would expect them to leave.

      Commenter
      Anne
      Date and time
      July 27, 2013, 6:41PM
  • The most important one, though more so for the bride and groom, is NOT to schedule your wedding on Grand Final day.

    If you do, don't be upset at all the boys in the corner huddled around their phones / TV etc watching it while you do your vows.

    Commenter
    Jono
    Location
    Tigerland
    Date and time
    July 26, 2013, 11:52AM
    • So true. Not only that, everyone goes to the pub in between the ceremony and reception and gets absolutely hammered whilst watching the football.

      Commenter
      Tootrue
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 26, 2013, 1:50PM
    • That's ridiculous.
      There are far more important things when it comes to scheduling than worrying about being on Grand Final Day. It's not like they have a wedding every year.
      It happens (generally) once in a lifetime.

      Not annually.

      Commenter
      Caveat
      Date and time
      July 27, 2013, 4:29PM
  • "It's acceptable to ask the cost of the dress if you're invited to be in the bridal party."

    Disagree, unless you are allowed to choose your own dress. I have some friends who have been forced to shell out several hundred dollars of their hard-earned for some very unfortunate, taffeta concoctions in dreadful colours that will never be worn again. If you want your bridesmaids to wear a dress of your choosing, then you pay for it.

    Now, a question:

    Is it okay to go to a wedding without bringing a gift and/or card? I was quite amazed certain people who came to our wedding and brought neither. I wasn't worried at all about gifts (some people are on tight budgets and obviously a gift should never be expected) but really found it rude that they didn't bring a card just to wish us well. Actually I was quite hurt by that. Haven't mentioned it to them but sometimes feel like asking what the hell they were thinking. I'd never attend an event like that without bringing a card at the very least.

    Commenter
    Confused newlywed
    Date and time
    July 26, 2013, 11:54AM
    • You misunderstand, it is reasonable to ask the bridal party to pay for the attire at all times.
      No guest should be 'required' to pay for an outfit chosen by others.

      Commenter
      Scotty16
      Date and time
      July 26, 2013, 1:03PM

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