how to be an excellent wedding guest

There comes a time in every person’s life when they must succumb to wedding season. It afflicts mainly those in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, but wedding season can strike at any time and the good news is that most people who experience wedding season go on to live healthy, happy lives. No doubt many of you are familiar with the symptoms – the ring pictures on Facebook, the plush envelopes arriving on your doormat (sadly not containing your Hogwarts letter…), the mild panic of ‘what on earth do I wear’. You are not alone. 

I have been to a lot of weddings. More than my fair share, probably. I am pretty much a wedding guest pro by this point – I should be hired out to people who’ve had drop outs at the last minute, to fill the pews, cry at the right moments (I always cry) and raise a toast to the happy couple. So, if this is your first time, here’s a few pointers on how to nail being a wedding guest and to survive wedding season: 

1. RSVP 

For the love of god, RSVP! Do not assume that they know you’re coming or that they know your dietary requirements. Chances are they are juggling a lot of people, and things will get missed if they’re not in writing (on the very complicated but efficient spreadsheet). Do everyone a favour and send back your RSVP as soon as you get it; chances are you know whether you’re going to be there or not so don’t let the card linger in a drawer somewhere until the very last second. I have been guilty of RSVP crime before, and I have vowed to never again be that guest. Be better than me. 

2. Book early 

There will be a limited number of hotel rooms close to the venue, so get in early and save yourself some stress. DO NOT call the bride(s) or groom(s) a week before the wedding asking if they know of anywhere else to stay or if there’s anyone whose room you can crash in – they have enough problems of their own. You will thank your past self when you don’t have to worry about rooms or transport later in the year when the stakes are higher, and you’ll probably save yourself a few bob by booking early. That said, if the wedding is taking place at a hotel and you are not family or close friends, double check before you take the last room that they were saving for grandma. It’s just polite. 

3. Don’t wear white 

I’ve debated this with friends before, and many agree that this rule is a little out of date. However, I’m pretty firm that you should not wear white to a wedding. Not that I think you’ll upstage the bride or groom (unless you’re wearing some sort of white gown – which I have seen someone do!), but it’s just polite. You don’t know how they’ll feel about it, so err on the side of caution. There are hundreds of other shades to wear, so it’s not like you don’t have other options. 

Pro-tip: many people will also use their wedding theme colours on the invitation, so you can have a guess at the colours the bridesmaids or groomsmen will be wearing. This isn’t a foolproof solution, of course, but if everything’s coming through blush pink then maybe opt for something different so you don’t blend in. 

how to be an excellent wedding guest
So many weddings, just one blazer…


4. Arrive on time 

As with all things, arrive on time. You don’t want to be sneaking up behind the bride to find your seat. Depending where the wedding is, you might be able to sneak in a cheeky pint before the ceremony so it pays to be extra early. 

5. Know your place 

If you’re a close friend or family member of the bride(s) or groom(s), then rock on. If, however, you are a ‘fringe’ guest, then you need to know your place. There is always a group photo at weddings, and you do not want to be right at the front of it if you’re not a VIP guest, so hang back. However, don’t hang back so far that it makes the photographer’s life difficult. Do what they say, when they say it and you’ll get to the free prosecco faster – you’re having your photo taken whether you like it or not so don’t wait for the fifth ‘bunch up at the back’ before you move. 

6. Don’t get too wasted 

There’s a little leeway in this, and I think you can take your cue from the couple. You can get drunk, but if you know you’re prone to embarrassing scenarios and emotional outbursts when you’ve had one too many pinots, then watch yourself. It’s not only a bummer for you if all anyone can remember is you stripping/grinding on elderly family members/crying about your ex/ending up in A & E after an ill-fated dance move, it’s a bummer for the couple who spent all that money on their wedding. DO, however, have a good time – I don’t know about your friends, but it is of utmost importance to me that my guests eat, drink and are very merry – so drink, dance & get down. Just don’t go too far. If you do find yourself feeling a little bit too worse for wear, make your excuses and leave.

Related: A free bar is a wonderful thing, but it’s not the time to try out that expensive aged whisky you’ve always fancied, or the oldest vintage of wine. Stick to what you’d usually drink if you’re paying for yourself, and maybe slip an extra twenty into the card you brought as a thank you. 

7. Don’t go off list 

I want to stress that there is no obligation to bring a gift to a wedding. People who expect you to turn up with extravagant gifts are assholes. Going to weddings is expensive, so your presence really should be enough of a gift, but if you do want to bring a little something then stick to the wedding list. They have picked it for a reason so going off list, unless you know them really well and have a perfect, personal present for them, is really not the done thing. Lots of people are eschewing official gift lists for cash donations towards honeymoons now, which makes your life easier if you’re planning on bringing something. Even if you’re not bringing a gift, a card is always appreciated, especially if you write a lovely heartfelt message (or a joke) inside. 

8. Hold the drama

Fallen out with someone else at the wedding in a big way? Not happy about having to see your ex with their new partner? Can’t stand melon starters? Keep it to yourself. This day is not about you. You’re an adult and you can keep it together for one day, and then wreak the revenge when your own time comes. If the other party in your feud tries to bring it up, refuse to engage and walk away. The couple will thank you for it, and you will be invited back to all of their future weddings. 


Do you have any pro tips for being an excellent wedding guest?

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