12 bad behaviours all wedding guests should avoid

This year has been a busy one for weddings with several events that were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic now going ahead. But with two years passing without major events, some people seem to have forgotten how to behave in formal settings such as weddings.

So before you attend your next wedding, maybe take some of these things into consideration.

Here are 14 bad behaviours to avoid as a wedding guest.

Showing up late to the ceremony

Listen, this one seems like an obvious one but there are some people who still show up late and interrupt the ceremony trying to find an empty seat. If you show up late and the couple is mid-vows, don’t go into the ceremony space. Before you go in, wait for an appropriate break in the ceremony – when the guests cheer during the first kiss, when the couple breaks away for the signing of the certificate, etc. Don’t do anything that may distract from the couple. This is their day, not yours. If there’s no appropriate break, then I guess next time you’ll remember to be on time.

Getting in the way of the photographer

Seriously, get out of the way! Dmytro Sheremeta/Shutterstock

Again, this may seem obvious. But the number of people that insist on getting 1,000 pics of the couple on their iPhone 7 is ridiculous. The couple has paid good money for the photographer(s) to be there, so please, please, PLEASE put your phone down. A lot of couples will opt to have an “unplugged” ceremony, so make sure you check for signs stating as much and keep your phone in your pocket/bag. And while you’re at it, mute your ringer!

Tip for the parties getting married: You can always do a photo minute allowing the guests 60 seconds to get their own pics of you once you get to the alter before the ceremony begins. Let ’em get it out of their system.

Not following the dress code set by the couple

MILA Zed/Shutterstock

Most invitations, whether a classic paper copy or a digital version, will state the dress code. If you can’t find one, ask! Most times the couple will be happy to share more info about the pending nuptials.

Dress codes can also be confusing, so here’s a crash course:

White and Black tie: while these events aren’t as common as they may have been once, they are very formal. Guests should be in floor-length dresses or full suits (tuxes if possible). Ask yourself, what would Kate Middleton wear (WWKMW) to a state dinner?

Formal: Similar to black tie, just a half step down. A floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit are appropriate.

Cocktail: this is the time to pull out the cute little cocktail dress or take off the suit jacket.

Semi-formal/dressy casual: here’s where you can get away with business casual. Cocktail attire works, as does nicer summer dresses/dress shorts if it’s an outdoor wedding and it’s hot out. (Alberta, Saskatchewan, unless otherwise stated by the bride and groom, don’t show up in a cowboy hat and jeans. This is a wedding, not a hoedown.)

Casual: this applies to many outdoor weddings that may be held on the beach, in parks, or in tropical destinations. You can be casual, as the dress code implies, but it’s still best to avoid jeans, crop tops, or dresses and skirts that are too short.

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, so keep that in mind when picking an outfit. And muted tones are best.

Wearing white

Or anything bordering white, for that matter. White dress but it’s got a floral print? No. Blush pink dress that’s suuuuuper pale? No. Champagne, ivory, beige, dove grey? NO.

Unless the couple has explicitly stated that they want guests in those colours, just don’t.

Hot tip: Ask the couple what their wedding colours are. Find an outfit that complements the wedding colours but isn’t the same (you don’t want to look like a member of the wedding party if you’re not) so that the couple’s pictures look that much better.

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Not RSVPing on time (or at all)

The couple has to have a confirmed headcount by a certain deadline so their vendors can prepare the correct amount of food, number of chairs, favours, etc. Be respectful of the couple’s time, effort, and money, and RSVP on time. If you don’t RSVP at all, you better bring your own chair and a sandwich because THERE WILL NOT BE A SEAT FOR YOU.

Arriving with a +1 if you were not given one

Really? Come on. Smdh.

Also, if you’re dating the ex of one of the bride(s)/groom(s)… maybe don’t bring them.

Talking through the speeches

AS project/Shutterstock

Ya, we get it – no one likes the speeches. But that still does not make it okay to talk through them! Be a good audience member and laugh at the inside jokes that no one gets, applaud when it feels right, and support the people with the microphone. Not everyone is comfortable making speeches in front of strangers.

And while we’re on the topic of speeches, go to the bathroom before they begin. Again, be respectful and supportive of the people talking.

Sharing stories that might not be appropriate for all ears

Whether you’re giving an official speech as a member of the wedding party or just shooting the sh*t with other guests, just be mindful of who you’re talking to. No one’s grandma needs to go into cardiac arrest after hearing a racy account of the first… uh… kiss.

Getting a little too tipsy

bad wedding guest


Everyone wants to let loose and enjoy the night, just make sure you’re not getting so plastered you’re starting fights, randomly undressing, skinny dipping, or projectile vomiting on the dance floor.

Not following other rules as set by the couple

Every couple is different, so they may have some non-traditional rules for their event. If they aren’t doing the glasses-clinking-for-a-kiss thing, don’t clink your glass. If they are having a dry wedding, don’t bring a mickey. If they want everyone in a specific colour palate, dress accordingly. Many of these rules will be mentioned by the officiant/emcee, displayed on signage around the venue, or laid out on a wedding website or invitation, so just make sure you’re checking.

Pre-wedding no-nos

Inviting yourself

It’s not up to you. And beyond that, sometimes the decision of who to invite isn’t an easy one. Sometimes the venue has a capacity limit, the couple wants to keep things more low-key, or there are other restrictions (COVID-19 comes to mind) that might’ve made the decision for them.

Trying to convince the couple to change the date/time/location of their wedding

So this one happens during the wedding planning process, not the wedding itself, but still. The couple is planning what they want for themselves, not the wedding you want. Trying to convince them to get married at a location you like better or on a day that better suits you is not appropriate. It’s also a quick way to find yourself uninvited, so just be happy for the couple and be content with receiving an invite at all.

Throwing a fit if the couple has chosen a child-free wedding

You, if you’re guilty of this one (muroPhotographer/Shutterstock)

Get a babysitter. You complaining to the couple about not being able to bring your kids won’t get your kids in and it will only make the couple rethink your invite altogether.

Expecting the couple to entertain out-of-town guests the day before the wedding

Between the final details, setting up the venue(s), rehearsal dinner, and all the other last-minute things they have to get done, they will not be available.

So, in short, be respectful and kind! Throwing a party this big is a lot of work, so don’t add to the couple’s stress.

Any other wedding no-nos you can think of? Let us know in the comments.

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