Wedding Guest Etiquette

Festtafel image by Esther Hildebrandt from

If you've recently been invited to a wedding, it is essential to keep some important rules of etiquette in mind for the ceremony and reception.

Being courteous and respectful throughout the day will make the event especially memorable for the bride and groom, as well as other loved ones and friends who are in attendance.


As a guest, it is important that you send your RSVP for attendance to the bride and groom as soon as possible. It's best to confirm attendance a few days before the RSVP deadline, and proper etiquette suggests responding to the invitation in the manner requested, i.e. phone call or e-mail. Even if you are not able to attend the wedding, it is still best to respond in a timely manner so that the couple will be able to get an accurate headcount for the reception.

Additional Guests and Children

If the wedding invitation that you've received does not indicate that you can bring a guest to the ceremony or reception, it is appropriate to assume that additional guests are not invited to the wedding. If there is an option to bring a date, proper etiquette suggests confirming the date's attendance at the same time you confirm your own. If you are unsure whether children are allowed at the ceremony, it is best to ask the parents of the bride and groom or members of the wedding party for clarification. If the couple prefers that children not be in attendance, it is essential to make necessary arrangements.

Wedding Attire

Consider the weather and ceremony location when choosing the right attire for the day. For example, in the spring and summer, it is usually appropriate for women to wear a sundress in bright colours like turquoise or more subtle shades like peach. For the winter, velvet or certain tweed outfits may be appropriate--dark rich colours like hunter green or chocolate are appropriate. It is not considered proper etiquette to wear all white to a wedding, since the bride should be the only one wearing all white during the day. If the wedding will take place in a church or chapel, wearing an outfit that does not show too much skin, i.e. arms, legs, or cleavage, is best.

Taking Pictures

It is actually not proper for guests to take pictures at the wedding ceremony, especially if a photographer has been hired. Guests should arrange to purchase reprints from the photographer, and it's fine to take plenty of candid shots of the bride and groom and other guests after the ceremony has ended. Taking pictures during the reception is acceptable, even though a professional photographer may be present.


According to etiquette, it is proper to send wedding gifts to the home of the bride and groom or to the home of the bride or groom's parents before the ceremony, although some couples may have a table set up in the corner at the reception for gifts. It is also appropriate to give the couple cash as a gift, but it's best to present the money in check form. Even if you are not attending the ceremony or reception, it is still appropriate to send a gift to the newlyweds if you were invited to the wedding.