8 Etiquette Mistakes at Least One Wedding Guest Will Make

Because some things are just out of your control.

The below list shares what we find to be the most common wedding etiquette errors made by guests, and what to do if a wedding guest commits these faux pas.

wedding ceremony outdoor garden greenery white decor back of bride and dad walking down aisle
Photo: Paul Barnett Photography

When you begin planning your wedding, it’s often advised to start researching wedding etiquette that is involved with hosting one’s nuptials. After all, some things that would be perfectly fine at a normal party are considered a faux pas for weddings, which can be confusing for those who don’t have much experience outside their own special day.

Unfortunately, those who are invited to weddings are even less likely to look into the different rules of wedding etiquette. Sure, most wedding guests will know to follow the dress code and that it’s polite – but not required – to bring a wedding gift, but there are many aspects of wedding-day etiquette that seem obvious to brides who are constantly reading blogs and articles on the subject of wedding etiquette. Therefore, there are bound to be a few attendees who make a few mistakes when celebrating your love.

The below list shares what we find to be the most common wedding etiquette errors made by guests. Many of them may seem very irritating, but in order to let these things not ruin your day, it’s important to keep in mind that generally these loved ones are not being malicious. That being said, knowing the possibilities of poor wedding etiquette ahead of time may help you prevent your stresses. If your nearest and dearest do end up committing these breaches of wedding etiquette, it is best to try and forgive them.

Common Wedding Guest Etiquette Mistakes

Not RSVPing on Time

Not sending their RSVP card in by the deadline is one of the most common wedding etiquette errors. If this happens, kindly call those wedding guests who have not responded to find out if they will be attending your nuptials. While you may feel that you can just not include them on the guest-count list, they may surprise you and show up without formally RSVPing, which could cause more harm and stress once the caterer has already received the head count.

Bringing an Uninvited Plus One

As you've carefully curated your wedding guest list, you also likely chose which guests would receive a plus one and which would not. Many guests who did not receive a plus one often ask for (or bring) a plus one when it wasn’t offered on the invitation. If they ask, kindly let them know that you only have room for them, as your venue had a limit you needed to stay within. If they bring a guest without asking, speak with your wedding planner or venue coordinator to determine how best to handle the situation by adding a chair.

Being Late

Arriving late to the ceremony is another common faux pas that many guests make. Unlike a friend's house party that you want to show up "fashionably late" to, a wedding ceremony is quite the opposite. Not everyone realizes the time on the invitation is the actual ceremony start time. Again, check with your wedding planner to find out how best to handle this situation with your venue in mind.

Not Following the RSVP

It's one thing to decide that you can suddenly attend a cocktail party at a bar, but not following your RSVP as a wedding guest is a big no-no. Doing the opposite of what the RSVP card said, whether attending when they sent regrets, or being an unexpected no-show, will only provide more stress for the couple.

Wearing White

Wearing a shade of white is another guest faux pas – especially as many brides don’t wear pure white gowns. The exception to this rule is if the couple asked their wedding attendees to wear white, which some choose to do. We always advise wedding guests to not wear these colors, but if this happens – don't worry! Ultimately, people will still know you’re the bride. Try to let it not bother you.

Asking Too Many Questions

Of course, you want to be a good host; however, guests should know not to ask the bride or groom questions the morning of the wedding. While you're getting ready, the last thing you'll want to do is be buried in your phone responding to friends and family members. To combat this, put as much information on your wedding website as you can, and encourage a less-busy family member or bridesmaid to act as liaison for sharing need-to-know information with attendees. 

Getting in the Photographer's Way

Taking photos during the ceremony is an easy way to ruin the professional photos that a couple has invested in. To help instruct your wedding guests that you'd like for them to not get in the photographer's way at the wedding or take photos during the ceremony with their cameras or phones, place a sign at the entrance of the ceremony that shares your wishes. Statements from the officiant may also prevent this, but it’s not always enough.

Having Their Phone Go Off

Forgetting to turn off or silence their cell phone during the vow exchange is another huge wedding guest faux pas that happens more than we'd like to believe. What's even worse is when a guest will physically take a phone call during the service. Again, have a sign at the entrance or ask your officiant to make sure everyone in attendance turns off their cell phones during the ceremony or even reception. While not everyone will follow this rule, a kind reminder can make a big difference.

For more tips and advice, find out what you shouldn't post on social media, find out if you can wear black to a wedding, and learn how to show appreciation to your vendors