30 Wedding Guest Mistakes to Avoid

Ensure your wedding guest reputation remains untarnished by being a helpful, happy, and all-around impeccable guest

Woman sleeping on couch

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When the invitation or save the date for a future wedding makes its way into your mailbox, you may find yourself bursting with excitement. Even the perpetual wedding guest can admit that weddings tend to be a lot of fun. They are a chance to eat good food, flirt with an open bar, and dance beside old friends and brand new ones. It's also the celebration of two people in your life who have found love within one another and promise to stay together for a lifetime.

Weddings are a chance for you to let loose and have a great time. But when doing so, it's important to remember that weddings are also a gathering of all different people, of all different ages, so you should try to keep your behavior as classy as possible.

You should also remember that as a wedding guest, you're a representation of the bride and the groom—you're not just there to bust out dance moves and stuff your face with expensive food. You're there to support and celebrate with the happy couple who just pronounced their "I dos."

In order to avoid showing up at the wedding already hungover or finding yourself tending to blistered feet halfway through the reception, avoid these 30 common mistakes and ensure that your wedding guest reputation remains untarnished.

Wedding Guest Etiquette
Alison Czinkota/Brides 
01 of 30

Forgetting to RSVP


Photo by Liz Banfield

Make sure you let the soon-to-be married couple know that you'll be attending the wedding. Showing up without mailing in that RSVP card will not only throw off their seating chart but also make for a not-so-warm welcome on their wedding day.

02 of 30

Showing Up Late


Photo by The Hons

If the ceremony begins at 5 p.m., don't swing in at 5:15 p.m. If you think you can sneak in and snag a seat in the back, be prepared for lots of eyeballs to hit you hard when you open up the doors of the church or temple and try to find a last minute seat.

03 of 30

Forgetting to Silence Your Phone


Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography

You don't want to make the ceremony unforgettable because your ringtone interrupted the happy couples saying "I do." Be sure to keep it on silent or—to be extra sure it won't go off—turn it on airplane mode for the entire ceremony.

04 of 30

Giving an Unplanned Speech


If you want to speak at the wedding, chat with the couple beforehand, but keep in mind that they may not want guests to think it's an open mic kind of night and have speeches drag on for a good chunk of the reception. Just because there's a microphone at the party, doesn't mean you have permission to use it.

05 of 30

Texting the Bride

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Imagine how many texts, calls, and emails she is getting the week of the wedding. If you can avoid it, don't text the bride right before the big day. If you have a question, check with another guest or even a member of the bridal party.

06 of 30

Bringing an Uninvited Plus-One

Guests at Dinner

Photo by Belathée Photography

If you weren't told you could bring someone to the wedding, know that you have to fly solo. You can't sneak in a plus-one, and don't ask the bride or groom the week of the wedding if you can bring somebody with you.

07 of 30

Wearing White

Bridal party on the beach

Photo by Russell Ord Photography

Save the pearly white color for the bride. Even if you think it's okay to do, wear any other dress just to be safe. Let her sparkle in her wedding gown.

08 of 30

Not Giving a Gift

Gift boxes with gold ribbons

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You may have decided you're not going to give the couple a gift—that's your decision. But if that's the case, at least bring the couple a card. It will mean something special for them to get a card from you on their wedding day.

09 of 30

Chatting During the Ceremony

Bride and groom holding hands during ceremony

Photo by Chowen Photography

You may be so excited for the ceremony that you find yourself saying sports-like commentary throughout the wedding and giving the people around you a play-by-play. However, you should try to refrain from chatting during the ceremony and allow everyone else to enjoy it in their own right.

10 of 30

Taking Flash Photography

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Turn your flash off so that you don't blind the Rabbi or the couple while they are standing up there at the altar. This could also interfere with the professional photographer's ideal lighting and ruin an otherwise perfect shot.

11 of 30

Skipping the Ceremony

dancing dress

Photo by Fred Marcus Studio

Maybe nobody will ever know you weren't there, but you will feel very weird missing the most important part of the wedding. Make it to the ceremony and just remember that no matter how long it is, there will be a party to follow.

12 of 30

Taking Shots Before the Ceremony

Wedding shots and beers

Photo by Melissa Marshall

Limit the amount of alcohol you have before the wedding. Usually there's an open bar, which means a long night of drinking ahead. Make it through the first few hours without unleashing the party animal inside of you.

13 of 30

Not Giving the Couple a Heads-Up About Food Allergies


Photo by Liz Banfield

If you're a vegan or eat gluten-free, be sure to tell the couple so sometime before the wedding. That way, they can have the venue prepare a special meal for you.

14 of 30

Drinking Too Much


Photo by Still55 Photography

Just because they have free drinks, doesn't mean you need to take full advantage of that. Be sure to pace yourself, too. That way, you won't find yourself passed out on the table before the cake is cut.

15 of 30

Leaving Early

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If you have to leave early, that's okay. But if you need to head out before the official exit, skip saying goodbye to the couple. That way, it won't make them panic that you're leaving early.

16 of 30

Passing Out at the Wedding

Woman sleeping on couch

Getty Images

Refrain from passing out in the cake, on the dance floor, on the bride, in the lobby...really anywhere.

17 of 30

Getting Competitive About the Bouquet Toss

Bouquet toss

Photo by Carrie Patterson Photography

The bouquet toss should be fun, so don't get too competitive when the posy of peonies is thrown. Avoid elbowing people around you and pushing them away so that you can come out victorious.

18 of 30

Swiping a Bottle From the Open Bar

Whiskey Bar Wedding Reception Idea

Photo by Love Me Do Photography

The bartender won't like that very much and you may even end up getting kicked out. Remember, this party is not one from a spring break cruise. It's a wedding. So keep the drinking classy.

19 of 30

Taking Over the Dance Floor

groom dancing

Photo by Amber Gress Photography

If you're pretending that the dance floor is yours and only yours, you'll scare other guests away. You can break out the "worm" dance move only once before it's time to give other guests the chance to show off their dance moves, too.

20 of 30

Trying to Sing Karaoke

Woman singing


Just because there is a microphone does not mean you can grab it and belt out the lyrics to the songs being played. Step away from the mic and sing along on the dance floor sidelines.

21 of 30

Not Wearing Deodorant

Wedding Guests Dancing

Photo by The Hons

Weddings make people smell more than usual. This is usually because you're in a crowded area and often sweating a lot. Bring some antiperspirant with you and reapply throughout the night.

22 of 30

Wearing the Same Dress or Color as the Bridesmaids

bride with bridesmaids

Photo by Amber Gress Photography

Try and check with the bride or the bridesmaids before the wedding to see what color dresses they are wearing. It's always a little awkward to show up looking like the third wheel bridesmaid.

23 of 30

Wearing Jeans

Overhead shot of reception venue

Photo by Mae & Minh Photography

Even if the wedding invitation says it is not a black-tie event, that does not mean you're allowed to wear jeans. Even if they are "nice" jeans, opt for dress pants or something a few notches above the Levis.

24 of 30

Not Introducing Yourself to the People at Your Table

Reception dinner tablescape

Photo by Sara Lobla

Be sure to say hello to them when you sit down. You were placed at that table for a reason so chances are you have something in common with the people around you.

25 of 30

Taking More Than One Party Favor

Photo by Caroline Lima Photography

If you want to see if there are extras, wait until the end of the night before grabbing another. Or you can ask the couple after their wedding if they have an extra to send you. But don't be greedy and grab more than one.

26 of 30

Getting Kicked Out at the End

Reception venue at night

Photo by Kristyn Hogan

When the DJ says goodnight, be sure to take that as your cue to leave. Perhaps there is an after-party to go to, but try not to linger around the venue for too long. The couple will have to pay if they go over the amount of time for which they rented it. So when they say the wedding's over, it means it's over.

27 of 30

Comparing/Criticizing the Details

Floral arrangement

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

If you are also a bride-to-be and in the process of planning your wedding, try your best to just keep your opinions about décor to yourself. Take mental notes about what you like and dislike at someone else's wedding, but on the night- or day-of, keep it positive.

28 of 30

Not Talking to Your Tablemates

rehearsal dinner

Photo by Heather Waraksa

On both sides of you, that is, especially if they are singles. You never want to have your back turned to the person on one side for too long. Use this as an opportunity to make a new connection and learn more about the couple.

29 of 30

Loudly Criticizing the Food

Food at wedding reception

Photo by Hannah Costello

The couple has agonized over the type of food to serve, the style in which to serve it, and all the details of catering—not to mention how much they've shelled out to feed you. The least you can do is pretend it's delicious and save your comments for after you leave.

30 of 30

Publicly Hooking Up at the Wedding

Grooms dancing at reception

Photo by Golden Hour Studios

Though it could be kind of funny, it's also super embarrassing for Aunt Leslie to walk into the coat closet only to find you and another guest in various states of undress, rolling around atop her blazer. Do everyone a favor and leave the grounds of the venue if you want to get jiggy with it, or at least go up to your hotel room.

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