Finding a wedding invitation in your mailbox is pretty exciting. Who doesn’t love a chance to get dressed up and spend the night on the dance floor celebrating their friends’ love? But it also comes with its own share of questions and confusion, from whether you were invited with a guest to what you should wear. No matter the formality or the season, being a great wedding guest will not only mean you have a fantastic time, but will ensure that the bride and groom do, too. If you’re not sure what makes a great wedding guest (or, more specifically, what makes a BAD one), our experts reveal the six things a wedding guest should never do.
Don’t RSVP With an Uninvited Plus One
Pay close attention to your invitation when it arrives: The envelope will hold all the clues as to whether you’ve been invited with a guest or not. If only your name is on the envelope, you’ve been invited solo. While you might be tempted to call and ask for a guest, or simply add a second person to your RSVP, don’t. Remember that the couple has both space and budget constraints to work with, and you could be causing undue stress by asking them to change their plans!
If your significant other was named, you must RSVP with that person or choose to go alone — that invite is non-transferrable! (The only possible exception is if you were invited with a boyfriend or girlfriend and the two of you broke up. Call the bride or groom to check whether it would be alright for you to bring a friend, but be prepared for them to say they’d prefer that you come alone instead of bringing someone they’ve never met.)
If your invitation read “and Guest,” you do have the flexibility to invite whomever you’d like. Keep the event in mind, though — check with the couple before you opt to bring your child instead of an adult friend, and pick someone you know would be comfortable in the environment.
Don’t Arrive with a Guest If You Weren’t Invited With One
Along the same lines as only RSVPing for those who were named on the invitation envelope, RSVPing for just yourself and arriving with a guest anyway is a big no-no. A good host and hostess (or wedding planner) will find a way to squeeze you in at a table, but you’re asking for the couple to focus on accommodating you instead of focusing on one another, and could throw a wrench in their carefully-planned seating arrangements.
Don’t Wear White
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the only person wearing all-white at a wedding should be the bride (if she so chooses, of course!). Peruse your closet for an appropriate outfit in a different color, take it as an opportunity to go shopping, or check out a site like Rent the Runway for something that fits the dress code and is a different hue. And of course, there’s always the Little Black Dress!
Don’t Ignore the Dress Code
The dress code might be the hardest part of being a wedding guest, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Instead, do your best to figure out what the couple is hoping for, whether it’s figuring out the definition of black tie or checking their wedding website to see what “beach chic” really means. Still not sure? Ask a member of the wedding party (or the couple themselves if the wedding is still a ways off). This is the best way to make sure you understand the couple’s vision! And remember, it’s always better to be slightly over-dressed than to show up at a wedding that requested cocktail attire in jeans and a polo shirt.
Don’t Show Up Late
The start time on the invitation is when the ceremony processional is going to start, to plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early so you have time to find a seat before the ceremony begins. Yes, wedding ceremonies often begin a few minutes late, but if you arrive at the scheduled start time, you may not be able to find a seat — or worse, won’t be allowed to enter the ceremony venue at all!
Don’t Get Trashed
Everyone loves an open bar, but free alcohol is not an invitation to get as drunk as possible. You could end up being disruptive, or worse, causing damage to the venue or hurting yourself. Instead, drink responsibly, make plans for a designated driver or a ride home, and enjoy yourself within reason.