An Expert Shares the Top Etiquette Mistakes Wedding Guests Should Avoid Making

Here's how to dodge any etiquette snafus.

Wedding guests eat vanilla wedding cake at a wedding reception.

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Wedding guest etiquette may seem pretty straightforward—RSVP, arrive on time, bring a gift, don't make a scene—but wedding guest etiquette mistakes are more common than you may think. While many people bring their best manners with them to a marriage celebration, sometimes guests aren't on their best behavior.

From ignoring dress codes to having a little too much fun, there are more than a few things wedding guests can do that are considered major faux pas. Here, wedding etiquette expert Diane Gottsman shares with us the top etiquette mistakes wedding guests are still making today.

Meet the Expert

Diane Gottsman is an etiquette expert, the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, and the author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.

Asking to Bring a Plus-One

One of Gottsman's first tips: Don't ask the couple if you can bring a plus-one when you RSVP. If you didn't see the plus-one indication on the invitation, then it's best to respect that choice from the couple. "[Asking] puts them on the spot, especially if it's stated on the invitation," explains Gottsman. "Asking to bring extras is not appropriate."

If you do have a plus-one approved for the wedding, ensure that they follow proper etiquette, too. "A plus-one should follow all of the good guest rules that the invited guest would be expected to uphold," reminds Gottsman. "Say hello to [the couple], introduce himself/herself to fellow guests, mix and mingle, and don’t over imbibe."

Disregarding the Dress Code

So much mental energy goes into planning a wedding—and one of those careful considerations is the dress code. If the couple getting married specified a certain dress code, make sure to respect that. If you have questions, do some research before asking about the outfit you have in mind and if you do need to ask questions, approach someone in the wedding party, like the maid of honor or best man; the soon-to-be-newlyweds have a lot to think about!

Going Overboard With Alcohol

This one may seem obvious but it happens. "Getting drunk and embarrassing themselves" is one of the top mistakes Gottsman advises wedding guests to avoid making—it's just not respectful to the couple or to the other guests.

Wearing White

Perhaps the most important dress code rule: Don't wear white! If you're on the fence about whether your chosen outfit could break this rule—like if you have a white dress with print on top—just change your outfit. Chances are if you had to second-guess it, it's not the right fashion choice for a wedding.

Arriving Late to the Ceremony

Being late happens; we can't all be on time for every single event. In general, though, try to arrive well ahead of time for a wedding ceremony out of respect for the couple. If you do arrive late, Gottsman explains that a major faux pas is "making a scene trying to get a good spot up front." If you happen to arrive late, either wait to enter the building until the ceremony is over, or slip in quietly and sit at the back so as to not disrupt this special event.

Getting in the Way of the Photographer

Wedding photographers have a very important role in a wedding—their efforts will allow the newlyweds to look back on their special day for years to come. So, Gottsman explains, getting in the way of the wedding photographer while they're doing their job is a big no-no. Another mistake: Trying to take your own photos while the photographer is hard at work documenting a special moment, and letting it interfere with their process.

Posting on Social Media Too Early

In general, Gottsman says that wedding guests should not post photos of the married couple on social media before the couple does it themselves. This is a big moment for them, and they should be allowed to decide when pictures go up on Instagram or Facebook.

Skipping the Gift at a Destination Wedding

Yes, destination weddings can be very pricey for guests, but this doesn't mean that you should skip a wedding gift altogether. "A destination wedding is expensive, but giving a modest gift is still in order. Use the registry, find something within your budget, and have it delivered," advises Gottsman.

Dressing Too Casually at a Beach Wedding

Gottsman advises that just because you're going to a beach wedding doesn't mean you can wear something super casual. "It’s still a dressy occasion and your selection of clothing should reflect the celebration."

Rescinding Your RSVP Confirmation

"Once you have RSVP'd, it’s never a good idea to rescind your confirmation because a better offer came along," explains Gottsman. Of course, things come up in life that may require you to say "no" when you already said "yes," but try to be mindful of the circumstances—swapping one wedding for a different one is poor etiquette.

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