Wedding Guest Etiquette: Avoid These Common Blunders

A woman having fun at a wedding.

Who wouldn’t want to bring a plus one to a wedding? An evening of celebration amid a backdrop of food, drinks, music, happy guests, and gorgeous venue is a fool-proof recipe for a great time. But, before you extend the invite to your date, you—and your checkbook—should be prepared to cover additional expenses. How much additional expense? Diann Valentine, wedding planner to Usher, Toni Braxton, and Martin Lawrence, gives us the scoop on wedding guest etiquette.

If you are inviting a date, you should expect to pay for all the costs associated with his or her travel: “Whoever extends the invitation should be prepared to pick up the transportation costs as well as the cost of any gift,” says Ms. Valentine. “However, this is a good opportunity to evaluate your potential mate; a thoughtful companion will likely offer to pick up some of the costs on their own.”

If your date does not help offset costs or even offer to help, “you probably should not invest too much time and energy into this person,” says Ms. Valentine. “This is not a question of money, but a question of character.”

The wedding gift is strictly up to you, “I do not think you should expect your date to offer or buy a wedding gift, particularly if he or she does not even know the couple.” Ms. Valentine’s general rule for wedding gifts is about $100, regardless of whether you bring a date or not. But, she adds, “If you are really feeling generous, you could spend any amount.”

In addition to explaining who’s responsible for wedding attendance costs, Ms. Valentine also wanted to include her top wedding guest offenses:

It is crucial for guests to respect the process and formally RSVP. Guests who do not RSVP will say things like, “well they know I’m coming” or “I talked with her a few weeks ago and told her I would be there” to justify their behavior. This is not acceptable. Failing to RSVP causes more stress to the bride and more work for the wedding planner.

This most often occurs with family members, because they assume if they are invited then, of course, their children, nieces, nephews, or best girlfriends are also invited. Weddings are an expensive undertaking; it is not fair to the couple for guests to start inviting others.

Whenever there is a hosted bar, a few guests will probably over indulge.  Drinking too much at a wedding either makes for a few good laughs or a few embarrassing disasters.  I have seen much more of the latter because guests simply don’t know when to stop.

Although their hearts are in the right place, wedding guests are not usually great speakers and tend to drag on for too long. The best toasts wish the couple well or impart some wisdom–under two minutes.

Don’t be that guy or that girl who doesn’t know who to handle a wedding gracefully; any regrettable performance will be documented by professional wedding photographers or videographers. Save your reputation! Keep your manners in check and have a great time!

Joan Actually

Dating Expert

Joan is a writer and dating expert.

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