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The Well-Mannered Wedding Guest

by Joy Weaver

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The Well-Mannered Wedding Guest The beautiful bride has been planning this day for as long as she can remember. In a few short moments, her fantasy wedding will leap from the heights of her imagination into reality: her custom-made gown, her knight in shining armor, and the romantic honeymoon awaits her. She anxiously anticipates the moment when she’ll walk down the petal-covered center aisle, stare her husband-to-be deep into his eyes and finally be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Couple. This is the day she has dreamed of all her life - so as guest we want to be well mannered in order not to make a faux pas that will go down in the pages of the wedding album.

Always be early! "Better late then never" and “fashionably late” do not apply at weddings. Walking in while the wedding ceremony is in progress is embarrassing for everyone. Should you make this mistake, take a seat at the back so as not to disturb the ceremony in progress.

RSVP ASAP. The well-mannered wedding guest promptly returns the response card. This will help the bride keep an accurate count without last-minute revisions. If you do not respond, expect a call from the bride asking if you will or will not attend her wedding. It is only fair she knows you did receive the invitation and how you are responding to it.

Hire a babysitter. Crying babies and rambunctious children do not want to be at a wedding any more than the bride wants them there. Do not take for granted children are welcome – only if their names are listed on the invitation. This is also true for other guests. Never invite a date to escort you to the wedding if your invitation does not read “and Guest.” 

White is not right. The well-mannered guest knows it is still a faux pas to dress in solid white, even if the bride is not. This is a color reserved for the bride only  and sends a signal that you are competing with her on one of the most important days of her life. And what about wearing black? There are so many other colors to wear – why black? However, for a night wedding it is fine, but I always say, at least dress it up with color … perhaps a colorful pashmina or scarf.

Don’t come bearing gifts. Even though there will probably be a gift table at the wedding/reception, it’s considered rude to bring a gift to the wedding. Many people do not understand that the last thing a bride or her wedding party wants to do at the end of the night is to transport gifts. The well-mannered wedding guest sends a well thought-out gift in advance or after the wedding. 

Respect cultural differences. If you attend a wedding not of your own culture, you must respect their customs. Never be embarrassed to ask what can be expected ahead of time.

Silence is golden. Your new ring tone might be music to your ears, but definitely not to the bride’s. Turn off your cell phone and text toys. And for goodness sakes, if it rings … don’t answer it! (Silence it immediately and turn it off!)

Congratulations and Best Wishes. Telling the bride congratulations is like saying to her –“You finally found a husband!” The most appropriate thing to say “best wishes to you.” Congratulations is reserved for the groom.

Early arrivals are privileged to the aisle seat. If you arrive early enough to be seated on the aisle, you are not expected to move over for later arrivals. It is perfectly acceptable to swing your knees to the side or stand to let them pass by. A well mannered wedding guest knows, if you are the one making your way down the row it is only appropriate to face those already in their seats – it is considered rude to force others to stare at your backside. 

Let us eat cake! It’s disrespectful to leave before the wedding cake has been cut. The cake-cutting ceremony is synonymous to giving the newlyweds your blessings throughout life – you must eat cake!

Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert, speaker, trainer and author of “Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations”—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas and the CBS/11 Early Show. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, CBS’ The Early Show, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. For more information, please visit

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