Expert Advice: 12 Things Wedding Guests Shouldn’t Do

Don't Forget to RVSP or Bring Unvited Guests

“RSVP – on time! Oftentimes guests assume that the couple knows they are coming. Bridal party, cousins, work bestie, whomever you are – return that RSVP card. RSVP cards are sent with a return addressed envelope, pre-stamped, don’t let that money go to waste! Some invitation services offer to keep track of RSVPs, and they don’t know to count your bestie of 25 years. Those numbers dictate so much in the budget; food and beverage numbers, rentals, and space, meaning every RSVP counts, so send it in and on time!” -Jessica Ralph, President and Lead Planner, Parties A'La Carte

“Don't count yourselves as the exception! The couple spends a lot of time deciding on wording for invitations, programs, and their wedding website, whether it’s making hotel recommendations for out-of-town guests, adults-only receptions requests, or pleas for an unplugged ceremony. Please don’t throw in your two cents or think that the request doesn’t apply to you. The couple may have a room block pre-setup at the hotel the wedding is being hosted at or they are getting ready in – please don’t throw in other recommendations or put down the chosen hotel.” -Jessica Ralph, President and Lead Planner, Parties A'La Carte

 “Do not assume your kids are invited. Assume what is specifically listed on your invite.” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

“RSVP in a timely manner. We know that sometimes you get that card, tuck it away, and forget to send it off. But, with skyrocketing wedding costs, most likely the couple has trimmed their guest list and would love to add a few of those people back in if you’re not able to attend. On the same note – don’t RSVP with a ‘+1' if they were not included in the invitations. The couple has already spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way that everyone could have a +1 if at all possible. The same applies to bringing kids; it might not be appropriate for the venue, fit in their budget, or it might just be their personal preference.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

“If the couple has requested no children, please don’t bring them anyways. The couple loves your children but there is a myriad of reasons they chose not to host kids such as budget, guest limits, alcohol, etc. Whatever the reason, leave the kids at home and enjoy a date night.” -Jessica Ralph, President and Lead Planner, Parties A'La Carte

“My biggest pet peeve is guests not showing. I understand there are times when things happen last-minute but unless it is a true emergency situation if you said you are coming, you should be there. It costs the couple and their families a lot of money to provide their guests with a beautiful evening, and they are still paying for those guests that don’t show. I just think it is extremely rude.” -Karen Cerboni, Owner/Lead Planner, EventFull Weddings

Don't Wear White, Unless Specifically Asked by the Couple

Dress appropriately, and of course, do not wear white! In addition, make sure your attire is that for a wedding and not a nightclub. You will be in the background of the couple’s photos that they have paid for and will cherish forever. -Cindy Dervech, Owner, Breezin' Entertainment

“Unless you are asked to wear white by the couple, don’t.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Be a Bad Bridesmaid

“Don’t be a bad maid of honor; if you can't handle the duties, instead of complaining throughout the planning process, just tell the bride you can’t do something or afford something. Complaining turns it around and makes it about you and causes changes to accommodate your needs. And honey, this is NOT about you.” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

“Don't give long-winded toasts! We have seen toasts that are at longest 30 minutes long, whattttt! No one wants to sit for that long and listen to you take up the reception which is typically 3-4 hours long.  Keep it short and sweet, funny is ok, but be kind! 1-3 minutes is the acceptable length of time that will be awesome and memorable.” – Carrie Wildes, Owner, Carrie Wildes Photography

Don't Bother the Couple Before the Wedding

“Don't crash the bride's getting ready room. It is very common to see friends outside of the immediate bridal party trying to stop by the bridal getting ready room to wish her well, hang out before the ceremony or try to grab a photo before. If you weren't invited to hang out with the bride while she gets ready or beforehand, wait to share your congratulations at the wedding.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Be Late

“Try to be on time. We know things happen, but it’s very awkward and more disruptive than you might realize when you and your entire entourage try to ‘sneak’ into the wedding ceremony unnoticed.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

“Don’t wait 15 minutes to go into the ballroom from the cocktail hour when being ushered in. Stragglers in the cocktail hour can really throw a wrench in the timeline. There is a timeline in place for a reason, and if things aren’t kept on schedule it can throw the entire timeline off, pushing it back 20 minutes, and end up upsetting the couple because the 20-minute delay caused the photographer to miss the cake cutting because their contracted time has ended.” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

Don't Play Wedding Photographer for the Day

“All too often we see guests who are incessantly taking photos during critical parts of the day that our couples have spent a lot of money for us to capture. During the ceremony, please don't stand, or lean into the aisle to take photos, or hold up your phone or table. Some of the most amazing moments get blocked or are impossible to capture because guests are trying to capture them. Also, if you are an amateur or professional photographer for that matter, be courteous of the hired photographer that is there! The couple hired them for a reason and most professional photographers have a statement in their contract saying that there are to be no other ‘photographers' or professional equipment used by anyone else during the event. Enjoy those weddings you get to attend; if you are behind a camera you're going to miss out!” -Carrie Wildes, Owner, Carrie Wildes Photography

“The ‘unplugged ceremony is a big one that we often see ignored. Photography is a good percentage of the budget, and most photography contracts include ‘exclusivity’ clauses meaning you can’t have other ‘shooters’ beyond them. ‘Oh, I am the cousin, it’s okay as they pull out their expensive, professional camera and jump in between the hired photographer and the first kiss. Editing is part of the photographer’s contract but then they have to spend more time photoshopping phones out of the way of the first dance than touching up the lighting. Photographers know how to maneuver their way through a crowd to get a ‘money shot' but when they are outmaneuvered by a guest with an iPhone camera important shots that may or may not have been requested by the couple are missed.” -Jessica Ralph, President and Lead Planner, Parties A'La Carte

Don’t Hassle the Vendors

“Enjoy the wedding! We know that everyone wants to be involved, but sometimes, enjoy being the guest. Couples spend a lot of time and money to make this day comfortable and beautiful for everyone, which typically means hiring professionals to plan, decorate, cater, and bake. While we know that family and guests would love to come help decorate there is often a company to set up tables, chairs, linens, and centerpieces. There are artists to do the bridal party’s hair and makeup and a planner to coordinate the vendors and venue. Come to the wedding in your Sunday Best, and eat, drink, and dance the night away! Leave the work to the professionals and just enjoy your time with family and friends all together in one place.” -Jessica Ralph, President and Lead Planner, Parties A'La Carte

“Don’t ignore the unplugged wedding sign at the ceremony. If you see this sign posted it’s a message from the couple. They don’t want guests taking photos during their ceremony. It’s disrespectful to ignore that. The ceremony should be the most meaningful part of the entire evening when the couple is sharing with each other and their guests intimate stories and sacred vows. There will be plenty of time afterwards for photos and you can go on to their photographer’s website later to get a photo of the ceremony.” -Karen Cerboni, Owner/Lead Planner, EventFull Weddings

“Don’t hassle the DJ if he doesn’t play your requested song. He is on a specific list and timeline from the couple and was most likely told not to take requests and is just being nice. Do not take the DJ’s microphone. Just don’t do that…” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

“Wedding guests should be…guests. They should not try to be the planner, music selector, photographer, etc. Specifically, as a DJ, we love taking requests and interacting with the guests. However, if the song a guests selects doesn't flow with the theme or genres of the couple's selections, we will not be able to fit that song into the playlist. There is no need to continue to bother, beg or even worse, go to the couple and complain to them. DJs want to make sure everyone is having a great time, but if the couple choose no ‘group songs,' please don't come up to the DJ every song and tell us that you want The Wobble.” -Mike Greenberg, Owner, Spark Wedding Events

“Relax and enjoy the party. The couple and their wedding vendors have put countless hours into the planning and timing of the wedding day. They’ve got this! Just relax and enjoy being a wedding guest.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Overserve Yourself

“Don’t get drunk. Overly intoxicated people take the focus off the couple, can cause damage, and can be an embarrassment for the couple and their families. Don’t be that person. It’s a night for grown-ups and guests should behave accordingly.” -Karen Cerboni, Owner/Lead Planner, EventFull Weddings

“Don’t ask the bartender to take shots with you. Most beverage companies are not going to take the liability risk but if they think it might affect their tips it puts them in an awkward position to say no over and over.” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

“More and more wedding venues are choosing not to allow shots or limit the number of drinks a person can get at one time. It’s not the bartender’s decision, and it’s something the couple knew when they booked the venue. So, please don’t harass the bartender or make a scene.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

“Please people, don’t act like this is the first time you’ve been to an open bar. The couple, wedding planner, and venue coordinator have worked tirelessly to make sure everything goes smoothly, and the last thing they need is someone grabbing the microphone or falling on the dance floor. Save the couple some stress and drink responsibly! -Cindy Dervech, Owner, Breezin' Entertainment

“Please, please don’t take your drinks onto the dance floor! If had a dollar for every time we had to clean up broken glass and spilled drinks on a dance floor filled with people in bare feet, we could retire.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Change Your Meal at the Reception

“Do not change your entree selection at the reception because you liked what the rest of the guests got at the table instead of what you choose. Please do not argue with the waiter that you did not order that when it is clearly marked on your escort card.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Touch the Gifts

“One that we deal with often as a planner is a guest who thinks they're being helpful by taking all of the cards from the gift card box. I have had many minor heart attacks when I walk by the card box, and it's empty! We always assign someone from our staff to keep an eye on the gift table. We put it far away from the entrance, and we always bring the card box in just as soon as all of the guests begin moving into dinner. But every once in awhile a sweet, well-meaning aunt or friend thinks it's not being monitored, grabs all of the cards and takes them to their seat to keep them safe. If there is a planner for the wedding, always check with them before ‘helping' in this way. They will likely have a plan for safely handling them for the evening!” -Brandee Gaar, Blush by Brandee Gaar

“If at all possible, arrange to have your wedding gift shipped to the couple’s home in advance of the wedding. Gifts need to be moved from the venue to the couple’s hotel room or home and many times they are leaving for their honeymoon right after the wedding.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

“A card filled with cash is always a touchy subject. Yes, couples love and appreciate the cash as they can spend it on things they really want or need. But, at the same time, a lost card creates a really uncomfortable conversation for everyone involved. Ideally, the couple has a secured box for all of their gift cards and has assigned someone to watch them, collect them, or hold on to them. Please avoid the urge to be helpful and handle the couple’s cards.” -Tammy Waterman, Master Wedding Planner and Owner, Special Moments Event Planning

Don't Take Items from the Wedding

Wedding guests should never assume the centerpiece is theirs to take. Often to maintain their overall wedding budget, a couple will choose beautiful, high-end rental containers for the centerpieces; this often includes gorgeous candle holders as well. If a guest walks away with one, the bride is responsible for the replacement cost. So I would suggest waiting until the centerpiece has been offered by the couple or mother-of-the-bride. And please, if offered, take one. The family will feel great knowing their flowers will be enjoyed for the following week and did not end up in the trash. -Cassie Osterloth, Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

“Don’t take more than one wedding favor. More often then not there are going to be extras. Let the couple decide who may need one that either didn’t come or forgot to take theirs. Let’s not be greedy.” -Laurie Lupcho, Owner, Core Concepts

Don't Propose to your Significant Other

“How would you feel if you were having the time of your life, everything was perfect, then everyone all of a sudden you see one of your friends on their knees asking his/her significant other to marry him/her. Now everyone is excited and unintentionally runs over the newly engaged couple to celebrate the great news. All of a sudden it is no longer about you; it is about another couple and their excitement. Your night without actually ending, has ended in remembrance of someone else’s happiness.” -Georgette Casimir, Owner, Pea to Tree Events