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The MBA Bride | October 18, 2017

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10 Simple Etiquette Rules for Wedding Guest

Wedding Guest Etiquette

Some guests just don’t get wedding etiquette.

Yesterday, I was on a wedding forum talking with other brides about invitation etiquette. The brides were discussing if they should put the time of the wedding as a half hour before the processional to account for guests who may be late. Wedding etiquette calls for guests to arrive approximately 15 minutes to a half hour before the wedding starts. Why do time-sensitive brides need to build in buffer for the etiquette-oblivious guests?

Then it hit me. Some guests don’t understand wedding etiquette.

Other than arriving 15-30 minutes before the start time on the invitation, here are 10 other etiquette elements that guests should check off before attending a wedding.

1. Be gentle, not forceful or insistent

When meeting new people or seeing someone you haven’t seen in years, don’t be loud, approach them with your hand outstretched, or be a creepy stalker hoping they remember your face. Be gentle in your approach when greeting other people.

2. Observe others and assimilate

If you’re unsure how to behave, look around and take cues from other people. Essentially, look before you leap.

3. Be nice

If you’re having a bad day, suck it up and be kind to the people around you.

4. Start a conversation by asking questions about the other person

One-uppers and narcissists, lend me your eyeballs. Suppress your self-centered impulse and be inquisitive about the other person your talking with. Think about it: would you want to talk with someone who only talks about themself? Use the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time, ask about the other person. 20% of the time, talk about yourself.

5. Be honest

Banish liars and embellishers from the party. Only honest people with honest conversations should be allowed at weddings.

6. Make eye contact with others when speaking or listening

That means put your phone away to show the other person the courtesy and respect they deserve. You may occasionally take out your phone to zap a pic of the bride and groom, but stop texting or playing words with friends.

7. Familiarize yourself with dinner etiquette

Although you may eat your salad with your hands at home, a wedding is no place to showcase your adept fine-motor skills. Instead, read about dinner etiquette on the web and be ready to use the right utensil at the right time.

8. Laugh without being loud

Don’t get me wrong, some laughs are infectious and great to listen to. But at weddings, Uncle Bob should really suppress his sonic-boom laugh to let the attention stay focused on the guests of honor – the bride and groom.

9. Be calm

If you are someone who can’t sit still for more than five minutes, find some calming techniques to make you appear relaxed. You want to be a gracious guests and part of being gracious means slowing down and moving with ease.

10. Be familiar with cultural or regional etiquette

If you’re traveling to another region or attending a wedding for a culture that is different than yours, become familiar with the way individuals will interact at the wedding so that you understand what is expected of you and you aren’t surprised by how the traditions vary. For example, if you’re from the north and attend weddings in ball gowns but go to a wedding in the south where khakis and a polo is appropriate, you want to be aware before you show up.

Wedding etiquette will vary by event type, culture, region, and more. The most important thing is staying informed about what is expected and frowned upon at weddings.

How can brides subtly share this information without insulting their guests?

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