Be Our Guest: How To Behave At Weddings

Weddings are a wonderful occasion, and generally speaking, people are pretty good at knowing the standards of behaviour that the bride, groom and other guests have come to expect from those attending a wedding.

It’s not a Friday night after work down the pub, and it’s not a dinner at Parliament House, but weddings have a pretty respectable and appropriate air about them – even if it’s a casual ceremony on the beach. If you aren’t sure what the best way is to go about your celebrating at a wedding, or you know a guest who is a little too unique and are nervous that they might cause a scene, I’ve put together a few handy little tips that will help you and your guests live up to expectations and be one damn awesome wedding attendee!


Photo by Aimee Claire Photography

Dress appropriately

Weddings are a time where you can put on your fancy frocks and get all dolled up, but the important thing to remember that behaving appropriately means that you don’t make too big a statement or go too over the top with your outfit. It’s the day where the bride gets to be the princess, so let her shine! She’s going to be the most beautiful person there anyway.

Pretty much every wedding will have a dress code, whether it’s smart-casual, cocktail, formal or black tie, and the dress code will usually be carefully stipulated on the invitation. Depending on what the invitation has suggested, you need to ensure that you dress appropriately because it’s just bad manners not to!

If the dress code hasn’t been mentioned, you still need to dress like you would if you were having an afternoon tea at a country club, and pick an outfit that’s not too formal, yet not too casual. If you need more information, check out my post about Solving the Dress Code.

A few simple rules to remember as well: Avoid denim, any outfit that shows midriff (some dress options with midriffs might be ok, but as a general rule this is never appropriate for a wedding!), NEVER ever wear white and don’t dress too sexy either – it’s highly likely grandmothers and small children will be in attendance, so keep that in mind.

Don’t get too drunk

This one might be a little hard, especially when there is free-flowing champagne or sparkling wine being topped up in your glass every half an hour. Toasting the bride and groom after speeches, and drinking enough that’s going to allow you to get down on the dance floor comfortably is completely expected – it’s a celebratory occasion after all and that usually calls for some celebratory drinks!

However, you want to be remembered for the right reasons and for having a great time, not be remembered as the one who was grinding the groom’s mother with your shirt completely unbuttoned, or for falling down the stairs on the way out of the reception. So cut water between your alcoholic beverages and try not to get too drunk.


Photo by Aimee Claire Photography

Join in the celebrations

Weddings are packed with ways that you can enjoy yourself, and can include everything from karaoke and a photo booth, to a band or DJ, and even lawn games like croquet and bocce ball. One of the best ways to present perfect behaviour at a wedding, is to join in the celebrations and take part in the wedding activities. They were planned there for optimal enjoyment for guests, so make full use of them and have a great time doing it!

If there is a band or a DJ, get up and have a whirl on the dance floor, even if it’s only to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. If there is a photo booth, get your best friend or even the married couple themselves into the booth with you and put on a funny hat! You might feel stupid, but the photos will make for a wonderful lasting memory for you and the couple.

Try your hand at the croquet game set up on the lawn, write some positive messages in the guest book, or even simply engage the other guests and have a conversation – it’s not hard at all to have fun at a wedding, and not joining in with the celebrations means you are likely to have a pretty miserable time. You don’t have to take part in everything, but joining in displays great wedding behaviour, and you won’t regret it!


Photo by Nora Devai Photography

Be positive

You may have read my previous post about not judging at weddings, and this still rings true. Weddings are a celebratory occasion, and even if you don’t really like the groom or what the bride has chosen as decorations for the wedding, it’s important to stay positive. By not bitching about the things you would have done differently to everyone at your table, involving yourself in more positive conversations and looking at things in a positive light you are going to have a lot more fun, make great new social connections, and people will think highly of you for being such a model wedding guest.

Being negative isn’t fun for you or the people around you, and your sourness will stand out like a sore thumb against the rest of the smiling guests.

Don’t bring a plus one that wasn’t invited

Have you seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Ted asked Robin to be his plus one to a friend’s wedding, but didn’t tell the bride and groom? (S01E12) When he ran into them a few days before the wedding and told them she was coming, and the bride freaked out because there was no room at the table (and wedding meals are EXPENSIVE!) and told him to un-invite her. This caused heaps of problems with Ted having to un-invite Robin, and the wedding got threatened to be cancelled, and the whole situation was extremely problematic and messy.

Don’t be the Ted in this situation. If a plus one hasn’t been invited, don’t ask them to be invited, and if had the option but you said you weren’t bringing one, don’t change your mind at the last minute. This might seem small, but it causes so much stress for the bride and groom in organisation, financial ramifications and annoyance. If you are the one that makes too big of a fuss over details that should have no baring on the bride and groom, you will be remembered for it, and it’s not a good thing to be remembered for.

Now some of these tips might seem a little pedantic, but I have been to my fair share of weddings, as well as organised my own, and I have to say that these tips are tried, tested and true. I have seen pretty much every example listed here happen at an actual wedding, so learn from both my mistakes and the mistakes of other guests, and be celebrated for being the appropriate kind of wedding guest you can be.

You’ll end up being invited to more special events if you are, and that equals waaaay more cake coming your way.

*As originally posted for HerCanberra

One thought on “Be Our Guest: How To Behave At Weddings

  1. Pingback: HerCanberra’s Be Our Guest – How to Behave at Weddings – Courtney Carr | Author | Blogger

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