7 Mistakes to Avoid as a Wedding Guest

With the summer wedding season in full swing, there’s a lot of misinformation on the do’s and don’ts of wedding etiquette. Do you always need to bring a gift? Can you bring your boyfriend if he’s not listed on the invitation? Can you livestream the ceremony on Facebook?


Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author and founder and CEO of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, breaks down seven of the most common mistakes wedding guests make. Many of which I have seen happen!

  1. Yes, you must bring a gift: Whether it’s the neighbor down the hall in your apartment, your niece’s cousin once removed, or your very best friend, a gift at the wedding is always expected. A gift is a sign of well-wishing as a couple takes their next steps. Use the registry to get gifts that the happy couple truly wants and will use throughout their married life. Don’t break the bank.  Buy a gift that matches the relationship. You will spend more on your brother than on your distant childhood babysitter.
  2. Always RSVP: Websites such as The Knot, Appy Couple, and Paperless Post provide options for beautiful digital invitations for couples to reduce their carbon footprint. However, RSVP still means respond if you please (respondez s’il vous plait in French). Please RSVP within 24-48 hours, or at the latest within the time stated on the invitation to avoid a call from the bride’s friend or family member asking if you’re attending.
  3. Don’t be a wedding crasher: The names on the invitation are the people invited. If you receive a paper invitation, look at the inside envelope. Does it list “and guest,” your partner, children or family members? If not, then they are not invited.  If a guest is not included, don’t ask if you can bring one.
  4. Be smart about technology and social media: Resist the urge to take selfies and put the smartphone down. If you must, take one or two photos and tuck the phone out of sight. Check with the bride beforehand to see if it’s okay to upload photos to Instagram or Facebook. It’s poor form to Tweet or Facebook the ceremony or reception because you are sharing private moments with thousands of people who were not invited.
  5. Wearing white is still off limits: Avoid wearing a dress, suit or ensemble that is any shade of white, ivory, off-white, pearl, ecru, eggshell or cream to a wedding. These colors are reserved for the Bride, and if you wear them – she will certainly spot you, and not in a favorable way. Depending on the bride’s preferences, black is more acceptable at weddings – but any variation of white is off limits.
  6. Don’t rain on the wedding parade: Don’t do shots, heckle the toasts, let your phone bark like a dog, chat it up with your friends or use your camera flash to interrupt special moments. Celebrate, find time to congratulate the couple personally, and mix and mingle. Don’t spend the entire night glued to your phone or the bar. Celebrate with the ones you love, and meet new friends along the way. 
  7. Keep your comments to yourself and participate: Maybe you think when the bride throws her bouquet that it’s a silly tradition.  Maybe you don’t like the wedding colors.  Maybe you think the ceremony was too long and religious. Whatever the case, refrain from making negative comments or not participating. This is not your day and it’s not about you.