Wedding Guest Etiquette

Yes…there are rules for guests too.  Wedding Guest Etiquette is important, but how do you educate your guests?  Truth is, you don’t.  You will have to hope your guests have plain common sense.  That, however…is not always the case.

ATTIRE: Wedding Guests — It’s not your day.  It’s the bride’s.  Please dress in respectful, conservative, understated attire.  If ‘club wear’ is your thing, keep tight, bright, flashy, sexy clothes for the clubs.  It is not appropriate for a wedding.

CHILDREN ATTENDEES:  If the bride and groom write your child’s name on either the inner or outer invitation envelope OR they’re in the wedding, they’re invited.  If not, they are not.  We’re all different, and have varying expectations.  Many brides don’t want little ones at their wedding.  Many do.  When you have YOUR wedding, and you desire children as guests, by all means, invite them!

USE OF THE FACILITIES DURING THE CEREMONY: Let’s face it. There are always occasions when we must use the facilities ASAP!  Just a part of life.  But please try to refrain.  If the ceremony is a non-religious one, they tend to be 15 to 30 minutes.  Religious weddings run about an hour.  I am often shocked at how many guests leave the wedding to use the facilities.  It can be very disruptive.

Will you choose an “Unplugged” ceremony?  Many bridal couples are requesting absolutely no photos or video by guests during the wedding.  Although often innocent, the quest for the perfect shot is disruptive and can interfere with other guests’ views.  Some brides post signs or make an announcement regarding their requests.  Other brides don’t care and are thankful for those lovely candid shots.  Whatever the bride decides, please honor her request.


ARRIVAL TIME: And last, but not least, arrive at a wedding EARLY.  Arrive no less than 20 minutes early, perhaps even thirty minutes before the start of the ceremony.  You will need time to park, perhaps use the facilities 🙂 greet old friends, find your seat. I am shocked at how many guest arrive on time or up to 20 minutes late.  Not ok…

The Proper Way to Set a Table

Do you know the proper way to set a table?  Do you need to know?  If you’re having a catered “sit down” wedding dinner, your caterer will take care of it for you.  But it would be nice to know where each fork, knife, spoon, plate and piece of glassware is located and what it’s for, wouldn’t it?


The chart above shows an “informal” and “formal” place setting. For our purposes, you will not need to know anything else. But through my research, I discovered there were many more serving pieces than I ever dreamed.  Just get a gander of the photo below of all the knives, or the chart depicting all the forks available!  REALLY…does one really need a FISH knife?




And seriously, have you ever heard of an ice cream fork?  I’ve heard of a plastic “spork” for your ice cream eating ease…but never a formal ice cream fork…  🙂


Above is another chart, this time including European dinner service. Notice that there are more wine glasses on this chart.  🙂


And speaking of wine…notice how many different glasses are available.  I like to drink red wine at home out of a chardonnay glass, as it’s smaller and more comfortable for my hands.  But wouldn’t do so in public!


And what about napkin etiquette?  I also didn’t realize that there was so much formality in how you fold your napkin, and where you place it DURING your meal.  And yes…I have gently  dabbed my mouth with my napkin during dinner.  It has, sigh… left my lap!


And after all your research, perhaps your wedding reception tables will look something like the photo above… and maybe not.  Remember, you want your guests to be comfortable and all the grandeur of the formal table may be a little much…


And after you’ve completed your dining experience?  Well the chart above tells you what to do then!


The Etiquette of a Wedding

The Etiquette of a Wedding …



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So you’re chosen your venue, your menu; but how will you set your table?  Well, whether it’s a “formal” affair, or less so, rely on your venue site coordinator, your caterer or your wedding planner to guide you. Just in case they are uncertain, you can reference the chart above.  If you choose the more formal setting, just remember…you probably can’t seat as many guests per table as you could at a “less formal” setting — too many serving pieces!


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And how will you advise your guests for their attire on your big day?  Once again, listen to your consultants.  But the above chart is a good one.  It even advises a woman on her hair and make-up!


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And oh!  Don’t forget the all important wedding/new married couple monogram!  I’m not sure I know how to decipher that.  But never fear…if you really want to know how to break this code, there is a handy chart above.


Still in a daze when it comes to all the subtle niceties?  Then I highly recommend reading an iconic book such as the “Post Book” above.  When I was a girl, Emily Post was the the social guru.  Then her daughter, Peggy, who writes the Foreword in the book above.  The present day authors are maybe her daughters?

Yes, wedding etiquette is a slippery slope, but there are wonderful resources out there.  Use them.