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Part 1: How To Be A Great Wedding Guest

wedding guests during reception

Well, Wedding Season has officially begun! And while some much energy is put into what the Brides and Grooms need to do for the big day, very little is spent on the Guests.

Yes, the Guests! The people who come to your wedding and can literally make or break the whole day for you! So, don't you wish there was some sort of list or article or something you could share with your friends and family members that let's them know what your expectations are for them during your wedding?

Well now there is! After having been a wedding DJ and day of coordinator for years, I've seen just about everything. I have seen great wedding and I've seen some end up with disasters peppered throughout the event. And so, I've developed here my list of things for Guests to remember or know before they come to you wedding.

1. RSVP On Time

Let’s break it down, your response ensures you a seat, food, beverages and decent service. The wedding planners factor the service and venue set-up based on the headcount.

Worse case scenario, if you don’t respond and show up, your presence could throw off the whole flow of the wedding. Sure they will be glad to see you, but you just left grandma without a seat and cousin Edna with just the crumbs at the buffet line.

Don’t be that person. If you RSVP “no” do not for any reason show up. Maybe your plans changed, it doesn’t matter, do NOT show up.

If you RSVP “yes” then make sure you are there, like the postman, “neither snow, nor rain, or even a hurricane will keep you away”.

And seriously, if you're a guest reading this post now and you haven't already RSVP'd for a wedding you've been invited to this summer, you're already too late!

2. Arrive Before The Ceremony

It’s smart to arrive 15-20 minutes before the ceremony. Usually it’s fashionable to be a little late to an event, but I assure you this is not true for weddings. If you are late, you will be arriving at the same time the wedding party is walking down the aisle. If you absolutely can’t help it because maybe you hit a deer, got a flat tire or thought you spotted an alien, whatever the problem is, slow down and breathe. When you arrive at the venue, properly park and scope out the situation.

If the wedding party is in fact going down the aisle then please wait and take a few more deep breaths. Do not try to slip in during this moment or you are riding a fine line of indecent behavior and simply dumb! After the bride starts her march down the aisle, give it another few minutes, make sure she has reached the front and then if it makes sense…sneak in quietly and sit in the back. This is not about you, so be cool and you might avoid the nasty, judgey stares from other attendees.

3. Put Your Phone Away During the Ceremony

For the sake of all that is newborn baby sweet in this world, turn off your phone. I believe weddings and funerals are the two times that you should make the ultimate sacrifice and just stay off your devices. Honestly, if this is asking too much because you need to check FB or send emoticons to your homeys, then respectfully silence or vibrate it.

Whose side are you on? Most ceremonies no longer do “sides”, but its good to check. Get off your phone and look around, read the signs, flirt with the wait staff; it will be obvious what you should do. Most often, you pick a seat, not a side.

When the ceremony is over, sit tight. Unless you would like to be crowned the wedding dipstick, allow the wedding party and immediate family to exit before exiting yourself.

The couple will typically step away so they can sign their marriage certificate and have a few moments alone. They may also need to take more photos. This is a perfect time for guests to mingle and have a drink and appetizers. This is also an acceptable moment to turn your phone on…go ahead, check the score, or look really important checking your messages in front of the cute girl in aisle 4, seat 3.

Pj Parsons Wedding DJ photo of dessert table

4. Don't Be a Pig At the Dessert Bar

Question, if there are single serve desserts, such as delicious cupcakes, decadent tarts or delightful donuts when should you take one or more?

It saddens me to discuss this, but so many before you have physically answered that question incorrectly. The answer is let the bride and groom go first; this is always the right answer.

5. And Don't Be a Pig At The Buffet Line Either

Most couples are now doing buffet style meals. There are methods to how the buffet is set-up and announced. Most wedding pros make sure the couple gets fed first. Not only is it their big day, it’s nice for them to see the dinner display when it’s new and many times the couple really hasn’t had a chance to eat all day. The couple is typically followed by the wedding party, their significant others, and immediate family of the couple. Immediate family means parents, grandparents and siblings of the couple. Everyone will get an opportunity to eat and being pushy about when you eat is lame-O. You are there for the couple, not for the free meal. Most venues and caterers are very good at serving people quickly.

If you are in the wedding party, eat when you are called. The staff are paying attention and want everyone to eat while it’s hot and fresh. Your cooperation is appreciated. If your table number is called, then go eat. There is a method that the professionals at the event are using; once again cooperation is the key.

And be reasonable with your servings. Filling your plate with all meat and potatoes really messes with the quantities the caterer has planned. Many times, they will call for seconds and then you can get more of your favorites at that time.

6. What To Do During the Toasts

Get your drink when it’s announced. Get off your phone and kindly pay attention when people are speaking. Many times the people toasting the couple are nervous, but are doing their best and deserve respect. If open mic is offered, it’s great for guests to speak, but remember that there is typically a wide range of ages and attitudes in the room. So a story that may be appropriate at a party with just your friends may not be appropriate to tell in front of grandma and grandpa.

7. How To Drink At a Wedding

The alcohol is usually free at weddings, but that does not mean you should drink your lips off and black out. My dad used to always tell me that moderation is the key. This advice seemed annoying when I was growing up, but it’s solid advice for drinking at weddings. There are obvious consequences, and in addition, state laws that the venue and bartender must adhere to. Most places do not allow outside alcohol, so leave your flask at home. Worse case scenario, the couple could lose their security deposit and be fined if you get caught.


To be honest, this is an extremely short list of all the ways your guests should use common sense at your wedding. And I will follow up with some tips and thoughts you can share in another post. Until then, if you have a few friends or that one cousin you are afraid will do something at your wedding, you might consider sharing this with them and hope for the best!

#weddingetiquette #badweddingguests #weddingplanning

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