A Primer on Wedding Etiquette

The wedding is a special time that most people look forward to. Planning for the big day can be daunting, but with some good advice and awareness of etiquette it will go much smoother than you think.

The “art of manliness cocktail attire” is a list of rules that should be followed when attending a wedding. It includes the do’s and don’ts for each occasion, as well as some etiquette tips.

Cody and Paige Brandon contributed this item as a guest contributor. 

We’ve had the pleasure of being a part of many gorgeous and enjoyable weddings as wedding organizers. However, “that person” is always present at a wedding. The underdressed person embarrasses the newlyweds or does something else that everyone hopes they could forget. Even though we try to limit his influence on the entire event, we’ve discovered that it may be hard to have a wedding without “that man” there. However, you have the option of not becoming that man. So, here are a few pointers on how to be a wedding guest that the couple will be grateful for inviting.


As a wedding guest, proper etiquette starts even before you arrive at the site. By swiftly replying to the invitation, you may get your stay as a guest off to a good start. The bride and groom must know who will be attending as soon as feasible in order to prepare and buy appropriately. Make urgent planning for the wedding and answer.

Pay close attention to your invitation’s details. Only Brett McKay gets invited if it is addressed to “Brett McKay,” no matter how lonely he may be. Brett may bring his wife, but no children or friends, if the invitation says “Mr. & Mrs. McKay,” “Brett & Kate McKay,” or “Brett McKay & Guest.” The whole family would be accepted only if the “McKay family” was invited or if particular children were specified. Some guests may be invited solely to the ceremony or only to the reception, which is uncommon but not unheard of. Read the invitation carefully and only RSVP for those who have been invited and will be there.


Another crucial pre-wedding job is to ensure that you are properly attired. These days, this work may seem challenging. While dress codes used to be included on many invites (“white tie,” “black tie,” “formal,” etc.), this is no longer the case. If your invitation specifies a dress code, strictly adhere to it. Not only do you not want to be the guy who shows up in jeans when everyone else is dressed in tuxedos, but it is also impolite to reject a couple’s explicit requests for attire.

The now-more-common occurrence of an invitation without a dress requirement causes a lot of difficulty for males. Do not interpret this as permission to dress as you want. Take into account the wedding’s location and schedule, as well as the couple. If the wedding is being held in a church or a ballroom, more formal attire will be required. The recently fashionable setting of a refurbished barn, on the other hand, will allow you to wear those (well-polished) cowboy boots. Similarly, a wedding at 10:00 a.m. followed by a brunch reception will need a different attire than one at 6:00 p.m. followed by a formal supper.

Taking these considerations into mind, your objective should be to dress better than the typical attendee without standing out. Here’s when having a diverse wardrobe comes in handy. To guarantee you are well-dressed for a wedding that does not need a tuxedo, you may wear a neutral or blue (not black, it’s not a funeral) suit and tie. If you arrive and discover that you are overdressed, you may always tuck your tie into your suit pocket or vehicle, or throw your jacket across a chair. You may even be able to roll up your sleeves as the night progresses. However, it is preferable to arrive underdressed if you have brought your jacket and tie with you. Remember, it’s OK to dress up a little more than the usual visitor as long as you don’t draw attention to yourself.


If you still can’t figure out what to wear after careful thinking, it’s much better to seek permission than to beg pardon. Ask someone in the wedding party (close relatives, bridesmaids, or groomsmen) what clothing would be suitable a few months before the wedding. Do not inquire of the bride or groom; they are already preoccupied with a number of other matters and should not be expected to cater to your lack of foresight. And don’t make this call while rummaging through your closet on the morning of the wedding; show everyone the courtesy of being prepared and diligent.

Wear trousers (khakis or slacks), closed-toed dress shoes, a button-down shirt, tie, and a sport coat if all else fails. Dress in colors that are suited for the season.


If this is your first wedding, knowing what to anticipate might be helpful. A wedding generally has two primary components: the ceremony and the reception. The ceremony is for the bride and groom to get married, and the reception is for them to celebrate this monumental occasion. A “cocktail hour” is often used as a transition between these two elements while the couple takes photographs or the area is reconfigured. (It’s possible that actual drinks will be provided.) Food of some kind, dancing, and other traditional wedding activities like the first dance and bouquet toss are frequently included at the reception. Although there are numerous variants on this fundamental chronology, the most of them will follow the same general framework.


Arrive 30 minutes early for the ceremony and go straight to an usher or your seat. There aren’t any exceptions in this case. If the wedding ceremony begins at 6:00 p.m., the wedding party will go down the aisle at 6:00 p.m. If you are unable to prevent being delayed and arriving late to the wedding, please show everyone the courtesy of standing someplace where no camera will be able to catch your tardiness. At that point, your only choice is to sneak in after the wedding party has arrived and focus has been drawn to the altar, but only if you can do it without calling notice to yourself. Your delay should not have to be a source of distraction for the whole group.


Keep your phone in your pocket and your camera in the vehicle unless a member of the wedding party has expressly asked you to record or photograph a section of the ceremony in advance. Your phone should never leave your pocket throughout the ceremony, and it should never be turned on. You don’t want a hundred people looking at you because you forgot to turn off your loud ringtone.

During the reception, you may have a bit more freedom to snap shots, but use it wisely. The majority of couples have enlisted the services of a professional photographer to document their special day. They don’t need your amateur photography talents to help them with their professional work. If you wish to take a private picture with friends or family during the reception, do it in a location and at a time that does not disrupt the larger gathering. Take a step outdoors or to a nearby corner. Do not be fooled: the bride and groom do not want you to broadcast your sloppy Cupid Shuffle from the center of the dance floor. If you really must have a shot of the couple’s first dance or cake cutting, track down the photographer and ask for her business card so you may negotiate purchasing images from her at a later date.



Close family usually sits in the first two rows on either side of the aisle. These rows are often marked with a “reserved” sign or a particular flower arrangement or décor. Do not sit in these rows if you are a friend or distant relative who has not been expressly informed differently. If an usher does not seat you, try to sit as near to the front two rows as feasible. It’s advisable to leave vacant seats at the rear, both because it’s simpler to accommodate latecomers and because full rows near the altar photograph well.

Support the Bride

When the bride comes and exits, take a position. A change in music will usually mark her arrival, and some officiants may invite the audience to stand. You are, however, a gentleman respecting a woman, and you do not need instruction to rise in her presence. You may sit when she is entirely seated at the altar or has left the room/location of the ceremony.

Keep yourself where you’re supposed to be.

Weddings are a complicated event that takes months to prepare and costs a lot of money. When a couple choose a room or location for their wedding ceremony, they want their guests to congregate there. They don’t want you strolling about the grounds or inside the building unless you’re told differently. The cocktail hour and reception are the same. Do not enter the reception until the couple has invited you. If the couple has a specified cocktail hour in a location distinct from the reception room, do not enter until the pair has invited you. Sweat it out or keep your bladder under control, whatever is necessary. Your self-control and respect for the couple are shown by your simple act of being where you are supposed to be. Furthermore, it’s possible that the couple has herded you to a specified location to prevent you from tripping into a shot or intruding on a private moment.

You’ll Have to Wait for Dinner

In many circumstances, supper is given to you, and you have no control over the arrangements or logistics. Simply wait for your dinner and make sure you’re seated at the table when it arrives (or you might get skipped over).

If there is a buffet, be polite and wait for your table to be called to dinner by the emcee or a waiter. The person who rushes out of line to get his meal demonstrates that he is a pig. You do not have the right to seconds. The cost of wedding cuisine is high. Take a reasonable quantity of food and don’t anticipate more, whether you’re feeding yourself or being served. There will almost always be enough food for a second helping, but don’t be the greedy guts who rush to the head of the line.

Avoid crowding the bride and groom.

Even though you believe you’re significant to the happy couple, they’ve invited a lot of other people to the wedding that they’d want to spend time with as well. They’d probably appreciate a few minutes to themselves. Unless the couple has asked you, do not approach them while they are dining. Many couples used to have a receiving line where they would meet each and every one of their visitors. While some still do, many now prefer to visit guests at their tables individually throughout dinner. In any case, wait until it is obviously your time to speak with the couple, or until later in the evening when they are off the dance floor. Keep any talks about the pair celebratory and complimentary: now is not the time to bring about family discord or your poor week at work.


Don’t Get Tipsy

The bride and groom did not marry for the sole purpose of giving you an excuse to get wasted. Whatever your feelings about alcohol and your tolerance for consumption, you should never drink to the point where you may be mistaken for intoxicated. Drunk people are lousy guests, and your decreased inhibitions make you more likely to break one of these other laws.


You are not invited to deliver a toast unless the couple has specifically requested you to do so. Few things make a couple and their guests feel more uneasy than listening to an endless stream of unwanted and unprepared speeches. Furthermore, being asked to offer a toast is a privilege. Do not hijack that honor and so belittle the toasters who have been invited. During the toasts, your job is to laugh, weep, and clap as needed. By being a good audience, you can help the toasters and the couple. If you must express your emotions to the couple, do it at a quiet, short period.


Do not leave after the ceremony, supper, cake, or when you have had enough of the event. Stay until the bride and groom have left. You weren’t invited to a party or a free supper; you were invited to a wedding. This event took a lot of time and money to put together. You were invited by the bride and groom to witness their wedding, rejoice with them, and send them off into their new life. Do not believe that slipping out will have no impact on the throng remaining at the conclusion of the reception. Many people will share this sentiment, and the throng will thin out rapidly, leaving the pair feeling underappreciated. Even if you are bored, fatigued, or would rather be someplace else, you owe it to the couple to remain for a little to see them go after all the work they put into the event and feeding you.


Weddings are a joyous occasion. If you’ve been invited to one, it’s because you’re significant to the couple in some manner, and they want you to join in their delight. However, the bride and groom are the center of attention during a wedding. This isn’t a party for you to enjoy; you’ve come to honor the bride and groom. You may accomplish so by acting appropriately from the minute you are welcomed until the pair departs.

Willow & Wildflower is a Nashville-based wedding planning firm dedicated on making couples’ dream days a reality. Paige and Cody are the proprietors. They founded W+W so that they could collaborate and see an incredible chapter in each couple’s love journey.



The “average wedding cost breakdown” is a primer on what to expect when it comes to wedding etiquette. The article will give you information about the average costs for different aspects of your wedding, as well as some tips and tricks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whats the etiquette for weddings?

A: The etiquette for weddings is not a question.

What should I tell my guests before my wedding?

A: To tell your guests to come in a stylishly dressed and ready for some dancing.

How do you prepare a wedding guest?

A: The best way to prepare a guest for a wedding is to send them the information about their seating arrangements well in advance of the event. This will give them time to prepare appropriately and also make sure that theyre not seated with someone whos sitting too close.

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