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The 19 Rules All Wedding Guests Need to Follow

There are unspoken rules in place when attending a wedding, but not everyone seems to know them. So we've turned them into actual, on-paper, rules for wedding guests. You're welcome.

wedding guests drinking on dancefloor
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

wedding guests drinking on dancefloor
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

Planning a wedding is a stressful time - and it's made even more stressful when guests don't play by the rules!
We've compiled a list of rules all wedding guests need to follow. Please do feel free to repeatedly share this on your social media, complete with passive aggressive captions, to help spread the word. Alternatively, you could include a print-out with your wedding invitations, or create a page dedicated to guest behaviour on your wedding website. It's up to you. 

1. RSVP on Time

Wedding stationery suite with calligraphy

Hi guest! You’ll notice on your wedding invitation there’s a date for RSVPs to be in by. That deadline is there for a reason, so please make sure you get back to us by then. The seating plan is hard enough to sort without all of the RSVPs!

READ MORE: What to Write in a Wedding Card

2. No Kids Means No Kids

Child upset at a wedding
Zachary Kadolph/Unsplash

You might notice your wedding invitation is addressed to just you and your partner. As much as we love little Cosmo and Chrysanthemum, we’ve decided to have a child-free wedding. No exceptions. Not even for children as delightful as yours. Don’t ask. (This goes for everyone – if the name isn’t on the invitation, they ain’t invited.)

You might find these 'no children' wedding invitation wording examples useful, if this rule really speaks to you. 

3. Don’t Wear White

Or ivory, or cream. Steer clear of those colours, and even more so if lace is involved too. You can wear your nice white lace dress to any event of the year. Brides get one day to wear their nice white lace wedding dress. Don’t ruin it.

4. Don’t Wear Black

Guests dressed up for a wedding

Black is a bit funeral-esque, and traditionally wearing black was a way to protest against the marriage. So unless you not-so-secretly wish the bride was marrying you, put your black tie back on the rack and pick out a more jaunty floral one.

5. Just Obey the Dress Code in General

Unless the wedding invitation states that there’s an informal dress code, don’t assume there is one. That means no jeans! Yes, they’re comfy and you can do an awesome slide-across-the-room-on-your-knees in them, but it’s not the time or the place.

READ MORE: Wedding Dress Codes Explained

6. No Last Minute Change of Plan

If you’ve said you’re going, unless it’s a serious emergency or you’re horribly, contagiously ill, do not even think of cancelling. Likewise, if you said you’re not attending, don’t even think about rocking up to the wedding breakfast unannounced. Even if you bring an awesome gift. Come to the evening party (with the gift).

7. Switch Your Phone Off

Picture the scene, the registrar is guiding the couple through their vows, the bride is delicately wiping tears of happiness from her eyes and… what’s that? ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears starts blaring out. Oh, that’s your phone? TURN IT OFF.

8. Don’t Get in the Photographer’s Way

Celebrant and wedding couple

So you have over 500 followers on Instagram? You’re still not the photographer the couple hired for their big day, so don’t get in their way, wielding your iPhone. And if the couple have stated that there's a social media ban at the wedding, respect it. 

9. Think About Your Hat

man wearing hat made of toast

If you’re wearing a hat to the wedding, good for you. More people should wear hats. But be considerate when choosing it – a tall hat will block views at the ceremony and a wide hat will eclipse guests during the group pictures.

10. Don’t Smuggle in Alcohol

You’re not going for a night out in Oceana. You’re going to a fancy wedding, where the couple have paid a considerable amount to host you, and may be limited by corkage charges. Don’t risk getting them fined or getting yourself thrown out for the sake of a few Malibu miniatures in your clutch bag.

11. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol

Couple partying at a wedding

There’s a fine line between dancing with your friends and taking some hilarious photo booth pictures, but if you start to cry, swear or be sick, you’ve gone too far. No one wants to be the person who wrote a rude message in the sentimental guest book after one too many Sambucas.

12. Behave Yourself

You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and decide to steal some of the décor (at least we hope not), so resist the urge to make off with one of the carefully assembled centrepieces or inhale the helium from a giant balloon before giving an impromptu speech. Unless you’re invited to, in which case, knock yourself out.

13. Do Not Touch the Seating Plan

Table plan for a wedding

I know Uncle Jerry is a bit boring, but if you’re sat by him – tough luck! The couple have spent hours working out their seating plan and you can’t even begin to imagine the logistics. If you switch place cards for whatever reason, all hell could break loose.

14. Try Not to Sulk

There’s a thing about wedding season – lots of wedding tend to happen. If you’re marrying at a similar time to a friend, don’t be upset if they, like you, have gone for a rustic theme or a similar dress. It happens! No one will notice, unless you point it out.

15. Consider the Environment


Everyone loves the confetti shot – it’s so much fun! But be considerate and choose biodegradable confetti. It’s nicer for the environment and avoids the happy couple getting whacked with any fines for flouting the venue’s rules.

READ MORE: The Best Eco-Friendly Wedding Products

16. You Get What You’re Given

wedding catering

Don’t moan about the menu choices to the couple. It’s their wedding and they’re footing the bill, so it’s only fair they’re allowed to eat their favourite foods. As long as they’ve catered for any dietary requirements, you can’t complain. And don’t try and ask for different food on the day anyway. It won’t happen.

17. Try Not to Be an Entertainment Hog

It’s fine to request a song or two, but be wary of being the guest who hassles the DJ or band with an endless stream of requests, or commandeers the Spotify playlist to introduce everyone to your favourite experimental jazz band. It’s quite likely the couple will have a wedding playlist worked out – now is not the time for experimental jazz. We’re not actually sure there’s ever a time for experimental jazz.

18. Don't Make It About You

"Everyone's all together! I should announce my engagement/pregnancy/new dog!" Nope. Not at someone else's wedding. If you have big news to share, the wedding you're attending as a guest is not the place to do it, unless you've cleared it with the couple beforehand and they're okay with it. And definitely don't plan to propose at someone else's wedding - again, unless the couple are actually, genuinely happy for you to do so - and you're completely clear they didn't agree through gritted teeth. Get your own special day!

19. Have Fun!

wedding guests having fun

It seems like a lot of rules and diva demands, but really it’s just courtesy and common sense. Be happy for the newlyweds and enjoy yourself!

Don't forget to read up on the key things all wedding guests hate, especially if you want them to behave and follow all the rules...