Be The Best Wedding Guest With These Tips

by Beth Sharb

You see a college friend's engagement on Facebook––and then, sure enough, an invitation arrives in the mail a few months later. The days of extremely formal invitations with clearly delineated guidelines are over. You could get a postcard or even an Evite (hopefully not, but you never know). As soon as you RSVP, you've accepted your role as guest to your friend's wedding. And while it's easy to treat a wedding like any other party you would attend, it's actually a bit more complicated due to how high emotions tend to run and the amount of money spent per guest is much great than your average party. Don't fear to check RSVP though because we've set up a few ground rules to help you navigate the dos and don'ts of being a good wedding guest. Because who wants to stress over what to wear or who to bring with you when the rules seem so ambiguous.

1. Guests

Seriously, don't assume you have a plus one unless the invitation specifically says "and guest" or the bride/groom have told you that you can bring your significant other. Typically, a plus one should not be expected unless you've been with your boyfriend or girlfriend for a long period of time, you're engaged/married, or live together. Try to remember that each extra guest costs the bride and groom extra––and don't forget, the singles' table can be fun!

2. Attire

You should know this by now, but ladies should simply not wear white to a wedding. This includes ivory, champagne, off-white, and even blush, considering the color palette of wedding gowns these days. As far as rules for attire beyond that, dress appropriately for the time and season. For example, a sundress is great for an afternoon wedding in the spring. In general, anything after 7 or 8 p.m. is considered black tie. As always, if you're unsure about attire, ask a bridesmaid or family member of the bride. My idol Martha Stewart has a great post detailing everything you'd want to know about wedding attire.


This seems like such minor detail, but let me assure you that no bride feels that RSVPs are a minor detail! As soon as you receive a formal invitation, respond yes or no––either way! No one will be offended if you can't attend. Couples need to give vendors head counts, and it's just rude not to respond. If you're up in the air, let the couple know that you might have a work conference that weekend, but that you'll confirm with them no less than a month before the wedding...and be sure to follow through. Wedding guru Martha Stewart agrees on the importance of RSVPs!

4. Kids

This could be categorized under "Guests," but I felt that kids needed their own listing. Basically, don't assume that all four of your kids are welcome at a wedding ceremony or reception. More and more couples are choosing to have adult-only weddings. Even if they aren't, eliminating kids is a quick and easy way for couples to trim their guest lists. If the invitation isn't address to you and your family, confirm with a bridesmaid or close family member of the bride. Simply ask, "Hey, are Joe and Jill having kids at their wedding? Just wanted to be sure before I booked a sitter for that evening!" You'll come off classy and conscientious.

5. Gifts

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a gift for the couple. If they've invited you, it's because they want you to share this special occasion, not because they want to accrue more stuff. Most couples provide plenty of gift ideas at many different price points on their registry. One of my favorite gifts for a couple is a laundry basket filled with homemaking supplies, such as detergent, dish soap, sponges, and that sort of thing. Everyone can use those items! Another pro tip––mail your gift. Lots of stores provide that service for free or a nominal charge, and trust me when I say that no couple wants to lug around a bunch of gifts after a tiring day.