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Wedding Guest Do's & Don'ts: A Complete Guide for Wedding Attendees

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Daffodils and songbirds signal prettier days ahead, which means that wedding season is coming! This one-stop guide will help you prepare for the wedding (or five!) you’re invited to this year.

Proper planning will help you stretch your budget and avoid stress. In addition, you will be able to abide by wedding etiquette rules when you give yourself plenty of time to prepare.

Wedding Guest Etiquette 

Wedding etiquette honors long-standing traditions. Proper etiquette makes weddings feel extra special. So, when you are invited to a wedding, it’s important to respond, dress, and behave appropriately. 

 

Wedding Guest Do's: Important Rules to Follow

If you want to be a standup wedding guest, follow these rules:

  1. RSVP ASAP. Send your RSVP right away. Once the couple knows your plans, they can set their plans and budget. 
  2. Buy a wedding gift early. Shopping sooner will give you more choices. Send a gift from their registry to their home before the wedding. 
  3. Pay attention to the dress code. Wedding dress codes can overwhelm even the savviest dressers. So make sure you understand the dress code before you go shopping.
  4. Arrive early. Arrive up to thirty minutes early. This isn't the time to be fashionably late! It's best to be seated ten minutes before the ceremony begins. 
  5. Say hello to the bride and groom briefly. The bride & groom will be on a strict schedule. So wave hello and share your quick congratulations. (The same for their parents: they don't want to miss the flower toss or cake-cutting because they're stuck chit-chatting.)

 

Wedding Guest Don'ts: The Most Common Wedding Faux Pas

What about the don'ts? These rules are essential: 

  1. Don't assume you get to bring a date or the whole family. Unless your invitation is addressed to you plus one, the couple only has enough room in their budget for you. If your kids' names aren't on the invitation, start looking for a sitter before sending your RSVP.
  2. Don't post on social media. If the couple encourages sharing using their wedding hashtag, go for it. Otherwise, it's best practice to share after they have. 
  3. Don't forget to participate. Sign the guest book, dance, enjoy the photo booth, and don't forget your favor! The couple will love to see you enjoying every detail of their perfectly planned day. 
  4. Please don't make it about you. Think again if you believe the wedding is the perfect place to announce your engagement, pregnancy, a big move, or new pet cat. Instead, do everything possible to keep the spotlight where it belongs: on them
  5. Don't change plans last minute! Forget about canceling unless you are seriously ill or there's an emergency. The bride & groom have spared no expense for you to be at their wedding. Likewise, if you RSVP no, don't expect a seat at the last minute.

How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

The traditional rule is to spend approximately what the bride & groom spend on hosting you. So, if you think the wedding will cost them $100-$150 per person, aim for that amount. However, if you attend as a couple, you may spend closer to $200. For a more formal wedding, gifts can cost upward of $300. 

 

When is it Okay to Spend Less on a Wedding Gift? 

Airfare, lodging, and other accommodations can get expensive, especially for a destination wedding. The couple will understand. So, budget what you can for a gift, but try not to stress too much! 

You may only spend $50-$75 on the gift when attending an acquaintance's wedding. Ask yourself what feels appropriate. 

The most important rule is to give what you can afford. Give what you can with love. And remember, your presence is also a gift.

Wedding Gift Ideas

Choose a gift based on your relationship with the bride & groom. The registry will offer guidance, or you may decide to give them an experience or something personalized. 

Here’s some inspiration as you brainstorm wedding gift ideas for close friends, siblings, godchildren, family members, and colleagues.

 

Wedding Gifts for Best Friends 

Best friends deserve lavish gifts. For example, if they enjoy champagne, a bottle of Dom Perignon to enjoy on an intimate evening at home. Include unique champagne flutes you just know they would love. Don't forget to write your wedding wishes inside this charming wedding champagne pop-up card. Other ideas include:

  • A gift voucher to a restaurant they’ve been dying to try
  • Something impractical that they would never buy for themselves; from fancy sheets to furniture

 

Wedding Gifts for Siblings

They were one of your first friends, and now they are beginning a new chapter with their partner. So what kind of unique and meaningful wedding gift can you give a sibling? 

  •  A cutting board with a recipe you know they love; have it engraved in mom or grandma's handwriting 
  • A pre-wedding trip for the two of you to spend time together before they tie the knot 

 

Wedding Gifts for Godchildren  

Godparents often assist with the cost & logistics of wedding planning. Your wedding gift to your godchild will be a continual reminder of your support and love. Think about gifts like these:

  • A keepsake Bible with their name engraved on the cover 
  • A crystal serving dish or vase 
  • A personalized wooden box to preserve wedding mementos 

 

Wedding Gifts for Relatives

When relatives get married, typical gifts cost around $125. For closer family members, $200 is normal. Depending on your relationship, you may choose a practical or sentimental gift. Ideas include: 

  • An Airbnb gift card for a couple with wanderlust 
  • Monogrammed towels or luggage 
  • Keepsake jewelry, including heirloom pieces 

 

Wedding Gifts for Colleagues 

For a coworker's wedding, scan the registry for a gift they will love. Or, you can't go wrong with these unique gifts: 

  • Personalized stationery for use at home or work 
  • A fancy coffee or waffle maker to make breakfast at home feel more luxurious 
  • The hearts four-across game from Uncommon Goods

 

Wedding Gifts for Couples Who Have Everything 

Whether you're besties or acquaintances, some couples have everything they need. So what are the best wedding gifts for couples who have everything? 

  • A personalized wine box from Etsy and a nice bottle of wine for their first anniversary; add a sweet note on this beautiful wedding congratulations bouquet card
  • A woven hammock for the backyard will encourage them to unplug & enjoy each other's company
  • A bucket list book for the adventurous couple; include cash or a gift card for travel to help fund their first adventure
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When is “Wedding Season”? 

“Wedding season” lasts from late spring to early fall. However, the peak months for weddings are September and June. These tips will help you worry less and enjoy this year's wedding season more: 

  • Choose your outfit beforehand, and select your shoes wisely.
  • Wear something that feels special; you can even rent from a service like Rent the Runway if you need multiple dresses. 
  • Stick to your budget. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't spend the customary hundred dollars on a wedding gift. 
  • Share wedding wishes from the heart. Encourage them and express your joy for them in a card they will enjoy even after the wedding season.
  • Turn a destination wedding into a vacation! When in Rome (or Cancun), am I right?! 

Choosing What to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest 

There is an art to choosing an outfit for a wedding. Take these nuggets of advice from wedding experts. 

 

Wedding Dress Code Do's:

  • Remember the location & check the weather. A breezy evening beach wedding requires different attire than a luxurious ballroom. 
  • Wear layers. Weather, air-conditioning, sunshine, and even hot flashes may require wardrobe adjustments. Be prepared, so you can relax and enjoy the ceremony. 
  • Consider the dress code. Know the difference between casual, semi-formal, and black-tie weddings. Make sure you dress appropriately. 

Wedding Dress Code Don'ts:

  • Don't wear white or loud patterns. All of the attention should stay on the bride. 
  • Pay attention to color. You don't want to be mistaken for a bridesmaid (or the bride), so steer clear of off-white, gold, or the official wedding colors. 
  • Don't wear jeans. Instead, opt for khakis or slacks. 

 

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Summer wedding styles range from beachy casual to black tie. Flowy, colorful dresses are perfect for warm-weather weddings! Shades of orange, pink, blue, and green are lovely for summer. 

  • Women may wear a sundress for a casual summer wedding. Fancy sandals or wedges are acceptable. Men often wear chinos & polos for informal weddings. 
  • For semi-formal summer weddings, choose a mid-length dress and heels. Men will want to wear a blazer or suit jacket and dress pants. 
  • For formal summer weddings, flowy floor-length dresses and tuxedos are expected. Choose summery dresses in silk or satin. 

 

What to Wear to a Black-Tie Wedding

For a black-tie wedding, you definitely want to dress to the nines. For a black-tie wedding: 

  • Women wear floor-length gowns that cover their ankles. 
  • A classy cocktail dress or sleek pantsuit may be acceptable if the dress code is black tie optional. 
  • Men usually wear a tuxedo with a black bowtie, a black vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. In summer, men can also wear black tuxedo trousers & a white dinner jacket.

 

What to Wear to a Casual Wedding

Barn weddings have become popular in recent years. Rustic venues are informal, so your clothing choices can be too. Here are some tips for casual weddings: 

  • No jeans, shorts, or tank tops! Instead, wear a comfortable dress, collared shirt, or jumpsuit. 
  • A cotton sundress is appropriate, along with wedges or dressy sandals. Leave your sneakers and flip-flops at home. 
  • Choose lightweight, simple fabrics. Keep the colors plain and different from the bride & wedding party. 

Planning for the wedding season now will save time & energy. You can relax and enjoy yourself knowing you’ve taken care of the details. 


Of course, the perfect outfit and gift show the bride & groom you care. But, your words of love & support are invaluable. Your heartfelt message inside a creative and artsy card Wedding card from Lovepop's Wedding Collection is the most endearing way to say congrats! 

 

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