The Complete Guide to Modern Wedding Guest Etiquette

From dress codes to RSVP rules: how to navigate wedding etiquette in these times of relaxed, informal weddings


Put your phone away during the wedding ceremony.

Just as weddings have changed dramatically from serious, traditional white weddings of the past, so has wedding etiquette. As a wedding guest, you need to make sure you’re up to speed with what is expected of you at today’s weddings. It’s now totally acceptable to RSVP to an invitation by email, and for a wedding gift to be money to go towards a honeymoon, rather than a new salad bowl. However, there are still many rules and regulations that need to be followed: Just because weddings now seem more relaxed, doesn’t mean that etiquette can be ignored completely.

The Complete Guide to Modern Wedding Guest Etiquette (Slideshow)

The bride and groom don’t want you to be sharing a shaky video of them saying their vows with the world on Facebook. They don’t want you to spend the entire reception sitting flicking through Twitter on your phone rather than talking to the guests next to you. They also don’t want to have to spend hours of time with the catering company trying to navigate your “allergies,” which aren’t actually allergies and are just preferences. Planning a wedding is stressful, time-consuming, challenging and emotional: Don’t be the guest who makes the whole thing harder for them by changing your RSVP an hour before the ceremony is due to start.

Just because weddings now often consist of a bohemian, outdoor, rustic party, with no wedding cake, no long, white, meringue-style dress, no first dance, and no church, doesn’t mean that wedding etiquette has disappeared. Rules still apply, from gift-giving, to RSVP’ing, to writing a thank you note, to the (sometimes unwritten) dress codes. Wedding guest etiquette is essential knowledge, so make sure you’re up to speed with the dos and don’ts of modern wedding behavior, before wedding season really begins.

Click here to see the habits of the worst-ever wedding guests.


From how to navigate social media, the rules of being a bridesmaid, and why it’s still not okay to wear white, here is our guide to how to be everybody’s favorite wedding guest.