I’ve seen some horrible guest etiquette in the past that made me cringe. It includes a guest thinking she could go ahead and cut herself a slice of the wedding cake before the official cutting and guests helping themselves to the dessert bar before dinner was served. Thankfully, someone stopped the woman before she sliced the cake and the guests eventually stopped munching. Don’t become a horror story other guests tell later! To follow up my post about ideal host etiquette, here are some dos and don’ts to be a wonderful event guest. Similar to the host tips, these are general guidelines, and would be adjusted based on the kind of celebration (like weddings vs. small dinner parties) and group expectations/traditions.
Guests: your goal of the event is to enjoy the party and the company! Easy, right?
RSVP early or at least on-time.
There are many things that go into planning an event, including finalizing the guest count to order the right amount of food and make sure every guest has a seat. Many times, restaurants, rental companies and caterers have deadlines for the host to put in their final order without a penalty. Not getting your RSVP in on time may result in additional charges or losses for your host, so save your host the stress. If your schedule is up in the air, communicate honestly with the host and see what he/she says to do. Don’t fail to show up after you’ve RSVPed or show up unannounced!
Arrive on time or at most 20 minutes late. Try not to arrive more than 10 minutes early.
One time, my family and I got lost driving to the church and snuck in to our seats right before the bridesmaids were supposed to go down the aisle. Oops! I’ve also been an hour late to a friend’s party. Now that I’m older and wiser, I understand the rudeness that comes with being late and try to be as respectful as possible, especially when the event involves a meal. If you will be late, it’s always a good idea to give the host notice, no matter if it’s one minute or twenty minutes. As for arriving early, the host may be putting on the final touches of the event, so it may be awkward and/or stressful. Wait out in your car a few minutes or keep yourself occupied.
Don’t start eating until the hosts say so.
Digging into a buffet, dessert bar, wedding cake, or anything set out before you’re given an ok by the bride and groom, event planner or someone official is a big no and very tacky! Keep your ears open because someone will make an announcement when it’s time, even if it’s your host telling you to dig into dinner at her house. Usually, cutting the wedding cake (or whatever the chosen dessert) will signal when it’s time. In this situation, it’s better to be a follower than a leader.
Don’t wear white, cream, or crazy outlandish clothes to a wedding. Traditionally, white is reserved for the bride and a wedding is all about the couple’s special day. Unless instructed by the hosts, be fashionable yet modest so that the focus is on the right people. Likewise, be clean and groomed at any event.
Don’t invite guests unless given the ok.
Hosts will tell you if you are allowed to bring a plus one. For weddings, it’s usually on the invitation as “YOUR NAME plus guest” or they will put the number two for guest count on the response card. This guideline goes back to the point about RSVPs and guest count. Feel free to ask the host if an additional guest or your kids are permitted if it’s a house or dinner party.
Read the room and act accordingly and responsibly.
Avoid being a hot mess by being aware of your alcohol limits. Be in good spirits and try not to bring everyone down with depressing topics. Don’t be a party pooper. Join in the fun and participate. Yes, we know you hate congo lines, but just this once for your favorite cousin Kate, please? Be present and thoughtful. A lot of planning went into the wedding or event. Be appreciative of the opportunity to make some memories.
Be aware of your photo-taking.
It’s usually better to be present and in the moment by watching the happenings with your own eyes than through the phone or camera screen. Chances are, there are professionals taking way better photos than you who will be sharing them later, so get out of their shots! You may have seen the viral wedding videographer’s ceremony video with a guest in the aisle the whole time? Cringe! The hosts have paid for and trust these professionals to capture their event. Let them do their job well. Also, put down your phone and enjoy the event! You’ll have time to post photos later!
Now, after all of these guidelines, don’t be nervous about doing something wrong. Remember these tips, go with the flow and have fun!
I know you all have some good stories about a guest’s bad behavior! Tell us in the comments or share a tip not on this list.