10 Wedding Etiquette Tips for the Guest

by Sneha, Editor of Shaadi Obsession

It’s half-way through wedding season and you’re getting kind of sick of attending weddings, right? Well, keep in mind that it is still the bride and groom’s big day and you’ve got to play your part! South Asians have a reputation at weddings for being late, talking during the ceremony, and bringing uninvited guests – don’t be part of the norm! In this series, we will introduce  10 general etiquette tips to keep both bridal parties and guests happy at weddings. In the last part of our series, we’ll start general etiquette tips for the Guest

  1. When you receive an invitation for a wedding, you also have to assess whether you are close enough to the couple to attend; after all, you’re investing time, sometimes travel and lodging expenses and a wedding present to attend. If you have a large family, but only 2 have been invited, please RSVP for only 2, and have only 2 people attend for the respective events you were invited to! This is a huge problem at South Asian weddings. Guests have to keep in mind that there is a reason only that number of people have been invited – venue capacity, expenses, or familiarity. Don’t forget to RSVP by the date requested, and if you forget, let the couple know well in advance of the wedding date if you can attend or not.

  2. Whether or not you are attending the wedding, it is polite to give the couple a gift. If you’re under a tight budget, gift them something small from their registry. It will be a really nice gesture to thank them for the invitation and wish them well. If you are attending the wedding, it is customary to give a gift that is equivalent to the approximate price per head which can range anywhere from $101 – $251 (if you have a large family, it isn’t necessary to do this, but a nice gesture given that they invited all of you). Again, if you’re under a budget, gift them something small from their registry. If their invitation states “No Boxed Gifts”, it is customary to give a monetary gift. 

  3. Dress the part (and Borrow it Bindaas can help you with this!). You’re representing not only yourself, but the couple as a guest at their wedding (pictures last forever!). Weddings are a great place to meet other people and you always want to look your best. Also, try to dress according to the family of the bride and groom’s standards – if they are more conservative, be respectful of this in your choice of dress.

  4. Check your invitations for each event and show up on time. If you are going to be late, don’t make it obvious. Think of how rude it might be if you are walking into a ceremony just as the bride is making her grand entrance. If it’s a smaller wedding especially, you don’t want to be the last person to arrive. 

  5. Be polite during the ceremony and try to keep conversation at a low volume. After all, someone you know is getting married and wanted you there to experience it with them. Try to pay attention to the ceremony and if you have a camera, take a few snaps – the couple will really appreciate it. Lastly, don’t leave early unless you absolutely have to. The bride and groom can see everything that’s going on, and it wouldn’t be very polite to leave in the middle of their marriage rituals being performed.

  6. Try and greet the couple after the ceremony is over to give them your well wishes. Stay for lunch and only go to eat when it is served. Many times guests will leave and enter the banquet hall before lunch has even been set up. Also, it may be a buffet, but don’t be greedy with your portions. You can always go back up for more later after other guests have eaten! 

  7. Again, dress formally, or as stated in the invitation (Black Tie optional, etc.). Be on time for the cocktail hour – this is essentially for the guests to enjoy! Don’t overdo it with the drinks if it is an open bar. You want to be classy while enjoying with your friends and celebrating their special day. If it is a dry wedding, try to avoid the “car bar” and don’t make your lack of presence obvious. It is a once in a lifetime event and you don’t want to be MIA at the reception! 

  8. Find your placecard and take your seat when you’re directed to – and sit at the table you’re assigned to, even if you’re not happy with it – you can always socialize after dinner. The bridal party entrances and speeches are usually under a tight schedule and will want all guests in their seats to get the program going. Be courteous of those giving speeches and performing and stay seated. After all, it takes a lot to get up in front of a large group of people. Try to keep your conversations at a minimum during the program.

  9. When the bar reopens, don’t forget to keep it classy! Even if you may be hungry, be polite and only go for dinner when your table is called. Eat at the table you were assigned to, and try to engage in conversation with guests at your table even if you don’t know them very well.

  10. Lastly, have fun! The night is yours once the music starts. Be mindful that weddings have guests of all ages, so even if you’re used to partying it up with your buddies, you will have eyes of all ages on you. Don’t forget to congratulate the couple at some point during the night, and celebrate with them on the dance floor!

Written by Sneha of Shaadi Obession exclusively for Borrow it Bindaas. Shaadi Obsession is a blog for all of your South Asian wedding inspiration needs – decor, fashion, apparel, DIY projects and advice!