Something borrowed, something blue, something … rude? Most guests don’t intend to display bad manners when they attend a wedding, but this very special ceremony has its own set of rules and not all of them are obvious.
“The guest’s job is to make the host glad they invited you,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
Here’s a look at the rudest things you can do at a wedding.
1. Posting pictures without permission before the newlyweds get a chance
So many people are eager to post photos to Facebook or Instagram and show scenes from the wedding. But the honor of delivering those first images should go to the newlyweds, not you.
“Give (the couple) the opportunity to select the photos they want posted first,” Gottsman tells Money Talks News, pointing out that this may not apply if the couple have created a wedding hashtag and are encouraging photo-sharing.
Also, there’s likely a paid photographer in attendance. Don’t ruin their shot by stepping into the aisle or another prime ceremony spot with your cellphone to snap your own images. “Stay in your seat,” Gottsman warns.
2. Arriving late to the ceremony and making noise
This seems obvious, but weddings have set start times — don’t wander in whenever you feel like it.
“Plan in advance,” Gottsman says. “Leave early to avoid any (road) detours or other problems.”
If you do show up late, slip into a seat quietly and quickly.
3. Bringing your children who are not on the guest list
Maybe you love children, and yours are mature and perfectly behaved at all times. Still, if they’re not invited, respect that request.
If the babysitter cancels and you can’t reach someone hosting the wedding to verify it’s OK to bring children, it’s actually better to be a no-show than show up with them, Gottsman says.
4. Bringing a plus-one
Children are one thing, but surely you can bring a date if you’re single, right? Not unless your invitation was made out to you “and guest.”
“No surprises,” Gottsman says. It’s expensive to host wedding guests, and your hosts may have limited food and space.
5. Wearing white
Not all brides wear white (and not all weddings have brides anymore), but Gottsman says this rule isn’t outdated.
“It’s a sign of respect,” to not wear white, she says. There are plenty of other colors in your closet from which to choose.
6. Getting drunk and making a scene
Again, it may seem obvious to keep your liquor consumption and your reactions under control, but Gottsman says it needs to be stated.
“Just because there’s a free-flowing bar, doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it,” she notes.
7. Giving an inappropriate toast
If you’ve been asked to toast the couple, respect that request as the honor it is. Don’t get dirty or cute.
“Keep it light, sentimental, positive and happy,” Gottsman says. And whatever you do, “don’t mention exes.”
8. Proposing to your sweetheart at someone else’s wedding
To some starry-eyed lovers, a wedding seems like the perfect opportunity to pop the question, Gottsman says. It’s a romantic, lovely atmosphere, and perhaps the Champagne is flowing. Still, don’t do it.
“You don’t want to take the spotlight away from the couple,” she says.
9. Complaining about the food or drink
The couple is paying to feed you and no doubt spent a lot of time choosing the caterer or otherwise arranging for the food. Don’t look a gift meal in the mouth, even if it’s not what you’d have ordered at a restaurant.
And don’t complain if you’re not served instantly. “Arrive full,” Gottsman recommends.
10. Leaving your cellphone on
Few things are more cringeworthy at a wedding than a guest’s cellphone going off during any part of the wedding ceremony or during an important moment of the reception.
“Turn it off,” Gottsman says. If you have to keep your phone on for emergencies, switch it to vibrate.