With wedding season upon us, there’s no better time to brush up on those ever-important rules of attending your loved ones’ nuptials. When it comes to proper wedding etiquette, there’s no doubt there’s a right and wrong way to behave. Your behavior in front of friends and family at such an event speaks volumes, which is why it’s important to know your role. Here are 15 rude things you should never do at a wedding.
1. Arrive late or leave too early
When guests arrive late to a wedding, whether it be the ceremony at a church or the reception at a park, it screams irreverence. You didn’t put in enough effort to leave with plenty of time to arrive. Barring any serious accidents, walking in during the middle of the vows, or once the food is already being served, is just plain rude.
Furthermore, on the note of leaving too early, Business Insider says, “Saying goodbye to a couple in the middle of a wedding could make them think that you had a miserable time and can’t stand to be there another second. Instead, skip the goodbye and reach out later to explain and relay your congratulations.”
2. Refuse to unplug
While many of us rely on our smartphones for cameras these days, it’s important to respect this special occasion. “Unplugged weddings are a big trend lately, and a lot of couples are starting to request that guest[s] refrain from taking pictures or using their phones during the ceremony,” Jess Levin, wedding expert and founder of Carats & Cake, told Real Simple. “If you see a sign or request to limit your digital usage try to be respectful of the couple and resist the urge to pull out your phone and snap a few shots.” Instead, try to really be present; witnessing the love between these two people is far more special than getting the perfect shot during the ceremony.
3. Show up with an unexpected guest
Showing up with an unannounced plus one is beyond rude — and shows a total lack of consideration. If you didn’t get the option to bring a guest, you’re not going to bring one. End of story. Or, if you were allowed to include a plus one but only sent an RSVP for yourself, you also shouldn’t show up with a date.
Similarly, and just as bad, if you responded you and a date would be attending, make sure that’s what you do. If you and your partner recently broke up, you still need to bring someone to fill that seat, or at least communicate with the couple well before the wedding. There may still be time for them to invite someone else, instead of wasting that seat, meal, and invitation.
4. Wear white when there’s a bride and gown involved
This is a pretty well-followed rule for occasions where at least one half of the couple is donning a traditional dress, but take note. Unless a couple is throwing a themed wedding, and the invitation specifically requests all-white attire, don’t take it upon yourself to opt for the same hue. Even if upstaging the bride was never your intention, it will look that way. It’s her day, not yours. So don’t stray far from the acceptable dress code.
5. Dress inappropriately
In addition to donning white, Brides mentions a few other tips to keep in mind when picking out an outfit for a loved one’s wedding. For instance, keep the location in mind. If you’re going to a beach wedding, leave your ballgown at home. And even though you might be hoping to meet your potential soul mate, steer clear of sexy attire, as well. You’re going to a wedding, not a club, and showing too much skin can be downright inappropriate.
6. Switch seats
Being seated at a table next to no one you know can be frustrating. Why did they put you at the singles table? How did you end up next to the grandparents? Frustrating as it may be, complaining about your seating assignment will get you nowhere. As Brides reminds guests, it’s best to just stay put and keep your mouth shut. The couple likely spent a lot of time and effort figuring out the seating chart, so wait until you’ve finished dinner before moving about to socialize with other tables.
7. Make an unsolicited speech
Regardless of how formal or informal the wedding is, there’s typically some sort of flow that’s already been determined by the couple, the wedding planner, or members of the wedding party. And guess what? If someone wanted you to make a speech, they probably would have asked. Aside from being tacky, grabbing the mic to make an unsolicited speech is just plain rude.
8. Give a roast toast
Right up there with speaking out of turn is swapping well-meaning words with personal jabs. We’ve all been there. Suddenly, the best man thinks it’s appropriate to start telling tales from the groom’s frat house days. Well, not only will this move make you seem like a jerk, it will tick off his better half, not to mention probably catch the parents and grandparents by surprise.
Rather than going the former route, The Knot suggests a much more reasonable approach. “Give your speech the grandma test,” the site recommends. “If it’s not PG-rated and something you’d be comfortable telling her, it’s not wedding reception toast material.” Steer clear of foul language and inappropriate fodder.
9. Use the wedding photographer as your personal photographer
The couple likely paid a lot of money for their photographer, so leave your personal requests at home. While it can be tempting to try to sneak a mini family photo shoot into the mix, do everything in your power to resist the urge. As Cosmopolitan says, this isn’t an opportunity to have a free photo session. Wedding photographers have enough on their plate.
10. Allow your kids to run amok
While some couples have a strict no-kids allowed rule, others welcome the little ones with open arms. But even still, this doesn’t give you permission to treat the wedding venue like your own. You still need to keep a close eye on your children.
Treating the waitstaff, other family members, or (worst of all), the couple like your own personal babysitters is in poor taste, to say the least. “It’s wonderful the kids were invited,” Little Things writes. “But this is a wedding and not a playground. If they aren’t able to sit through an entire ceremony, then a babysitter is probably the better option!”
11. Request a change of music
You’re not at a club with a DJ who’s been paid to play rap tunes; there’s probably a set list that was pre-picked by the couple. “At your wedding, you get to choose the music,” The Knot says. “Otherwise, the tunes aren’t in your control. You could end up requesting a song that was on the couple’s do-not-play list (like, say, one with unsettling sentimental feelings attached).” No requests allowed at someone else’s wedding.
12. Dance inappropriately
The wedding dance floor often plays host to a wide array of styles, from dance-off enthusiasts to partner dancing and everything in between. But one thing you should absolutely never do is get a little too freaky, at least not while the grandparents are still around. A wedding is a classy event, and certainly not one for bumping and grinding, Cosmopolitan says.
13. Cling to the couple
Just remember, no matter how close you are with the couple, this is about them, not you. It’s great your best friend from junior high is tying the knot, but that doesn’t mean cornering her to catch up at her wedding is acceptable. It’s not. At all. As Jen Glantz, professional bridesmaid and owner of Bridesmaid for Hire, told Business Insider, a wedding is no time to cling to the couple. So try to make some new friends to keep yourself busy.
14. Drink too much
Open bar or not, getting too drunk is never in good form. Have your sights set on taking advantage of the all-you-can-drink cocktails? Remember to go easy, and know your limit. If you’re the kind of person who needs a glass of water in between each drink, make sure you’re doing just that. There’s nothing worse than making a total fool of yourself in front of friends and family.
15. Fail to tip at an open bar
On the subject of open bars, if the wedding you’re attending has one, please remember to tip your bartender. Just because it’s open doesn’t mean the staff aren’t working for tips. And the drinks aren’t free, by the way. Someone is paying good money to have an open bar available to you, so don’t take advantage of their kindness and hospitality. Even if you’re irritated by how much money you’ve already spent on their wedding — between gifts, flights, and hotel accommodations — it’s certainly not the bartender’s fault.