Wedding Reception Protocol

Don’t be that Guy (Girl)

Something often overlooked on the part of the guest (YOU) is properwedding reception protocol.
You are the guest at the biggest and best party of the happy couple’s lives, don’t screw it up for them. From attire to alcohol, use this guide to keep yourself in check.

*Because an accurate head count is needed well before the wedding, it’s rude to not RSVP by the requested “Reply By” date. Even if you don’t plan to attend. It puts undue pressure on the wedding planning process in general, and of course, the bride personally. Please don’t make the bride or someone else call you to find out if you are coming or not. Isn’t this obvious wedding reception protocol? You’d be surprised.

*If the wedding invitation says “Adult Reception Following”, this means no kids. So please don’t bring yours. It’s an awkward, uncomfortable, and an expensive situation to put the bride and groom in.Add insult to injury if your kids aren’t well behaved. Additionally, it makes other people there that followed the directions and got a babysitter for their kids, wonder why your kids are so special and theirs are not…

wedding reception protocol

*This is one wedding reception protocol rule you must, MUST follow – for a myriad of reasons. If your invitation says “And Guest”, that means just one. ONE. No Ifs, Ands or Buts on this one. And if it is addressed to just you…. that means just you. No Ifs, Ands or Buts on this one, either.

*Are you seriously wearing white?? No, surely my eyes are just going bad because only one person wears white at the wedding. And it ain’t you.

*Don’t be late - but if you just absolutely couldn’t help it (avalanche, wild tiger loose on the highway, etc.) and upon your arrival at the ceremony site the procession has started, you must wait until the bride has gone down the aisle before entering on the OUTSIDE aisle and quickly find the nearest seat. And turn your cell phone off!

*No pictures at the ceremony - this is distracting and your flash can (will) screw up whatever pics the photographer is taking and the couple is paying good money for professional pics. Save it for the reception.

*This is definitely an unspoken wedding reception protocol rule that most people aren’t aware of. While almost every single wedding reception will have a gift table, it’s actually proper etiquette to mail or deliver your gift prior to the wedding day. Think about the person who has to be responsible for those gifts, and to make sure they get loaded up and delivered to their proper place once the reception is over. It’s a lot of work (AKA pain in the tooshie) and sometimes gifts are lost in the shuffle. The gift table exists because the majority of people don’t know about this unspoken rule. But now, since you know, please don’t bring your gift to the wedding.

*If you are wondering how much time you have after the wedding to get them a gift, 1 year is the MAX. The “1 year after date” wedding reception protocol rule has been challenged recently and Miss Manners seems to have picked the “1 year is OK” side. However if you have declined the invitation (by the “Reply By” date, of course) sending a gift is still considered “obligatory” – within 1 year, of course.

*Be mindful of speeches and announcements, there’s seriously nothing ruder than guests chatting amongst themselves while someone is trying to speak – except for maybe bringing your kids when they weren’t invited. Another seemingly obvious wedding reception protocol rule that seems to be just the opposite. So pay attention and be respectful.

*No one likes an obnoxious drunk! Open bars are fun and I’m all for getting your money’s worth when it comes to booze, but an obviously drunken wedding guest is painful to watch - especially when they trip and spill red wine all over the bride’s dress. Don’t be that guy. Or girl

*This is a not-so-obvious wedding reception protocol rule to be heeded if you have special diet requirements (allergic, diabetic, religious, etc. – South Beach doesn’t count). Make sure to discuss this with the bride WELL in advance of the wedding so that she can let you know what accommodations, if any, can be made. This instructional quote from an “image consultant” I came across sums it all up. “Do not over drink or eat anything you shouldn’t. It stresses the Bride out when guests become ill and pass out in the middle of dinner.” Yea and we don’t want any passing out at dinner!

Try not to leave before the cake is cut (why would anyone want to miss out on cake anyway?!), and don’t forget to tell the couple goodbye and THANK THEM for having you share in their celebration.