Wedding Guest Etiquette [Tips for Wedding Guests from a Bride]

by Melissa on April 5, 2012

If you have RSVPed “Yes” for a wedding, there are very, very few reasons for not coming.

Those reasons include your death, the death of a loved one, or a serious accident or illness you or a loved one experienced. “Having to work last minute” is not a valid excuse. But if you do, for whatever reason, decide that the wedding that you RSVPed to is no longer a priority, the bride or groom had better have a text or e-mail or voicemail from you apologizing profusely. I’m still annoyed with one of my friends who RSVPed but never came and never gave any sort of explanation. My feelings won’t be hurt if you RSVP “No.” But if you RSVP “Yes,” and then don’t come, grudges will be held.

Don’t write checks in bride’s married name.

If you decide to give a check to the bride and groom as a wedding gift, please do not write the check in the bride’s “married” name. The bride’s last name does not magically change simply because vows were exchanged. There’s waiting for the official copy of the marriage certificate from the county. Then there’s a trip to the social security office involved. Then a trip to the DMV. Then paperwork that has to be submitted to all the bride’s bank accounts. I think for even the most proactive bride, this will take at least three weeks, and I’m guessing that most couples will want to cash their checks before that. And of course, all this is assuming that the bride wants to change her name. So, pick one name (bride’s maiden name or groom’s name), write the check in that name, and then just write in the memo line or something both of their names. I had to give an extra explanation at the bank any time I tried to cash a check written to my first name + Ken’s last name. Luckily we have a joint account, so at least one name matched. But I’m sure if I tried to cash that same check on the account that was just in my name, they wouldn’t have let me cash it.

Write a thoughtful note in your card

I’m not a terribly sentimental person, but I did smile a bit more at the wedding cards that included lovely, personalized notes. It doesn’t have to be an essay or anything, but just some kind words or a favorite memory of the bride or groom or whatever. Anything other than just signing your name. This is a lesson learned for me going forward too. Typically I always just sign a card and put it in an envelope. I now have a greater appreciation for a nice thoughtful note!

Think twice about your gift

Okay, okay. I know that ETIQUETTE says that guests can buy the couple whatever they think is useful, regardless of whether it’s on your registry. And, maybe I’m a shitty person, but registry gifts, cash, checks, or gift cards are really the only acceptable gifts. Anything else is a HUGE annoyance. The bride and groom have to write a phony thank you card thanking you for something they don’t even like, and have to waste their time trying to return or sell a gift they did not want. Cash, check, or gift card for a store that they registered at. That’s it.

Don’t call them or ask them to hang out in the days before or after their wedding

Even if you’re coming from out of town. Especially don’t ask them to pick you up from the airport. No offense, they just won’t be able to focus on hanging out. Instead, they’ll be focusing on all those wedding tasks hanging over their heads!


If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to being a super wedding guest! What else am I missing here?

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