Illustrated by Nate Chappell

From the RSVP to the guestbook, the advice to guide you through being the wedding guest.

Wedding season is in full swing, and receiving an invitation in the mail is a pretty exciting event. Two people in your life have found a forever kind of love and they want to celebrate with you. Just the thought of the beautiful occasion you’re set to witness can spark a special sense of happiness.

At the same time, it’s important to remember the role of a wedding guest and do what you can to make the experience as seamless as possible for the bride and groom. From RSVPing on time to silencing your phone before the ceremony, it’s easy to accommodate the couple in seemingly small ways as you prepare for the event.


The first thing you’ll want to do after receiving an invitation is RSVP by the requested deadline. A rule of thumb is to only RSVP for yourself unless you’ve been given the green light to invite a plus one or children. It’s also the perfect time to let the bride and groom know of any food allergies.

If the couple knows you and your potential guests are a guaranteed “Yes” or “No,” seeing the number of confirmed guests sooner than later alleviates lots of pressure. The guest count determines everything from the seating arrangements to the cost for vendors. So even though it may seem trivial, your RSVP matters.

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Figuring out what to wear to a wedding can be a fun, or overwhelming, experience. An easy place to start is the wedding theme. You can typically find this on the invitation, but if not, keep in mind the location, what time of year, and what time of the day the wedding is held. For formal ceremonies like “black tie” or “white tie,” women can opt for a gown while men are suggested to wear a tuxedo.

If it’s a brunch-themed wedding in the spring or summer, female guests can wear a floral or pastel-colored dress, while male guests can wear a shirt and tie or light suit. A universal rule is for female guests to avoid wearing white or any related colors like off-white and ivory. When it seems like you have nothing to wear, it doesn’t hurt to keep it simple.


It’s understandable to want to pick up something that you’re convinced the future newlyweds will love or need as their lives unite. Still, unless it’s on the registry, it might not be their taste, or they could very well already have it. Purchasing an item that’s not included in the registry runs the risk of the couple not liking it and having to go through the awkward hassle of returning it. The safest option is to trust their judgment and select an item they’re guaranteed to appreciate.

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Not sure what well wishes to send the bride and groom? Whether you’re signing the guest book or stumped on what to write inside of the “Congratulations” greeting card, begin by knowing that the newlyweds will be happy with any message you send them. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy letter. If you know the bride and/or groom well, feel free to include something that’s special to your relationship with them, like a funny joke or a memory. If you’re not familiar with the couple, it’s OK to keep the message short and generic with phrases like “Congratulations on tying the knot!” or “Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness.” 

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It’s always best to be on time, or roughly 20 minutes early. The idea of sneaking in and grabbing a seat in the back might not work out as smoothly as one thinks.

It’s also helpful to put your phone on vibrate or silent before the ceremony begins to avoid any distractions. If the wedding isn’t unplugged and cell phones are allowed, consider waiting until after the ceremony to snap pictures and record footage. If you do decide to take pictures during the ceremony, make sure the flash and sound are off. Refrain from posting on social media until the bride or groom get a chance to share their special moment.

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