Wedding Etiquette 101: How to Be a Good Bridesmaid + Wedding Guest

It IS possible to do it wrong.

Related To:

I love non-traditional weddings. Pink wedding dresses leave me breathless. Intimate ceremonies with no more than 20 guests gives me all the feels. A couple dancing barefoot with a burger in hand from a food truck makes me smile with jealousy and delight. Yes, I'm an outspoken proponent of breaking ALL of the wedding rules. Because why should you feel obligated to follow a tradition that started before you were even born?!

Although, there are still common courtesies guests and wedding party members should follow. Here are some frequently-broken, unspoken guidlines you need to be aware of as a bridesmaid and wedding guest.


Never ever, ever complain about your bridesmaid dress. Ever.

It's shocking that I have to even list this "rule," but, here it is. When a bride chooses you to be her bridesmaid, consider it an honor! Telling the bride "mint green isn't really your color," doesn't exactly convey gratitude. Buy the dress, be agreeable and sell it after the wedding, if you want.

Bohemian Bouquets in Canada

Bohemian Bouquets in Canada

“With long sleeve lace dresses, and soft colors from Anthropologie , a more 'boho' bouquet look is on the rise" in Canadian weddings, says Callandra Caufield of Postcard Weddings & Events, Inc. "These bouquets are far less structured and can be fairly large, with lots of movement in them. Bohemian-inspired bouquets often feature beautiful streaming ribbons made of lace and hand-dyed raw silk." Caufield predicts a movement toward using plants as well as fresh blooms since the value of the Canadian dollar has fallen."I predict that we'll start to see centerpieces made of mixed woods, terracotta pots filled with 'house' plants, and candles. Greenery garlands are HOT. With the decor trend towards rectangular raw wood tables and wood chairs, greenery garlands (think seeded Eucalyptus or passion vine) are the perfect centerpiece option."

Photo by: Photo by Corrina Walker Photography / Floral Design by Flower Artistry

Photo by Corrina Walker Photography / Floral Design by Flower Artistry

Don't voice your opinon unless asked.

There will be instances when the bride wants your honest opinon on her dress, the invites, the flowers, etc., but untill she asks you, don't offer unsolicited advice. If you're a married bridesmaid, especially don't say, "Well, that's not how I did it" or "You should do this, cause I had it at my wedding." Always be positive, truthful and helpful, but let her make the final decision.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

Arrive on time or early to every. single. event.

Between the shower, bachelorette party and rehearsal, there are quite a few events bridesmaids have to attend. Be respectful to the bride and the hosts of said events by arriving with the bride, a few minutes before the bride or, at the very least, on time.

Festive Baby Shower Games

Festive Baby Shower Games

No baby shower is complete without a few fun (and slightly silly) games. Enjoy this guide to a few favorite games that are simple, yet sure to be a riot.

Photo by: She-n-He Photography

She-n-He Photography

Keep it together at the wedding.

The bride will be nervous enough as it is. Don't give her another reason to worry. Problems with your dress, the ceremony or another bridesmaid should not be shared with the bride. Also, imbibing in too many drinks at the reception embarrasses everyone, especially the bride. Be mindful of your food-to-drink ratio so the bride doesn't end up taking care of you.

New Year's Eve Gold Glitter Photo Backdrop

New Year's Eve Gold Glitter Photo Backdrop

Simple gold glitter paper cut into large circles makes a cute photo booth backdrop for New Year's Eve party.

Photo by: Nicole Mlakar /

Nicole Mlakar /

Make friends with fellow bridesmaids.

This makes the bride's life so much easier. Chances are you won't know some of the other bridesmaids, but it's your duty to get along with them and work together to make your mutual friend's wedding the best it can be. The last thing a bride wants to deal with is bickering, petty bridesmaids.

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Georgia bride Jenna Lombardi’s seven bridesmaids carried bouquets of baby’s breath and wore dresses in a color palette of cream and blush.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Gracie Blue Photography (

Image courtesy of Gracie Blue Photography (

Come prepared.

Prepare for emotions; bring snacks; know what hair and makeup styles you want; and most importantly, read emails/texts/mail from the bride so you know EXACTLY where to be and when. Don't stress out the bride by not knowing what's happening. Know the ins and outs of the wedding so you can help the photographer, florist or officiant if they have questions.

Essential Bridal Survival Kit 02:04

Surprise the bride with this custom kit of wedding day must-haves.

Get the party started!

Every bride wants her day to go smoothly. One way she'll measure whether or not the wedding was a "success" based on how many guests danced the night away. So, grab your date or another bridesmaid and be the first people on the dance floor. This goes for the bachelorette party as well — as long as the bride is down to party, then so are you.




R.S.V.P. immediately.

We're still unsure why guests don't do this. It's extremely rude to send a late response. Every person at the wedding costs the couple money. Creating a seating chart, planning a menu and booking a venue to accommodate all the guests requires numerous hours of work and lots of money. So, be considerate, and R.S.V.P. on time.



Respect the dress code.

Yes, wearing white to a wedding is still unacceptable. No, you can't wear shorts, even though it's 90 degrees and humid. Yes, peach-colored and cream look white in pictures; pick a different color. To be safe, just follow instructions from the bride and groom. They will specify on the invitation whether or not bathing suits or white dresses or shorts or whatever are permitted.

Have a Crowd, Not Sides

Have a Crowd, Not Sides

Luke and George didn't have sides at their wedding. They handed out champagne before the ceremony so guests could sip on bubbly while watching them exchange vows up on stage.

Photo by: Abie Livesay

Use the registry.

It's there to help you! Brides and grooms set aside time to create a registry specifically for guests to use. Do them the courtesy of picking an item from it. Alternatively, if the bride and groom request a charitable donation, a monetary gift or honeymoon funding, fulfill their wish the best you can.

Kitchenware Wedding Registry Gifts

Kitchenware Wedding Registry Gifts

Kitchenware and cooking utensils are very popular wedding gifts that couples often put on their wedding registry.

Photo by: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Thinkstock

Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Thinkstock

Expert Advice for Making a Wedding Registry 02:51

Real couples divulge which gifts were their favorite and what they wish they'd done differently.

Take a favor, and sign the guestbook.

Seriously, please take one. It's embarassing how much effort brides (myself included) put into these. Similarly, quite a bit of thought goes into a guestbook, whether it's a photo booth, poster, globe, etc. Make sure to seek it out before the end of the night.

Mixed Tea Party Favors

Mixed Tea Party Favors

After putting tea in individual vials, print out a typed label on Kraft paper. Cut into squares. Punch a hole at the top of each label. Tie the label onto the glass vial with pink twine.

Ask about plus ones.

Don't assume your invitation includes a plus one, especially for a small wedding. Always, always ask a friend or family member of the bride or groom if it's OK to bring a date. Usually, your significant other will recieve a separate invite or be included on yours if the bride and groom want plus ones at the wedding.

Guests of Honor

Guests of Honor

Leslie and Lloyd Geddes are the guests of honor at an inspired Farm Day, a celebration of country life and the imminent union of a city boy and a country girl.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser

20 Fresh, Fabulous Bachelor and Bachelorette Party Ideas

See All Photos

Poolside Party

If your city offers warm weather, or you can gather your girls for a weekend vacation, plan a poolside party. You can make the day ultra-laidback or opt for something posh and elaborate depending on the bride’s personality. Some precious time in a lounge chair, a little vitamin D and a lot of girl talk will have the bride feeling relaxed for her big day.

Rustic Retreat

A cabin getaway in the mountains is fitting for the nature-loving bride. The cabin’s exterior may be rough and rustic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress the interior to the nines. Plan activities to make the weekend feel like an extended slumber party.

Lipstick Pinata

Consider a lipstick pinata for the bride who regularly rocks red lips. It’s fabulous, inexpensive and sure to liven up your party. Fill it with candy, lipstick or bubble-wrapped airplane bottles — whichever favor best fits your plans for the night.

Photo By: Jeff Mindell Photography; Project by Studio DIY

Spa Day

What bride doesn’t want to be pampered in the days leading up to her wedding? Instead of a night on the town, plan a relaxing spa day. This idea is perfect for the bridal party that includes a junior bridesmaid or two. Ladies of all ages can appreciate a long foot soak.

Photo By: Stacey Hart Photography; Featured on Anders Ruff; Event Design by Xiomara Roman

DIY Nail Polish Bar

Crafty brides will adore this DIY nail polish bar. Combine this idea with a spa day, or make it into a nail-centric day of its own. The fun, feminine day will allow plenty of time to chat and dream about the days to come.

Muscleman Cookies

Whip up a batch of these muscleman cookies for the bride with a sense of humor. The funny and (dare we say) sexy cookies will be the highlight of the party.

Photo By: Jessie Jardon

Champagne Flute Cookies

If you want your cookies to ooze subtle sophistication, bake these champagne flute-shaped treats for your bachelorette soiree. The whimsical cardboard tags might even help get the party started.

Photo By: The Kitchen Prep; Featured on Palm Beach Lately

Champagne Gelatin Shots

These sparkly gelatin shots require an actual bottle of champagne. They’re cute and classy but just wild enough to serve before a night on the town. Pair these sweet treats with light snacks or appetizers.

Photo By: Pint Size Baker

Mimosa Bar

Consider hosting a brunch with a colorful mimosa bar in lieu of a traditional bachelorette party. This idea is fun, adorable and affordable — ideal for the easygoing bride wanting some quality time with her gals.

Photo By: Katie Pritchard; Event Design by Green Wedding Shoes

Organized Exercise Class

The fitness fanatic bride may enjoy an organized exercise class. Quiz the bride on her workout routine to find which activity she enjoys most, and plan accordingly. Contact local companies to schedule the event beforehand.

Photo By: Cyn Kain Photography; Event Design by Fit for a Bride

Cooking Class

Is the bride a major foodie? Book a cooking class, and make a day (or night) of it. Make sure the menu complements the bride’s palate and/or her wedding diet.

Photo By: ©

Personalized Balloons

Nothing says party like a bunch of buoyant balloons. Balloons are perfect for any bachelorette bash. Have guests write notes to the bride on the balloons as an activity, and blow them up for her to see before the night ends.

Photo By: Mary Costa Photography; Project created by Studio DIY on behalf of Balloon Time

Bachelor Party Invites

These DIY bachelor party invitations are sure to get the guys excited for the party. Shaped like pizza boxes and filled with funny figurines and appropriate gifts, the invitations will probably trigger some laughter too.

Crawfish Boil

Host a crawfish boil for the laidback groom who likes to eat. Rent equipment, and buy plenty of corn, potatoes and crawfish. This backyard bash is best served with the groom’s favorite beer.

Photo By: Fantabulosity

Bar in a Jar

This gift is ideal for the traditional bachelor party. Give guests a jar filled with an assortment of alcohol at the beginning of the night — that way they can drink whatever they’d like at their own pace. The best part? Party goers should have plenty of alcohol left to take home the next day.

Whiskey-Tasting Bar

If the groom is a whiskey enthusiast, why not set up a whiskey-tasting bar for his bachelor party? If the weather allows, set it up outside along with a snack table or two.

Tuxedo-Inspired Snacks

Masculine but oh-so-adorable, these cheese-and-cracker snacks will add a touch of sophistication to any bachelor party. The recipe is easy and only requires three ingredients. You got this, groomsmen.

Photo By: Cute Food for Kids

Cigar Bar

Instead of a traditional bar, create a cigar bar with a variety of options. This idea will work well for an evening affair. Use a rustic bar cart to make the display feel ultra-masculine.

Photo By: Paige Jones; Featured on Festival Brides

Yard Games

Yard games are perfect for the groom who loves a low-key shindig. Have the handiest groomsman make a set of these giant wood dice for a fun game of yard Yahtzee.

Photo By: Momtastic ; Ryan Foy

Golf Brunch

If the groom wants a day on the links for his bachelor party, consider throwing a celebratory brunch beforehand. Use golf balls as place cards, and serve an assortment of food that will keep the guys going for 18 holes.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make Wedding Confetti Cones

Adorn wedding reception chairs with these sweet confetti cones so guests can celebrate the bride and groom as they leave for their honeymoon.

How to Make Paper Flowers for a Wedding Bouquet

Pretty, inexpensive and long-lasting, paper flower bouquets are perfect wedding mementos. Learn how to make paper flowers for your bridesmaids and flower girls with this tutorial.

Printable DIY Table Numbers for Weddings

These DIY table numbers are adorable, easy to make and could easily double as wedding keepsakes.

How to Make a Wedding Cake

Making your own wedding cake sounds like a daunting task, but even the simplest home-baked confection can look professional with these beautiful, edible blooms.

Must-Have Wedding Gift Registry Items

Silver tea sets? A crystal punch bowl? If you think that's got you covered, think again. Get the scoop from wedding experts on the items you won't think to register for, but should!

14 Tips for Creating a One-of-A-Kind Wedding Hashtag

There's nothing basic about your love. Can you say the same about your #hashtag?

How to Craft the Ultimate Soiree: 5 Tips From a Celebrity Wedding Planner

Pro wedding planner Tara Guérard lists the necessary ingredients for a top-shelf celebration.

Congrats on Being Maid of Honor! Here's How to Plan a Fab Bridal Shower

Because every bride needs a situation-savvy MOH by her side. 
More from:

The Big I Do

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts