21 Rude Things People Will Do at Your Wedding

These days, guests aren't as familiar with wedding etiquette and will likely make one of these faux pas at your wedding. It's not okay, but knowing these ahead of time will help you roll with it on the big day.

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August 09, 2019
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Instagram the Ceremony

Now more than ever, couples are choosing to have an unplugged ceremony where guests are asked to turn off their cell phones. We even had a sign at my wedding that specifically said to turn off your phone and be present with us. And yet, some people still had their phones up taking photos as if they were at a concert. And, on top of that, they immediately posted the pictures on social media and tagged us in them. Not cool. We had an intimate wedding for a reason. We didn’t want those moments shared with thousands of people, just the 60 or so people present. If you’re concerned about this happening at your own wedding, you could have the officiant remind everyone before the processional starts that this is an unplugged ceremony.

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I vow to cherish the next wedding invitation I get in the mail because I now know the insanity that is designing and ordering and paying $$$$ for pieces of paper that most of your guests will just throw in the trash. But you know what’s more of an insult than chucking my custom, foil-pressed invitation that I spent hours designing? Not responding. Invitations are vital for getting an accurate guest count which impacts rental supplies, food orders and so much more. By not responding by the date listed on the invitation, you’re hindering the couple from making reservations on time. We even had an online option on our private wedding website where people could RSVP if they seriously couldn’t be bothered to drop a (pre-stamped!) envelope in the mail. And yet I still had people Facebook messaging me after the RSVP date saying that they didn’t know if they could make it. True story: I received an RSVP in the mail three days before our wedding with selections for gluten-free and vegan options and then their own food preferences scribbled in the corner. So, I scrambled to adjust our food orders and paid extra money to add more gluten-free options and another vegan entree and this couple didn’t even show up.

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

Arrive Late

Imagine this: You’re about to walk down the aisle and wedding guests are trying to sneak in the back of the venue or even walk down the aisle behind you! This actually happened at my wedding and my wedding coordinator had to scramble to send them through another entrance. Rule of thumb: If you’re late to a wedding and the ceremony has already started, you should wait and join the guests at the reception. Your FOMO isn’t as important as not disturbing one of the most important 15 minutes of your friend’s life.

Bring a Gift to the Wedding

This is a cardinal wedding rule that I feel has been lost over time: You should never bring a wedding gift to the wedding. Etiquette rules say that you should mail the couple a gift within a couple of weeks of receiving the RSVP invitation. Other rules say you have a grace period of one year after the couple is married to mail a gift. But no one says to bring a gift to the wedding. If you don’t understand why, it will make sense to you once you plan your own wedding. On your big day, you have to juggle tons of logistics and many venues have very strict clean-up policies where literally everything has to be removed from the site by the end of the day. The last thing you want to worry about as you drive off to your hotel or the airport is getting that random salad spinner your cousin got you into the trunk of your car. Unfortunately, people are going to keep bringing gifts and cards to weddings, so couples have started to incorporate a gift table and a card box with signage at the reception. It’s a pain and it’s extra money for more rentals and decor, but necessary to contain the stuff. If you’re planning your own wedding, you should designate someone in your wedding party or a close friend to manage gifts and ensure everything is removed from the venue and delivered to you after the wedding.

Not Give a Gift

I was honestly shocked to learn this is a thing. And let me be very clear: I’m not saying that you need to buy the most expensive thing on someone’s registry. A sentimental, handmade card would suffice. But some of our wedding guests gave us nothing. Nothing. They literally came to the wedding, drank a ton of free booze, ate lots of free appetizers, had a nice free dinner, took free portraits, drank more free booze but didn't bother to mail us a measly card.

Disregard Assigned Seating

Trust me, no one creates a seating chart just for fun. It’s a chore, but super important to ensure that family sits close to the wedding party, that guests with disabilities have close access to things, and many other factors that you won’t understand until you have to make your own seating chart. Your opinion of where you should sit doesn’t matter. You can make small talk with strangers for one (free!) dinner.

Not Wait to be Called for Dinner

If you do a buffet-style dinner reception, it’s common for the DJ or wedding coordinator to let different tables know when it’s their turn to get up and get food. This is done in waves so that a large line doesn’t back up. Typically, elderly people, family and people in the wedding party go through the line first. So, if you cut the line or the table order, you’re basically saying you’re more important than the bride’s octogenarian grandmother. By all means, cut her in line because you had too many drinks during cocktail hour and you’re starving. She won’t mind standing a bit longer even though she has a bad hip. It’s no big deal.

Go Rogue on Their Menu RSVPs

Most RSVPs have a section for reception food where guests can list food allergies and select an entree option. Those options aren’t just for fun. Couples use RSVP totals to determine how much food to order. So if you’re not really gluten-free but just feel like grabbing the gluten-free option because you read in a magazine that your favorite celebrity is now anti-wheat, you’re preventing someone else in the line who actually has Celiac disease from having that meal. True story: I’ve been in line behind a woman who decided she didn’t like the chicken she requested in her RSVP and thought the steak looked better. The patient caterer tried to explain to her that because she already had chicken on her plate she couldn’t have two entrees but this lady caused a whole scene in the line and the bride had to get involved. That is the type of stress you absolutely don’t need on your big day. Rule of thumb (and I honestly can’t believe this has to be said): stick to your RSVP order.

Complain They're Missing a Sports Game

If you have a wedding on a Saturday in the South in the fall, be prepared for some guy to complain that he’s missing some important college football game. I even had a guest tell me he’s bummed to be here because he’s missing his fraternity’s homecoming alumni mixer for this wedding. I wish I could stop sports people from saying dumb things like this, or worse, streaming games from their phones during a ceremony, but it will happen. Just keep your head up and say "Well, thank you for coming. I’m so glad you chose to prioritize my wedding and I hope you can watch a recording of the game later." And then walk away to a guest who actually prioritized your wedding.

Clink Glasses Until You Kiss

So, apparently, there’s a thing where guests clink their glasses with knives during the reception and they won’t stop until the couple kisses. This isn’t just rude, it’s downright tacky. You shouldn’t demand a performance from the couple. This is their day. If they want to kiss, they’ll kiss. If this happens to you, I’m so sorry. The only advice I can offer is this: If you give in and do it once, it will likely happen more throughout the evening, especially as people enjoy more cocktails. So, nip it in the bud. The first time it happens, have your wedding coordinator, DJ, or someone from your wedding party explain that the couple won’t be doing on-demand kisses but that they hope everyone will join them for their first dance, cake cutting, etc.

Bring Children

Personally, I feel like babies should never be at weddings, especially the ceremony. But these days you have to plainly indicate to people not to bring their baby. Now, here’s where the etiquette for this gets a little passive-aggressive. The way you let your guests know that you’re having a child-free wedding is by not addressing all members of a family on an RSVP envelope. So, instead of saying The Smiths, you say Ryan and Ashley Smith, and you do not mention their children’s names. But, this is pretty old school and you shouldn’t assume a guest will understand this anymore. If you have guests with babies or toddlers, you should talk to them and explain that you are having a child-free wedding and that you would be more than happy to help them find babysitting should they need it.

RSVP for a +1 When They Weren't Given a +1

Instead of huffing and puffing about why you weren’t given a +1, consider the couple’s budget and the venue capacity. Not sure how to tell if you were given a +1? Look at the RSVP card. If it doesn’t say your name "and guest" then you don’t have a +1. If you’re planning a wedding and trying to determine who gets a +1 and who doesn’t, use this simple rule: Are they in a long-term relationship? If not, they don’t get a +1. A common courtesy, if it’s in your budget, is to give out of town guests a +1 as they will have down time to explore the area and may not know other people at the wedding.

Take a Vase of Flowers Home

It’s become an unspoken rule that at the end of a wedding reception it’s okay to take your table’s floral arrangement home. But, there are major issues with this assumption. First, if you do take flowers home, never, ever take the vase. It’s likely a rental from the florist or venue and you don’t want to be the reason the couple has to pay a hefty lost item fee. Second, there may be a plan for the florals after the wedding. Many couples give them to members of the wedding party and close family members at the end of the evening as a thank you. And a lot of couples are choosing to donate their flowers to nursing homes and charities such as Random Acts of Flowers. My rule? Unless something is clearly marked as a favor, don’t take it.

Complain About Wedding Party Clothes

Those "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?" cards aren’t just for Instagram. It’s an agreement. If you say you will be in someone’s wedding party, you don’t get an opinion on the outfit you wear, even if you’re family. You're a part of someone’s special day and that means their aesthetic, too. This is not the time to complain about how coral isn’t your color. And never, ever go rogue and find your own outfit. Not only is it rude, but it says "my appearance is more important." Don’t be a diva. Order the dress or suit. It’s only for a handful of hours anyway. Now, that doesn’t mean the couple can be totally insensitive. It's important to offer a choice of clothing that anyone in your wedding party can afford and that makes them feel comfortable in the gender they present.

Interupt While the Couple is Eating

You just saw your two favorite people tie the knot and you’re so happy for them that you want to walk up to their sweetheart table and give them a big hug. Right? Wrong. Never bother the couple while they’re eating. It’s probably the first food they’ve had all day. And if you walk up, other people will walk up and then the couple will be swamped and their 15-minute window to inhale food is gone. If you’re planning a wedding and this one really grinds your gears, consider doing a head table with your wedding party or close family members instead of a sweetheart table. That way others can deflect any Chatty Kathys who can’t take a hint. Now, that doesn’t mean guests won’t get time to chat with the newlyweds. A couple will greet friends and family in one of two ways depending on the size of the wedding reception: by receiving line or visiting tables as dinner is winding down. My rule? If you don’t see a receiving line at the beginning of the reception, sit down at your table and wait for the couple to come to you.

Grab the Mic

Wedding receptions aren’t an open mic night. Those speeches aren’t spontaneous, they’re planned. If you weren’t asked to make a toast before the wedding, you’re not on the list and you should respect that. If you’re afraid someone at your wedding might try to grab the mic and make an unsavory toast, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent this. Make a list of people for toasts and communicate that list to the toasters before the wedding, then give the list to the DJ so he or she knows who is approved to have the mic. You can also ask a family member to emcee the toasts so he or she is in full control of the situation.

Surprise Everyone With a Performance

Do you want to surprise your best friend with a reenactment of your middle school dance routine? Do that on the bachelor trip, not at the wedding reception. You may think it’s sweet and enduring, but if it takes the focus away from the couple or could embarrass them, don’t do it. It could also push the reception events off schedule. You don’t want to be the reason the couple has to rush to cut the cake or cut their first dance. And you never know what the couple might have up their sleeves. Maybe they’re planning a surprise performance of their own!

Upstage the Couple

This is not the time to wear a long, ornately-beaded gown because you never went to prom and you want to feel like a princess for the night. And showing up in a tux when the actual wedding party isn’t even wearing blazers? That’s a no-no. To understand what to wear to a wedding ceremony and make sure you’re not overdressed, take cues from the invitation. If the ceremony is scheduled to begin in the evening, that suggests cocktail attire. And if the affair is truly white-tie only, there will be a note on the invite.

Complain to the Couple

I once had to stop a woman from telling a bride that there was an issue at the buffet. There actually wasn’t an issue, the woman just wanted to try both entrees (Rude. You only RSVP for one!) and was making a scene. Most issues at a wedding aren’t items to bring up with the happy couple. This is their day. They’re busy and stressed enough and don’t have time to help you find a trash can. If something truly is wrong — like you notice wedding crashers or someone needs to be cut off from the open bar — inform the wedding planner, venue staff, security guard or someone in the wedding party. Not the couple or their close family.

Complain on Social Media

A wedding is not the place for your feedback on event production. Wedding planning is hard to coordinate and no matter how many times you go over the details, something won’t go as planned. At my own wedding, we hired a psychic for the reception. She turned out to be the real deal and kept giving everyone highly-detailed, lengthy readings. So, the line got backed up. A guest took to Instagram to complain about the wait time and used our wedding hashtag in the post. Now that mean message is mixed in with the rest of our wedding feed. If this happens to you, remind yourself of all the nice things people did say about your wedding. And remember, your wedding wasn’t to please other people.

Propose at the Wedding Reception

This is not a rom-com. It is never okay to use someone else’s romantic day as a venue for your proposal. That goes for any other big news too, such as a baby announcement. This day is not about you. Sure, maybe all of your closest friends and family are there so it seems like the perfect opportunity to share, but this takes the focus away from the happy couple.

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