As a guest of a wedding, your first responsibility is to respond to the wedding invitation that you have received immediately, or as soon as you can. If there is a deadline you must respect it. You are allowed to say no if you can not or do not want to attend, but if your RSVP says that you will be attending the event, you are obliged to come. You should also respect who has actually been invited on the invitation and not take anyone else with you unless it is clearly stated that you are allowed to bring a guest. Remember that it is not polite to ask the hosts if someone, who wasn’t already invited, can accompany you.
Even though presents are not obligatory, traditional etiquette suggests that you should indeed buy a present for the couple if you are invited to their wedding, regardless of whether you are attending it or not. Yes, even if you are not attending you should still buy, wrap and deliver a gift.
Unless your gift can fit into an envelope or a small box, you shouldn’t bring it to the reception venue. Big presents can be difficult to transport after the reception, so it is considered polite to mail your gift directly to their address. Although, nowadays it does seem that most people do bring their gift to the reception and there is usually a gift table provided where you can discreetly leave your present.
It is also acceptable to now give money instead of a gift. You will often find that the couple will express their preference for this with a well-worded note included with their invitation. They will also provide a ‘wishing well’ so that you may include the money in a card and put it into the wishing well upon arrival to the reception.
Guests should respect the dress code as it is stated on the invitation, or otherwise ask their hosts what kind of attire they expect you to wear. You don’t want to be either underdressed or overdressed, so make sure to be informed on the formality of the event. While women are not allowed to wear white under any circumstances (unless you are Pippa Middleton or Kris Jenner, or following their trend), men should avoid casual attire unless the dress code says daytime informal.
Behaving appropriately at someone’s wedding means that you have to arrive exactly on time and treat your hosts with respect throughout the day. You should be polite and almost invisible without trying to grab the attention of other guests or drink excessively. Keep your chat with the bride and groom brief as they have many people to talk to on their big day, while you should mingle and communicate with other guests.
There are also new etiquette rules related to smart phones and digital cameras. You must switch off your phone during the ceremony and make sure that you never block the official photographer. Be very careful with taking pictures and publishing them on social media as the bride and groom might not like that. Finally, you should tell your hosts how happy you are for them, sign the guest book and don’t forget to take your favour home!
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