As the saying goes, you only get married once. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get the honor of being invited to celebrate at weddings dozens of times. We have always loved weddings and it’s why we chose to start a wedding venue, but we also love being a wedding guest. It’s truly so special that a couple thinks that much of you that they want you to be there with them on one of the most important days of their lives and believe that you being there will make their day better. We’ve always tried to be on our best behavior as guests – you know, responding to RSVPs, smiling for pictures, not over-indulging – but it wasn’t until planning our own weddings that we realized some of the finer details of how to be the best wedding guest. Whether you’ve never attended a wedding, only attended a couple, or are an absolute pro, here’s the best ways to ensure that you are not only a great wedding guest, but have a lot of fun while being there too.

Respond to the RSVP

Make sure you send in your RSVP as soon as you can, and respond however the couple asked. If they have a paper RSVP, send it in. If they have a website for collecting RSVPs, use it. They designed the process how they could best keep track, so it’s much easier for them if you respond through that instead of sending a text or Facebook message letting them know you’re coming. When saying you’re coming, make sure you’re also paying attention to who the invitation was addressed to. If people are not specifically listed or kids are not directly stated, don’t assume that you can have a plus one, swap out your boyfriend for your other friend, or bring your kiddos along. We’re firm believers that it doesn’t hurt to ask if you need clarification, but don’t be upset with the couple if it’s not the answer you were hoping for. Finally, be communicative! Things come up and life happens. If you RSVP’d yes and end up not being able to make it for any reason, let the couple or a close bridal party member know. It’s 10 times more rude to RSVP yes and not show up than it is to not go and hope no one notices that you’re missing.

Be Excited

This is one of our favorite little touches that not a lot of people do – let the couple know you’re excited to get to celebrate with them! Take a few moments out of your day to write a line on the RSVP card, send them a random card in the mail to cheer on the fact that the wedding month is finally here, or shoot a text out the week of telling them that you’re thinking about them and can’t wait to watch them say I Do. You’re not asking for responses back or any time commitment out of the couple (if it’s wedding week, they’ll be especially busy) but you are letting them know how excited you are to be a part of their big day.

Follow the Dress Code

We all love the Garth Brooks song, but you don’t actually want to be the one to ruin a black tie affair, nor do you want to be the person that shows up in 6 inch spiky heels to a backyard wedding. A recommended attire or formal dress code is typically listed on the invitation, website, or both, but if you can’t find it don’t be afraid to ask or reach out to other people that you know are attending. You can also typically take cues from the invitation style and venue, but this is another case where it’s best to not assume. People spend a ton of time thinking about the design of their wedding day, and formality is often a large part of that.

Read the Wedding Website

Looking for ceremony times, dress code advice, addresses, registries, accommodations, really anything wedding related? Read the website! 9 times out of 10, the information you’re looking for is probably on there. Beyond that though, a lot of times couples will spend some extra time writing their love story, talking about the proposal, or giving you insight on their bridal parties. It’s a fun way to learn something new, gives you an idea about the people you’ll be partying with if you don’t already know them, and can often give you something to talk about for cocktail hour mingling if you don’t know a ton of other guests.

Make Sure Your Name is on Your Gift

You’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen. Whether you’re mailing your gift directly to the couple via their registry or bringing it wrapped up pretty on the day of, make sure your name is securely attached to it in some way. It’s so disappointing to get a great gift and not know who to thank for it.

Be Punctual

Show up on time, and early is even better. If you’ve never been to the venue before, you might want to allow a little extra time for things like traffic, getting lost, or not knowing the parking situation, too. If guests are running late, one of two things happen. Either the ceremony gets held, which is frustrating for the guests who arrived on time and frustrating for the couple because it shifts the rest of the timeline, or the ceremony starts without you. The ceremony is so special and it’s not something you want to miss. It’s also not something you want to try to sneak in for if you’re running late. You’re not nearly as much of a ninja as you think you are, and it is distracting for everyone involved. Just be on time y’all.

Let The Couple Have Their Time

We know we’ve spent most of this blog telling you how important you are (and seriously, you are!) but ultimately the wedding day is about the couple. They 100% invited you there because they want you there to celebrate with them, but there are a few times you should let them have “their time” and try your hardest to not intrude. If you have not been specifically asked, don’t try to visit the bride or groom in their getting ready suites before the ceremony. They’re not only trying to get ready, but they also want to be able to have that moment of showing themselves off to everyone as they walk down the aisle. Post ceremony, if the couple is hanging off to the side, head to cocktail hour and don’t try to stop and talk with them or linger along the way. They’re likely trying to get everyone out of the chapel so they can do their portraits and get to the reception, so the longer it takes to do that, the longer it takes to get the night started. Finally, with portraits, you’ll get to see the photos afterward! You don’t need to be hanging around, peeking through windows, or trying to sneak a shot of your own. It not only messes up their (very expensive, professional) photos sometimes, but it also takes them out of the moment. We promise they’ll be with you to celebrate soon enough!

Stay in the Moment 

When you’re at a wedding, be at the wedding! Put your phone away, respect their decision if they ask for no photos, talk to the people that are there, sign the guest book, get out on the dance floor, and just enjoy being a wedding guest. And on that note…

Enjoy the Experiences

Couples put so much planning and thought into incorporating things that their guests will enjoy. If they’ve taken the time to bring in extras like photo booths, cigar rollers, beer burros, caricature artists, live musicians, food stations, custom drinks, or anything else, take advantage of it! The couple wants to see you enjoying their wedding day and taking part of all of the experiences they’ve planned. As an added note on this, you should also watch the couple and see how they are spending their reception. Are they sitting by the fire and chilling with a smaller group? Join in. Are they settled in by the bar and laughing at jokes? Go grab a drink. Are they on the dance floor nonstop? Get ready to boogie. There’s nothing better than a guest enjoying what the couple is enjoying and taking part in it with them.

Find The Bride & Groom

This is similar to what we just said, but don’t feel like the bride and groom have to make the time to come and find you on their big day. If you see a moment, go up to them and let them know how happy you are for them, that they look absolutely stunning, how the ceremony brought you to tears or that the food was absolutely delicious. But, don’t hog their time. You want them to be able to enjoy themselves, not feel like they spent all night rotating between tables in an effort to say hello to everyone.

Stay Positive

This one is easy y’all – don’t be negative about anything. If your chicken was tough, the vows were cheesy, or the music is lame, keep it to yourself. The last thing you want is for it to get back to the bride and groom. Their day should be all about love and happiness, and every couples likes hearing how much their guests enjoyed everything after the fact, not the negatives.

Finally, Don’t Be That Guest

We’re using “that” guest to cover a few different experiences. Don’t be the guest that takes centerpieces home without permission (because the couple will have to pay for them if you do). Don’t be the guest that enjoyed the open bar a little too much. Don’t be the guest that forgot to turn their cell phone off during the ceremony. Don’t be the guest that took over the entire dance floor or tried to steal the mic for uninvited karaoke. Don’t snag all of the party favors for yourself. Don’t sit at the table and pout because you’re single and they’re married. We’ve all seen that guest, either at a wedding or somewhere else entirely, a few times in our lives and know who we’re talking about. Don’t become that guest that we all talk about after the wedding is over.

When it comes down to it, being a great wedding guest is a combination of general human respect and knowing how to best celebrate the bride and groom. For the vast majority of wedding guests, they naturally do 90% of the things on the list and it’s easy to have fun and enjoy yourself at a wedding when you remember how special it is that the couple hand picked you to be there. It’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of couples say the most important part of the wedding planning experience is that their guests have a good time. The wedding day is theirs, yes, but you’re a huge part of it. You made the cut – don’t make your friends/family regret inviting you. Besides, the better of a guest you are, the more likely you’ll get invited to more weddings, and that means more wedding cake. Win-Win.

The McCarty’s Vendor Spotlight: 

Coordinator: All In the Details

Caterer: Heavenly Gourmet

Florist: HEB Blooms

Photographer: Griffin Photo

Cake: Cake Crumbs

DJ: Ryan Schroeder

Bartender: Bartenders4You

Makeup: Madame Makeup

Hair: Lynda Parsons

Video: Sarah Stipanovich

Officiant: Scott King

Transportation: Elegant Limousine