I often spend time advising couples what and what not to do at their weddings but I wanted to change it up this week and focus on how to be a thoughtful attendee. Whether you are attending a wedding or an upcoming holiday party, read up on these general rules of guest etiquette.

RSVP…On time!

The biggest complaint I hear from my couples in the weeks leading up to their weddings are about guests who have gone MIA.  The host of any party needs to know how many guests to expect in order to finalize food and beverage and table assignments. The rules are simple – if you are the bearer of an invitation to a special event, please RSVP on time and answer the invitation in the form in which it is requested.  If the couple has provided an RSVP email address, email them back with all the information they have asked for and if they have requested your confirmation via snail mail, don’t text them with a ‘ya I’ll show up.’  These types of responses upset the tone of a party that someone has been working very hard on.

Do not bring a guest if it isn’t requested

Simply, the people listed on the invite are the ones invited to the party.  If the invite reads, ‘Mr. Justin Bieber and Guest’ you may bring a plus one but only one! If you have questions or you feel the invite is unclear, please give the host a call. 

Bring a gift

No matter what the invite – dinner, wedding or holiday party, ALWAYS bring a gift for the host, whether it be a bottle of wine, a nice candle or even some home baked treats!  It shows you appreciate the efforts of the host and almost guarantees an invite back!

Do not arrive too early

Do not stress out your host by arriving too early, (anything earlier than 15 minutes prior to the start time).  The host of any party will be working right up until the last minute finalizing all party details and an early arrival can cause unnecessary stress.  The same goes on the flip side – never arrive too late to a party either.  I recommend no later than 15 minutes to a dinner party and 30 minutes to a cocktail party.

Put away the cell phone

Cell phone use is a growing issue at all my events so as a general rule of thumb I recommend all emcees or party hosts ask that cell phones be put away during dinner.  It’s rude and parties are a time to celebrate with friends and family so please leave the phone browsing on your personal time.  The same applies for wedding ceremonies and receptions; keep your phone tucked away for the formal part of the evening. It’s only appropriate to text or check your phone, (if you must) during the dancing and less formal part of the evening. If you take pictures and want to share anything about the party - host, venue or decor on the social media front, don’t post ANYTHING unless the host (or bride) permits it!

Don’t leave before the cake is cut


When you attend an event, it is considered rude to leave before the last formal part of an evening.  In the case of a wedding it is often the cutting of the cake or for a house party I recommend guests stay at least one hour after dessert is served. 

Sit at your assigned table and be respectful of the rules


It seems rather obvious, but if you are assigned to a table that doesn’t tickle your fancy, it is time to grin and bear it.  Introduce yourself to your neighbors, smile and make nice! Also remember that whatever you believe, this day is not about you and if the bride or host has chosen to include a tradition as part of the celebration, that’s their decision. If it really bothers you, rather than making a scene, simply excuse yourself quietly and return to the party when you are ready.

 Photo Cred: Kymberlie Dozois Photography