The Modern Man’s Guide to Being the Best Wedding Guest

Summer is also known as wedding season, and if you’re in that particular demographic when it seems like everyone’s been drinking the same commitment Kool-Aid, don’t be surprised if everyone you’ve ever met is suddenly getting hitched at the exact same time.

But there’s more to attending a wedding than getting dressed up, shedding a few tears (in secret, of course), and raiding the open bar. You’ve got responsibilities, too—even if you didn’t quite make the Best Man shortlist. Here’s everything you need to know to be the best wedding guest, ever.

R.S.V.P. ASAP

When you receive the invitation (which should arrive anywhere between six to eight weeks before the wedding) check your calendar and decide whether you want to go or not as soon as possible. The head count is extremely important to the betrothed couple, so don’t add more stress to their big day with your procrastination.

Plus One or Solo?

Once you’ve decided to bust out your suit and dancing shoes, next comes the “plus one” issue: are you going to go stag, or will you bring a date? A wedding date can go either way: it can be a turning point within a relationship, or you can play it off casual (free dinner and dancing, yo!) depending on your dating status. Regardless, you should inform your date of your intentions. Avoid mixed signals by being straight up with her: “I would love for you to join me because I want you to meet my family,” or, “You wanna come to this wedding with me? I think it’ll be fun, but it’s no big deal if you can’t.” One more note: don’t assume you can bring a guest unless your invitation specifies. After all, weddings are mad expensive!

Buy A Gift

Yes, you need to buy them a gift from their registry. Technically, you have up to a year after the wedding date to send them one, but you should do it sooner rather later before the all of the cool gifts in your price range are bought up. And, no, don’t go rogue and buy them that kitschy set of gnome pillows. They won’t get the joke.

Go to the Ceremony

The ceremony is just as important, if not more so, than the reception (that’s the “party”). You should arrive on time for the ceremony, meaning you should be there at least thirty minutes before the scheduled time. This is one event where arriving “fashionably late” won’t fly. You’re not expected to participate in religious rituals, but be polite and follow the lead of others, and just go with it. It’s okay to cheer and clap after the bride and groom share their first kiss, but refrain from shouting, “Get it, son!” or the ilk.

Enjoy the Reception, But Not Too Much

Don’t be the drunk guy at the reception. There’s always one, but I really don’t want that to be you, and you don’t, either. This is extremely difficult at weddings with open bars, but the trick is to not pound those cocktails on an empty stomach. Sip on some wine until the main course arrives, and then hit the sauce. Also, that half-filled champagne glass on your table is for the toasts. Don’t down that.

Oh, and dancing is not an option—it’s a requirement. Getting’ jiggy with someone’s grandma is a rite of passage. Welcome her with open arms.

If you end up going solo to the wedding, you might find yourself flirting with a bridesmaid or two. Meeting people at weddings is extremely easy to do with all of that booze flowing, but again, make sure you’re on the same page: is this a hook-up, or are you interested in seeing her again? You’ll want to sort that out because you might bump into her at another wedding, and that could turn either awkward or be the “meet cute” story you’ll tell at your own wedding.

And, most of all, don’t forget to have fun.


Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine.  You can follow her on Twitter  @briannehogan.
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