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Wedding Etiquette Tips – For both You & Your Guests

Weddings are a lot of fun and a lot of work. I know…as I have been privileged to cater over 700 of them throughout my career.

And with that volume of weddings, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to behaviors and etiquette of brides & grooms and their wedding guests. (that behavior will be the topic of another article)

Following is a short list of some etiquette tips that may make your special day a little less stressful – for both you and your guests…

FOR BRIDES AND GROOMS: Here are little Etiquette things that could be a big deal if not handled properly…

I believe there are three things that can put a damper on your wedding reception:

1- You arrive late from your photos. During this time, the question would get asked of me- “Where are the Bride & Groom”? I understand how important your photographs are to you, but keep in mind that your guests are ready to start eating the furniture because they are hungry!

2- The toasts are too long-winded. I understand that the people you have chosen to toast you mean a great deal to you, but PLEASE don’t make the toasts the length of a 1 act play! 3-5 minutes is perfect, per toast!

3- You schedule all your activities back to back (cut the cake, toss the garter and the bouquet, bridal dances, etc.). While on paper this may seem like a good idea, keep in mind that all your guests are doing during this time is drinking, sitting and more drinking. That could be a problem later on in the evening. So, keep the party moving by respecting your guests’ time.

Other thoughts to keep in mind…

Start your ceremony on time.

  • Choose food that you want to eat, but also food that most guests will like as well.

  • Try your best to avoid a Cash Bar.

  • What does your venue look like? Is it clean, attractive, maybe even unique? Guests remember those little things.

  • Good Food & Drinks- But there is more than just that. Did they wait in long lines for the bar? Was there enough food for everyone? And here’s the kicker- guests remember food that is wonderful and food that is NOT.

  • Socializing / dancing- Are they able to talk, laugh, dance etc., with family and friends? No one wants to have a night of long-winded speeches and activities and only 30 minutes of dancing.

  • Send out Thank You notes in a timely manner (three months from the date of your wedding…tops!)


RSVP in a timely fashion. Don’t wait until the day of the deadline to respond. And be sure to RSVP!! You can’t pretend you are Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson at a reception!

Don’t over indulge yourself on the free food and drink. We understand that you are shelling out $$ for a gift, but Buffet doesn’t mean “all you can eat” and Open Bar doesn’t mean “all you can drink.”

Show up to the church and reception ON TIME. It is not cool to walk into a service 10 minutes after it started.

If the invitation says “Adult Reception Only,” then Children… Should. Not. Attend. No exceptions.

If you are bringing a gift, put the card inside the wrapping. And always include the gift receipt!


Have a great time at wedding receptions! They are wonderful and joyous events! But, keep mindful that we are all being observed and our behavior at an event like this could come back to haunt you, due to the many social media channels that are available to all of us now!

Bob Pacanovsky

Bob Pacanovsky is a Keynote,Conference, and Corporate Speaker and Trainer who works with companies and organizations to develop the Black Tie Experience—creating an impression that LASTS through leadership, service, actions, and behaviors.

To learn more, contact Bob Pacanovsky: Call (330) 352-6084 or email

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