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Shopping & Lifestyle

Wedding Etiquette and Appropriate Attire: Dos and Don'ts for Guests and Bridal Parties

It's always an honor to be invited to a wedding, but these significant events can raise questions about what’s proper. From bringing a plus one to appropriate attire, there’s a lot to consider.

 

Don’t worry, this guide can help you navigate the complex world of wedding etiquette. Whether you’re a guest or part of the bridal party, it’s all about showing respect and consideration for the couple on their special day. Keep reading to learn the dos and don’ts before, during, and after the ceremony.

Before the Wedding

Hand holding a wedding invitation.

Following RSVP etiquette helps the couple plan their wedding and estimate costs.

Show your excitement and respect for the couple with these pre-wedding etiquette guidelines.

1. Do RSVP on time.

If you’re a guest, confirm your attendance before the deadline. Use the channels or contact numbers specified in the invitation. Even if you can’t attend, you should still reply to decline politely and send your warm wishes.

 

If you’re part of the bridal party, you must confirm your schedules for fittings, dress rehearsals, and other pre-wedding events. Clarify your responsibilities, like organizing the wedding shower and bachelor’s party or preparing the wedding program. All these take time and need your commitment.

2. Do cancel in a considerate way.

If your plans change, immediately inform the wedding organizer. Then, contact the couple to explain why you can’t go and update your official RSVP for their headcount.

3. Don’t assume your invite includes a plus one.

Unless the invite specifies “with guest,” don’t RSVP with a “plus one.” And don't ask the couple if you can bring a date either. They may feel forced to say yes or need to reshuffle the seating arrangements.

4. Don't bother the couple.

If you have questions, check the couple’s invite, website, or social media pages. These will usually have directions to the venues or the latest wedding reminder messages for guests.

5. Do follow the dress code.

Young woman in a red-orange ruffled one-shoulder dress.

Decipher dress codes to know the appropriate attire to wear to your best friend’s wedding.

Image Credit: Vestido

Planning your outfit? Understanding the dress code helps you blend seamlessly with the couple’s chosen theme for the day.

 

  • White Tie: Considered the most formal attire, men wear tuxedos with tails, while women wear floor-length gowns.
  • Black Tie: Picture red carpet elegance. Tuxedos for men and floor-length gowns for women. Don’t want to spend on an outfit you’ll wear once? Consider renting from labels like Vestido, Gowns for Rent by Damsel, or Gardini.
  • Formal: For men, dark suits or barong Tagalog are the norm; women wear gowns or elegant dresses that fall below the knee. On a budget? You can find affordable pre-loved formal wear on Carousell and other online shopping sites.
  • Cocktail: Men wear suits with ties (colors like gray or khaki are acceptable). Women can wear dresses, tailored pantsuits, or jumpsuits. Fabrics are dressier; dress lengths can be slightly above the knee or longer. Complete the look with elegant accessories.
  • Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual: Think fancy date night. Men can ditch the tie and opt for dress shirts and slacks. Women can wear shorter dresses and separates (dressy tops and skirts) in bolder prints or more casual fabrics like linen. You can find various semi-formal pieces from ZALORA.
  • Festive: Start with cocktail attire as a base, but play it up in bolder colors, louder prints, and playful accessories. Just have fun with this look.
  • Casual: Women can opt for breezy sundresses or floral-print skirts paired with elegant sandals or wedges. Men can look sharp in dress pants or khakis combined with a collared shirt. For added formality, a tie or sports jacket can complete the look.
  • Beach Formal: Women can wear sundresses, while men can wear short-sleeve button-downs and slacks. The primary consideration here is to dress up but be comfortable. Choose light fabrics like linen or chiffon. Go for practical but presentable shoes like wedges, dressy sandals, boat shoes, and espadrilles.

6. Do wear appropriate attire.

Now that you’ve deciphered the dress code, remember these additional guidelines for planning your wedding guest outfit.

 

  • Avoid taboo colors. Both men and women should steer clear of white or cream, which is reserved for the bride, or black (associated with mourning). The rules for red are more flexible. Don’t wear it to a Filipino-Chinese wedding, where the bride may wear red.
  • Keep it classy. Save the flashy fashion statements, loud hues, or crazy patterns for another event. Instead, opt for soft and elegant colors in solid or classic prints.
  • Consider the venue and time. Ensure your outfit is comfortable for the setting, whether it's an outdoor garden wedding or an evening ballroom reception. Men can adjust formality with jacket choices and ties. For instance, beach weddings call for softer pastel colors, linen or chiffon fabrics, and shoes that won't sink in the sand.
  • Tips for bridal/groom party attire. Entourage members should work closely with the couple to understand their wedding aesthetic. Ask the couple for fabric swatches or design pegs that capture their preferences. Discuss how you can incorporate your own touches, like silhouette, fit, or with details such as pocket kerchiefs.

During the Ceremony

Guest at the wedding ceremony holds up a phone to take pictures of newlyweds.

When you take pictures during the ceremony, make sure you don’t block the photographers or distract other people.

Be fully present for the couple's special moment with these tips.

1. Do arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony.

Punctuality prevents problems like disrupting the mass during key moments like the exchange of vows. If you arrive late, ask the ushers when it’s okay to enter.

2. Do ask when you can enter the venue.

If you arrive early, like an hour before the ceremony, ask someone from the wedding party when you can take a seat. Vendors may still be setting up, or photographers may use the location for portraits or other pics.

3. Do silence your phone.

Imagine watching the groom about to kiss the bride when suddenly, everyone hears your phone ringing! Putting your phone on silent shows respect for the couple on their special day.

4. Don’t be a paparazzi.

It’s okay to take tons of pics, but don’t block the view of the official photographers or the other guests.

5. Do offer support and help.

If you’re part of the bridal party, ask how you can help on the big day, like showing guests their seats or handing out favors. Your enthusiasm helps add to the event’s joyful vibe.

At the Reception

Two male wedding guests holding champagne glasses outdoors.

Enjoy the celebration, but avoid overindulging in alcohol to maintain a positive atmosphere.

Celebrate the couple in style by keeping these guidelines in mind.

1. Do be a respectful guest.

You know the horror stories: the best man who shares awkward jokes or secrets in his wedding toast, the Karen who loudly complains about the food service, or the drunk guest who grabs the mic to give a “special song” to the horrified couple.

 

Your mantra for wedding etiquette: have fun while avoiding drama. And don’t take the table pieces without asking—not all wedding decor is up for grabs.

2. Do bring a gift.

While traditional wedding etiquette dictates that the cost of your gift should equal the cost of your meal, modern rules are more practical. Give what you can afford, and choose a thoughtful gift based on the couple’s needs.

 

  • Select an item from their wedding registry and split the cost of a larger gift with other guests.
  • Give a gift certificate to a home store or supermarket or for services like a couple’s spa day.
  • Offer practical help like organizing wedding photos or helping them move into their new home.
  • If you prefer a physical gift, choose something practical like a high-quality cooking pan or electric fan, and avoid items that might not match the couple’s aesthetic.
  • Consider cultural sensitivities, like the Chinese custom of avoiding clocks or knives as gifts (considered bad luck).

 

Do all your wedding prep online to save time. With a Globe At Home GFiber plan or GFiber Prepaid WiFi, you can shop for the appropriate attire, read up on classic styling tips, find the perfect gift, or follow the couple’s wedding updates. Want to pitch in for a group gift or contribute to wedding expenses? Use GCash for quick and hassle-free transfers. Then, get ready to celebrate the couple with confidence!

Vibe check! How does this make you feel?

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