When a loved one “requests the honor of your presence” at their wedding, they’re hoping to have a wonderful day celebrating with family and friends — and that none of their guests does anything to spoil the occasion.

To avoid being that nightmare guest who takes the spotlight from the bride and groom with their bad behavior, follow this expert advice from wedding planners.

Don’t Be Late

Christina Baxter, a wedding planner from Charleston, South Carolina, believes the first rule of wedding etiquette is to be on time — early, in fact.

If you arrive 20 to 30 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start, you will be helping to ensure the day goes smoothly and preventing an unpleasant scene where you elbow the bride out of the way as you try to sneak in.

“One of the most annoying things is when somebody arrives late, the bride is getting ready to walk down the aisle and they’re trying to walk ahead and get a seat,” Baxter told Newsweek.

Stock image of a dining table at a wedding. Not happy with the people you’re seated with? Grit your teeth and get through it; you don’t want to cause drama.
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Mind Your Manners

Good manners are appropriate for every occasion, but particularly a formal celebration that should be one of the best days of the couple’s lives. The bridal party has likely been planning this event for months, spending thousands of dollars on the day. As their guest, you should be pleasant and polite throughout the ceremony and reception. Avoid drinking too much and causing any kind of altercation with other guests or staff.

Prepare a Gift

Whether you bring it to the venue on the day or send it to their home in advance, a gift for the newlyweds is appropriate.

Andrew Roby, an events planner in Washington, DC, said guests should always have a gift, even if it’s just a card. “In DC couples spend roughly $ 250 per guest on food and beverage alone. I believe a gift is the perfect sign of appreciation for the experience.”

Baxter recommends picking something from the registry, if the couple have one, as it will likely be an item they need — and can be delivered to the couple at a convenient time before or after the wedding. She also pointed out that knives can be considered bad luck, so you might want to avoid that option.

If the bride and groom have made a specific request — for example, money for their honeymoon or donations to charity — it’s best to follow their instructions.

Give the Couple Your Full Attention

It’s their day, so give your full attention to the needs of the couple and help to make it as joyful as possible, said Roby.

Putting the couple first on their special day also means thinking twice before doing anything that might spoil the celebration. “Ask a simple question: will my decision positively or negatively impact the couple’s wedding planning process or wedding day? If your decision will negatively impact them then I would advise against it.”

If you’re not sure what the bride and groom might think about your idea, “reach out to the couple and ask first.”

RSVP on Time With All the Required Information

RSVPing on time is vital so the couple can finalize their bookings and planning.

You should also provide any information requested about food allergies or meal choices. “I believe this is the No 1 rule as I’ve seen so many guests either forget to identify meal selection or wait until the last minute to decide if they will attend, which is extremely stressful to the couple,” said Roby.

Stick to the Plus-One Etiquette

“Don’t bring a date if your wedding invitation did not specify you were allotted one,” warned Alexa Farese, a wedding planner from Los Angeles.

You might think you won’t have fun if you go to the wedding solo and this might put you off going, but you need to abide by what it says on the invitation.

Perhaps the couple don’t have the budget to invite plus-ones or just want to keep the party intimate. Whatever their reason, you don’t want to upset them.

Avoid Drama

Weddings are great opportunities to reconnect with friends and family members that you haven’t spoken to in years. This can be fun, but it can also lead to drama.

If you’re seated next to an uncle you haven’t spoken to in 10 years and he starts teasing you or being argumentative, don’t make a scene. Try to ignore him and enjoy yourself anyway — and make your getaway from the table as soon as you can. If the situation gets worse, speak to the wedding planner.

Follow the Dress Code

Some weddings have a dress code, whether it’s for cultural reasons or to match the couple’s colors or theme. It’s usually outlined in the invitation. If you aren’t sure what “semi-formal” or “Gatsby theme” looks like, Farese said simply: “Google it!”

You should stick to the couple’s request and wear whatever (reasonable) outfit or style they have picked.

“We recently did a wedding in Arkansas and the couple stated it was an all-black affair,” said Roby. “I was extremely nervous about that, but every single guest wore black and looked amazing.”

Dance, Dance, Dance

The newlyweds want you to have fun. So, participate in the activities they have prepared for you. Farese said: “A lot of planning and effort went into the night, so be sure to make use of all the stations. Dance, dance, dance the night away.”

newlywed cake topper
Wedding cake with bride and groom topper. You must RSVP on time so the couple can finalize their arrangements.
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