You May Be A Rude Wedding Guest Without Even Realizing It

Moms drill party etiquette rules into their children early on. Dress nicely! Don't burp at the table! Thank your host! Be a good sport if you don't win at musical chairs! This good advice carries on into adulthood, where additional rules are tacked on for different occasions. We know most of the big wedding dos and don'ts. For instance, we know what not to wear to a wedding. Wearing white is considered a slap in the face to the bride (or brides), and even more so if the bridal party is wearing shades of white as well. Enjoying the open bar is fine, but getting falling-down drunk on Blackberry Bourbon Smashes is a definite don't. And when we're tempted to dish to our table-mates on the corniness of a medieval-themed wedding or the outdated sparkler send-off, we hear Mom's voice chiding, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Yet there are other etiquette breaches wedding guests often commit that aren't quite as obvious. What may seem like no big deal to you could actually be inconvenient or offensive to the happy couple — and possibly even damage your relationship with them long after the honeymoon ends. Read up on some lesser-known rude wedding guest behaviors, so you'll be prepared the next time your best friend or cousin announces their engagement.

Ghosting the RSVP

The recommended time for sending out wedding invitations is six to eight weeks before the date. Many couples also opt to mail out save-the-dates six to eight months before that. With that much lead time, there's really no excuse not to send back the RSVP card as soon as possible. Couples have a deadline to submit an accurate head count to their wedding venue, which helps finalize the cost and ensures there will be enough food for everyone. Yet there are always those guests who forget to respond until the last minute, if at all. Not only is this inconsiderate, it also puts the couple in the awkward position of having to call or text and say, "Hey, we haven't heard back from you about the wedding — are you coming?" 

Once you get the invite, it's on you to check for schedule conflicts, make work arrangements if necessary, secure a babysitter (more on this later), and send your reply before the deadline. Don't assume the couple will know your answer, even if you're best friends who see each other often. Then, once you've made your commitment, stick to it unless there's a true emergency. 

Talking too long with the happy couple

Naturally, you're delighted to be at the wedding; you got a blowout and contributed to the honeymoon fund, didn't you? And of course, you want to offer your congratulations to the wedded pair. But spending more than a few minutes chatting with them at the reception cuts into their limited time to talk to other guests, eat, pose for pictures, lead dances, or even duck into the restroom. In other words: You schmooze, they lose. 

Etiquette experts agree wedding guests should plan to spend just two or three minutes total with the couple and at a convenient time, such as when they visit your table. Business etiquette adviser Thomas "Mister Manners," Farley told HuffPost, "If guests have had the chance to speak with the couple at least once during the occasion, they should not attempt to co-opt additional time unless circumstances permit." This allows the newlyweds to squeeze in as much fun as they can before the hall waitstaff starts clearing the tables and ushering everyone toward the door.

Making unreasonable menu requests

To ensure that all their guests have a good time at their wedding, most couples try to take special dietary needs into consideration when planning the reception menu. If you have food allergies, make sure to let the hosts know as soon as possible, and be specific: "I'm allergic to all dairy products, including milk derivatives like casein." The same applies if you follow a special diet for religious or other reasons. Even if the caterer can't provide a particular dish for you, there will almost certainly be suitable options, such as salad and vegetables.

What's definitely out, however, is making the couple go out of their way for your sake. Take the anecdote, reported by The Sun, of a wedding guest who wrote a note on the RSVP card demanding a "large salad bowl of mixed greens, sliced grape tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion" with lemon juice and "olive oil (lots) on the side." This, despite the fact that the reception was a buffet that included salad with no cheese or meat, so the guest could easily have selected their own greens. If you're concerned about the event menu, plan to eat something before you go, or stop by a restaurant later. 

Bringing the kids along

The wedding couple may love kids. They may love your kids. That doesn't mean they'll love having your kids at their wedding. Don't assume they're invited if the invitation doesn't specifically include them — as in "The Barnett Family" or "Thomas and Olivia Adams, Wyatt, Calliope, and Peoria." If it says "Adults only," that's a sign to book a babysitter. 

Child-free weddings are a controversial topic. People who celebrate the idea point out the many advantages: It saves money for the newlyweds and eliminates the risk of having a wailing child interrupting the festivities. It also allows parents to relax and focus on the day (perhaps even have an extra drink) without worrying about bedtimes or picky appetites. The pro-child faction argues that kids don't always misbehave, and an adult party gives them an opportunity to practice social skills. If the couple truly cares about their guests, shouldn't they want everyone in the family to be a part of the celebration? 

In the end, the decision is up to the hosts. Some couples welcome everyone; some include older children or children of immediate family; and others set an 18+ minimum age. Your job is to abide by their wishes. If you can't arrange child care, your best option is to send your regrets as soon as possible. Taking your kids to an adults-only affair puts you at risk of disapproving glares, a mention in an "AITA" Reddit, and a serious rift in your relationship with the newlyweds. 

Overusing your phone at the ceremony

As with any special occasion, it's expected that wedding guests will want to take pictures of the day. Some guests, however, take it too far, particularly during the ceremony. They stand or kneel in the aisle to snap every member of the procession. They pop up and down in their seat trying to capture the vows and ring exchange. Some even video the entire event. 

It goes without saying that taking tons of pictures during a wedding ceremony is rude, unless you actually happen to be the official photographer. In fact, going into the aisle or standing up to use your phone can make it hard for the photographer to do their job. But more than that, it takes the focus away from what's really important. You're there to witness two people pledging their love. Putting a phone between you and the action takes away the personal connection. This is especially true of a "minimony" — a wedding involving just the immediate family. Such an intimate ceremony demands that everyone be fully present for the moment.

Some couples prevent this faux pas by having their officiant announce "No photos, please," or by displaying a sign saying "This is an unplugged wedding." But even if the wedding doesn't include a specific request about pictures, it's still polite to keep your phone off until the reception.

Posting to social media too soon

Yes, kids, there was a time when you could only share your photos with friends after they came back from the developer at Walgreens (or Fotomat, a few decades ago). Today, it takes just a second or two to post pics of an event to your TikTok or Instagram feed. When it comes to weddings, however, there's one huge social media rule: Don't share your photos before the couple does. It's their big day, after all, and they deserve the privilege of letting the public have the first peek.

There's another good reason not to do the sharing first, as famed etiquette expert Diane Gottsman has told "There's always a chance that feelings could get hurt when someone sees posts from the big day, and they realize they weren't included." That's a sticky enough situation for the newlyweds to handle; if a snubbed friend found out about the wedding from you instead of them, things could get even more awkward.

If the couple actually gives the okay to share pictures right away, that's another story. Some weddings will include signage at the reception: "Share your memories with the hashtag #FinallyFinnegansForever!" Otherwise, wait till you see the newlyweds' feed before proceeding.