October 16, 2018

How to be the perfect wedding guest, as told by The Office

As a wedding photographer, I have a unique opportunity to observe wedding guests for hours at every wedding. At the reception, I am scanning the room constantly for sweet, candid moments of guests enjoying themselves, dancing, laughing, and hugging the bride and groom. Basically, I am a professional creeper. And in my creeping, I have seen quite a few cringe-worthy situations and actions by guests. So with fall wedding season in full swing, I thought now would be the perfect time to provide y’all with a few ways that you can be the perfect wedding guest, as well as provide some examples of things you should absolutely never do at a wedding. And I will be sharing it with gifs from the greatest show of all time, The office. So without further ado… let’s get this party staaarted.

1. During the ceremony, PLEASE do not take photos or have your cell phone out. The bride and groom want gorgeous professional images of the ceremony, and people leaning in the aisle with their cellphone do not exactly display a “fairytale moment.” I also love to get guests and family member’s faces during the ceremony and your face hidden behind a cell phone just makes me incredibly sad. Just put the phone away and be present in the moment. The professional photographer will get much better images than you will with your cell phone and their photos will be even better if you put your phones away and just be present in the moment. We promise, it is not for us (okay maybe a little). But it I truly for the bride and groom, so they can have the wedding photos they have always dreamed of.

When a guest is leaning into / standing in the aisle, ruining the photographer’s photos.

2.  During dinner, please do not go up to the head table to greet the bride and groom. I often see so many guests come up to greet the bride and groom that they don’t even get to sit and eat dinner. Please give them 20 minutes rest and eat some food. It has been a long day for them, and they’re most likely starving. I promise, they will come around and greet you, you do not need to come up to them.

Just sit down and eat your broccoli, Aunt Carol!

3. Don’t bring a guest that was not invited. Better yet, go by what the RSVP card says. If it says you can bring a guest, then do so. But if it does not say you can bring a guest, then you cannot bring a guest. It literally costs hundreds of dollars per person for food, drinks, place settings, tables, chairs, linens, etc. Never, ever, ever bring someone who you did not put on the RSVP card.

When you overhear the coordinator freaking out because there are not enough seats for unexpected guests.

4. Bring a gift from the registry or just good ‘ol fashion cash. You might think your homemade romantic birdhouse mailbox is cute (and I am SURE it is), the couple probably doesn’t need it. And I’m going to tell you a little secret… since most couples getting married these days are in their late twenties and early thirties, they usually have mostly everything they need and only do a registry to appease their guests. They secretly really only want cash or gift cards, especially after spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding, the couple is most likely really wanting to recoup a little financially.

5. Please do not go into, set your stuff on the tables, or (God forbid) sit in the reception space until the cocktail hour is completed. Often the photographer has 1 hour to complete family photos, wedding party, bride and groom AND reception decor photos! There is nothing worse then knowing the bride and groom wants a gorgeous wide angle photo of the reception space, but there are guests sitting down and you just have to ask them to please get up and leave the room. We feel awful, but it has to be done. Additionally, moving purses and coats takes so much time but is also necessary for the photos. I don’t want to touch your stuff and I am sure you don’t want me to touch it either! So just enjoy the cocktail hour!

When you have to ask grandma who is sitting comfortably to please leave so you can get photos of the reception space.

6. Don’t get blackout drunk. No one in the world wants to be THAT person, who lights 20 sparklers at once creating an all consuming fireball, falls in the fountain in front of the hotel, or whose dress falls down exposing their goodies for all to see and doesn’t even notice (these are actual real things I have witnessed at weddings). Don’t get me wrong, I love some free cocktails as much as anyone. But keep your wits about you. Have fun, let loose, but don’t ruin the couple’s wedding.

7. Don’t bother the bride and groom with a million questions or basically anything if you can help it before the wedding. They most likely have a planner or coordinator, so ask them first. or better yet find ANY vendor before stressing out the bride and groom. ALSO if literally ANYTHING goes wrong, don’t tell the bride or groom unless you absolutely have to. Either try and fix it or find the planner, do not stress them out before they walk down the aisle, guys! They just want to relax. Be nothing but a calm and enjoyable presence when around the bride and groom on the wedding day!

When a guest pops in the bridal suite asking if so and so is coming, where grandma needs to sit, what time the wedding will be over, etc…

8. Kids. Let’s talk about rules pertaining to them. If the bride and groom stated that it would be a child free or limited chid wedding, either do not bring them or don’t come. I understand people have a lot of feelings about this issue but at the end of the day, it is their wedding day, and you need to follow their guidelines. If the couple has said it is okay to bring kids, please control them. Your child is adorable, yes, we totally get that. And I absolutely understand there is only so much you can do. But please be respectful of the couple and their photos and just keep an eye on them.

When there are children running around on the dance floor during the couple’s first dance and you can tell the couple wants them to not be in the photos but the mom and dad are just laughing and think it is so cute.

9. Don’t wear a white dress. I mean it is crazy that this even has to be said but I seriously see it ALL THE TIME. Off white, mainly white with some small flowers, etc, doesn’t matter. If it is even questionable… just don’t do it.

The bride to her guest who is wearing a white dress.

10. HAVE A GOOD TIME! The couple is throwing this shindig because they love each other and they love you! The guest experience is one of if not the top priority for most couples, so please leave your inhibitions at home, get out on the dance floor and shake that groove thing!


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