Wedding guests: from the film "Love Is All You Need Still"
Wedding guests: from the film “Love Is All You Need Still”


There is no shortage on information for putting on the perfect wedding. However when you find yourself on the guest list of someone’s special day, what is correct wedding guest etiquette?

What are the modern do’s and don’ts for being a good guest?

Kathy Apostolidis, wedding planner and founder of Sydney’s Events By Nightingales answers our most common questions.

Deciphering the dress codes…


Garden – casual

For Spring/Summer choose light colours and comfortable fabrics, a sundress or skirt and top for the ladies and for men a suit, collared shirt and tie (optional) is recommended.

*Garden weddings can also be formal, so read the invitation carefully.

Lounge/Cocktail/After 5

Same as Garden, men should wear a suit and tie and for ladies, opt for a formal suit or cocktail dress.

Black/White Tie

This is a formal dress code, gentlemen should wear a Tuxedo and bow tie or cravat and ladies can opt for an elegant long gown or glamorous cocktail length dress.

Is it OK to wear black to a wedding?

Yes, especially After 5 weddings, as it’s a formal evening colour.

For women, are any colours off limits?

As a general rule, avoid white, however it’s fine if worn with other colours, I would also recommend checking the bridesmaids’ colours, to avoid wearing the same tone.

What clothing is unacceptable at a wedding?

Shorts, runners, thongs and t-shirts!

Guests should be respectful in their attire; the couple has gone to great effort and cost to put on a beautiful event, so please dress accordingly!

What’s the correct procedure when you RSVP?

If an RSVP card is included with the invitation, the guest should send this back before or by the set date.

For less formal weddings, if the RSVP information is on the invite, such as an email address or telephone number, always respond before or by the date.

How much should be spent on a wedding gift?

For a gift registry, choose what you would love to give and spend as much as you can afford or comfortable with.

For Wishing Wells, there are no set amounts, just be comfortable with what you give.

If you have a new partner, can they come to the wedding too?

It’s respectful to not ask, as numbers at weddings can be limited for good reason.

If you’re in the bridal party should you have to pay for your own dress/shoes/etc?

It’s acceptable to ask the cost of the dress if you’re invited to be in the bridal party. If you’re asked to pay for your dress, it’s also okay to politely decline if you can’t afford it.

Most Brides do pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses (same goes for groomsmen), as it’s only fair, when they’re asking for something so specific be worn. Usually shoes are chosen to suit the dress, some brides will pay for the shoes, whilst others will expect you to pay.

Children and Weddings

Children can attend the ceremony but are best left with  babysitters for the formal evening events.

Is it OK to skip the ceremony and just turn up to the reception?

Only if you have a good reason, otherwise the ceremony is the most important aspect, so it’s respectful to attend.

What if I don’t like the table I’ve been seated on?

You shouldn’t move, but after dinner guests usually can mingle and move around.

Mobile phone etiquette?

Turn it off!

Social Media etiquette, is it okay to post pictures?

This can be difficult to control, if there’s a note or announcement made, requesting no social media posts, the couple’s wishes should be respected.

When is the appropriate time to leave a wedding?

You should stay till the end or at least until the formalities/speeches conclude, preferably after the Bridal Waltz.

If I can’t make the wedding should I still send a gift?

If you wish, a nice card is also acceptable.

What’s the most appropriate way to thank the bride and groom?

In person on the night or if they’re too busy an email or a note after the wedding is a nice gesture.


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