Body Language and Wedding Etiquette for Wedding Guests


This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Etiquette isn’t something that you hear about so often these days. It was all the rage in the 1950s and earlier. However, it has mostly gone out of practice. These days, we call it “manners” or “common sense.”

However, there are still tons of wedding etiquette rules for different situations. For example, did you know that there is an etiquette for writing wedding invitations? Now you know!

If you’re a guest of a wedding and want to know what to wear, how to act, and what body language you should use, we’ve put it all down below for you.

What To Wear as a Wedding Guest

Congratulations on being invited to a wedding! Now comes the fun part of planning your outfit!

If you’re a wedding guest, you’ll most likely have an invitation from the couple getting married. You’ll want to first check the invitation for a dress code. Some common wedding dress codes include:

  • Black tie formal
  • White tie formal
  • Black tie optional
  • Formal
  • Cocktail
  • Party
  • Casual
  • Unique theme

You’ll want to study up on the dress code theme before you choose your outfit. You’ll also want to know what exactly counts as “formal” if that’s the dress code. For example, wearing a jean dress to a formal wedding is not a good call.

You’ll also want to avoid colors such as white, red, and black. If the bride’s dress is not white, do not wear a dress that is the same color as hers. Ask about the maid of honor and bridesmaids’ dress colors and styles as well, and choose a dress that is not similar to theirs.

If the couple getting married has a specific cultural tradition, such as this one in Japan, you may want to consider asking what the traditional guest clothing should be in terms of color, style, and formality.

Do not wear a dress that looks like a wedding dress. If you are opting for a more masculine style, do not wear something that looks exactly like the suit of the groom/bride.

How To Act as a Wedding Guest

As a wedding guest, your goal is to go and watch the people you care about getting married. You should not be trying to call attention to yourself or make a statement.

Some big “Donts” for wedding guests include:

  • Getting engaged at the wedding reception
  • Making a big announcement about your own life at the wedding
  • Leaving in the middle of the ceremony
  • Bringing children to a “no-children” wedding
  • Getting super drunk at the reception (unless you’re permitted by the married couple)
  • Changing the music
  • Insulting the decorations, food, or wedding itself
  • Getting too close and personal with one of the married parties
  • Trying to sabotage the wedding in any way
  • Making a mess
  • Not following the dress code

Although most of these may seem like common sense, they’re worth mentioning, as they do still happen at many weddings. You should aim to make the experience of the married couple the most peaceful possible, and enjoy your free party.

What Body Language Should I Use?

Body language during a wedding is also something to keep in mind. Although it may not make as big of a statement as other etiquette rules, you still want to be respectful in the way you position yourself and act.

Here are some body language tips:

  • Keep your hands in your lap during the ceremony. Don’t use your phone or talk to someone at your side.
  • Stand silently during the first dance, being careful not to stand too close to the couple.
  • Stay in the crowd, and don’t make a show of yourself.
  • Smile when the married couple looks your way.
  • Make sure dancing is appropriate for the type of wedding (ex: don’t dance dirty at a wedding with kids present).

If you want to learn more about what body language is and what it communicates, check out this site here.

Other Wedding Etiquette Rules

Here are a few other wedding etiquette rules that you may want to keep in mind. Remember that the ultimate wedding etiquette comes down to the people getting married. If you’re unsure about something, ask them.

  • Children and elderly people should eat first.
  • You should not make a toast unless you’re close to the married couple in some way and it has been approved or rehearsed first.
  • If the bride/groom/spouses are busy, do not bother them.
  • You should always try to bring a gift to a wedding unless otherwise specified.
  • Ask the newlyweds what type of presents they’re looking to receive.

Keep these rules in mind as well when you go to the wedding. However, most importantly, have fun and celebrate the blossoming love of the people you care about!


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