10 Wedding Guest Rules All Southern Girls Know

Everything you need to know to be a perfectly poised guest.

Anna Aguillard
Wedding Guest Rules

When it comes to wedding guest etiquette, Southern girls have it down pat. Here are the top 10 rules of Southern wedding etiquette, straight from the experts themselves.

RSVP (and do so promptly)

Even if you see the couple on a regular basis, always send in your official RSVP on time. If the invitation doesn’t include a response card, it’s perfectly acceptable to send in your response on personal stationery. If something dire comes up that leaves attending the wedding completely out of the question, it’s only proper wedding etiquette to alert the couple as soon as you know of this conflict.

Never assume you have a plus one

And don’t ask for one either. If the invitation doesn’t say your name plus the name of your significant other (or “and guest”), then plan to attend solo, which, by the way, is perfectly fine! A Southern girl knows that there will be plenty of dance partners, even if she doesn’t bring her own.

Give as you’d like to receive

A Southern girl knows that the best gift she can give the newlyweds is what they've been asking for. Purchase your present early on so you’re not stuck choosing between a $300 espresso machine and a whisk. When funds are tight, try sprucing up a smaller-ticket item with a personal touch, like pairing a set of inexpensive coffee mugs with a bag of locally brewed coffee. If going off-registry is necessary, good wedding guest etiquette is including the gift receipt.

Never wear white

This golden rule of wedding guest attire has, as of late, been a point of contention. While some say that white is all right, others swear that any shade (cream, ivory, etc.) is off-limits. A Southern girl knows that no matter how great her tan looks in that breezy ivory dress, it's just not worth wearing the same color as the bride on her Big Day.

Be on time   

Arriving late to a wedding is never a wise idea. It’s best to arrive at least 20 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin. Thinking about skipping the ceremony and only attending the reception? Unless there is a legitimate reason for doing so, a Southern girl knows that she should attend all events she was invited to celebrate.

Exercise cell phone caution

Texting, tagging, posting, and Snapchatting are really off limits–esepcially while your dear friends are exchanging their vows. During the ceremony, why not let the wedding photographer do his or her job. Hold tight: this rule changes during the reception. Most couples encourage posts by creating their own hashtag. Still, a Southern girl knows never to post an unflattering photo of the bride, no matter how great she herself may look. It's best to get clearance from the bride before posting anything.

Congratulate everyone

As important as it is to congratulate the couple, a Southern girl knows to take her attention one step further, and congratulate both sides of the family. Introduce yourself and thank both parents for inviting you to share in this special celebration.

Participate, please!

Sign the guestbook, share the hashtag, play the games set out on the table, respect the program and traditions, catch the bouquet, and, for goodness sake, dance! The best way to be a polite wedding guest is to genuinely enjoy yourself. You’ll never catch a Southern girl with her arms crossed at a wedding celebration.

Enjoy the open bar…

… but don’t abuse it. Nothing takes the spotlight away from the bride like a wedding guest stealing the microphone to sing an uncalled for rendition of her high school’s Alma Mater, or a wedding toast that reveals TMI. A Southern girl never does anything that will take attention away from the bride.

Stay until the end

Never leave a wedding reception early. While travel, children, or an uncontrollable circumstance are all reasonable excuses, when possible, it’s best to stay until the bride and groom make their grand exit.