How to be a great wedding guest

From the venue team, who’s seen it all!

It’s full-on wedding season, and I’m sure many of you have an invite or two posted on the fridge. Here at Abernethy Center, we love our guests as much as we love our couples! We know from decades of experience what an integral role our guests play in making the to-be-weds day extra special.

The most memorable weddings have a special alchemy between the couples and their guests. One so extraordinary that it transforms the event from a celebration to a magical memory that the couple cherishes forever.

As a venue, we’ve been privileged to witness thousands of weddings over the span of 20-plus years. We can tell you firsthand that the actions and attitudes of our guests rank high on the effect and vibe of an event for our newlyweds. The bottom line: You can elevate the atmosphere or take the life out of the party.

Wedding guests are like the crust on a pie, bringing a little salty texture and holding everything together!


We want to keep the love and positivity flowing for our Abernethy couples, so I’m here to give you a crash course in how to be a great guest with some straightforward Do’s and Don’ts as well as demystify some of the all-too-common faux pas.  Follow this advice to be the wedding guest that everyone wants to host!

Let’s get started!

1. Don’t Create Extra Work For The Couple

Couples getting married have a lot on their plates and even more on their minds. Do let common sense be your best guide and show courtesy to your hosts by being low-maintenance wedding guests.


Don’t make the couple chase you around to find out if you plan on attending. Do make it a goal to RSVP within a week of receiving your invitation.

PRO TIP: As soon as you open that invite mark your calendar out one week to RSVP and include their wedding website link so it’s easy for you to reply.


Don’t bother couples with last-minute questions right before the wedding. Do consult a family member, a member of the bridal party, or the couple’s website. The couple often has all the information you are looking for on their website, and it’s fun to look through the photos while you’re there.


To-be-weds put a lot of attention and care into creating a celebration that reflects their personalities and love for each other. Honor their day by having fun and enjoying the festivities. Don’t critique their décor or their color scheme. Do rock the night away, dancing, taking fun photos in the booth, and enjoying the great food!

PRO TIP: On the wedding day, give yourself plenty of time to get to the venue. It’s much better to show up early than walk in late to the ceremony and disrupt the flow.


Don’t ask if you can bring extra people or children to the wedding. Couples carefully curate their guest list, and many forego inviting people they want in attendance due to space or budget constraints. Do remember, weddings are very personal, and it’s an honor to be included.

PRO TIP: If you do bring the kiddos, help keep the kids entertained while you enjoy the festivities by packing their favorite snacks and some fun activities to stay occupied during the reception.


Those adorable signs that you may see around the ceremony and reception are not just for decoration. They often have important information and instructions for the guests that really matter to the couple. Do read the signage and assume the given directions apply to you.

PRO TIP: If the couple requests an unplugged ceremony, do put your phone away to be fully present for the event!  Assume the signs you see apply to you.


You may love the couple and want to tell everyone how thrilled you are about their wedding, but please don’t give a speech at the reception unless the couple has asked you to do so. Do show your love and exuberance for the newlyweds in a handwritten card that they can have as a keepsake and re-read on their anniversary.


Who doesn’t love an opportunity to get dressed up? Weddings are the perfect occasion to dress to the nines without going over the top. If you’re unsure whether something is appropriate, follow the simple rule: When in doubt, don’t wear it. Here’s a fantastic guide to all the most common wedding dress codes.

PRO TIP: Classic and tasteful – Need I say more? Don’t wear white or any other pale shades (like blush and silver) as a wedding guest unless the dress code specifically says you should.


When it comes to wedding gifts one thing remains constant; the couple getting married will usually tell you what they want. You might have a favorite kitchen gadget that you can’t live without, but that doesn’t mean the newlyweds want it or need it. Do choose a gift from the couple’s registry or give money.  Since couples are waiting to get married and many live together prior to the nuptials, most don’t need traditional household items.

10. Have fun and be fun!

Remember, this day is all about the couple. Being invited means the to-be-weds love you and want you there for one of the most important moments of their lives. Focus on being present, supportive, and celebratory.

The number one thing that takes a wedding out of the FUN ZONE is guests overindulging in alcohol. Do celebrate with a specialty cocktail or craft beer but know your limits and don’t overindulge.

Now more than ever, couples are investing in their guests’ experience and they want nothing more than for their friends and family to have a good time. What they don’t want is you taking over the reception with loud uninvited speeches or guests passing out in the bushes requiring medical attention.

PRO TIP: Keep drinking to a maximum of one drink per hour and drink water chasers to keep yourself hydrated. You will be happy you did the next morning, and so will the couple.

For better or worse, we covered a lot of information. You’re ready to hit the summer wedding circuit with confidence. Now, go out there and enjoy being the ultimate wedding guest. We’re rooting for you and can’t wait to see you at an upcoming celebration!

Follow @abernethycenter to see all the love and beauty from our one-of-a-kind Oregon weddings.

About the author:

Sara O’Brien has been with Abernethy Center since 2017. She brings playful optimism and bottomless love of wedding celebrations to her role as Social Media Manager. Sara is a PNW native and nature lover who is passionate about spreading joy through honoring life’s big [and little] moments.

Smooch is the official blog of Abernethy Center, Oregon’s premier indoor and outdoor wedding venue.  Abernethy Center is truly one of a kind! A full-service wedding and reception venue just on the outskirts of Portland in the heart of historical Oregon City. Our property features two distinct gardens, a gorgeous chapel and a classic, elegant Grand ballroom spread out over 9 acres. With nearly twenty years in business, an expert culinary team, and a tremendous staff experienced in providing exceptional service, we have everything for the perfect, uniquely yours Oregon wedding.

Abigail’s Garden —– Veiled Garden—–Abernethy Chapel—–Grand Ballroom