Wedding Guest Etiquette: 6 Golden Rules

Like most brides, Jamie Lynn Spears wore white at her wedding last week in New Orleans — but, interestingly, so did her mother, Lynne Spears (also mother to Britney Spears), who attended her daughter's nuptials wearing what looked like a wedding gown. The two reportedly shopped together, so it wasn't a surprise, but it did break the cardinal rule that white is reserved for the bride. In fact, there are plenty of rules to follow if you want to be a fantastic wedding guest. Here are six to keep in mind when you attend your next nuptials.

Can you wear white?
“It’s generally not a good idea for guests to wear white to avoid drawing attention from the bride,” Jamie Miles, editor of, tells Yahoo Shine. “However, there are two exceptions: if you know the bride is wearing a colored dress or the wedding has, say, a ‘black-and-white’ theme.” Ditto for ivory, off-white, blush, or champagne. However, if you’re determined to wear white, opt for a short dress (provided the bride is wearing a floor-length gown). Otherwise, why not pop in bold colors?

Should you spend $100 on a gift? Between the engagement party, the bridal shower, and the nuptials, its no wonder the cost of weddings is rising — each guest spends an average of $79 on a gift (If you go in with a partner, the cost spikes to $146.), according to a recent study conducted by The Knot. But take comfort in the following, “There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to gift giving; it really depends on your budget,” says Miles. So if your total budget is $100, spend $20 on the engagement gift (maybe a framed picture of the happy couple), $20 for the shower gift (Stainless steel measuring spoons are always nice.), and $60 on the wedding gift (There are plenty of items at this price.) Done.

Is it OK to post wedding photos on social media?
No doubt you’ll have your smartphone handy, but posting photos of the ceremony, the venue, or the couple on social media is tricky territory. For one, the bride and groom may want to vet potentially unflattering shots (Wouldn’t you?), and you could seem detached from the festivities if you’re hunched over your phone uploading photos all evening. One exception: “Lots of weddings are getting more social whereby the couple will include hashtags on their invitations to streamline their photos,” says Miles. “Otherwise, feel free to post selfies or group shots."

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Do you have to at least attempt to catch the bouquet? Elbowing a group of women to catch a bouquet of flowers may not be your thing, and that's OK. "As weddings become less conventional, many couples are forgoing certain traditions like the garter or bouquet toss,” says Miles. “However, guests can always opt out. It’s unlikely that anyone will notice anyway.”

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Do you really have one year to send a gift? Yes. Although in a perfect world, guests would send gifts as close as possible to the wedding date, that’s not always realistic. That’s why couples keep their online registries open for an entire year after their wedding, so that friends or family members who were too busy, financially strapped, or just plain forgot can still send a token of congrats. 

Can you bring children? This one is a no-brainer: Guests should never assume that children are invited to a wedding unless specified by the couple. “Usually, the invitation will be addressed to each family member by name,” says Miles. “If not, don’t take it personally. Kids are an added expense, from factoring in special menus to arranging post-ceremony activities." If the wedding is kid-free, arrange ahead of time for child-care or if that's simply not an option, one parent can always skip the festivities and stay home to babysit.

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