12 Ways to Ruin a Wedding

The worst things that wedding guests have actually done (and what you should do instead).
anja winikka the knot wedding industry expert
Anja Winikka
anja winikka the knot wedding industry expert
Anja Winikka
Wedding Industry Expert
  • Anja Winikka is the founder of Editor In Chief Media.
  • Anja is a wedding editor and digital marketing director turned educator and contributing editor.
  • Anja worked for The Knot for over 13 years in various roles.

Show Up With a Date Who Wasn't Invited

Anne Marie Photography

If you weren't allotted a plus-one, there's probably a reason. Maybe the couple wanted to only invite close friends and family to keep the wedding intimate; maybe the reception space is small; or maybe there were budget restraints (just one extra guest can mean up to $1,000 or even more depending on catering costs and all the other reception perks meant for invited friends and family to enjoy).

Instead: If you feel uncomfortable attending alone, ask the bride or groom whether there are going to be any other singles at the wedding. They'll get the hint and hopefully seat you next to someone else who's also going stag.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 5 out of 5

Incessantly Text Or Take Photos


Hey Hollywood, get off your phone! The bride and groom presumably spent countless hours pouring over wedding details to create an event that all their friends and family would truly enjoy. Besides, they hired a photographer, so leave it up to the pros and enjoy that signature cocktail.

Instead: Maybe snap a few for Instagram during that amazing sunset at cocktail hour, but put your phone away during dinner and definitely during the ceremony.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 3 out of 5

Speak Up During the Ceremony

Jenn Bakos Photography

We've heard the horror stories -- the "Are you sure?" from the minister, the "Don't do it man" groomsmen comment and the vocal grandmother using her time as reader at the pulpit to offer her humble opinion. Yikes.

Instead: If you have information on either the bride or groom that could be a relationship game changer, the ceremony is not the time to reveal it. Any reservations about the relationship should be brought up in private long before the ceremony.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 5 out of 5

Stick Your Finger in the Cake

Vitalic Photo

Believe it or not, guests do this. There's nothing cute or okay about touching the piece de resistance of the reception menu. Besides the sanitary factor, wedding cakes are expensive and should only be handled by three people: the bride, the groom and the caterer.

Instead: It sounds ridiculous and should go without saying, but if you can't get close to a wedding cake without touching it, don't go near it.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 3 out of 5

Wear White

Katherin O'Brien Photography

We don't care if it's the middle of summer and your little white sundress is the most flattering thing in your closet. Do not, we repeat, do not wear white to someone else's wedding. Most brides have been looking forward to their moment in the spotlight -- as the only one in white. While it's true no one could possibly upstage the bride, it's considered the ultimate guest dress no-no.

Instead: Colorful tones like pinks, yellows and purples are all fair game. Just stay away from anything in the white and ivory color family.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 3 out of 5

Give a Roast Toast


Just because you have a microphone in your hand that doesn't give you free rein to tell the most outrageous college drinking story or reveal what happened in Vegas. It's also not the time to talk about old boyfriends or reveal the groom's most embarrassing habits.

Instead: Give your speech the grandma test. If it's not PG-rated and something you'd be comfortable telling her, it's not wedding reception toast material.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 4 out of 5

Use the Wedding to Hook Up

Millie Holloman Photography

Yes, it's true, a wedding is a great place to meet other singles -- there's a great venue, lighting, food, everyone is dressed to the nines -- but please refrain from using the reception like you would a club. In other words, no making out on the dance floor with the bride's cousin or the groom's brother. Do you really want to be that guest?

Instead: Hey, if sparks are really flying, feel free to ask for a number and make a date.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 4 out of 5

Drink Too Much

Anne Marie Photography

Your friend's wedding celebration is just that -- it's not a fraternity party. Know your limit and don't go over it. Making a fool of yourself in front of everyone, falling all over the place or leaving the party early because you couldn't handle your liquor isn't the way you want your best friend's new wife to remember you, is it?

Instead: Save the shots for the bachelor party.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 3 out of 5

Spill Anything on the Bride

Agnes Lopez Photography

That gorgeous white wedding dress more than likely cost the bride a couple thousand. And while she probably won't have another reason to wear it again, a drink spilled on the wedding dress still ranks as one of the worst mistakes a guest could make.

Instead: You can't be too careful holding a beverage near the bride. If you have a glass of red wine or Coke in your hand, put it down.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 5 out of 5

Let the Kids Run Wild

Eden Photography

You know the scene: the shrieking kids terrorizing the dance floor during dinner, the toddler tantrum during the toast, the loud baby screaming over the vows during the ceremony -- all potentially nightmare situations for the couple getting married, not to mention the other guests.

Instead: Confirm that there's child care available at the reception and make arrangements, or leave the kiddies at home for the evening.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 4 out of 5

Hit on the Waitstaff


It might sound crass (because it is), but we've heard plenty of stories of rowdy guests corralling the waitstaff to dance with them. Not only is it completely inappropriate, it'll be really embarrassing when the catering manager pulls you aside to file a formal harassment complaint.

Instead: Uh, just don't?

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 3 out of 5

Tell the DJ to Change the Music

Carlos Andres Varela Photography

At your wedding, you get to choose the music. Otherwise, the tunes aren't in your control. You could end up requesting a song that was on the couple's do-not-play list (like, say, one with unsettling sentimental feelings attached).

Instead: Unless the bride or groom expressly asks you to talk to the band or DJ about a song request, keep your song suggestions to yourself.

Totally Ruined Wedding Scale: 4 out of 5

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