Attending A Wedding Reception As A Guest

What to expect when you’re attending a wedding reception as a guest. Maybe you’ve never been to an evening wedding reception party before. Or maybe you’ve been to a couple over the years. Possibly you attend weddings on a very regular basis (It never rains but it pours doesn’t it eh) and know the in’s and out’s very well. You’ve eaten more weddings breakfasts, seen more wedding bands and had your photo taken by wedding photographers more than anyone else…In either case it’s probably a good idea to read on as you may learn something new. As a professional wedding musician and regular wedding attendee ‘Punch The Air’ wedding band leader Andy Starkey gets to see the best (and sometimes worst) of what guests get up to. Below are his thoughts on wedding guest etiquette. 

Attending A Wedding Reception As A Guest
Attending A Wedding Reception As A Guest

Some rules/do’s and don’ts when attending a wedding reception as a guest:

Please adhere to the dress code:

There is nothing worse than one person attending a wedding reception as a guest sticking out like a sore thumb. No doubt casually dressed in jeans and a horrible jumper/t-shirt while everyone else is in their smart suits and dresses. It will spoil a lot of your photographers photos which you will see for the rest of your lives. Even if you’re only attending the evening reception when the wedding band will be performing live, still dress smartly if the code so decrees it. 

Don’t make your speeches too long or too personal:

Remember you are reading speeches to every single guest attending, not just to the bride and groom. So make sure the content can be appreciated by all. Also make sure it’s not too long as you are probably not the only person making a speech. Long speeches set back time schedules and can have a knock on effect on when wedding musicians can gain access to get set up and be ready to perform. Your speech will be appreciated much more if its slightly more generic and less about that one time you and the groom got plastered in Tenerife….When there was no one else from the wedding party there. It’s also a good idea to NOT use swear words in your speeches so as not to offend.

Speeches And Alcohol
Speeches And Alcohol

Don’t drink too much alcohol:

Remember to take in water to stay hydrated throughout the wedding reception. At least one person always gets blind drunk and throws up at every single wedding. But your other half and the bride and groom will appreciate it if it’s not you. Don’t forget there are some amazing alcohol free beers and wines available these days such as Nosecco, Becks Blue, Erdinger Weissbrau Alkohol Frie and more.


If the invite says no children then that means NO CHILDREN:

This really is a sticky point for many guests. And I’ve seen many ACTUAL arguments for and against allowing children to attend weddings.  It is 100% down to what the bride and groom want. After all, it is THIER day not yours. It may inconvenience you to have to hire a babysitter at your own cost, but please don’t take the hump. I have attended weddings with lots of children, a small number of kids and no children too. All of which had their positives and negatives.

Children At Wedding Receptions
Children At Wedding Receptions

What I’ve seen over the years:

  • I have attended weddings where parents feel they can’t leave their kids alone and don’t end up mingling or enjoying themselves at all.
  • There have been weddings where kids have absolutely made the night so much more fun with their crazy antics.
  • I have been to weddings where no children were allowed and parents spent the entire night Facetiming them missing all the “In the moment” real life fun of the wedding.
  • Then where guests were allowed to bring their children with them but just let them run absolutely wild. All the while the parents just literally sit back, got drunk and ignored anything thats the kids were getting up to.  Children running up on to the wedding bands staging area, knocking over guitars and drums. (This is really not on, so please do not allow your children to do this for health & safety purposes – After all you wouldn’t allow them in the kitchen in the wedding venue would you?)
Children At Weddings
Children At Weddings

Curious and inquisitive kids.

If a child is showing an interest in the bands musical equipment then please locate a band member and ask them for a little “Tour” of their gear with your child. You never know the wedding band might even allow your child to sit on a drum stool and hit the drums a little. Or make one of the guitars make some noise. (Additional note to parents: Please do not allow your children to stare into the bands lighting rig as this may cause blindness)

To sum up: From a professional musicians point of view I personally feel a small scattering of children at a wedding reception is fine and can be quite enjoyable.

When attending a wedding reception as a guest don’t bring a Plus One unless its on the invite:

There will be good reason that you (And others there) haven’t been given the opportunity to bring a Plus One/Your other half with you. 9 times out of 10 it’ll be due to the tight budget or lack of space within the venue. The other one time out of ten could be for any other reason such as they possibly don’t like your Plus One as much as another friends Plus One. Again this is entirely the bride and grooms decision so please don’t hold it against them.

Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” throughout the entire ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception:

Make sure you phone doesn’t audibly ring with voice calls, ping with messages or even if possible vibrate alerts. It’s all very bad etiquette to hear phones going off constantly. Especially when the vows are being read or the speeches are taking place. Surely you can go one day without audible notifications and just look at your phone once in a while to see if any messages have come in?

Be prepared to end up spending a lot of money:

Drinks at weddings are notoriously over priced and more expensive that you will be used to. This is because 99% of wedding venues are no where near a pub or supermarket so you HAVE to pay THEIR prices….Or just not drink at all. Don’t expect to have much change (If any) from a ten pound note for a pint of lager and a small glass of wine. Avoid buying rounds if possible and (Helpful hint) think about stashing some supermarket beers in your room/vehicle if necessary. This is a moot point if there is a “Free bar”…as long as you’re made aware there’s a free bar.

Socialise with others:

Put yourself about and have a chat with other guests. Don’t just sit there alone with your other half all day and night. You’re going to be with these people for quite some time. So you may as well take the time to get to know some of them. Or get reacquainted with them if you’ve met before. The bride and groom really will appreciate the effort you put in to “Make the effort” yourself. Don’t just talk about yourself though, ask other guests questions and give them time to reply without interrupting. Why not have a dance to the wedding band with someone you don’t already know? it could be the start of something special. 

Also…Don’t talk about work too much:

Nobody really wants to hear about your sales figures or that woman at work you can’t stand. Keep chit-chat casual and discuss how the days been going, what the ceremony was like, what the food was like. Maybe even discuss your future plans (Holidays perhaps). Do you know anything about the live entertainment? Have you seen the band perform live before?

Guests Dancing To Wedding Band
Guests Dancing To Wedding Band

Get on the dance-floor and enjoy the live wedding band:

There’s no point waiting until 11pm when it’s the live bands last song of night. They’re less likely to play you one or two more tunes if you haven’t paid them any attention the rest of the evening. Get up and dance as soon as you can as it might be the only time this year you’ll get to see a professional wedding band perform live. Even if the bride and groom leave the dance-floor (They do have many other tasks to perform and thank-yous to be made) that doesn’t mean you should follow their lead. Enjoy yourself on the dance-floor, stick around and throw up some shapes. Who cares how daft you feel. The band may even ask you what your favourite song is and then play it for you if they can. 

Live Band At A Wedding Reception
Live Band At A Wedding Reception

Punch The Air are a professional wedding band established in 2013 with hundreds of weddings performances under our belts. We know exactly how to make sure all your guests of all ages have an amazing night they will never forget. We’ll make sure everyones up on the dance-floor all night long with our wedding reception friendly live repertoire. Live music performed professionally by The Killers, George Ezra, Stereophonics, Van Morrison and Kings of Leon. Also big chart tunes from The Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Blink 182, Kaiser Chiefs and more. All wedding performances come with PA sound system, lighting and DJ services until midnight as standard.  Watch our videos and vlogs and you’ll soon see why we’re highly sought after and suitable for all types of UK weddings. Contact now to check on price and availability to book a wedding band. Then book our top rated party band available throughout the UK.