wedding guests dancing

Photo: Michele Ashley Photography

If you’ve accepted an invitation to attend a wedding as a plus-one, prepare to play the double-duty role of excellent wedding guest and awesome date (platonic or otherwise).

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind and you’ll be ready to rock it as a wedding plus-one:

Do mind the dress code
Wedding dress codes range from casual to formal, so don’t make any assumptions when it comes to choosing your outfit. You wouldn’t want to show up to a relaxed backyard wedding in a tuxedo or don a cotton sundress to what turns out to be a black tie affair. Before deciding on your attire, ask your date if the dress code is included on the invitation. If not, try checking the couple’s wedding website or using these handy tips to make an educated guess. Still not sure what to wear? Our fashion editor has you covered with six common dress codes—decoded.

Do offer to help with the gift
While you’re technically not obligated to give a gift on your own, offering to pitch in on your date’s gift is a thoughtful gesture. Ask if the two of you can browse the couple’s registry and go in on something nice together. Your date will appreciate your contribution, and it’s a great way to thank the happy couple for including you in their special day.

Do engage with other guests
You may not know many (or any) of the other wedding guests, but sitting there in silence will just make your date feel like he or she has to babysit you or keep you entertained all night. Part of being a good date and a good guest means engaging with those around you, even if you feel a little shy. Go out of your way to meet your date’s friends and get to know people. Introduce yourself to those sitting next to you at the ceremony (not while the ceremony is actually taking place, of course), strike up a conversation with other guests on the bus ride to the reception, mingle at cocktail hour, and make an effort to chat with everyone at your dinner table. Before you know it, you’ll be one of the gang!

Do be attentive to your date
We’re not suggesting you go Stage 5 Clinger and glom onto your date all night, but a little special attention is expected—even if the two of you are just buds and you know a lot of the other guests. You want the person who brought you to the wedding to feel like you genuinely enjoy their company, not like you just used them for an invite. Show your date some love.

Do participate in the fun
As a plus-one, your biggest responsibility is to have a great time and contribute to the celebratory atmosphere. Not a bad deal! Don’t be that too-cool-for-school guy sulking in the cocktail lounge, or that girl in the corner scrolling through her phone the whole time (ahem—if your phone is out, it better be because you’re adding some really good photos to the wedding hashtag). Get out on the dance floor, hop in the photo booth, play a few lawn games, and put a smile on your face. That’s all it takes!

...But don’t be a total ham
While you don’t want to be a wallflower, there’s no need to make yourself the center of attention either. The day is all about the happy couple, and your job is to partake in their celebration, not upstage them. Joining in on the conga line? Yes. Calling the groom up to the stage for a dance-off? No. Posing for a group photo alongside some fellow guests? Great idea! Photobombing a bridal party portrait? Not so much. You get the picture.

Don’t over-imbibe
This one is pretty straightforward. No one wants to be that sloppy, slurring guest—but it can be especially awkward if you don’t know anyone well, and it can definitely be humiliating for your date. Pace yourself throughout the evening to make sure you’re on your best behavior!

Do thank the couple and the hosts
This is good etiquette for any wedding guest, including the plus-ones! Make a point to say a quick hello to the couple and the hosts at some point during the reception. If you’ve never met before, start with a quick introduction. Then thank them for including you, tell them what a wonderful time you’re having, comment on how beautiful the bride looks, and allow them to move on. Make your interaction sincere—but brief. Remember the newlyweds and the hosts have an entire party of guests to get to, and the goal is to show your appreciation, not monopolize their time.

Do keep your complaints to yourself
If you spend the evening griping and grumbling, your date will probably wish they’d gone solo on this one. Avoid repeatedly looking at your watch or checking your phone, yawning or sighing dramatically, rolling your eyes, and other rude gestures. Keep any negative thoughts you may have to yourself—now is not the time to play bridal fashion police or test out your food critic skills.

Don’t leave early
If you’ve agreed to attend a wedding as a plus-one, you’ve committed to sticking around until your date wants to call it a night. No hinting that it’s time to go home when you know your date isn’t ready to leave, no cutting out early, and definitely no Irish exiting. You’re the date for the evening, so stick it out ‘til the end!