The Best Times To Leave A Wedding For Every Kind Of Guest

So, you want to bail on a wedding. Try not to be awkward about it – you may not want to stick around but you also don’t want to be caught sneaking out when everyone else is just getting into the entrée.

We understand though. Maybe you came alone and you’ve paid your dues, maybe you have work the next day, or maybe you just don’t like weddings. Whatever the reason; you need to know your place on the guest hierarchy to make a justified exit.

So, before you race for the doors, take a look through our guide and figure out your best chance of escape.

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A Seaside Ceremony in Brazil by Renata Xavier


Before we get into your role, you need to decide if you’re the kind of person to follow tradition or not. If so, you’ll likely be sticking around for a while. Don’t expect to leave the wedding until after the newlyweds have made their own exit and you and the rest of the guests have waved them off. This is great if the wedding reception is a short or early one. However, as receptions often carry on until the early hours of the morning, this tradition will only work against you if you’re an early sleeper.

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A Timeless Sydney Wedding by Frank Farrugia Photography

Work Acquaintances

You have to see each other every other day and, unless you’ve built up a solid friendship outside of work, you’re probably only there to show your respect and not make things awkward at work. If you don’t feel like partying the night away, you can slip out between the entrée and the main course.

Old School Friends

You’re a step above the work acquaintances but not quite best friend level, which leaves you in an awkward in between spot. As old friends tend to do once reunited, you should be hitting the dancefloor and showing your face to the bride and groom. After busting some moves and making friends with a bunch of uncles and aunts, take a bite of cake and then you’re free to go.

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A Fun-filled Indiana Wedding by Krauter Photography

Obligatory Family Invitee

You know you’re only there because the bride or groom’s mother insisted that your whole family be invited. You haven’t spoken to this side of your family in a solid 3 years, but you can’t turn back now (blood is thicker than water). Best to head for the doors right after the speeches.


As a cousin, your position greatly depends on just how close your bond is. If you’re the type of cousin who is essentially a missing sibling, you’re in it for the long haul. But if you fall into the “Not-So-Special Cousin” group (read: another obligatory family invitee), you can make your way out after the cake has been cut and the first dance has either just begun or about to end.

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A Modern White Wedding at GOMA by Prue Franzmann

Best Friend

So, you managed to weasel your way out of a spot on the bridal party. You’ve now got to compromise by putting in the effort elsewhere – meaning you need to stick around until either the couple are doing their final round of thank you’s or you’re watching them drive off to their new life together.

Immediate Family

Put down your coat and step away from the doors because you’re going to be here all night – not that you didn’t already know that. Unless you have a new born being looked after at home, or you’re estranged from your family, you’ve basically got a blood oath which stipulates that you can’t leave until after the couple has left and you’re still lingering around with the last few partygoers. That, or the venue will need to shoo you off.


A Rustic and Leafy Wedding on Belgenny Farm by Holly Prins Photography

Posted in Guests, Planning by wedded wonderland

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