Wedding Etiquette on When to Say Congratulations or Best Wishes

Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images

Seeing a close friend or family member get married can be exhilarating. He looks so handsome and happy. Her choice of wedding venue, dress and flowers are perfect. You want to run up to him at the first possible moment and share in his joy. But on such a big occasion, there is a time and place for everything, including congratulations and well-wishes.

Receiving Line

Many weddings have a formal receiving line. Usually just after the ceremony or pictures, the wedding party will line up and the guests will have a chance to greet them individually. Warm words and a quick embrace are appropriate, but don't hold up the line and be sure not to disturb the bride's hair or makeup.

At the Reception

If there is no formal receiving line, it is customary for the bride and groom to take some time during the reception, usually during dinner, to go to each table and greet everyone individually. In this case, you may have a little more time to talk than you would on a receiving line, but still be mindful not to monopolize the happy couple.

An Opportune Time

If dinner has ended and you still haven't had a chance to greet the bride and groom, find a time during the reception when they seem calm and unengaged. Dancing with the bride or groom can be a great time to catch up. Never engage the couple in conversation during official ceremonies, like the cake cutting or the toasts.