Wedding Guest Etiquette
Wedding Guest Etiquette – Do’s and Dont’s
By Camilla Hassan
Weddings can be a social minefield of etiquette. If you’re used to hanging out with your newly engaged friends over pizza and a movie, it can be a little intimidating receiving a formal invitation with an embossed RSVP from their parents, inviting you to attend their offspring’s’ wedding complete with 6 course sit-down dinner.
Add to that, what may be acceptable in one culture could be a huge no no in another. This can confuse even the most seasoned wedding guest. Some American brides consider requesting cash as a gift incredibly tacky, whereas in Turkey, it is tradition to pin notes on the bride and groom. In India it is assumed that a wedding invitation extends to the guest’s entire family, a British bride would expect only those mentioned on the invitation to come.
It is no surprise then that many guests are baffled by wedding protocol, especially as even the most relaxed wedding will have unwritten rules about behaviour.
Our guide to the 12 wedding guest Do’s and Don’ts
1) Do RSVP
You’ve received the beautiful invite and marked the date in your calendar, but make sure you let the bride and groom know you are coming as soon as possible. They will be budgeting for how many guests to cater for so it is good manners to let them know as soon as you can. Many invites are sent with a pre-addressed RSVP to make things easier for you, and this saves a frantic phone call from a frazzled bride a few weeks before the wedding.
2) Don’t bring uninvited guests
Unless “and guest” is expressly mentioned on the invitation, assume you’ve been asked to attend solo. The bride will have painstakingly planned her seating chart with matching name tags and bringing an uninvited guest will throw even the calmest bride into a frenzy while waiters dash to squeeze in an extra chiavari chair onto your table.
3) Do understand “No children” requests
You may think your young Tarquin is adorable but if the bride and groom have requested an adults-only wedding, ensure you book a babysitter. There are many reasons that children may not be welcome, from the venue being potentially unsafe for little people to the couple not wishing to have kids running around during the ceremony. It might not be your wedding style, but try not to take offence and do understand their point of view.
4) Don’t ignore the registry (if the bride and groom have one)
While it may be tempting to go off piste gift-wise as you know the couple will adore that crystal decanter, stick to what has been stipulated on the invite. Whether they’ve chosen a gift registry, a charity donation or cash, reserve your better judgment to override their wishes as they will have thought long and hard about what they actually want. Ignoring their wishes may be considered rude.
5) Do follow the dress code
Weddings can vary from black tie formal affairs to beachside barefoot ceremonies. The invite will give you an indication of what to wear but if in doubt, either ask one of the bridal party (not the bride) or dress smart. It’s better to err on the side of dressy than look like you’ve thrown on something casual for the occasion.
6) Don’t wear white, cream or ivory
You may have found a gorgeous cream dress, but wear it to someone’s wedding at your peril, unless, of course the dress code is ‘White’. Upstaging the bride on her big day is like tossing a grenade into your friendship and won’t be forgotten.
7) Don’t be late
It may be cool to turn up fashionably late to a party but slinking into the back of the ceremony mid-way trying to find a seat will invite dagger looks from other guests and the bride.
8) Do turn off your phone
All eyes should be on the happy couple as they say their vows not on you as you scramble around in your handbag trying to switch off your Gangnam Style ringtone. Nor should you be checking for BBMs or scrolling through work emails during the ceremony.
9) Don’t become an amateur photographer
The bride and groom have interviewed several photographers to capture their special day perfectly, so they will unlikely be best pleased that the first pictures of them walking down the aisle are your grainy shots which have made it onto Facebook before the day is out. Let the bride make her photographic debut on social media with her own carefully selected shots from the professionals rather than your badly lit snaps of her doing the conga.
10) Do get stuck in and enjoy yourself
Most couples worry about their guests having a good time, but don’t have time to play host and hostess. It may be daunting not knowing many other guests but introduce yourself to people over dinner, greet and thank the couples’ parents and get up on the dance floor. Don’t sit in the corner waiting for the party to come to you. Weddings are a great way to meet people and in fact, many people have met their future partner at a wedding!
11) Don’t overindulge
An open bar for 5 hours is not an invitation to start lining up Jaeger bombs on the bar before the canapés have been served. The wedding should be remembered for the happiness of the bride and groom rather than one of the guests breaking their ankle while inebriated as happened at someone’s wedding on the BCME team!
12) Don’t leave before the cake is cut
An oldie but goodie. This is typically when it was acceptable for older guests to leave, so make sure you stick around at least until the cake has been cut.
Would you add anything to this list? Any wedding guest horror stories or personal experiences? Let us know in the comment box below!
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