Six Etiquette Rules Every Wedding Guest Needs to Know
Wedding season is upon us, and most Brits will have at least one or two weddings to attend this year. Whilst it is an hour to be invited to watch a couple exchange their nuptials, the fact is that attending a wedding can be expensive. Recent research suggests that the average wedding guest spends an average of £1,015 for each event that they are invited to. From the cost of your outfit to your hairdresser, styling or buying a new human hair wig, travelling to and from the event and spending a night in the hotel, the cost of attending a wedding will quickly add up.
Despite the costs, weddings are fun and exciting. Most of us love the chance to be involved in such a happy day. But it’s important to follow the rules of etiquette to ensure your guest behaviour is on point all day. Here are the modern rules to being a perfect wedding guest that you need to know:
Arrive on Time
If the wedding starts at 2 pm then it’s important to arrive at the ceremony venue by 1.45pm. If you arrive at 2 pm (the time that the bride is due to make her descent down the aisle) then you’re late! All guests should have been comfortable greeted and seated before the ceremony start time, so leave plenty of time to make your arrival.
If you do arrive late then don’t consider sneaking into the back of the church and trying to snag a seat. Listen to the ceremony from outside and make your apologies when you arrive at the reception. No matter how quiet you try to be when you sneak into the church, you’re sure to cause a disruption to someone, and you’re sure to attract attention for all the wrong reasons. This isn’t the day to make a big entrance: that’s the bride’s job!
Don’t Wear White
Choosing what to wear to a wedding is a big decision. Do you buy a new dress or wear something that you already have in your wardrobe? Do you wear a hat, a fascinator, or let your hair (or your new human hair wig) do all the talking? The key is to choose something that looks formal but feels comfortable. If you feel happy in what you’re wearing then that happiness will shine through and ensure that you look fantastic all day.
One thing you certainly can’t wear though is white or cream. Although there are hundreds of beautiful white and winter white formal dresses available right now, you should never wear white and upstage the bride. Wearing black used to be considered taboo too, but the modern wedding guest is welcome to wear black now unless the invitation specifically requests that you don’t. Why not consider livening up a black dress by adding brightly coloured killer heels, fun accessories, and of course a funky handbag that will help to inject some fun and excitement into your outfit.
We live in a golden age of social media, which means that we are able to photograph and share every aspect of our lives with everyone we know in seconds. Whilst you might love sharing your life on social media, it’s important not to upstage the bride and groom by sharing photos of their big day before they’re ready.
Some happy couples will encourage photo sharing: they may even create a hashtag for their wedding to help them collate everyone’s photos together and create a full picture of everything that happened at their big party. But if you haven’t been specifically asked to share your images then err on the side of caution. A photo of your outfit as you arrive is OK: a photo montage of the bride in her dress isn’t. Some brides find it upsetting if other people share photos of them on their wedding day before they do. Tensions often run high on wedding days (and brides can be particularly highly strung) so it’s important to ensure everything goes the way the happy couple had planned. And that sometimes means putting down your camera.
Oh and on the subject of camera phones, don’t forget to turn yours off before the ceremony begins. Or at least turn it to silent. No bride wants to have her vows interrupted by the tinkling of somebody else’s mobile phone!
Avoid Texting the Bride
Another modern etiquette rule that it is important to consider in our next constantly connected age is to avoid texting the bride on her big day unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Can you imagine how many text messages, phone calls, and other well-meaning well-wishes a bride receives in the days leading up to her wedding? Whilst well intentioned, the obligation to respond to all of these messages can create a lot of unneeded work for a bride who’s already busy planning the biggest party she’s ever likely to host.
If you want to wish the bride well then save those good wishes for when you see her face to face on her wedding day. And if you have a question (such as where you can park your car, or what time you’re supposed to arrive) then try to check with another guest or member of the bridal party, rather than bother the bride with small details on her big day.
Don’t Bring an Unexpected Plus One
Planning a wedding is a process that takes several months: there is a reasonably happy couples ask you to RSVP to their wedding invitation so far in advance. When you return your invitation you are asked to select your menu and determine whether or not you wish to bring a plus one. If you aren’t offered the chance to bring along a plus one at this point (or if you decide you’d like to attend alone) then you can’t change your mind at a later date. This would put a considerable amount of unwanted pressure on the bride and groom, who will have already ordered their food, counted their guests, and started preparing the seating chart.
You can’t simply sneak in an extra plus one: if you’ve said you’re flying solo then you’ll have to attend alone. Don’t assume you can simply bring a guest: whilst this might be the case for a family BBQ or casual dinner party, this simply isn’t the way it works when you’re going to a wedding. The good news is that it’s likely you will already know lots of the other guests attending the wedding, and you can use this as an opportunity to have a fun day out with your girlfriends.
Buy Your Wedding Gift Early
Finally, we live in the golden age of the gift registry, which takes all the hard work out of choosing a wedding gift for you. No need to agonise for hours about finding the perfect gift: just determine your budget and choose something that fits within that range from the gift list. The beauty of the gift list is that, no matter what you pick, you’re guaranteed to pick a present that the happy couple will love. Brides and grooms spend hours handpicking the items on their gift registry, so you know you’re getting them something that will like and use.
If you are going to pick a wedding gift from their registry than a great tip is to buy your gift early. Preferably as soon as you receive the wedding invitation. That way, you’ll have many more gift ideas to choose from, and it will be easier to pick something that you really like and is personal to you and to the couple you are buying a gift for. A cafetiere for a coffee addict, for example, or a high-end photo frame for the couple who love to snap every moment of their lives together. If you don’t pick your gift early, then you could well end up stuck with tea towels, a garlic press, or another random gift you wouldn’t have chosen if you’d had a wider range of choice!