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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adcock

How To Be An Awesome Wedding Guest with a little Wedding Guest Etiquette.

Wedding guest etiquette is an unwritten thing, normally left to each individual to determine what it is and how they should behave but after being at as many weddings as I have there are some things I have seen, heard and learned that will help anyone become a joy to have at any wedding.


1. Dress code:

Have you ever received a wedding invitation that left you completely clueless about the wedding guest dress code? Between ‘black tie optional’, ’semi-formal’ even ‘smart casual' the language can be tricky to decipher. The truth is, while many couples would like their guests to arrive in black-tie attire, the most common wedding dress code is formal. That’s cleared that up then, right? Nope. I knew a guy who spent most of his days on beaches, he was a lifeguard, he surfed when not working and partied on the beach at weekends. For him formal attire was his best board shorts and clean T.

My advice to wedding couples and their guests is to wear what you feel comfortable in. If you’re holding your tummy in and your top down, nervous to sit in case something gives out or frightened to take another step in those six inch heels then you will not be able to relax, it will be on your mind all day. Wear something you feel good in, no doubt the heels look great but can you wear them for six hours and then dance?

2. A whiter shade of pale:

Researching this one, it turns out it’s quite controversial and comes up again and again. In the past few years it seems that wedding fashion rules have eased and some may be thinking that it is now OK to wear a full length white dress to their friends wedding, call me a traditionalist but passive-aggressive upstaging is cruel and definitely does not display any wedding guest etiquette.

If you are as popular as I am then the diary is empty and there are another 364 days this year when you can wear white, off-white, ivory, cream or any other shade of white that you might find on a Deluxe paint chart. Unless the invitation specifically asks for guests to wear white then leave it to the main couple.



3. Bring a present or be present?:

Who doesn’t like receiving gifts, wedding guest etiquette means that we expect to buy a present for the couple? But I’ve found that although there is a lot of appreciation for gifts, the biggest present is for you to be there.

Some couples are looked on negatively when they ask for money instead of a physical gift but modern society sees many couple living together long before they get married. They have built their home and have just about everything they need but the wedding itself is expensive and money is tight for everyone, they could have spent their entire savings on the wedding. Asking for money isn’t meant to be ungrateful, simply practical.


4. Bridal party debate:

There are a lot of tensions about who is included as bridesmaid or groomsman. I have attended quite a few weddings where the bridal party has changed at the last minute due to a falling out. It is not always the choice, solely, of the happy couple who attends the wedding, the guest list is, to a certain extent, beyond their control, particularly so if they are not paying for the wedding. Conversely they simply not have the resources to include everyone they wanted to. This can be as upsetting for them as it is for you, accept it, it doesn’t mean they value you any less.

5. Could I ……….

The majority of sentences that asked by guests to the couple which start with ‘could I” should not be asked, where will it go: ‘wear that dress you hate’, ‘bring my own food’ or even, the worst ‘bring my children?’

Asking if you can bring your children can place the wedding couple in a difficult predicament. Whilst you may have very valid reasons for asking to bring your children you can bet that other parents attending may have similar challenges to your own. It can’t be one rule for one and one rule for another even if you are the groom’s oldest and closest friend. The couple may have restrictions with budget and numbers or may simply wish for adults to let their hair down. Asking for a plus one also falls into this category. If you have a new partner a month before the wedding, the couple may have already paid the final balance, submitted table plans and confirmed numbers. Be respectful of their wishes.

The majority of the time the couple have planned everything as best they can to suit not only themselves but also every their guests. As the old adage goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, accept it and enjoy the event.


6. I’m late, I’m late:

Wedding guest etiquette doesn't agree with being fashionably late, that's for dinner parties. Being late is frequently unavoidable, car trouble, late baby sitter, traffic or the most common, not being able to find the venue. Read the invitation carefully, if you can visit the venue before the day, if that’s not possible take a look at Google Earth, you can plan your route and find landmarks to help you get there.

If you cannot make the wedding, let the couple now as soon as you can, I have helped consoled quite a few brides whose guests didn’t show and in one instance nine no shows at a venue that was non refundable meant that the bill for those that didn’t show was in excess of £1200.


7. Food glorious food:

Take a group to a restaurant and it is unlikely that everyone will order the same thing, we all have different tastes, many a complaint has been heard at weddings; ‘another boring roast’, ‘the portions are tiny’, ‘I like thicker gravy’. The couple are often restricted by the venues offerings and they must consider and intolerances of all the wedding guests.

Catering for a large group of people creates all sorts of headaches, for the couple and the venue. If the wedding breakfast is later than you normally eat, pop a cereal bar in your bag but the golden rule is - don’t complain to the couple on the day, a lot of venues can charge over £100 per person, the happy couple have spent a lot of money.


8. I wanna dance with somebody:

Whatever the music, get your groove on! A big fear of many couples is an empty dance floor. Couples think of so many ways to encourage wedding guests to dance from providing flip flops for sore feet to carefully curating playlists. During the first dance, couples will often welcome their guests to join them on the dance floor. Once it didn’t happen. The couple were pleading with guests stood around the edge of the floor filming the dance and not one person joined them. The DJ announced their wishes not once but three times. We beg you, please do not do that to your friends or family. Who cares if you listen to death metal on your morning commute? Bust a move… any move! Nobody will judge you if Craig Revel Horwood would score your dad dancing a zero! The couple just want to see you having the time of your life!

9. Uncle Joe, where are you?:

Group shots are rarely chosen by the wedding photographer. The couple themselves choose which images they would like to have to remember their wedding guests. Group shots are organised and timed within the schedule to minimise disruption as much as possible and make sure the wedding breakfast is on time, remember we are sticking to wedding guest etiquette. If you nip to the bar it may hold up the larger group and delay the schedule of the day. I have been known to be asked to photoshop a M.I.A. wedding guest (later found unharmed) into all group shots. I promise I will get it over with as painlessly as possible!


10. Everybody in the house get tipsy!

Tipsy. Tipsy is fine. Being a wedding guest carried by four suited groomsmen from the venue by each of your limbs isn’t. Neither is vomiting in the centrepiece bowl (yep… it happened). I know we sound like your mother when you were 18 but drink responsibly. It is so easy to have one, two or three before the ceremony and four or *cough* ten by the wedding breakfast when the table wine glasses are filled. You want to remember the wedding and not be that embarrassing friend.

Similarly, take care of the wedding couple. Offer them a glass of water. They may not be tipsy, in fact they may not have had a drink at all. If you have ever been married, you know how tight the schedule can be and as host or hostess their concern is to look after their guests. They will remember your kindness.

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