This month we look at the dos and don’ts of being a wedding guest from the invitation until after the happy event has occurred
It is an honour to know that a couple wants to include you in their celebrations but being a guest also brings responsibilities to ensure that the bride and groom remember their day for all the right reasons. Here is our guide to being a good wedding guest.
First off, do not assume that you can bring a date – unless it says ‘and guest’ on your invitation then it is likely that the bride and groom have not budgeted for an additional person. Likewise, unless the invite is addressed to the entire family which normally includes your spouse and children, then the wedding is most likely an all-adult affair.
Also ensure that you RSVP within a couple of weeks of receiving your invite, even if the deadline is a way off – the couple need to give their vendors a final head count and determine how much the wedding will cost. In addition to listing meal options it may include a space for you to write any allergies – if there isn't it is up to you to contact the couple directly and let them know of any food restrictions you have.
When it comes to gifts, if the couple have a registry then you should honour their wishes. Choose early as well so that you have a better selection and send it to the address stated, do not bring it with you to the reception.
Nowadays, couples often forego a gift list for money to go towards the cost of their wedding or honeymoon. If they have not specified anything why not donate money to a cause that is close to them, buy them a personalised gift – such as champagne flutes with the bride or groom’s name and their ceremony date, or take the couple out for lunch or dinner post wedding.
Your attire should always be respectful and appropriate. If there is a dress code, stick to it – if not as a woman wear a dress or skirt, tailored trousers or co-ordinated two piece, avoid white and light ivories and if it is an outside event use common sense when choosing footwear.
Male guests should don brogues and a suit – choose lighter colours and fabrics for spring, summer and day weddings, and the opposite for autumn, winter and evening weddings. If you are not part of the wedding party, a buttonhole is a no-no.
If you are attending a traditional wedding, women should only remove their fascinator or hat after the mother of the bride removes hers while the men should not remove their jacket until the groom takes his off.
While weddings tend to run late, that does not mean you should – try to arrive 30 minutes before the time printed on the invitation and if you are running behind slip quietly into the back once the processional is finished – whatever you do, do not walk in mid-ceremony.
Do not forget to put your phone on silent. The same applies during the reception too, if you need to make a call be discreet about it. And if you are using your phone to take photos do not post them to social media platforms unless the bride and groom have stated otherwise – a good indicator will be a hashtag on their invitation.
Unless it says otherwise, or there are ushers to guide you, the bride’s family sits on the left side and the groom’s on the right. It is polite to follow the lead of family members sitting in the first two or three rows and after the recession, you should remain in your seat until the families of the newlyweds have been escorted out.
At the reception, adhere to the seating plan – even if you do not seem to have much in the common with the people you are sat with. The bride and groom normally put a lot of time and thought into seating arrangements
If there isn't a receiving line, make sure you find the couple's parents even if you have not met them, to introduce yourself, thank them and tell them how much you enjoyed the wedding. Also mingle with other people and once the party gets going venture onto the dance floor – you do not want the bride and groom to think their guests are not having fun. Remember to sign the guest book, too.
If the bride and groom are providing an open bar, then show your gratitude, pace yourself and do not get embarrassingly drunk. And last but by no means least, no matter how long your journey home is or how tired you are, you should stay at least until the wedding cake has been cut.