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The School of Etiquette

How to be a perfect wedding guest


  1. Children:

If the couple have specified that no children are allowed, please respect their wishes as they will have their reasons and it should not become an issue of contention. Do not try to coerce the couple into making an exception for you, as this will only put them in an uncomfortable position.

On the flip side, if children are allowed to a wedding you are attending, this is not a licence to allow them to run havoc and/ or disrupt the ceremony or reception. It is your responsibility to make sure that your children are under control at all times.


  1. ‘Social Media’ policy:

Not every couple wants pictures of their special day plastered on social media. If they have made this known to their guests, then please respect their wishes.

If the couple are happy for you to post on social media, then be considerate and avoid posting any unflattering pictures of the couple.


  1. Dress Appropriately:

Weddings tend to be formal affairs, therefore with the exception of cultural attire or if the couple have specifically requested a more relaxed approach to clothing, then wearing anything less than formal i.e. jeans can be considered disrespectful.

Additionally, avoid wearing white as a main block colour to a ‘white wedding’ ceremony. You are not there to compete with or draw attention away from the bride.


  1. Gifts:

It is customary to give a gift if you have been invited and although it is a very nice touch, you are not obliged to gift the couple if you cannot attend.

Furthermore, although it is now commonplace and ideal for couples to have a gift list or request that you contribute to a special cause or charity of their choice, you can choose to opt out of these gift giving methods if you desire to give the couple something you feel may be more meaningful or sentimental based on your relationship with them.

[For more tips on ‘Gift Giving’ CLICK HERE].


  1. Expect hiccups:

Although a lot of planning and organisation goes into weddings, things do not always go to plan. Vendors can disappoint, venue staff can be uncooperative, the food may even run out. No matter what happens, it is polite not to kick up a fuss or start moaning and complaining especially in front of other guests.

Remember that you were invited to celebrate a special occasion in the life of the couple, so the focus should not be placed on what went wrong or what could have been better.


  1. Can I bring along a guest?:

If your invitation has not been extended to a plus one, then you should not take along an additional guest or request that you be allowed to bring someone.

Ideally, invitees should allow plus ones for their guests that are in committed relationships or married, but they may not always be able to accommodate your guest.


  1. When can I leave the reception?:

The cutting of the cake is usually the signal that you are free to leave if you choose to. However, if the reception is running behind schedule, then you are not obliged to stay until then.


  1. RSVP:

Once you receive your invitation, do not forget to RSVP your attendance.

In addition, if you can no longer attend after you have RSVP’d, then it is courteous to immediately inform the couple of this change. This will help them plan ahead and can also save them a lot of stress, time and money.


  1. Get out of the photographer’s way:

People often forget that the couple have paid a professional photographer to capture their special day and many times these photographer’s waste a lot of time having to ask guests to get out of their way. So next time you want to capture your perfect shot of the couple, give thought to the positioning of the official photographer.


10. Make an effort:

Finally, no matter how introverted or shy you may be, it is always nice to make an extra effort and go out of your way to mingle, engage with the people around you and generally just have fun.

There is nothing more heart-warming than a couple watching back their wedding film or looking at pictures and seeing their guests enjoying themselves and having a great time.

So push aside your reservations, savour the moment and make wonderful memories; not only for yourself but also for the couple.

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