Whether you’ve been invited to attend Will and Kate’s bash at Westminster Abbey, or your friend’s reception down the road, here’s your guide on how to be the perfect wedding guest this wedding season. By match.com’s relationship expert Kate Taylor.
Obey thy invitation
The most important thing to do is love, honour and obey your invitation – if it says the wedding starts at 11pm, no children are invited and the dress code is martian swimwear, those are non-negotiable. It’s not your day, so set aside any defiance and comply meekly. If you have minor niggles or questions about any of the arrangements (for example the food, or where to stay), don’t contact the couple, ask the best-man or chief bridesmaid instead; they’re the gatekeepers of wedding-stress, and can usually sort out any issues without having to involve the couple themselves. The most important thing to remember is to RSVP as early as possible.
Don’t feel tempted to go off-list when it comes to gifts
If the couple have set up a wedding list, use it. No, it’s not “boring and unimaginative” – it’s what the couple wants to receive! If there’s something personal you’d love to buy for the couple instead, do make sure it’s truly fabulous and meaningful, otherwise give it in addition to something on the list. Many couples now set up a money-donation account, where they collect contributions towards the honeymoon or buying a home. Again, this is not dull! Feel free to use it. If you’re single you can get away with contributing less than a couple, that’s fine. If you feel it’s impersonal to give money, then give a thoughtful home-made gift too, like a poem about the couple, a framed photograph of them, or a photo album filled with your shared memories of their singleton life. Don’t bring these with you on the day,– give them after the wedding such as when the couple return from honeymoon, or if you’re too excited to wait, then drop them off the week before. Not the night before!
Look after your children
The wedding dress-code applies to children too. If your offspring have been invited, then do make sure they’re dressed correctly. You’d be surprised how many parents bring children to weddings wearing jeans and T-shirts – this is not acceptable! You can find beautiful second-hand suits and dresses on online auction sites, most of which have only been worn once or twice, or most parents would be happy to lend you one of their children’s former outfits. It’s worth the effort as most guests will tolerate unruliness in small guests that are dressed beautifully and look angelic. Speaking of which, if you know your children are very likely to disrupt proceedings with bad behaviour – not precociousness, which can be charming, but mild vandalism or aggression – then find childcare for that day, or even just for the evening. The charm of other people’s children vanishes at 9pm.
Dress your best
Yes, it’s still considered bad etiquette to wear white or black to a wedding (unless of course it’s the dress-code), so avoid these. It’s also often frowned upon to expose bare shoulders in religious venues, so if the ceremony is in a church, wear a jacket, shawl or a wrap. (You’ll need it anyway as those places are sometimes arctic.) Hats are no longer a must-have but if you choose to wear one, remember that women are usually allowed to keep them on in church but men are not. If the day is a long one – say a lunchtime wedding, an afternoon reception then an evening party/disco – then it’s perfectly acceptable to bring a second outfit for the evening. Look demure all day in pastels and knee-lengths, then stun everyone with your gold hotpants at 8pm. Men really only need wear a suit (preferably dark) and tie (not black; too funereal), unless they’re a best-man, an usher or a member of the immediate family.
Weddings are said to be a hot-spot for meeting people, so look your best, adopt a positive, happy outlook and don’t hit the champagne too hard. On the other hand, weddings – with their army of nosey, elderly relatives asking questions like, “Still not your turn, eh?” – can really throw your single-status into stark relief. Watching couple after couple head to the dance-floor for the slow songs can make you want to ram handfuls of wedding cake into your mouth, but don’t – instead you could try an online dating site such as match.com to find a date to bring along. And you never know, it could be your turn sooner than you think!