Wedding Guests Dos and Donts

Wedding guest etiquette – dos and don’ts

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  • Wedding guest etiquette is a bit of a minefield - here's what to wear, gifts to buy and when to post a picture of the bride on Instagram. Clue: only when she says so!

    Words by Charlotte O’Shea

    Wedding guest etiquette is a bit of a minefield now that the rules are changing. If tradition is out and the lines are blurred for guests, how on earth does one behave at a modern wedding? Charlotte O’Shea, author of Rock My Wedding: Your Day, Your Way breaks it down

    What to wear to a wedding

    With more brides opting for high street and mixing up their bridesmaids’ outfit choices (two-piece suit, anyone?), figuring out a modern wedding dress code is a challenge. If in doubt, ask. Or at least casually mention that you’re considering wearing a cute navy lace number from Self-Portrait. Ensure your look is individual by adding a statement bag, shoes or accessories. Guests should still avoid anything floor-length and white.

    Instagramming at a wedding

    Imagine if the first photograph you saw of your big day was a blurry, unflattering camera-phone snap that popped up on somebody else’s Facebook feed. Not cool. Always let the bride and groom post the first picture and take their lead on what is shared. There’s a growing trend for couples requesting that their ceremony be ‘unplugged’. And even if they don’t, most brides would prefer to see your face as they walk down the aisle, not your flamingo-print phone case. In contrast, if they have a wedding hashtag, you’ll know about it, so share the love.

    Wedding gift ideas

    Most couples will provide guidance on their gift list or an online platform where you can contribute towards their honeymoon. If left to your own devices, then a thoughtful, personalised present or an experience – spa trip, dinner for two, sky dive – is memorable and something that can be looked forward to after the event.

    Throwing the bouquet at weddings

    Many brides prefer to keep their bouquets these days, having them preserved forever, donating them to a homeless shelter or leaving them on a loved one’s grave. But if it is up for grabs, be aware of the current trend for oversized floral bouquets and the ones made from vintage jewellery – you may need a safety helmet.

    The free bar at weddings

    It’s a generous gesture to provide endless free cocktails. So much so that guests have been known to forget where they left their last mojito between questionable dance moves, so they simply order another – read: ‘Congratulations on your wedding, here’s an extortionate bar bill!’ Don’t be that person. Remember to also carry cash. Not every couple can afford an open bar or a venue that accepts credit-card payments.

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