Wedding Guest Etiquette
Who doesn't love a good wedding? From the vows to the dancing, the opportunity to buy a whole new outfit and, ultimately, the chance to see a couple dedicate their lives to one another, there's little about a wedding that can't be enjoyed - by the guests at least.
For if there is a downside to the festivities of wedding season, it's the rise and rise of the super-stressed bride. Gone are the days where a simple ceremony for her nearest and dearest is all that would be expected. Now, with our eyes firmly set on the weddings of the A-list, and a slew of reality TV shows giving us a glimpse into the effort behind some seriously big-budget nuptials, even the most laid back bride can find herself sleepless over fears of soggy canapés and Uncle Norman embarrassing himself on the dance floor.
As such, it's your duty as a wedding guest to do as little as possible to elevate the special lady's serotonin levels. Trust us, you too can do your bit to make the big day special for everyone involved – and ensure you're still on the bride's invite list when her first anniversary party comes around.
Keep To The Code
While a wedding is always a great excuse to get dressed up in your finery, there are still some specific points to remember when it comes to wedding outfits.
Traditional etiquette dictates that a dress code need only be included on the invites if it differs from the norm. Beach wedding? No need for a jacket and hat. Black tie? Follow the rules.
Otherwise, work on the basis that the happy couple envisage their day as being reasonably formal. That means morning dress or a suit and tie for the boys and a (not-too-skimpy) dress for the girls. Hats can work well, but beware of anything too outlandish, which could stand out for all the wrong reasons in photographs. Give some thought to your shoes too – no one wants to be falling over on the grass or the sand because they overestimated their balancing ability. While the dress code won't necessarily differ too vastly for many ceremonies, regardless of nationality, in the case of local weddings, modesty should be maintained and ladies should bring a pashmina or shawl for parts of the day where men and women mix. Note also that making the effort to wear traditional dress such as a sari or lehenga to an Indian wedding will be appreciated, regardless of your own background.
One hard and fast rule? No bride wants to be upstaged and that means absolutely no white or cream dresses. None. No exceptions.
RSVP And Mean It
Say the words "guest list" to any soon-to-be bride and you'll likely be met with a glare, a sigh or, worse, tears, for nothing causes more headaches for a happy couple than knowing who to invite and where to seat them.
No matter the wedding, the chances are that the bride, groom and their respective families will each have a competing contacts list as long as their arm. Add in the possibility of friends in two or three countries and you can see why invites can become a nightmare for your average expat couple.
You can't tell them who to invite, but you can do your bit to make the process as pain-free as possible once that (no doubt painfully expensive, lovingly embossed) envelope drops onto your desk.
RSVP and do it by the date included on the invite. On the rare occasion a date isn't provided, be sure to have your reply in two months prior to the big day.
Similarly, pay attention to the wording. Who is the invite addressed to? One name means one guest. One. If there's no plus one or guest mentioned, don't bring one. And don't complain – it's likely been a tough call for your hosts and budgets only extend so far. Similarly, if you have children, check they're included and if in doubt, clarify. Bringing noisy little ones to an adults-only ceremony is a sure way to end a wonderful friendship!
Lastly, turn off your phone, ensure it's on silent, and keep it out of view of photographers. All that's left is to sit back in your finery and enjoy the show of love all around you.