What is Wedding Etiquette?

When it comes to weddings, like many significant events, we find that everyone is different… and what’s more, ‘the big day’ is a wonderful opportunity for couples to express themselves and their style. That said, the concept of tradition is never far from weddings, and you may find that couples, their family, friends and guests can ‘come to the table’ with certain expectations – that can be incorporated, or not. Weddings as events have never been so customisable and non-traditional but undeniably there are some ‘rules of etiquette’ in place that guide the approach of couples themselves and their guests to certain factors throughout the day.

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a wedding – you might find yourself asking ‘what is the etiquette’? While this might be anything from what others expect from you, what is polite, what you’re comfortable with and more in between, etiquette need not be an overly formal or restrictive factor, but you may find yourself guided by some popular ‘dos and don’ts’, whatever your role in the celebrations.

For the majority of guests at a wedding, your job on the day is to turn up and enjoy. Unless you are part of the wedding party or have been assigned a task, you’re there to celebrate the day and the love of your friends; they’ll want you to relax and have fun, but etiquette still applies to guests – ways to, and not to, behave at such an occasion.

Here’s some considerations we still believe are relevant to even the most modern or non-traditional of weddings:

Dress the part

What to wear is a common consideration when attending a wedding and can range from strict black tie, to ultra-casual, to a specific theme. If there are any ‘special instructions’ to work to, chances are the couple will have made you aware, perhaps on the invitation. If that is the case, do your best to meet the brief if you can. If that’s not the case, and you’re not sure what’s best, a good rule of thumb is to dress semi-formally. Some simple and well-known (for good reason!) ‘no-nos’ include, unless you’re advised otherwise, not wearing casual clothing like jeans and avoiding white/ivory/off-white dresses to prevent any potential clashes with the bride or wedding party. Take a look through our stunning range of wedding outfits for some inspiration.

Attendance and arrival

A lot of work goes into planning a wedding and chances are the couple have spent a fair amount of time considering guest list, budget, and more – it is extremely helpful to couples that you play your part. If you’ve received an invitation, we’d suggest RSVPing as soon as you can and remember: letting your friends know you are NOT attending is as important as confirming that you are. Invitations should specify which parts of the day you’re invited to, as well as whether plus-ones and children, are welcome – every couple’s preference and budget will be different – but bringing extra people or arriving early unexpectedly on the day is always to be avoided. Respect the wishes of your friends, arrive on time and enjoy the day.

Sharing the fun

Photos are a huge part of an event like a wedding and there will be no shortage of them after the day. If you snap your own during the afternoon or evening, be mindful that the couple may not wish for them to be shared on social media straight away, especially of elements like the dress, cake, decorations, venue etc which they may wish to ‘reveal’ themselves later, or that guests attending for the evening may wish to see only once they arrive. If you’re unsure, or have not seen any specific guidance, we’d suggest holding off for a day or two – or at least until the end of the evening – to be safe.

Be positive!

A wedding is always intended to be a joyful occasion and you have been invited along to join in the celebrations. The day itself is the time to be happy and positive; while you may have views or opinions on some aspects of the wedding – perhaps you don’t agree with marriage, have had a hard time with love, would have chosen a different venue, menu or dress, or perhaps even one of the couple is not your favourite person – today is not the day to make those opinions heard. There will always be time for a ‘debrief’ later – show your support and love for your friends in the moment.

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