The world of wedding guest etiquette can be a potential minefield, luckily we’ve put together a definitive list of everything NSFW (Not Safe for Weddings) so you’ll be the best guest on their big day.
Let’s start with colour. You really don’t need us to tell you to avoid wearing white or cream, but there are a few other colour related considerations to bear in mind.
Avoid wearing the same colour as the bridesmaids unless you want to spend your entire day being asked questions by elderly relatives. If you’re unsure on what colour the bride’s chosen for her girls, avoid common colours such as lilac, grey, navy or peach and opt for a 2 piece, a dress with a pattern or clashing prints.
This one’s probably something you’ve been told by your grandma or great aunt – ‘Don’t wear black to a wedding’, we’re not totally against it, but it’s important to consider the venue, season and how traditional the ceremony will be.
If you’re heading to an uber conservative, religious affair, perhaps avoid black, otherwise unleash your inner Wednesday Addams.
Pop an extra pair in your bag if you plan to hit the dance floor hard. Save the bare feet or flip flops for the beach unless it’s a casual affair.
Read the invitation! If the happy couple have any sense, the invitation will tell you everything you need to know – google the venue if it’s unfamiliar, will those stilettos work in a field?
If you’re opting for a formal outfit, feel free to have fun with your shoes. Add a bold pop of colour, metallic finish or interesting texture. It’s a great way to inject personality into your look without offending anyone.
More tips on clothing
Sleeveless, halterneck or off the shoulder cuts are a great option for summer, but not ok for a formal church wedding or traditional Jewish ceremony. Opt for a wrap, cover up or light jacket to keep it appropriate.
As a plus one, make sure you read the invitation before choosing an outfit; you don’t want to end up wearing a cocktail dress to a church wedding where you only know one other person.
Do not ask the bride or groom to bring a guest if you haven’t been offered a plus one, it’ll just give them extra stress before their big day and they probably have a reason.
Gifts and toasts
Don’t bring large gifts to the wedding venue, unless it’s at the bride or groom’s home or a family home. Bring a card instead and have the gift/s delivered to their marital home.
If the bride and groom have registered somewhere, buy from that list – if they’ve asked for you to put money towards their honeymoon, do so. If you know the couple really well and want to get them something sentimental, do it in addition to a registry gift, not instead of. They know what they want and they’ve asked for it for a reason, even if it isn’t to your taste.
Talking during the toasts is a definite no no.
Even if you just have to tell your bff that you swiped right on the Best man, or uncle Jimmy’s toast has gone on for 15 minutes, have some respect and don’t talk during the speeches.
The occasional ‘awww’ or chuckle at a Dad-joke is acceptable.
Do not make a toast unless you are asked to. This is not your day.
If the invitation says no kids – don’t bring them, get a babysitter and take the night off. If the invitation doesn’t mention kids, either check with someone in the wedding party so you’re not bugging the couple too much, or just don’t bring them.
Social media/ technology
Switch your phone off during the ceremony (or at least onto airplane mode if you plan on using it to take pictures)
Do not post any updates of the wedding during the ceremony, and definitely don’t post any pictures of the bride or groom before the ceremony. Ideally don’t post any pictures throughout the day, unless the couple have set up an instagram or twitter hashtag for their wedding
Essentially, you can probably cope for a few hours without being glued to your phone or live tweeting the whole day. Turn off the tech and live in the moment (and then refresh your instagram feed to your heart’s content in the taxi home).
Turn off the flash – By all means snap some pics of the newlyweds during the ceremony (unless they specifically ask guests not to either upon arrival or on the invitation), just make sure you’ve turned off the flash on your camera or phone, you really don’t want to be the person who throws the bride or groom off their vows.
So you’re not sitting next to your SO or your best friend, get over it and speak to the people at your table. If they’re all so horrible you can’t cope, just suck it up for the hour or so you’ll actually be seated.
Don’t take anything from the table unless it’s a wedding favour, wine or food. Don’t grab bottles of wine from tables to top up your glasses outside.