We are now well into ‘The Wedding Season’. Chances are in the next few months you will be invited to attend the wedding of a family member or friend. According to Emily Post who was always regarded as the doyenne of etiquette, good etiquette is based on the principles of consideration, respect and honesty. Sadly these principles are often overlooked by guests so to ensure that you act in an appropriate manner and are not found guilty of any transgressions in the etiquette stakes, I’ve compiled a few guidelines for you.
* If you have been invited to a wedding, it is good manners to ‘rsvp’ as soon as possible. And, once you have accepted the invitation, unless you have some cast iron excuse – you need to attend! A venue owner told me of a wedding, at which nine guests simply didn’t make an appearance. The father of the bride nevertheless had to pay for the absentees, as the venue had already catered for them. That’s rude on the part of the invited guests, as this situation can so easily be avoided. If you let the hosts know in good time.
If you are single and only your name appears on the invitation, this means you are not entitled to bring a guest with you. Likewise, if you have children and no ‘and family’ is included after your name, you are expected to leave your offspring at home.
* In the past it was unnecessary to tell guests what to wear to your wedding, but recent years have seen a trend towards more casual dressing among guests. It is a sign of respect to the couple and their parents to make an effort to dress smartly. If you are uncertain of the dress code it’s a good idea to check with a member of the bride’s family. A wedding is also not the occasion to wear a revealing or clingy outfit. White dresses are also off limits and (unless of course you are Pippa Middleton) you are not meant to compete in any way with the bride.
* Endeavour to arrive punctually, so that you can be seated in good time. I once asked a bride why she felt it necessary to arrive late at her wedding and she replied that she wanted to make sure that the guests were all seated before her arrival. She said that at many weddings she had attended, guests arrived at the very last minute. Another big no-no, is to skip the ceremony and only attend the reception. Remember, you have been invited to witness the couple exchanging their vows, not merely to be there to party.
* If the father of the groom (who’s responsible for the bar tab) has kindly offered to host an open bar, guests should not take advantage of it by ordering liqueurs or imported drinks they wouldn’t normally imbibe, and of course it goes without saying that they should watch their intake — after all, it would be disrespectful if they became drunk and unruly!
* Another point wedding guests sometimes need reminding of is that they should not assume that the table flowers or any décor are theirs to take. Unless the Master of Ceremonies has announced that they are there for the taking, it is best to leave them alone, as the bride might have other plans for them or they could be hired items.
* I once watched a video of a bride walking down the aisle who was completely obscured by guests leaning into the aisle taking photos with their cameras, cellphones, ipads, etc. The poor videographer didn’t stand a chance of getting a clear shot of the bride. Good guests keep out of the professionals’ way so that they can get on with their job.
* You have been invited to be a guest at the wedding, not a reporter of the event. Switch off your phone and refrain from texting, emailing, chatting on your phone, facebook and twitter during the ceremony and reception. Allow the couple to post pictures of their wedding day on facebook before you upstage them by doing so.