How to be a good wedding guest

March 3rd, 2020 12:28 PM

By Emma Connolly

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What to gift, what to wear, what to say, or more importantly what not to say  - 'weddiquette' is an absolute minefield of potential disasters waiting to happen. Muck it up and you might never get an invite to a big day again … now there’s a thought! Here are some of Emma Connolly’s tips on how to be the perfect wedding guest…


To start

Answer the invite promptly – or at least by the RSVP date – and supply the information requested by the bride and groom eg if you’re bringing a partner; any special dietary requirements; if you need them to book accommodation etc. Do not arrive with someone you’ve met the week before on Tinder if you haven’t already made this clear.

Seating plans don’t respond well to last minute changes – neither do stressed-out brides. It’s a fine line though - give them the info they need but don’t bother them too much. The couple will have a lot to do in the run up to the big day and Google knows the answer to most things if you need to book a hair appointment; a taxi etc. You’ve got this (or at least your smart phone has).

Get it out of your system

So it might be your sixth wedding this season and you’ve spent the equivalent of a luxury holiday in Bali on watching others say ‘I do’, but get any seething resentment out of your system  in advance of the wedding day - do some yoga, get drunk and bitch about the couple, whatever it takes.

There will be video cameras around and you do not want to be that guest accessorising with a sour face. It’s easy for couples to get swept up in a ‘wedding bubble’ and to make what you might perceive as less than acceptable requests of their guests – eg make everyone travel from West Cork to Donegal for no other reason than ‘it’s a special place to them’ but just go with it or…

Stay at home. Yes, you really can say no. Well, not if the person is in your close circle or your family but if for some reason you’ve landed an invite and you feel like it’s a ‘rent a crowd’ effort just politely decline. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

The gift

Of course you’ll still have to send a gift – to do otherwise would be very rude. Even if you get an ‘afters’ (‘insults?’) invite, you have to give a gesture of some kind (more than a scented candle, less than a food mixer). And like it or not you will be judged quite harshly on the calibre of your gift. I know a bride who can still recall who gave her what, 10 years later. Well maybe not everyone but definitely the couple who gifted a pair of champagne flutes.

The general rule of thumb, and it sounds quite mercenary, is that you gift 100e per person, so if giving cash, a couple would have to give at least 200e. Gift lists aren’t as popular as they used to be, but if you’re on a budget, what you spend is very clear for all to see. Go down the ‘thoughtful’ route if you’re watching your bucks – something framed, bespoke or homemade will get you extra brownie points (providing it doesn’t look too homemade and nothing with shells). Alternatively you could offer to mind the couple’s pet while on honeymoon; or do their table plan for them? Worth a shot (you cheapskate!).

Your outfit

And now for the six million dollar question… can you wear the same outfit to multiple weddings? It’s a 100% yes from us. Your best tactic is to invest in a classic dress that won’t stand out in people’s memories – so no frills, flounces, in-your-face patterns (or cleavage) etc. Something that obviously looks great but doesn’t make too much of a statement.

The trick then is groom yourself to within an inch of your life – get a great blow dry; impeccable make up; perfect nails etc. The result is that while people might not remember what you wore, they will remember that you looked great (they will also remember if you took your shoes off at the end of the night break through the pain barrier at all costs).

The added bonus with a classic frock  is that you can change up your accessories if you wish. Of course it goes without saying that you’ll have to (badly) apply a lorry load of fake tan – sure they’d say you didn’t make an effort otherwise!

Stick it out

We all live in fear of who we’ll be sitting beside for the usual six hour wedding meal in a room that’s hotter than hell. But as tempted as you might be, do not ever switch name places. You will be caught, probably by the bride’s mother, and it will be spoken of for years to come. Take the wine top-ups when they come, and keep repeating to yourself ‘this too shall pass.’

Just beware though that all those wine top ups will alter your behaviour dramatically. What you think are discreet whispers to the person beside you (a stranger two hours ago and now your BFF) on how overcooked you found the beef; how the bride never managed to lose the weight or how you think the happy couple might not last the pace, might not be as discreet as you think. Remember those video cameras.

The day after

It goes without saying that if you came on your own to a wedding, you should go home alone. If that chap/girl you met at the sandwich buffet at 2am still seems as enchanting the day after the wedding, it will be very easy to get his/her number. Sleep (alone) on it.

Speaking of the day after, couples now expect their guests to celebrate with them for two days. If you’ve signed up for (the dreaded) Day Two, keep something in the tank or at least have a stash of pain killers and fizzy drinks to get you through. It’s a tricky event to get right and the newly-weds will thank those who make the effort when, most likely, they feel like crawling under a rock and dying (after getting a take-away).

Above all, a guest should remember back to their own day and how full of love and hope they felt. Or rather how, for 24 hours only, it was all about them. So just go with it and offer no resistance, even if that means pulling silly faces in yet another photo booth.  And if you haven’t had your day yet, just think how you’ll want your guests on side and feeling the love when it is. So be upstanding for the happy couple!

This article was taken from our popular Spring/Summer Weddings magazine which is available to read in full here.


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