Stock photo by Tom Pumford

Bridal Party & Guests

Heading to a wedding? Here's 8 ways to avoid being a 'guestzilla'

'Wedding guest etiquette' might seem like a load of old balderdash to some but in the age of online forums and social media where the big day seems to be becoming more and more pressurised as couples actually strive to make theirs more 'laid back', it's good to get a little refresher on how best to conduct yourself on your mate's big day.

1. Arrive on time

'Fashionably late' is a term reserved for informal drinks at a bar or a stylish soirée at a push. One place it's not so chic to be swanning in a half hour after kick off is a wedding ceremony.


If it's even becoming a bit of a faux pas for the bride to be late these days, it's certainly not okay for guests. Unless you have some very real circumstances, get thee to the church on time.

2. Don't wear white

You may think this is an obvious one, but the number of guests who try to wrangle their way around wearing white to a wedding is quite astonishing. Ne'er a day goes by when there's not a post on some online forum asking if it's still considered a big no-no to wear white to a wedding.

It is. So don't.

It's the one day that's reserved for the bride to wear the colour and whether you think the tradition is nonsense or not, it should be respected.

3. Don't assume you can bring your kids

The topic of children at weddings seems to be the unclosable can of worms awarded to modern weddings that nobody anywhere in the world has a definitive guide to.

Some people couldn't imagine a wedding without them, others are more keen on their big day being an 'adult only' event.

While there are a number of fair arguments for and against, one conclusion that can be drawn from the debate is to never just assume that kids are invited.

If you are unsure as to whether you can bring the little ones (if they aren't specifically named on the invitation) put the feelers out with close friends and family or go straight to the horse's mouth. Casually ask if children are invited, and deal with the answer, whatever it may be, in your own time.

3. Stay out of the bridal suite

This insider tip is one lots of people fail to remember in the hustle and bustle of the big day but on the morning of the wedding, unless you are specifically asked to pop in - stay out of the bridal suite, bedroom or room where the bride/bridesmaids are getting ready.

The bridal suite will be a hub of activity on the morning of the big day, and the less people in it at one time the better for keeping everyone stress-free.

If you are asked to pop in for a chat, try to make it a brief visit - have a laugh with the bridal party and then make your excuses to leave.

4. Leave the photos to the professionals

Unless you are specifically asked by the couple, keep your own photography on the day to a minimum and try to avoid snapping away during the ceremony - as difficult as it may be.

Photos outside the church or ceremony venue are seen as the norm, and it's here you can grab friends and family for a few nice shots, but when it comes to guests blocking the bride's path up the aisle to get a perfect snap on their iPad, a line needs to be drawn.

Just as with gigs and concerts, keep your electronics out of the air during the vows - nobody wants to have come all the way just to watch their friends say 'I do' through another guest's smartphone.

Just be considerate. Many couples will be happy to have heaps of photos to look through from guests after the big day, but be aware that there's a right time and place. Professional photographers pride themselves on being discreet for a reason - many people don't like the idea of being papped for 12 hours straight, so try not to add to their discomfort.

5. Abide by the social media rules

In this brave new world where social media rules, we are forced to lay down some social media rules of our own.

Although it may sound like notions to some, there is a new trend towards the 'unplugged' wedding, where guests are politely asked not to post any photos of the day to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of their social media accounts. This can be for a variety of reasons - sometimes to avoid offense to people who weren't invited, other times because the couple are just quite private people. It doesn't have to be because they think they're the bee's knees.

Other couples might ask that you tag them in your snaps, or use a special hashtag so that they can access them after the big day.

Some couples might not have thought about it, and in this case just consider what type of people they are and if the they would want their old school friends or colleagues seeing them exchange her vows on Facebook even before they've walked down the aisle as a married pair...

Remember also that anything can go viral, and once your photo or video is out there, it's out there. Some couples might not like the idea of their wedding being shared by thousands around the country should a guest have shared something funny from it on their public Facebook page, so try to consider all the eventualities before you hit 'post'.

6. Keep time in the receiving line

This is an easy one. Join the receiving line even if you really want to skip it because it makes you uncomfortable. The couple will be delighted to see you. Tell them how you enjoyed the ceremony, chat about the gorgeous dress/suit and ask how they feel. Then move on so that everyone gets to dinner ASAP. Simple.

7. Sit in the seat you were allocated

Unless you've recently planned a wedding or event, you probably don't know/care how long someone has spent mulling over a table plan, but ask any recently married couple and they'll tell you they spend many a night pushing people around circles on a page to avoid old family feuds, cases of the ex, and making it too obvious that table 9 is for the 'singles'.

If you've been allocated a seat at the reception that's where you're sitting.

Just remember if you're not happy with your seat you only need to really be there for the meal and can move around after the formalities are done.

8. Take it easy on the drinks

Getting topped up with wine at the table is a dangerous game, and while trying to keep an eye on your glass as you're enjoying the banter can be a bit of a bore, knowing what you're putting away at the dinner will be an important stat later in the night.

If you decide to drink alcohol at a wedding, try to match each drink with a glass of water and avoid drinking alcohol during the day time. Irish weddings tend to go on for hours so the longer you stave off having a beer the better you'll be for it on the dancefloor.