It is always an honor to be invited to a wedding – it’s such an important occasion for the hosts and their close family, even if they choose a relatively informal way to celebrate it.  And of course, weddings demand more careful observation of the few basic rules of etiquette than do most other occasions.

Reply to your invitation as soon as possible to inform the hosts of your availability. It is very bad manners not to respond to a wedding invitation by RSVP date.

Make a note of the dress code -a black-tie or evening wedding will require a more formal outfit than a day wedding. Trousers are not quite formal enough for a wedding-stick to a dress or an elegant skirt and top. Try to avoid wearing black, which is too somber, or white which is the bride’s domain (unless, of course, you are asked to wear either , which is quite the rigueur these days). A British wedding almost always calls for a hat, though nowadays a feather fascinator, flourish, or veiled headband are just as acceptable and stylish. If the ceremony is in a church, bring a shawl or wrap to cover bare shoulders.

When it comes to gifts, you can take yours along on the day, however many couples now inform their guest of a gift registry in advance;  in which case, gifts are bought and sent often before the nuptials. If friends inform you of a gift registry, act early so you will have the pick of the gifts (and so you don’t end up with a dishcloth and lemon squeezer as your offerings). Protocol in the United States insists you have up to a year after the event to send your gift, but it is dangerous to assume this, so be prepared with your gift before the Big Day.

Finally, while a wedding isn’t a wedding without that one person who guzzles too much champagne goes wild on the dance floor, or ends up flirting outrageously with the best man, don’t let it be you. Remember to eat beforehand if there will be hours between the ceremony and the dinner, and to keep an eye on your bubbly consumption.

“How to Live Like a Lady” by Shara Tomczak


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