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Three wedding rules you should never ignore as a guest, according to etiquette expert

Don't ask the couple to make an exception if they have requested a child-free wedding 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 01 August 2019 19:49 BST
The wedding etiquette rules all guests have to follow (Stock)
The wedding etiquette rules all guests have to follow (Stock)

With the introduction of flower walls, millennial pink wedding dresses, and wedding hashtags, it would be fair to assume that weddings have become anything-goes affairs that are evolving with the times.

After all, millennial brides and grooms tend to avoid many traditional wedding elements, such as ceremonies held in religious institutions, and the bridal bouquet toss, which is now done by fewer than half of brides, according to The Knot.

The role of guests has also changed, with a focus on guest experience now an ever-increasing aspect of wedding planning.

However, when it comes to the question of whether everything has fundamentally changed for those invited to a wedding, according to an etiquette expert, the answer is no.

We spoke to national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, who told us that there are still some traditions that it is never acceptable for wedding guests to ignore - and that the main ones still hold true.

Don't wear white

We've all heard of mothers-of-the-groom upstaging their son's wife with a white dress of their own but even for those with no ill intentions, white is still off-limits for anyone other than the bride.

“White is still reserved for the bride,” Gottsman told us. “A guest should select another colour and there are plenty of beautiful options when it comes to picking out a great wedding outfit.”

She also said the rule applies to guests of all genders, so men who are not the groom should avoid showing up in a white suit.

Do not propose during someone else's wedding

Stealing any of the bride and groom’s attention during the big day is also a huge no, which means guests should avoid behaviours such as using the time to propose.

It may seem romantic to become engaged on the love-filled day, especially if the wedding happens to be of the destination variety, but Gottsman advises against it.

She said: “Regardless of where another person’s wedding is located, the celebration should be reserved for the bride and groom.

“A proposal by another individual, unless agreed-upon by the bride and groom in advance, should wait for another time.”

According to The Knot, you shouldn’t even ask the bride and groom for permission - as chances are they would prefer you didn’t and it may put them in an awkward position.

There are no exceptions to kid-free weddings

Taking into account the bride and groom’s wishes also means abiding by their rules, whether that means wearing black-tie or not bringing children.

Although kid-free weddings can be difficult to plan for for guests with young children, Gottsman says “guests should honour the request”.

“However, parents can opt to pass on the wedding if it causes issues,” she told us. “The bride and groom should be prepared for the circumstances without getting their feelings hurt.”

In addition to abiding by the general rules, guests should also be considerate of unspoken expectations - such as arriving on time rather than early or late and only bringing a plus-one if you’re explicitly invited to.

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Unplanned speeches, not giving a gift, skipping the ceremony, or drinking too much should also to be avoided, according to Brides.

Millennials may be changing up the wedding industry, but some wedding rules are here to stay.

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