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Image / Style / Weddings

7 common wedding guest etiquette questions answered


by Jennifer McShane
22nd Sep 2020

Who knew wedding etiquette was, well, such a big deal? Below, we’ve rounded up seven potential nuptial conundrums you might find yourself in as you attend your best friend’s wedding. 


Do I need to bring a gift to the engagement/any pre-wedding party?

When it comes to weddings, there’ll likely be plenty of events — outside of the big day itself — for you to attend, and in most cases, your presence is the present. However, there’s always one or two nights on the prenuptial calendar that can cause some confusion.

Engagement party: If you choose to go to the engagement party, you do not need to give a gift. It’s not customary or expected, though if you want to, and are especially close to the couple, it’s always a nice touch. A thoughtful card is also a lovely idea and one that will cost you hardly anything.

Hen party: In some cases, attendees may be asked to bring alcohol, for example, to go with the theme and activity. But as your guests will likely be contributing to the overall cost of the do itself, there’s no requirement on anyone to bring a gift unless they want to themselves.

Do I have to bring a gift if it’s a destination wedding?

Presumably, you RSVPd “yes” to your friend’s destination wedding in the Bahamas because you love her or him. This will up the cost factor, there’s no doubt about that, but many wonder if a gift is still required. It’s a tricky subject, but generally, unless specified by the couple themselves, it’s still considered the norm to give a gift. But you can get creative, give something personal and handmade (it doesn’t have to be hugely expensive) or, go in on a group gift and you’ll be able to trim down some cost that way if your budget is stretched.

How do I know if I get a plus-one?

This is arguably the mother of all wedding woes, but it’s quite simple: It will absolutely say on the invite. It is commonplace for some people to just assume their plus one is automatically included in the equation, but unless it says, “plus guest” in a black and white and fancy font, it means you — and only you — were invited to attend.

When is it considered too late to send a gift?

There are all kinds of reasons you might delay sending a wedding gift. Some of them are financial: Attending weddings is not too kind to the wallet, so you may need more time to get money aside or you could have just forgotten to organise it in the frantic lead-up to the big day. While it’s very uncool for the couple to ring you and inquire as to whether you meant to leave out your gift — I’ve heard of this happening so many times — it’s generally okay to send the gift a little later, but no more than a month after the wedding. Any longer and it looks like a lastminutedotcom idea and a little rude.

Related: Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

Is it that bad if I wear white?

Just don’t do it. This is one tradition that’s going nowhere. While it’s unlikely that anyone will mistake you for the bride, it’s just considered a no-no. This also means ‘kind of’ white colours are out. If your dress is light grey, cream, or looks white under strong lighting or to a passing eye, it’s out. The same goes for wearing a white dress to the engagement party, hen, or any other event involving the bride (unless it’s requested of you).

Can I post pictures of the couple/wedding online?

Social media wedding etiquette is a very real thing. The general rule is that guests should never post pictures of the couple or wedding venue until they get the go-ahead — it’s up to them to post the first picture, regardless of how much time has passed. Unless stated otherwise (for example, there’s a wedding hashtag sign encouraging guests to Instagram photos), don’t do it.

There’s no RSVP-by date on the invite, do I need to respond?

For the love of God, yes. Any wedding organiser — and the couple themselves — will tell you there’s a special place in hell for people that verbally tell you they’ll attend but don’t send back the RSVP. Weddings are all about the numbers and to constantly be chasing up invites is a stressful and downright heartbreaking process, so send yours. Oh and a late RSVP — by no more than a week — is better than none at all.


Photographs: Unsplash; main photograph: Pexels

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