Anyone who’s planned a wedding will know that however much you love your friends and family, it’s normally the guests who cause the biggest headache when it comes to the big day.
From constant text messages about the local parking situation, to someone eating all the cake, to that one guest who indulges in one too many G&Ts, there are plenty of ways to put undue pressure on the bride and groom.
So how can you avoid being the wedding guest of nightmares? We asked four wedding planners to share their advice on things a wedding guest should never do…
1. Complain about the date
“Never complain about the date, especially if it clashes with a big sports fixture”
While we can’t imagine many of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding guests complained about their nuptials clashing with the FA Cup Final, some couples do find themselves on the receiving end of guests’ disappointment regarding the wedding date – and it’s not going to make you popular.
It’s impossible for a couple to take every guests’ plans into consideration when picking a day (they will probably have checked the date with anyone considered essential before booking), so if the date isn’t ideal you just have to like it or lump it.
The same goes for other elements of the wedding, such as the location – if it’s inconvenient, feel free to politely explain that you can’t make it, but mouthing off to the couple will do you no favours.
2. Take ages to RSVP
A common complaint among brides and grooms-to-be is the snail’s pace at which guests respond to invites.
“You must always respond within the timeframe on the invite” “Put yourself in the couple’s shoes – they will be relying on confirmation of guest numbers for their venue and caterers, so communicate in a timely manner.”
Once you have RSVP’ed you should be 100% committed to going to the wedding, rather than changing your mind if a ‘better offer’ comes up.
However, occasionally there are circumstances where you can no longer go to the wedding, for example due to illness, urgent work commitments or the death of a family member. “If any of these events occur, get in touch the the couple as soon as you’re aware that you or your partner can no longer attend, and explain the situation” says Carolyn. Promptness is key.
3. Ask questions which you could answer yourself
There are a million and one details to think about when planning a wedding, and the last thing the bride needs is her Auntie Jane bombarding her with questions about whether the B&B will provide an ironing board.
Couples generally include as much information as they can in their invites, so it’s better to simply call the accommodation provider yourself, or Google details on transport or parking.
If you really must ask the bride and groom a question, do it as far as possible in advance of the wedding, before last-minute nerves have set in.
“It’s ok to ask the couple questions a few months before the wedding; if it is less than a month, ask the venue coordinator, best man, bridesmaid or mother of the bride rather than bothering the couple”.
4. Quibbling over the guest list
Many brides and grooms are surprised to discover that some people deem the guest list to be negotiable.
All the wedding planners we spoke to were very clear – it is not okay to ask to bring extra people to a wedding.
“Weddings are one of the most expensive days of people’s lives, and guests should be grateful that they have been invited”
Wedding stylist Katie Sutton agrees, saying “You need to remember that creating a guest list is very hard, and the couple can never please everyone. More often than not budget plays a big part. I’m sure that if a couple could, they would invite everyone, but you ultimately have to respect their wishes.”
Finances, the size of the venue and the prioritising of close family can all have an impact on who gets invited, so if you don’t get a plus one, try not to be offended.
The same goes for children – not everyone will want kids at their wedding, and as a guest you must accept this decision.
“While children can provide a lot of fun and entertainment, some couples would rather say their vows without a child screaming in the background” . “Think of it as a chance to leave the kids with a babysitter and have a night off!”
5. Trying to upstage the bride
We all want to look good when we attend a wedding, but there’s a difference between choosing a lovely dress and going out of your way to grab the limelight.
“Don’t wear white!” we suggest. “Unless the bride has specifically said it’s ok, I would always err on the side of tradition.”
Trying to steal the couple’s thunder in other ways is also not advised. “No unplanned speeches or performances”. “Unless you’ve been asked to contribute, don’t think you can rock the mic just because you’ve had a few glasses of fizz and feel extra confident.”
6. Causing trouble on the day
It should really go without saying, but starting arguments, complaining or getting too drunk on the wedding day are all major no-nos.
“I’ve personally witnessed some outrageous behaviour at wedding that has caused the breakdown of friendships as a result” .
Don’t complain about the food – the couple will have done their best to accommodate everyone’s dietary requirements, but it isn’t always possible to have multiple meal options (you can always quietly ask the waiting staff for some extra bread if you really are starving).
Telling inappropriate stories about the bride and groom is also discouraged, (even best men should consider the suitability of their tales).
Above all, leave any family or friendship feuds outside of the venue – a loud argument is quickest way to get yourself blacklisted from all future events.