An A-Z Guide to British Wedding Etiquette and Wedding Planning Part 2

N is for No show

Alas, on the day of your wedding, you might have one or two guests who don’t turn up. This may be due to illness or personal circumstances, and the hope is that they give you some notice. If you are not aware until the last minute, it is wedding etiquette to ask an usher or bridesmaid to inform the caterer and to alter the seating plan accordingly. These things happen.

O is for Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

Wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue is a wedding tradition that is fun and simple to follow. Chances are you have many new things, from your dress to your shoes, and an older item which could be a piece of family jewellery. When it comes to something borrowed, you might consider borrowing a bracelet or hair accessory, and something blue can be as simple as a piece of blue ribbon sewn into the lining of your dress. If you are offered a piece of jewellery to borrow from a family member and it’s not to your taste… politely decline by letting them know that unfortunately, it doesn’t coordinate with your dress.

P is for Plus-one’s

There are no strict rules for inviting ‘plus ones’ and much of the time, it’s hard to make space on a guest list for all your friends and family without inviting people you don’t even know. If you are inviting a single guest whom you feel will know very few other people at your wedding, it is considerate to ask if they would like to bring someone with them. Not essential, but considerate.

Family waiting for wedding and Mythe Barn - © Ed Brown Photography

Q is for Quibbling

Wedding planning, while enjoyable, can have its stressful moments! There are differences of opinion, financial implications and deadlines to stick to. If you feel an argument brewing, take a breath and remain calm. Remember why you’re getting married, and try to avoid quarrelling over details that probably don’t matter. It’s also a good idea to take time out from the wedding planning, enjoying conversations that are nothing to do with the big day.

R is for Receiving Line

The receiving line is an opportunity for the hosts to greet all the guests as they walk into the reception space showing good wedding etiquette. These days, many couples scrap the idea and choose to circulate around the tables instead. The choice is yours. If you decide against the receiving line, it’s important to spend time moving around every table during the wedding breakfast, making sure you welcome each and every guest.

S is for Speeches

Wedding etiquette means there are three wedding speeches – the father of the bride, followed by the groom and then the best man. Timing is key, and the three speeches together should last no longer than 45 minutes. If you decide to change the order of the speeches, or the speech makers, that’s completely up to you. Do make sure that guests can hear by providing a microphone if necessary, and ensure that everyone has a full glass of something fizzy for toasts. Champagne is lovely, but Cava and Prosecco also fit the bill perfectly.

Groom giving his speech at Mythe Barn - © Ed Brown Photography

T is for Table Plans

Seating plans are essential unless you’re planning a very informal or intimate celebration. You want your guests to have a lovely time at your wedding, so it’s important to consider different personalities and interests and arrange tables accordingly. In wedding etiquette top table is a good concept but not always practical, particularly if there are any complicated family politics. If you decide to sit with friends instead of family members, always make sure your parents are seated appropriately with a good view of you and the speeches.

Beautiful decor at Mythe Barn - © Ed Brown Photography

U is for Ushers

Ushers have a few key tasks, predominantly at the ceremony. Wedding etiquette
says they should be the first to arrive and distribute the orders of service and the buttonholes. Ushers need to supervise parking and make sure that everyone is escorted to their seats. At the reception, they should help guests find their tables and support the best man throughout the day.

V is for Videos

It’s easy to see why wedding videos have become popular – they are a wonderful memento of the day and something you’ll treasure for years to come. If you are hiring a professional videographer, be sure to take a look at their work and brief them on exactly what you’re looking for. If you decide to ask a friend, bear in mind that the end result is unlikely to be as polished and remember that the friend is doing you a favour!

W is for Wedding budgets

While it isn’t exactly romantic, wedding finances need to be discussed before you start your wedding planning. There is no strict wedding etiquette here – you might be paying for your wedding yourselves or receiving a family contribution. Honest discussions are essential to avoid any confusion or overspend.

X is for Kissing!

Well, yes, we have to mention that first kiss. When you’ve said your vows, and you’re finally married, you’ll share that special first moment. Do remember that you are also standing in front of all your guests. A delicate kiss is totally appropriate – a full on, long lasting smooch probably isn’t!

Bride and groom kissing at Mythe Barn - © Ed Brown Photography

Y is for Younger Guests

Whether or not to invite children to your wedding is entirely up to you. Whatever you decide, make it clear and, if children are invited, write their names on the invitation. It is perfectly acceptable just to invite children who are family members, or page boys and flower girls. Always offer a suitable menu.

Z is for Sleeeeep…

At some point, you need to wave farewell and head to bed. When you do, that is entirely up to you. If you decide to be the last ones on the dance floor, good for you! Equally, if you’d both like to escape a little earlier than some, that’s perfectly acceptable too. Wedding etiquette is to say goodnight to any guests who you won’t see for breakfast the following morning.

Images Courtesy of Ed Brown Photography