Wearing white and 9 other wedding faux pas

Weddings have changed a lot over the years, which may have guests heading to nuptials this summer unsure of the rules — here's some advice from the experts.

'Giving a 30-minute speech filled with college stories gets very uncomfortable'

Arrive on time for the wedding ceremony — don't keep the bride and groom waiting. (Nicole Anne Photography)

Weddings have changed a lot over the years, which may have guests heading to nuptials this summer unsure of the rules.

CBC talked to two wedding planners on P.E.I. about how to be a good guest, and it turns out many of the time-tested rules of etiquette still stand. Many of you, dear readers, also weighed in on Facebook

"2018 is bringing more modern concepts to weddings. While this might mean less rules to follow, it does not mean as a guest you get to ignore all the wedding faux pas," said Amy Brace, who's been a wedding planner for more than a decade and owns Kiss the Bride Wedding and Event Coordination. 

1. Be on time

Arriving at least 10 minutes early for the ceremony "so the bride doesn't have to wait for you as she is ready to walk down the aisle," said Maribeth Roberts of Clinton Hills Weddings and Events in Clinton, P.E.I.

2. Don't wear white

"Do not wear white, and men, stay away from shorts," advises Brace. "Even in 2018 with a more modern bride, wearing white is still a huge no-no."

During the ceremony do not talk or text among yourselves, advises wedding planner Maribeth Roberts. (Heather Wilkinson )

This is the bride's moment to shine — she should be the centre of attention.

"The only time this is OK is an all-white event which the couple will specify in advance," said Brace. 

"As for men and shorts, we know P.E.I.'s peak wedding season is our warmer months and our Island is known as the gentle Island, but it is still important to remember you are going to a formal event."

3. No talking or texting

Even if the venue is less formal than a church, during the ceremony do not text or talk amongst yourselves, said Roberts. 

"The couple have spent a lot of time and money on their big day and they invited you to share it with them, not someone who you are texting," she said. 

4. Limit photo-taking

"Be mindful of the professional photographer/videographer," said Roberts. "Jumping up to take your cellphone photo in front of them can lead to missed opportunities for the professionals such as exchanging vows."

Don't get in the way of the couple's professional photographers — it's best to just put away your cellphones and cameras at a wedding. (Cheryl Perry Photography)

"Technology is constantly at our fingertips this day and age so it is easy to want to capture the moment for social media as it is happening," said Brace. 

"It is important to remember for our couples this is an intimate moment and they have hired a professional to document it for them. A wedding ceremony is one of those few occasions in life you should put down your phones or cameras and just be in the moment, take it all in and share in a couple's love."

Many couples nowadays will ask guests to relinquish their cellphones at the entrance to the wedding, so their photos will only be professional ones and guests can enjoy the festivities tech-free. 

5. RSVP properly

Remember to RSVP, and only bring the number of guests you specified, both planners said. 

RSVP whether you are coming or not, the planners say, and only bring the number of guests you specified. (Igisheva Maria/Shutterstock)

"Couples provide guests with plenty of notice of their upcoming wedding by sending out an invitation — a lot of final details can only be confirmed with your RSVP," notes Brace. 

"Often they ordered exactly enough food for 120 guests for example not to mention all place settings are set well ahead of the reception for the exact number of people coming. Adding an extra few people may require another table/chairs/place settings being all brought out when the meal is supposed to begin," Roberts said.

Conversely, if you are not able to attend, RSVP promptly.  

"Caterers are a huge financial expense for a couple on their wedding day and RSVPing yes without showing up is extremely disrespectful. They have taken the time to extend an invite, have accommodated for you to be there — possibly over someone else," Brace said. 

"Final numbers are always due well in advance so when you bail on a couple you leave them paying for a meal and possibly wasting food.

6. Dietary restrictions

Express dietary restrictions or needs on your reply card, said Roberts. 

"If you are severely allergic to shellfish for example, the kitchen/wait staff require this information long before they are placing the plate in front of you!" she said.  

7. Don't change places

Sit where the seating plan has you designated, the planners said. 

'The bride and groom have spent hours organizing where everyone will sit,' says Roberts, so sit where you are asked. (Heather Wilkinson)

"You might not think it's a big deal to change seats but the bride and groom have spent hours organizing where everyone will sit," said Roberts. 

"Kitchen staff have the same table layout that was given to them by the couple — by switching you may cause yourself and someone else to get the wrong meal."

8. Don't over-drink

"It is never OK to be the intoxicated wedding guest," said Brace. "A wedding is a celebration, not a backyard summer party from college. It is important to remember the meaning behind why you are there." 

'It is never OK to be the intoxicated wedding guest,' says Kiss the Bride's Amy Brace. (The Harrogate Wedding Lounge/Facebook)

"It's not enjoyable for the couple, other guests and the bartender!" said Roberts.

Also, Roberts urges guests not to bring in outside alcohol to a licensed venue, or to drink alcohol if a venue is not licensed. 

"This can cause issues for both the couple and the venue when the liquor inspector drops by," she said. 

9. Don't bring large gifts

Many weddings these days are destination weddings — the couple is travelling to get married and may not be able to take home large gifts. Even if they are local, they may not have a way to transport gifts from the venue. 

"It is important to remember as a guest, even though you might not be travelling a far distance to get to the wedding, a small gift/monetary gift is more appropriate for couples who are travelling," said Brace. 

10. Keep the speech short

"Speeches should be short and sweet," urges Roberts. "Giving a 30-minute speech filled with college stories gets very uncomfortable for everyone present especially the bride and groom." 

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About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca