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British Wedding Etiquette

20 Essential Do's and Don'ts

Your Guide to British Wedding Etiquette


For a traditional wedding there does seem to be a lot to remember and everyone wants to get it right.  For detailed in depth information perhaps buy or download a book - always good to have help in a pocket or on a tablet!  There are many books on the market to choose from eg. The Little Book of Wedding Etiquette, The Complete Guide to Wedding Etiquette to name a couple. So the following is just a quick heads up for the Wedding Guests and the Wedding Party at Reception...

For the Wedding Party:


Wedding Speeches

Always a tricky one this....traditionally speeches are made by the Bride's Father, The Groom and the Best Man and in that order. No one else is required to give a speech although other speakers are permitted. Sometimes the Groom's Father likes to stand briefly and give thanks to the host and hostess of the occasion - more and more Brides are electing to give a speeches too.

Bride's Father

  • Father of the Bride has two duties to carry out.  The first is to stand in the welcoming line to greet all the guests as they arrive at the reception. 
  • Once the guests are seated and the reception is in full swing, he will be called upon by the Toastmaster or the Best Man to speak just a few words which are hopefully not too embarrassing, about his daughter and then welcome her husband into his family.  He will then be called upon by either the toastmaster or best man to propose a toast of health and happiness to the couple.

The Groom

  • The Groom's speech on behalf of his wife and himself, starts with responding to his new Father-in-law speech and also thanking his own parents for all their support. He must also thank the guests for their wedding presents.
  • Any family members or guests who have been unable to attend the wedding through illness, he will name them and wish them all the very best.
  • The Groom also must propose a toast to the bridesmaids and thank them for all they have done and present them any any others who have helped with the wedding preparations.

The Best Man

  • The Best Man's main duty is to reply to the Groom's speech on behalf of the Bridesmaids and he can then make his speech.  This can be very funny or it can be excrutiating so the Groom's choice of Best Man is crucial as the speech needs to be gentle, humerous and respectful. Everyone wants to be entertained by it but not at the expense of dignity.  

For the Wedding Guests

If you receive a wedding invitation, then answer as soon as possible in the format requested.  It used to be a written letter, but things have changed and become more fluid, if you are given an email address, use it with a nicely worded response or if along with the invitation you receive a reply card use that. Do not reply by leaving a message on an answerphone as these can get lost and you may find yourself without a seat at the reception. Quick written responses are needed to keep the operation running smoothly.

If you are single and receive an invitation just for yourself and not for a 'plus one' then don't ask the couple if you can bring your boyfirend/girlfriend, jut enjoy being there.

Sometimes a registry of presents is created by the couple and often these can be accessed online.  This is easy because all you have to do is login, click and pay and all is taken care of.  It is the best thing to stick to this list if at all possible but if all that is left on the list is too expensive, then gift cards are fine, but avoid anything wild and wacky that was not asked for.

What to wear is always a bit tricky.  Hat or no hat - if you choose to wear a hat, wear it with pride but remember that someone has to sit behind you and they would also like to see the ceremony and if you do not choose to wear a hat, then that is fine too. Any colour is acceptable now even black, but do not wear block white or ivory as that is the traditional Bride's colours, something that is coloured but has patches of white on it is fine.

Try to behave well and with consideration - do not ever outshine the Bride, it is her day and taking any attention away from her and the groom will be upsetting, for instance don't propose or accept a proposal of marrriage at a wedding, or get drunk and dance on the table - fun to watch but not at someone else's wedding!

Taking pictures is wonderful but please remember to be respectful about posting them on social media. Just wait until the Bride and Groom have posted themselves and/or make sure that the photos you are posting are not something that would upset the Bride- this is her day and she wants to look beauiful! If you have taken pictures of the adorable children, please do not post them without permission.