The Darling Academy's Guide to Wedding Etiquette

With less than a month to go until the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, wedding season is truly upon us! You can look forward to spending time with family and friends in gorgeous outfits at these joyful events, without worrying about fashion faux pas and navigating the pitfalls of unspoken dress codes. How, you ask?

This is where Alena Pettitt, founder of The Darling Academy and author of Ladies Like Us, steps in. Alena lives in the Cotswolds, where she runs her online finishing school, The Darling Academy, which "teaches tools and mental techniques to promote daily happiness and how the use and expression of grace, kindness, etiquette and positive thinking can help women lead a life they truly dream of."

Her comprehensive guide to etiquette for wedding guests, from what to wear to appropriate behaviour covers everything you need to know, so you can relax and enjoy the day, safe in the knowledge that you are the perfect guest!

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"There are fewer social occasions that demand you dress politely than the wedding season. The rules and nuances of guest etiquette have shifted and changed beyond recognition and such high expectations to meet a certain level of excellence of style and good behaviour can send the uninitiated into troubled ground."

"What may have been acceptable a few decades ago may now be seen as stuffy and too formal. Likewise, too relaxed in rules of dress, we can unwittingly lower the tone of a wedding. Gone are the days of the obvious “done thing”, and so, getting the right balance of behaviour and attire at a wedding is of the utmost importance."

"Whether you are attending a traditional, new age, destination or rock and roll celebration we must still make sure to behave accordingly and make not only ourselves but fellow attendees comfortable in our presence. That is, after all the very definition of the word etiquette."

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"The first rule of thumb is to never upstage the bride. This courtesy should now also be extended to the Mother of the Bride and Bridesmaids. Very few occasions allow women to shine in formal attire and the day should be viewed as their collective “moment”."

"Most ladies know that they should avoid wearing white to a wedding, but with such lovely fashionable spring/summer pieces featuring whites, ivories, creams and champagnes it can be hard to avoid. No one wants to wear dull, drab colours to a wedding, so if your outfit must include white, make sure that it makes up no more than a quarter of your overall outfit, and is not the dominant colour of a dress. It is also advisable to call ahead and enquire as to the colour chosen for the bridesmaids; this shade should also be avoided."

"Brightly coloured separates in matching prints are a lovely way to pull an outfit together with formal accessories that can then be mixed and matched separately with the rest of your wardrobe for extended wear in daily life. Or select a conservative dress that can double up as workwear or “Sunday best” dependent on how you style it."

A bold print, classic styling and heaps of versatility make this figure-flattering outfit the elegant option for any occasion.

"With regards to formality, unless explicitly requested on the invitation, female wedding guests should wear formal daytime attire at the very minimum. Only for formal evening events are floor length gowns and an abundance of diamonds and jewels acceptable, therefore keep your skirt length between the knee and upper ankle. Shoulders are to be kept covered during the ceremony, especially if is to be held in a place of religious worship. Trouser suits in light colours make wonderful alternatives to skirts or dresses."

"If a formal jacket is not to your taste, then a large scarf or shawl to cover the shoulders or beautifully detailed knitwear can act as a stand-in for decency and added warmth in unpredictable climates and for travelling home after dark. Pearls (real or faux) and beaded necklaces, earrings and printed scarves make pretty but subtle accessories."

"Though rare, many ladies still choose to wear a formal hat to a wedding and this is a delight to see. If you love a hat, then embrace this very rare occasion for some sartorial gaiety. The formality of fabrics and cuts must match the hat. The only rules are that hats remain on until 6pm and to make sure it fits your proportions as well as the head."

Ochre and taupe hues offer understated options for wedding attire.

"Male guests should wear a jacket and tie regardless of the venue. Rules of dress can be relaxed as day moves into evening but take your cues from the wedding party. If the Mother and Father of the Bride have removed jackets and hats, guests may do so too."

"Corsages and buttonholes are strictly reserved for the Bride and Groom’s attendants, if you are invited to wear one then do so enthusiastically."

"Do avoid “fashionable” shoes that cannot be comfortably worn for long periods of time or are a hazard on gravel or green lawns. A stable heel is both a delight on the foot and the dancefloor. A closed toe is most appropriate for Church weddings."

"May it be said that the quickest ways to lower the tone of the wedding are to indulge too heavily in the complimentary bar and make a nuisance of yourself. It is no use looking the part and allowing a few bubbles or beers to destroy the image."

"Most of all, wear what will feel comfortable and gives you confidence right through the day, from confetti to conga-line moments. Wedding celebrations are about enjoying the day with the Bride and Groom, be a guest worth remembering for all the right reasons."

Alena Kate Pettitt is the author of Ladies Like Us and founder of modern finishing school, The Darling Academy, England. For more information visit www.thedarlingacademy.com

 Follow her charming Instagram page here >

 

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