Quick guide to wedding etiquette

The least you can do is keep in line

By Hugh Upsher

Marriage. The statistics are against it lasting, but that doesn’t stop people from having a go. The formalising of the ‘till death do us part’ contract is an excuse to surround said statement with as much friends, family, food, booze and music as you can afford. Or not afford. The success of a wedding relies heavily on the people invited, so being a part of one is obviously a privilege that needs to be taken pretty seriously. If you are scoring a free meal and jol out of it, the least you can do is keep in line. So as we gear up for the season of eternal love contracts, let me share a few universal rules on how to not totally stuff it up.

Don’t spend half the time on your phone

There’s a solid chance you’ll be surrounded by friends and loved ones who are more than capable of liking and replying to your thoughts in real time. Any time spent on taking photos of an event that will most likely have a photographer is time you will never get back. No one has ever looked through an official wedding album and thought ‘if only I could look at shittier versions of these photos’.

The only people interested in a particular wedding are generally at that wedding, so live tweeting the event is also going to count as poor form. The only exception to the rule is if the bride asked you to do so, or you’re under the age of fifteen.

Pro Tip: Put your phone on silent or switch it off before you ruin the sacred vows. 

Pace yourself with the drinks

Weddings have weird schedules that can be long, complicated and sometimes delayed for a thousand different reasons. They also can have open bars. Don’t make the mistake of loosening up a little too much before all the formalities are out of the way. If you can stay noticeably less tipsy than the groom before the first dance takes place, you’ve done your job.

Pro tip: It helps if you strategically make yourself scarce during any proposal of ‘shots all round’.

Be friendly

The people assembled together on the day tend to all be there for the same reasons, which makes opening lines a breeze if you end up seated with people you haven’t met before. “So how do you know the bride and/or groom?” is a standard ice-breaker that can’t go wrong, unless you’ve met the person twice before and they are bummed out that you still didn’t remember their face. Even if that is the case, you have a great chance to over compensate by pretending to be unnaturally fascinated in their detailing of their exercise schedules to you.

Pro Tip: Scope out the named place card situation to jog your memory.

Final quick tips

  • Make sure you arrive on time, don’t treat it like a Cape Town braai.
  • Make sure you stick to the dress code provided.
  • Don’t make vulgar jokes about the groom’s ex girlfriend to the mother of the bride just before the ceremony begins.

Weddings really shouldn’t need a handbook to navigate, but somehow there is always that one person who loses the plot somehow. They’ll be seen making impromptu hats out of table centerpieces, or trying to force the only two teenagers at the wedding to dance with each other. All I can really ask is that you don’t be that person.