15 rules of etiquette that you should know about if you're invited to a daytime wedding
The summer’s here and with the good weather the number of social gatherings and family events increases, times of great happiness where we get together with relatives and friends.
The news of a wedding fills us with joy and makes us feel honoured. To be able to accompany our relatives and friends on such a special day is thrilling, even though the thought of it can be quite daunting, as attending such formal occasions can fill our heads with a thousand questions: questions about how we should dress for such events or how we should behave to ensure we meet people’s expectations and don’t seem out of place.
Weddings are quite clearly a celebration of love and the fact that the bride and groom invite you to share this most intimate of moments with them is something to be treasured. But for this very reason, you need to know how to behave and do what is expected of you at this type of celebration.
And so, as it’s the wedding season, we’ve decided to answer all those frequently-asked questions that crop up when you are invited to attend a daytime wedding.
Marriages that take place during the day, bathed in sunlight, are truly wonderful and a great source of happiness for everyone. Below we list some rules of etiquette so that you can enjoy the big day to the full, with total peace of mind.
Over time, the rules have become more flexible and when we’re invited to a wedding we usually pay more attention to our own personal tastes than what is established in traditional etiquette. Even so, not everything is permitted or well-regarded, and we are responding to some of your doubts to ensure you are a resounding success at this type of social event.
Answers to your questions: Etiquette for a daytime wedding
1 - Should my choice of outfit depend on the type of ceremony?
There are two options for daytime weddings: civil weddings and church weddings.
At religious weddings, guests should dress modestly. Showing bare shoulders, revealing too much cleavage, wearing a miniskirt or sporting a daring split skirt is frowned upon.
Although the norm on entering a church is to uncover your head as a sign of respect (if you’re wearing a hat or cap), this rule changes with weddings: remember that you can’t take your headwear off from the time you leave the house until you return home after the celebration.
Civil weddings,however, are a little more informal than religious weddings and so there are more alternatives when it comes to choosing what to wear. At civil weddings you should dress smartly but not in an overstated or fussy way, and above all, take into account the colour chosen by the bride (for civil weddings it doesn’t have to be white) so you don’t both wear the same, as all eyes should be on her.
And you should definitely NOT wear a strapless neckline at a religious wedding that takes place in the morning.
2 - What type of dress should I choose if I’m invited to a daytime wedding?
When thinking about a dress for a daytime wedding you should always respect the dress code chosen by the couple. The wedding may have a theme (perhaps boho-chic, mediaeval, Ibizan, etc.) and remember, the choice of the bride and groom comes first.
Daytime weddings have very specific dress codes and we recommend that you always wear a short dress, as the only people who can wear longer ones are the maids of honour, the witnesses, the sisters of the bride and groom and the bridesmaids (always in simple, elegant, long dresses). All other women present should wear shorter dresses.
Slinky fishtail dresses are NOT suitable for a morning wedding.
3- How should I choose the type of short dress I ought to wear?
You need to distinguish between short day dresses and cocktail dresses. They are usually the same size and length, but one is more for a party and the other is a little simpler. Pay attention to this detail, as it’s easy to get confused and short party dresses are not suitable for a daytime wedding.
NO to party dresses during the day.
4 - What colours should I choose for the dress?
You can choose almost any colour, but always remember that white, pale browns and greys, light beiges and powdery and chalky colours should be reserved for the bride, and it would be disrespectful to choose any of these for your guest outfit, unless the couple themselves specify it in their wedding dress code.
Another colour that shouldn’t be worn at a wedding (and even less so during the day) is black. This colour is associated with mourning, so on a day of celebration and festivity it’s not exactly appropriate.
You can choose pastel colours for your outfit such as pink, blue, mauve, coral, etc. or more striking colours like mustard, fuchsia, turquoise, red, etc., which are all currently very on-trend.
AVOID totally black or white for this type of celebration.
5 - What type of accessories can I wear?
For daytime weddings we give a big thumbs up to straw and other types of hat, which aren’t, however, appropriate for evening/night-time weddings. At night, etiquette requires small, perhaps bejewelled headpieces. Remember that large hats usually look better on tall women and small hats are better on shorter women, and, as you now know, all women that leave the house wearing headgear must also return wearing headgear.
Another accessory that has made a comeback at weddings and that delivers a special touch of class is gloves. The material they’re made of should be related to the type of outfit: for example, choose leather gloves if you're wearing a coat, and soft or transparent fabrics if you're wearing a satin or silk dress. A very cool look is to wear a glove on the hand you carry your bag with. Another important point is to get the length of the glove right. For example, if your chosen dress has elbow-length sleeves, the glove should come up to the elbow; if, on the other hand, you choose a dress with short sleeves, the gloves should also be short; and, if you choose a dress without sleeves, the gloves should come up very high on your arm.
NO to straw and other types of hat at night-time weddings.
6 - How should I choose my shoes and handbag?
If you want to achieve the perfect look for a daytime wedding, handbags or purses should be comfortable: in other words, small and easy to handle. These should be simple, without too many rhinestones and not too extravagant. And note: it’s better if your shoes aren’t the same colour as your dress. Be daring and wear contrasting tones.
Shoes should always have a heel, but a heel height you can walk in. It's better to wear a lower heel (medium-high) than to look like a teetering Bambi on ice when you walk.
NO to enormous handbags and shoes with rhinestones during the day.
7 - What jewellery and make-up should I choose for a daytime wedding?
Women tend to wear too much make-up at weddings. You should think about what sort of make-up is most suitable for daytime weddings: a natural look is the best option in the morning, as this type of make-up will enhance your beauty without concealing it or overdoing it.
As far as your hair is concerned, don’t focus on sweeping it up in some grand style: being natural is your best bet, perhaps with your hair loose but neatly styled, or else braided or worn in a ponytail. Similarly, jewellery should be simple and understated, not making you look like a Christmas tree.
8 - How should men dress for a daytime wedding?
Men have it a little easier and the best option is to go for a suit and tie. Bow ties are for gala evening events and should therefore only be worn with a dinner jacket.
If the dress code is formal, men should wear a morning coat. Only if indicated on the invitation should a dinner jacket or tails be worn, as dress suits should only be worn only on very specific occasions.
NO to black ties at weddings and to taking off your jacket during the meal.
9 - Can I wear sunglasses?
Sunglasses aren’t part of a wedding outfit and should therefore be avoided.
NO to sunglasses at daytime weddings.
10 - How do I get the wedding presents to the happy couple?
Wedding presents also have their rules of etiquette. If the couple have a wedding list, you should send the chosen gift to the address on the invitation. If they don’t have one, guests normally put some money into their bank account via the number on the card, using the cost of the meal to gauge the amount.
NO to handing over an envelope with money in it halfway through the meal.
11 - Are children invited?
The invitation usually specifies who is invited, whether it be adults only or the entire family. If the invitation doesn’t make it clear, it’s best to ask the couple directly.
NO to tables with adults and children together. Children should have their own table with carers if necessary, so as not to disturb the other guests.
12 - Should I let the couple know about any food allergies or intolerances I have?
The bride and groom will have been sampling the menu and finalising details of all the dishes you will be eating, so don’t be shy about informing them of your food allergy or intolerance. This will mean you’ll be able to enjoy a special option on the menu that both the couple and the catering service or restaurant are bound to have thought about already anyway. It’s advisable to notify them when you confirm you’ll be attending.
NO to not mentioning it until the last minute: try to let them know in plenty of time as it’s a mark of courtesy towards the wedding couple and their choices.
13 - Once I’ve sat down at the table, when can I start to eat?
The general rule of etiquette is that you shouldn’t begin to eat until all the guests are seated and the wedding couple are at their table. You will also have to wait until all the guests on the table have been served before you can start your meal.
NO to getting up from the table before you’ve finished. This could lengthen serving times and end up affecting other people sitting at your table.
14 - When should I get up to dance?
The best man and the bride usually start the dance, and after them come the maid of honour and the groom, and then finally the newlyweds. When their dance finishes, all the guests should join the married couple to celebrate.
NO to believing you’re John Travolta: the bride and groom are the stars of the show.
15 - How do I use my mobile at a wedding?
It’s a wedding, not a fashion shoot, so you shouldn’t go overboard with the use of your mobile devices. You should enjoy the moment, anyway: the couple already have a wedding photographer.
NO to leaving your mobile on the table and constantly receiving calls: this may disturb the other guests. If there’s an emergency, leave the room in order to be able to talk calmly.
Now you know everything you need to know about the rules of etiquette at daytime weddings and you’re ready to put them into practice at your next wedding: we’re sure you’ll be a great success!
Articles published in 2018