• Jenna Hewitt

wedding etiquette


Anyone who knows me well enough knows I’m a “do away with the rule book” kind of girl when it comes to wedding traditions. A firm believer in your wedding your way. Recently I was asked to write about wedding etiquette – the dos and don’ts of the best wedding behaviour. Stuck on who to pop on your top table? Confused about how far to cater for fussy guests? Not sure whether or not to run an open bar tab? Read on!


IS IT OK NOT A OFFER SINGLE GUESTS A PLUS ONE?

Your wedding day is about being surrounded by your closest family and friends and I don’t think anyone who is single at the point of invitation would expect to bring a plus one. It’s also more than likely that they will be part of a friendship group or part of the family and there will be plenty of people there they know. If you do have single guests coming, I would definitely be considerate when it comes to things like seating plans – pop them on a table with friends they know or like minded guests. It’s likely that your venue will have a maximum capacity and you want to reserve those precious spaces for the important people in your lives!


HOW MANY BRIDESMAIDS SHOULD YOU HAVE?

Ultimately as many or as few as you’d like. I’ve had brides with none and some with with 7! The choice is entirely yours and will depend on lots of different elements. My biggest word of warning is don’t get “trigger happy” in the early days of planning and rush to ask all your closest friends to be a bridesmaid. I’ve known a lot of brides to be to regret this later, once the dust settles. Take time to consider, work it out. Your bridesmaids are your “A team” of ladies to support you on in the run up to and on the day itself and share those “getting ready, getting nervous, getting married” moments with.

WHO SHOULD SIT AT THE TOP TABLE?

Now, there are traditions that dictate this – typically the Bride and Groom, Best Man, Maid of Honour and parents on both sides. But, again, it’s your day! You decide! I’ve had couples who have slightly sticky family relationships like divorced parents who simply don’t get on. can you imagine forcing these people to sit on the same table and enjoy a meal on what is supposed to be the best day of your lives?! In these examples it’s not uncommon for the couple to opt for a top table of themselves and close friends (bridesmaids and ushers) and then pop the family on other tables. I’m not personally sold on the concept of a “sweetheart” table for just to the two of you but it is another option. My favourite trend right now is for a more informal, sociable style of dining with long trestle arrangements where the Bride and Groom become a part of the party!

SHOULD WE HAVE AN OPEN BAR?

Hmmm, this is a tricky one. Firstly can you afford one? If yes then I would say go for it but with certain restrictions. I actually made this error on my own wedding day. At the time my husband worked for a large drinks manufacturer and we had access to copious amounts of very reasonably priced alcohol. We offered a free bar with pretty much every drink option you can imagine (including Mojito on tap). The result was a lot of very drunken guests, too drunken! You want people to have the best time, you want to encourage this but there is too much of a good thing. 99% of my couples have an open bar but in every instance I advise a restricted bar. I recommend restricting the variety of spirits, suggest single serves only and no shots! I’m far from a party pooper – you want to strike the balance between people having an amazing and slightly drunken time and entire chaos!


IS IT WRONG TO WEAR WHITE TO A WEDDING (AS A GUEST!)

My personal opinion on this is, reserve it for the bride. It’s her day, her time to shine. I’m sure if you did opt for white, it wouldn’t be wedding dress-esque but you can guarantee that you will attract the attention of (typically) other female guests because it just isn’t really the done thing.

IS IT OK TO ASK FOR MONEY (RATHER THAN PRESENTS) AS YOUR WEDDING GIFT?

Increasingly so yes! Spin back a few years to the days when my parents got married. They had nothing, they didn’t always live together beforehand, they needed stuff to fill their houses. I do not have a single client who doesn’t currently live with their other half. We are marrying later, we have, typically, already been living together and “playing house”. We have the “stuff”. What most couples appreciate today is a little hand towards a honeymoon or even a house deposit! In fact there are guest list companies now that allow the flexibility of both. Prezola is a great example. You can request specific items from lots of top brands and, at the same time, request money towards things like a special dinner on your honeymoon.


IS IT OK TO HAVE A CHILD FREE WEDDING?

Again, yes! It is your day. Opinion is often divided on this one and I suggest doing what makes sense for your style of wedding and the guests. I have two children and, personally, relish an invite for a “child free wedding”. It gives me time off and chance to relax and a wedding day is a long long day for most young children. If you are planning a huge party into the early hours, chances are that this type of wedding wouldn’t be suitable for little people in any case (slightly drunk guests can be quite scary!). The venue is also a big consideration – is it child friendly? If you are really feeling the pressure to have children, one thing I would definitely advise is hiring in some professionals to help. There is nothing worse than unhappy children in amongst your wedding celebrations. There are plenty of amazing companies who offer childcare and entertainment services. My favourite being The Little Top.


SHOULD I CATER FOR FUSSY GUESTS?

I personally wouldn’t cater for food preferences due to fussy guests – if you start that one you’ll end up in a world of pain. Intolerances, allergies or things like vegetarian diets I definitely would. Any caterer worth their salt will expect and allow and manage this for you. One exception to this rule would be children or younger guests. I wouldn’t expect them to eat, for example, a spicy starter or seafood main course. Again, caterers and venues will expect this and create something “little people” friendly” as an alternative.

Photography credits: Jo Bradbury, Rebecca Goddard; Victoria Phipps; Adrian Michael

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e : jenna@jennahewitt.co.uk   /   t : 07779 017 888

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