Looking forward to an upcoming wedding but want to brush up on the proper protocol, dress and manners before the nuptials? This cheat sheet will help you impress the bride and groom on their special day. We'll cover essential etiquette and what to wear to different seasons and styles of ceremonies. If you're looking for a modern alternative to the occasion dress or simply want to make a statement by mixing up your look, you'll be ready to RSVP in style whatever you choose to wear, thanks to the picks in our wedding boutique.

 

Unwritten rules of wedding etiquette
Woman wearing pastel pink jumpsuit with gold heels

 

Always RSVP on time

Careful planning and meticulous detail is spent on creating the wedding invitations, which are sent well in advance for good reason. As a guest it's polite to respond within the deadline so that you allow for the couple to accommodate you and your needs.


Never add a plus one

Bringing along an uninvited guest is possibly the biggest wedding faux pas. The couple will have endured a painstaking process of deciding how many people they can host at their gathering. Adding an unexpected plus one could totally throw off their seating plan and meal preparation, and also has the potential to cause awkward tensions. Your invite will state whether or not you have the option of bringing a partner. If not, simply enjoy the opportunity to mingle with the other guests.


Follow the dress code

Church ceremonies usually require covered shoulders to reflect respect. Even if you're invited to a smart-casual affair it's best to err on the side of caution: no T-shirts and no trainers. Black dresses used to be taboo for weddings, but these days you have a little more freedom. White dresses, however, are still strictly reserved for the bride.

How to behave at the wedding
Woman wearing blue dress

 

Smartphones allow us to take top notch pictures anytime we please, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to be snapping away during the vows. The bride and groom will likely have a paid photographer to capture their ceremony, which means you can just sit back and enjoy. Your pics might distract the couple or get in the way of the professional photographer's work.


Stay positive. You may dislike the centrepieces, the music or even the bride's dress, but remember that it's the couple's choice to make – not yours.

What to wear to a summer wedding
Woman wearing A-line floral dress with silver heels

 

This season is all about soft pastels and bright blocks of colour, so floral prints are ideal for fashion-forward guests. If the flower pattern is bold then complete the look with minimalist metallic jewellery to let the print take centre stage.


Think about which cut of dress would best showcase these summery designs. Maxis are wonderful for a daytime wedding under a marquee, while a fitted cocktail dress is just the thing to wear to the evening bubbly. Don't fancy a dress? Not a problem: this is the perfect time to break out a statement jumpsuit or playsuit


Men can also get in on the floral theme by matching a pale suit jacket with a patterned waistcoat. Light linen trousers and chinos are just the ticket for mingling with other guests at an outdoor event.

What to wear to a winter wedding
Woman wearing royal blue dress with matching heels

 

If you're attending a winter wedding (or a summer wedding with a bad weather forecast), you'll need a slightly different approach. This season provides an opportunity to experiment with layering your womenswear. Think about the first layer everyone will see when you arrive: the coat. A belted trench is stylish and formal, but also hints at individuality. A plush wool coat will keep you cosy if you're easily affected by cold, and if you choose an elegant longline cut it looks as good as wearing a dress.


Underneath you'll have your perfectly coordinated occasion wear. Winter is a time to go wild with richly textured fabrics without worrying that you'll overheat. How about a full sumptuous skirt made from the finest satin? Or a formal A-line dress with a dashing faux fur wrap?


One must-have for every winter wardrobe is a blazer. They're endlessly versatile, pairing with any sort of formal wear to create a layered look. From luxurious velvet to smart satin, a blazer can add new dimensions to an outfit, dressing up even a simple frock into an evening-worthy ensemble.


For men, you can't go wrong with a three-piece suit with a waistcoat. Deep greys and blues look wonderful at church weddings. If you're heading out to the countryside then opt for a traditional tweed or houndstooth pattern to really match the occasion.

What to wear to a wedding reception
Silver ankle strap wedge heels

 

If you're not going to attend the ceremony you can still make an impressive entrance at the reception. As you won't be going to church you can afford to wear something a little more playful; perhaps an off-the-shoulder blouse and wide leg trousers? Pep up your wardrobe with a few eye-catching accessories. That way, even if you're coming straight from work, you can transform your simple attire by slipping on a bold bracelet and statement necklace.


Last but not least, your choice of footwear is crucial if you want to enjoy the celebrations well into the night. While daring heels that add inches to your height will make an impact, you might fare better on the dance floor with wedges or pumps. Both styles can be just as glamorous as stilettos if you pick the right pair.