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The I-dos and don'ts of wedding day etiquette

This week sees the release of the film Bridesmaids, which makes fun of the expensive and sometimes bizarre rituals a maid of honour has to go through to prove her worth.

Make a mistake as a bridesmaid and you risk being consigned to the annals of bad wedding stories for all eternity. People will discuss you in hushed tones and tut-tut when your name is mentioned in polite company.

In the hierarchy of a wedding, bridesmaids rank pretty close to the top. They have an important role to play and, hopefully, know what is expected of them -- be there for the bride, keep an eye on her make-up, don't get too drunk, and no disappearing behind the church with the best man.

It's like representing your country in the Olympics -- let the side down and no one will ever forget (but I'm not for a second suggesting drug-testing your bridesmaids). But what about the rest of the attendees?

The guests' only job is to turn up on time, dress appropriately, enjoy themselves while still behaving, say thank you and remember to tell the bride she looks "radiant" -- regardless of whether or not you can see her control pants through her dress, or she looks like her make-up has been applied with a water cannon. Surely that's simple enough? You'd think so. But everyone has a story to tell of the wedding guest who just didn't get it.

The punch-up in the toilets, the ex of the bride or groom with that dangerous faraway look in their eye, the sleazy uncle, the mate's wife whose boobs fell out of her dress as she tried to jump into a water feature, and the guest who gets so drunk they become astonishingly inappropriate with the groom and then vomit (if the final two on that list seem a little specific, it's because I had the joy of them at my own wedding a couple of months ago).

Compiling a wedding guest list is a tricky business. Some people favour family over friends and others the reverse. Deciding on numbers, plus-ones for singletons and whether or not to invite children has been the cause of some of the biggest rows I have ever witnessed.

Inevitably, there will be people on the guest list that one, or both, of the couple cannot stand, but concessions, compromise and trade-offs are part of any wedding. As a friend of mine said some years back of her fiancé's cousin: "I'd cross the road to avoid him but now I've got to buy him dinner." It's a fair point, but when the day arrives, you have to accept the given assemblage, or risk ruining things for yourself.

It is incomprehensible how some wedding-goers still get it wrong. You would think at this stage that even the wedding guest newcomer knows that it is the biggest day of someone else's life and not just about them getting a free meal and seeing how long the open bar lasts.


Yet still, at every wedding I have been to -- bar none -- there are the whingers, the begrudgers, the women who think it's okay to wear long, white dresses, and the ones who think wearing next to nothing will bag them a groomsman. There are the ones who get drunk before the starter has even arrived and those who say in an audible whisper: "If it was a restaurant, I'd send this back," about the food.

Top of the list are the ones who use the day and the captive audience to announce their own big news. Take it from me, the happy couple will not thank you for announcing your engagement, pregnancy or any other spotlight-stealing revelations during their wedding. So, if you want to tell everyone that you're gay or that you've just won the Lotto, just keep it under wraps for one day.

Better still, wait for the next funeral and it might lighten the mood.


If you are a soon-to-be bride or groom, don't panic -- there are varying degrees on the bad behaviour scale and, hopefully, your experience will be towards the less offensive end (one being a slightly ill- conceived heckle, 10 being someone making an alcohol-fuelled move on the priest).

And hey, it'll give you and the rest of the well-behaved guests something to talk about after the wedding.

Once you're not one of the ones that people talk about for years to come for the wrong reasons, everything else is just one to tell the grandchildren.