10 WAYS TO BE AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST BY A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

1. Wedding Guest Dress Stress!

We know the struggle. We too have been victims of spanx and every other occasion wear anxiety. Remember one thing. Everyone will be looking at the wedding couple. Texting the bride or groom the night before the wedding to ask whether you should wear sheer tights, opaque tights or go bare legged is not a top priority. I know you want to look and feel your best but engage the advice of other members of your friends and family.

Wear what you feel comfortable in. This is our key piece of advice to wedding couples themselves. If you are holding your top up, pulling down your hem and are worried your clothing is too revealing, it will be on your mind all day. Wear something suitable to dance the night away. Remember those six-inch stilettos may not be quite as comfortable at midnight as they were at 11am walking into the ceremony.

2. A whiter shade of pale.

Unless you’re particularly popular this year, you have another 364 days to wear white, cream, ivory, off-white or any other whitish pantone variation. If your outfit can be likened to any shade of Andrex (except the pink-toned one which is completely acceptable) then get changed now! Whilst some people may view this to be an outdated social courtesy, many disgruntled brides do not. Manners, no matter what era, will not go amiss. Would you want to risk upsetting the bride (or indeed other close to her)? Unless the wedding invitation specifically invites you, the wedding guest, to dress in white as part of the theme, leave it to the main lady on her special day. Tuck into a packet of skittles for some colour inspiration and inject the rainbow into your wedding day wardrobe.

3. You don’t have to bring a present… just be present.

Whilst gifts are nice and will certainly be appreciated as we discuss below, the biggest present is for you to be there. Being present is more than just being there in person but in mind too. Put down that mobile phone. Unless the couple have specifically asked you to take photographs, leave it to the professionals. They have paid for a wedding photographer to take photographs and they have paid for your place as a wedding guest. Many couples are opting for an unplugged wedding which asks specifically for all technology to be hidden away. Live in the moment, we all need a technological detox from time to time.

A little note on gifts. Many couples ask for money towards wedding albums or their honeymoon. Some guests may feel a little disgruntled or feel it rude for couples to ask for money. Many couples live together and have all they need but have spent all savings on a wedding. It is not meant to be ungrateful but simply practical.

4. Bridal party palaver.

There are many tensions about who is included as bridesmaid or groomsmen. We have photographed many weddings where the bridal party has changed at the last moment due to fall out. Sometimes those selected are beyond the control of the couple themselves, particularly if they are not paying for the wedding. Family expectation can be an influence. Conversely, if the couple are paying, they may simply not have the financial resource to include everyone that they desperately wanted to. This can be equally as upsetting for them as it is for you. Take it on the chin. It does not mean they value you less.

5. Can I just…

The majority of sentences that start with ‘Can I just…’ shouldn’t be asked. Can I just bring my children? As a couple with two very small children ourselves, one who had health needs as a baby, we understand how difficult it can be to have reliable and equipped childcare on a weekend.

Asking if you can bring your children can place the wedding couple in a difficult predicament. Whilst you may have very valid reasons for asking to bring your children you can bet that other parents attending may have similar challenges to your own. It can’t be one rule for one and one rule for another even if you are the groom’s oldest and closest friend. The couple may have restrictions with budget and numbers or may simply wish for adults to let their hair down. Asking for a plus one also falls into this category. If you have a new partner a month before the wedding, the couple may have already paid the final balance, submitted table plans and confirmed numbers. Be respectful of their wishes.

6. I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!

Being late is often unavoidable if you are struck by one of life’s disasters. Blown tyre, car accident and toddler tantrum but the most common reason is not being able to find the venue. Some wedding venues are in remote country locations designed to bamboozle and confound sat-nav systems. Be sure to read the invitation carefully. Some venues can have very similar names and even the exact same name in a different location. Know whether you are going to Hardwick or Hardwicke, Hallgarth or Hall Garth.

If you are driving and unsure of the location, visit the venue in advance. You never know you may be able to treat yourself to a cream tea ahead of time. If you are no longer able to attend the wedding, let the couple know at the earliest point. We have consoled many tearful brides, one who received 11 cancellation texts on the morning of the wedding. For some venues the cost alone, which is not refundable, may be in excess of £1400. They may be able to offer your place to an evening wedding guest so the money is not wasted. The only tears on a wedding day should be tears of joy.

7. Food glorious food!

We all love to eagerly scour a mouth-watering menu and it is very rare that each person in your party orders the same. We hear many guests complaining (even to the couple themselves) about ‘a boring’ roast chicken dinner, portion size or that they prefer thicker gravy. When couples choose the wedding breakfast menu, they are often restricted by choice and make selections in order to please as many people as possible. The couple must think about allergies, intolerances and the food preferences of all wedding guests. Whilst you love spicy food, do all of your friends?

Catering for a large volume of people imposes restriction on the venue too both in timing and possibility. Make sure you have a hearty breakfast and pop a cereal bar in your bag so that you are not hungry if the wedding breakfast is later than you would normally eat. Golden rule: do not complain to the wedding couple on the day. Many venues charge in excess of £100 per person. A lot of money has been spent to have you as part of their special day.

8. Y.M.C.A or ballroom blitz

Whatever the music, get your groove on! A big fear of many couples is an empty dancefloor. Couples think of so many ways to encourage wedding guests to dance from providing flip flops for sore feet to carefully curating playlists. During the first dance, couples will often welcome their guests to join them on the dancefloor. Once it didn’t happen. The couple were pleading with guests stood around the edge of the floor filming the dance and not one person joined them. The DJ announced their wishes not once but three times. We beg you, please do not do that to your friends or family. Who cares if you listen to death metal on your morning commute? Bust a move… any move! Nobody will judge you if Craig Revel Horwood would score your dad dancing a zero! The couple just want to see you having the time of your life!

9. Uncle Steve? Where is Uncle Steve?

Group shots are rarely chosen by the wedding photographer. The couple themselves choose which images they would like to have to remember their wedding guests. Group shots are organised and timed within the schedule to minimise disruption as much as possible and make sure the wedding breakfast is on time. If you nip to the bar it may hold up the larger group and delay the schedule of the day. We have been known to be asked to photoshop a M.I.A. wedding guest (later found unharmed) into all group shots. We promise we will get it over with as painlessly as possible!

10. Everybody in the club get tipsy!

Tipsy. Tipsy is fine. Being a wedding guest carried by four suited groomsmen from the venue by each of your limbs isn’t. Neither is vomiting in the centrepiece bowl (yep… it happened). I know we sound like your mother when you were 18 but drink responsibly. It is so easy to have one, two or three before the ceremony and four or *cough* ten by the wedding breakfast when the table wine glasses are filled. You want to remember the wedding and not be that embarrassing friend.

Similarly, take care of the wedding couple. Offer them a glass of water. They may not be tipsy, in fact they may not have had a drink at all. If you have ever been married, you know how tight the schedule can be and as host or hostess their concern is to look after their guests. They will remember your kindness.