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Wedding Etiquette: A Gentleman's Guide

Your behavior at a wedding reflects your character and respect for tradition, making the celebration more enjoyable for everyone involved.

By Raja Izz

Picture: Danial Deen Isa-Kalebic and Janetira Attaskulchai

(credit: Chic Planner)


In an age where traditions are constantly evolving, weddings remain one of the few occasions steeped in time-honored customs and protocols. As a gentleman, understanding and adhering to wedding etiquette is essential, not just for your own decorum, but to honor the couple and their families on their special day. Here’s your comprehensive guide to navigating wedding etiquette with grace and sophistication.

1. The Invitation: RSVP Promptly

Upon receiving a wedding invitation, respond as soon as possible. The couple needs to finalize numbers for catering and seating arrangements, so your timely RSVP is crucial. Whether you can attend or not, a prompt response is a sign of respect and consideration.

2. Dress Code: Decode and Adhere

Weddings come with various dress codes, often specified on the invitation. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Black Tie: This calls for a tuxedo with a black bow tie, white dress shirt, and polished black shoes.

  • Formal/Black Tie Optional: A dark suit and tie are appropriate, though a tuxedo is also acceptable.

  • Semi-Formal: A suit and tie are suitable, but you have the flexibility to choose lighter colors and patterns.

  • Casual: This could mean a smart blazer with trousers or even a smart casual ensemble. However, always err on the side of being slightly overdressed rather than underdressed.

Type of dress code: formality scale

via suitsexpert.com


3. Gifts: Thoughtful and Timely

If the couple has a registry, choose a gift from it as these are items they have specifically chosen. If you opt for a personalized or unique gift, ensure it aligns with their tastes and lifestyle. Send the gift ahead of time to avoid bringing it to the venue.

4. Arrival: Be Punctual

Arriving on time for the ceremony is crucial. Aim to be seated at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. Arriving late can be disruptive and disrespectful to the couple and other guests.

5. Behavior: Courteous and Considerate

Throughout the event, maintain a demeanor of courtesy and respect:

  • During the Ceremony: Refrain from using your phone. Ensure it is on silent mode and avoid taking photos unless explicitly permitted.

  • At the Reception: Engage in polite conversation, participate in toasts and dances when appropriate, and be mindful of your alcohol consumption.

  • Interactions: Be gracious to the hosts, express congratulations to the couple, and engage warmly with other guests.

Brunei's Prince Abdul Mateen and Princess Anisha Rosnah attended the wedding of their friends, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and Oil Nantisa Tanyongwet, held at King Power Srivaree in Nong Prue, Thailand.

via Prince Mateen's Instagram


6. Seating: Follow the Plan

Respect the seating arrangements meticulously planned by the couple. If you have a seating card, find your place and remain there for the duration of the meal.

7. Toast Etiquette: Speak When Invited

If you’re giving a toast, prepare your speech in advance. Keep it concise, heartfelt, and appropriate for the occasion. Avoid controversial or overly personal anecdotes. If you’re not giving a toast, listen attentively and raise your glass in support.

8. Dance Floor: Join In

When the dance floor opens, join in, even if it’s just for a short time. It’s a way to celebrate with the couple and contribute to the joyous atmosphere. If there are specific dances like the couple's first dance, respect their moment and join in when appropriate.

9. Farewell: Leave Gracefully

When it’s time to leave, do so quietly and without causing disruption. Thank the hosts and say goodbye to the couple if it doesn’t interrupt their festivities.

10. Follow Up: Send a Note

After the wedding, send a handwritten note to the couple expressing your gratitude for being included in their special day. Mention specific moments or highlights you enjoyed, adding a personal touch to your thanks.


Weddings are a celebration of love, unity, and tradition. By adhering to these guidelines, you not only honor the couple and their families but also exemplify the qualities of a true gentleman. Your attention to detail, respect for tradition, and courteous demeanor will contribute to the success and joy of the occasion, leaving a lasting impression of elegance and grace.

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