Want the best wedding ever? Mumsnet's top 10 rules

Over the years, and the course of many, MANY outraged threads deriding bad wedding etiquette, MNers have reached a general consensus on how to do it right. Here are the 10 commandments. 


1. Invite children. Or don't. But be consistent. Unless you can't be

toddler at wedding

By all means decide on a child-free wedding, but be aware that to do so will mean some people won't be able to come. Do not guilt-trip them over that decision, and if at all possible try to have some consistency over the no-children rule. There's nothing more annoying than going to great length and expense to arrange childcare for your own brood only to arrive at a wedding and discover yourself knee-deep in more important under-fives.

"We had a childfree wedding a few years back. One relation emailed and asked if she could bring a baby, lots of reasons why, she felt bad asking etc. We were on the verge of emailing back saying okay when another message arrived from a friend saying could she bring her daughter , lots of reasons etc... so we just thought fuck it, no kids, stick to our guns or it's just going to cause grief. People can either arrange childcare or not come: it's up to them. Glad we did."

On the other hand, if you do invite children - make sure they're catered for.

“If you have kids there, provide for them properly. Food AND entertainment.”


2) Understand that if you ask for money, you will be judged

wedding money

If your cultural heritage means money-giving is the norm, lucky you - you'll probably have a good, clear idea of how much to put up. If not, the boards are pretty evenly split between "it's an entrance fee"/"so rude" and those who think it's far easier and more practical.

“When a friend of mine gets married I really want to give them something, and I'd rather give money than some random ornament/piece of kitchenware that will just gather dust in a cupboard.”

As for how much...

"We got married last year and had money/voucher gifts ranging from £5 to £250, but most in the £20-£50 range. We appreciated each and every one and tried to use it for specific things so we could say 'thank you for your gift which went towards X'."

Although there will always be folk who quibble over the very idea:

“Just a card, I'd say. Maybe with a little rhyme in saying 'your present is our presence' (NB. DO NOT DO THIS!).”


3) Bridesmaids outfits. Be kind


Presumably, your bridesmaids are good friends whom you're counting on to support you on this important day. So treat them as allies. If you require them to wear a certain dress, it's beholden on you to pay for it. And remember, all eyes will naturally be on you for the day - you don't have to put your bridesmaids into bad dresses to ensure that.

Take their body types into account - happy bridesmaids are more important than matching outfits. Such consideration will be paid back in full when you need one of them to hold up your train while you go to the loo.

"I honestly don't get the matching dress malarkey... it makes grown women look like small children. I wanted my sisters to wear a nice dress they each picked out that that they could wear again, but my horrible shithead sister insisted she and sis wear the same dress. Upshot was, non-shithead sis looked great, shithead sis didn't. Result!"


4) Your hen night should not require attendees to take out a bank loan

hen night

“Posy's Law: the extravagance of the hen do is inversely proportional to the length of the marriage.”

Have a heart for anyone who'd rather spend a couple of hundred pounds on their own holiday than blowing it on two nights away with you when they’re already taking time off to get to your wedding.

“Oh for a nice dinner and a bit of a boogie, none of this drive cross country to be forced into a variety of pointless and expensive activities.”

5) Feed and water your guests while you're having your photo taken 

wedding food

Be warned: this is the moment when you lose people. If your photographer fancies themselves as the next David Bailey, or you yourself are determined to have a thousand variations of the wedding party preserved for posterity, do ensure your guests are at least being fed and watered.

“Make sure people are not thirsty or starving at any point. So if there is a long gap between the ceremony and the reception FGS give them something to eat while they're waiting.”

“It's a good time for canapes - and be generous with them.”

6) Sit your guests next to people they know

wedding party

As you’ll be on the top table with your nearest and dearest, now is not the time to enforce mingling: you won’t be on hand to facilitate with a “Great Aunt Patsy, this is my colleague Betsy – you both share a passion for quilting”. Ideally, let people sit with friends – they’ll all have more fun.

“Brother's wedding last year was horrid. Seating arrangements were half bride's family/half groom's family. Most people were sat with people they had never met before.”


7) Speeches: short and funny, or tissue-soakingly emotional

wedding speech

We couldn’t improve on this great advice on the Father of the Bride speech from one Mumsnetter, which should be extrapolated to cover all wedding speeches:

“It should be short...and a feel good speech, aim to make the audience smile (not laugh), hyperbole is appropriate - most beautiful bride, wish them the happiest marriage etc. Don't offend anyone! And if you have to raise something potentially difficult, do it in the middle of the speech, so you can end on a positive note.”


8) Sure, it's your wedding - but for your guests, it's a party

new girl wedding dance gif

“A good party that happens to celebrate a marriage. So, good food, plenty to drink (not necessarily free, but it helps), something to do/watch but no compulsion to do so, people you want to spend time with.”

Which can mean providing guests with things you wouldn’t necessarily have thought about:

“Make sure you have a slightly drunk uncle who goes around making inappropriate comments and, if possible, a pass at someone. It won't be a proper wedding without.”


9) Remember what the day's really about

wedding flowers

Fact: no one cares about the flowers. On the day itself, you won't care about the flowers. Turns out that plenty of food, sufficient booze, short speeches and good music are what people remember from a wedding, not the favours you’ve been up for nights sewing or the thoughtfully colour-coordinated table arrangements. Priorities, people. 

“If I never again have to pretend to be wowed by a unique flower arrangement/menu/favour/chair cover I will be a happy lady.”

10) And finally: the best advice for a great wedding? Enjoy yourself!

wedding up

“A good wedding is one where people are happy. That starts with a really happy bride and groom, happy parents of the bride and groom and happy wedding party. It's infectious and wonderful.”

To summarise:

"AIBU? I've had an invitation to a wedding. And I can't be cross. No demands, no poem. I can wear whatever I like. My presence is enough. Presents will be gratefully received but are not expected - they are aware many guests are travelling a distance and will just be happy to see everyone there. There's even a helpful sheet with directions/info on local hotels. How flipping unreasonable of them!"




Last updated: about 3 years ago