Falling foul of the unwritten rules of wedding day etiquette may be easier than most of us realise – don’t be one of these wedding guests!

Over half of guests (52%) say they have attended a ceremony where they have cringed at the antics of a fellow family member or friend of the happy couple, according to a new survey for Debenhams.

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Call the fashion police

Wearing the wrong outfit is classed as the most common mistake, with 36% of people saying they have witnessed guests dressed inappropriately. One in five (21%) say they have been embarrassed by attendees in very revealing clothing, while 15% know someone who has worn white or come dressed all in black, to a couple’s big day.

Men are not immune to getting their outfits wrong either, with 4% being seen in jeans and another 2% left feeling foolish by mistakenly believing black tie and dinner jacket is the same as a morning suit.

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Too wide a hat was mentioned by 14% who thought it rude as it blocked the view at the ceremony, and wearing a similar dress to the bridesmaids was regarded by 11% as thoughtless. Keeping sunglasses on in church was found to be pretentious by 9%, while fake tan that was too dark or streaky, and heavily applied make-up was seen as a faux pas by 6%.

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Not the right time

Nine out of ten thought getting drunk and causing a scene was the worst offence, but only 8% said they had witnessed such an event at a wedding. Taking flash photos during the ceremony was loathed by over eight out of ten, though just 12% had experienced this happening. A further 7% said they had been to weddings where a mobile phone ringing had ruined the atmosphere, either during the service or in the middle of speeches at the reception.

Inconsiderate guests causing problems for the organisers had been witnessed by 13% of those asked, either by not replying to an invitation and turning up with a friend who wasn’t invited, or changing the place cards to sit on a different table. People turning up late were another bug-bear for 10% of respondents.

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Speech time

Best men are known for walking a tightrope between good and bad taste when giving their speech, and 37% said they had attended weddings where previous girlfriends and past exploits – best left unsaid – had been mentioned.

Leaving before the reception speeches are finished was regarded as unacceptable by one in four, while 5% claimed to have watched unseemly tussles as women tried to catch the bride’s bouquet.

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Harrie Todd, Senior Manager of Debenhams Personal Shopping said: “It can be a real challenge navigating the dos and don’ts of weddings, but when it comes to the right outfit, our personal shoppers can offer the expert advice needed for the big day. Their service is entirely free and the team are great at knowing what to wear for every type of wedding, be it an informal beach union abroad, or a big traditional church wedding.

The dress code is one aspect of wedding day etiquette we are confident we can help with, the rest is down to the individual, but keeping in mind it is the happy couples’ special day goes a long way to ensuring everyone makes it a day to remember for all the right reasons.

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Top wedding guest faux pas

  • Bad taste best man’s speech
  • Leaving before the reception speeches are finished
  • Guests wearing outfits that are far too revealing
  • Wearing all white or all black
  • Blocking out the view of others in church with very large brimmed hats
  • Bringing someone who was not invited/failing to RSVP but turning up
  • Taking flash photography during the ceremony
  • Wearing a dress similar to the bridesmaids
  • Wearing sunglasses in church
  • Getting drunk/rowing and causing a scene
  • Forgetting to turn the ringer off your mobile phone for the ceremony or speeches
  • Turning up in jeans
  • Aggressively trying to catch the bride’s bouquet
  • Mistaking morning suit for black tie and dinner jacket