When Good Brits Go Wrong

Invitation to  The Royal Wedding

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Look up Anglophiloholic in your Oxford Dictionary and you’ll see my smiling face.

Actually, you won’t. The word doesn’t exist. I invented it to describe my complete adoration of most things British. If you’re in a sticky wicket, etiquette-wise, you could do worse than to ask yourself, “What would the Brits do?”

Why the Brits? Let’s start at the top: the Royal Family. They are masters of etiquette and protocol. Or maybe it’s the influence of Debrett’s, long recognized as “the modern authority on all matters of etiquette, social occasions, people of distinction and fine style.” Only in the UK can we find William Hanson, the world’s only Guinness World Record holding etiquette expert, and The English Manner, a British company whose mission is “… providing international training and consultancy in contemporary etiquette, protocol, the arts, social skills, household and event planning.”

I mean, they thrive on this stuff. They really do.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I read this article in the on-line version of the UK’s Brides Magazine, bursting with bad advice.

Egregious Etiquette Error #1 – “Between you and your fiancé, work out who are the most significant members of his family – who [have] to be invited to the entire wedding.”

Ummm, why the focus on his family? Are we to assume that the bride can invite as many family members as she likes, but the groom cannot? A wedding brings together two families. Of course you can’t invite every family member but equal consideration should be given to both sides. Fair is fair.

Egregious Etiquette Error #2 – “Remember, it’s your wedding and you can do anything you want…”

If you truly believe the day is just about you – and no one else – may I suggest you and your beloved take yourselves to your local city hall and quietly get married without fanfare. Following your bare bones nuptials you can splurge on a celebration dinner at Swiss Chalet or Red Lobster. In this way you can avoid thinking about pesky details like sharing your joy with family and friends. No worries about guest lists and seating plans. No ugly or inappropriate weddings gifts to fret about. No tiresome thank you cards to write.

Sounds rather dismal, doesn’t it?

Egregious Etiquette Error #3 – “Having an engagement party is also a great opportunity to include those who won’t be coming to the wedding.”

No. No it’s not. This is a very simple etiquette guideline:  do not invite anyone to an engagement party or shower who will not also be invited to your wedding. Simple. Done. Otherwise it looks like you’re trolling for gifts. And that’s just rude.

So how do you navigate these choppy waters? If the Brits can mess up such basic etiquette issues, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Realize that even so-called experts will make mistakes. Not all experts are created equal. If your wedding planner is a certified professional (as I am, she added shamelessly) he or she will have studied etiquette. Not working with a planner? Buy yourself a good wedding etiquette book. And always remember the Golden Rule: treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

It sounds even better if you say it with an English accent.

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