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How to be a Great Wedding Guest (what NOT to do)...

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There are a lot of blogs out there offering hints and tips for couples on how to prepare for their big day, what to do on the morning of your wedding and how to cope with such a big life change. But there are less blogs available on the unwritten etiquette for wedding guests. It may seem so obvious and yet, in my some 10 years working in wedding venues and at events as well as being a guest myself, there are some ‘classics’ that crop up time and time again that really should be avoided.

The key to being a good wedding guest is to practise true empathy and to really and truly put yourself into the position of the couple. Lateness, talking during speeches, ignoring requests, being fussy with food, making everything about you - these are just some of the things I' have seen in my time and I know I’m not the only one. Basically, don’t be an a***hole and you’ll most likely be going home with all of your friends, a slice of cake and with any luck, a sore head the next morning. Here are a list of my top things NOT to do as a wedding guest!

DON’T BE LATE

I know what you’re all going to say….’DUH’!!! But I guarantee you, if you ask 3 people you know who have got married in the last 5 years, they will tell you that at least one person or one couple rocked up late to the ceremony and had to sneak in during their nuptials. For me, lateness is just so unnecessary and so inappropriate. If you know you take a million years to iron your shirt or put your eyebrows on, then get up 30 minutes earlier and sort your lives out. There is nothing worse than late guests turning up when the ceremony is in full swing and having to make the ‘walk of shame’ to some spare seats at the back. It’s disrespectful and there is really no excuse. (Also, if you are so late that you’ll be walking in during the ceremony, just wait outside until it’s over. If you didn’t care enough to arrive on time, you clearly don’t care about seeing the iconic moment when the couple are legally married. Grab a coffee and think about what you’ve done).

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LEAVE YOUR DRAMA AT HOME

Sometimes, we fall out of favour with people. We still love them but they are not necessarily high on our list of dinner guests. However, a wedding is one of the most special and life-defining moments that anyone will go through during their lifetime and as such, we often still go out of our way to invite these people. They could be family or long-term friends and ultimately mean something to us.

If this is YOU, do everyone a favour and make sure you do one of the following. 1) Politely decline and wish the happy couple well or 2) leave your drama at home! 364 days of the year might be about you (although it’s doubtful) but on this 1 day, make it about someone else. Leave your issues at the door, have a glass of champagne and enjoy the celebrations. If you can’t do that…GET, IN, THE, BIN.

EAT WHAT YOU’RE GIVEN AND DON’T COMPLAIN

Back to basics with this one! If you didn’t reply alerting the couple that you are allergic to prawns or that you are now a vegan, then prepare to eat whatever the waiting staff put in front of you. Not what you would put on your ideal menu? #mermaidhairdontcare

If you don’t eat pate, then pop it on someone else’s plate, enjoy a bread roll, hunker down and pray for mains. Don’t judge the food, don’t bad mouth the food and don’t complain if it’s not enough - you probs won’t starve. You’re not paying and therefore, you are not permitted to have an offensive opinion. Make small talk with your neighbours and in general, remain delightful.

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DON’T GET PLASTERED (too early on…)

There is nothing worse than all of the attention being on you for the wrong reasons. If you’re wasted before you arrive, do everyone a favour (including yourself) and go and grab a sandwich and an Evian and sober up. Drink slowly throughout the day and work your way into a marvellous stupor with everyone else, just in time for the final dance of the night (which should always be ‘We Are the Champions’ fyi). Please don’t think that you’re funny drunk on a table full of sober people, because you’re probably just annoying lol that’s right. We’re laughing at you, not with you. Sense the tone of the wedding and drink responsibly AND respectfully.

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RESPECT THE SEATING PLAN

Believe it or not, I’ve seen guests swapping their place cards to different TABLES in the past. Without being too harsh…..’get a life’ lol. If you can’t see any familiar names, enjoy an hour and half of meeting new people and then sit wherever you like thereafter. Swapping place cards stuffs up seating for other guests and causes unnecessary hassle when people are trying to find their seats (and it’s a bit awkward and weird). If you don’t like it, grab a seat outside and enjoy the views!

THE CAKE CUTTING & FIRST DANCE

For me, the best way to execute these two iconic moments of your day is to have one and then the other. Cake cutting and straight into first dance. It keeps the evening moving and you can get everyone involved in both special moments. (If only they would all move).

If you hear the venue staff, catering teams or indeed bridal party asking you to head to the dancefloor to be part of the cake cutting and/or first dance, don’t be a jerk. Just go. The bar will still be there when you get back, I guarantee it. But these moments, no matter how small they may seem to you as a guest, are moments that the couple will never get back. Make it special for them and crowd around, take photos and throw out the occasional supportive ‘woop’! Your beer will still be cold when the 5 minutes have passed.

ALSO, when I say ‘crowd around’, sitting on a table next to the couple is NOT the same thing. If the dancefloor is in the centre of the room, unless requested, get out of your seats and CROWD AROUND the couple. It makes for a MUCH better atmosphere and after all, it’s about the couple. Not you. For the cake cutting, CROWD AROUND for the countdown. Take photos and relish the merriment! To summarise - be a good human.

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STAY AWAY……FROM THE DRESS

This one sort of correlates with getting seriously drunk as usually, it’s the seriously drunk ones that forget all personal space limitations, sorry……personal dress space limitations. I remember one wedding many years ago when one of my brides came to me in tears because someone hadn’t seen her and in a drunken blur, had stepped THROUGH her train with a nice big size 12. Luckily, I had an emergency kit and I sat on the floor and stitched the lace back onto the dress. Give the couple the respect they deserve. Keep make-up away from the grooms shirt (air cuddles are underrated) and give the bride ample space to move without damaging her attire. It’s worth more than your right arm.

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RESPECT THE VENUE

If anything gets damaged at the venue or goes missing because you think it’s funny, the couple are the ones that lose out because it will 100% guaranteed come out of their pockets. As the only points of contact for the venue, they take full responsibility for the premises on the night of their wedding - that includes you. If you’re children have been lucky enough to be included, don’t let them turn feral. Keep an eye on them and make sure they stay out of mischief as well as you.

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DON’T JUST, NOT TURN UP

Ultimate un-cool points awarded to people who don’t turn up to a wedding. Did you know that per head, you are worth anything from £70 to £250 ON YOUR OWN which has been paid in order for you to attend and is non-refundable. If you decide you’re not going, give at LEAST 4 weeks notice, BEFORE the final bill is paid.

REPLY ON TIME TO YOUR INVITATION

Make things simple for the couple and reply on time. There will be a generous deadline date on your invitation - read it. Without your acceptance or refusal, budget control goes out the window, seating plans can’t be created, menus can’t be decided upon and in general, it’s just an unnecessary headache! Reply on time AND in the preferred method of the couple which will be on the invite. (NB. Sending a text saying ‘I’m coming’, doesn’t count).

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DON’T WEAR WHITE

You know it’s wrong. Even if you think it’s outdated, today isn’t about what you think (quite frankly). Unless you KNOW the bride is wearing black and she has OK’d guests wearing white, just steer clear. Rule of thumb - if you have to ask if your dress looks ‘too white’….don’t do it.

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DON’T HECKLE DURING THE SPEECHES (unless it’s invited…)

Unless the best man, groom, bride or bridesmaid gives an opening to be heckled or you know is SUPER confident, just keep your mouth shut. It’s not cute and it’s not funny, especially as public speaking is quite high on the list of people’s ultimate social fears. If you feel your heckle diarrhoea coming up, pick up your drink and hold it to your face until the feeling has subsided.

DON’T KICK UP A FUSS IF YOU DON’T GET A PLUS ONE OR IF YOUR KIDS AREN’T INVITED

New boyfriend? Going well? Best week of your life? So happy for you! He’s not made the cut….it’s super unreasonable to expect to bring a +1 if they have never met the majority of people in attendance, especially the couple! Bring him along for the evening and he can nibble on the filo prawns and have a dance, but don’t throw your toys out of the pram if your friends don’t want to pay £120 for a stranger.

Same with children - if the invite says ‘no children’, then it means, ‘no children’. Don’t get me wrong - I totally understand that some people don’t have a family/friend baby sitting option for the day and it might cost a chunk in childcare. But ultimately, it’s not as much as the bride and groom have paid for their day which they want you to be a part of. It’s your choice whether you attend and pay the childcare fee or not but don’t begrudge the couple for wanting a child-free occasion. We all love kids (most of the time) but realistically, it is a grown up celebration, so it’s often a lot easier to leave your kids at home!

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Adhere to these few and very simple suggestions and you will be classed as GREAT wedding guest and not be exiled from the family or friendship group. It’s not hard to enjoy a wedding. Everyone is normally excited, you get to dress up, have great food, drinks, dancing and copious quantities of merriment. So relax, enjoy and celebrate with new and old friends.

DO THE RIGHT THING. BE A GOOD PERSON. BE A GOOD GUEST.

Hannah x

Hannah's Favourite Hotel Venues in Surrey & Sussex

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This last year since we opened our doors has been a complete whirlwind. From opening within 6 weeks of deciding to take the plunge, to meeting hundreds of new people (designers and couples alike) 2018-19 has so far been one of my favourites!

With such an incredible response to our boutique, our unique dresses and our warm and truly personable approach, has come an overwhelming amount of support. Brides and their families and friends have championed us, industry friends have given us their full support and in turn, venues have taken us on board as their preferred suppliers. It truly has been a sensational 14 months!

After the popularity of our last post about our favourite barn venues in and around Surrey and Sussex, I wanted to share my top picks for hotel venues across the same counties! Hotels are great for couples with lots of family and friends coming from afar. They normally have the ability to host ceremonies onsite and with bedrooms for guests before the big day and the night of, it makes planning all the more easy!

For wedding dresses in Surrey, we have definitely got you covered. We are, as it currently stands (and long may it continue), the most highly rated bridal boutique in Surrey and on the borders of West Sussex. But for wedding venues, we can point you in the right direction and wish you well! Below are my top hotel picks for your big day! ENJOY!

SURREY

Hartsfield Manor

From the impressive driveway through this estate, nestled in beautiful Betchworth, to the glorious facade and sprawling grounds, Hartsfield Manor wedding venue offers the most wonderful dichotomy. As magnificent and imposing as it is from the exterior, it is cosy, warm and welcoming inside allowing you and your guests to feel right at home in this exquisite estate.

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Wotton House Hotel

Truly one of Surrey’s most magnificent hotel wedding venues, Wotton House Hotel is a stone’s throw away from our bridal shop, just on the outskirts of Dorking. It’s gardens are so impressive, they are Grade I listed and that’s before you step foot inside the venue. A long and winding driveway offers an enticing build up to the striking facade of the building. The Old Library, the most surprising and unique suite inside Wotton House is beyond breathtaking. Use this space for your ceremony and/or wedding breakfast before heading out for drinks in the sweeping grounds.

Image by J’Door Photography

Image by J’Door Photography


Burford Bridge Hotel

The Tithe Barn at Burford Bridge allows the rustic charm of a barn venue in a truly rural and unique location, just at the foot of the Box Hill. However, this beautiful venue also allows for a modern selection of light and bright hotel rooms looking over the gardens and the start of the iconic countryside. A gloriously high ceiling in the barn makes for dramatic photos and the most beautiful setting for your ceremony and/or wedding breakfast.

Image by Laurence & Ella Photography

Image by Laurence & Ella Photography


Cain Manor

Cain Manor is a jewel of a country house wedding venue, nestled on the brow of a hill among its own private land and surrounded by thick green English forest on the border of Surrey and Hampshire. Its long, winding driveway through private woodland serves as a perfect introduction to the rustic character of the house and estate. The venue oozes romance, rustic style and English countryside charm and is only available on an exclusive use basis for wedding celebrations and receptions

This beautiful barn-style country house joined the Bijou Wedding Venues family in 2003, since which time it has reveled in the hosting of truly spectacular barn-style wedding celebrations. It is licensed for civil ceremonies both inside and out and can seat up to 123 guests for your wedding breakfast.

Image from Bijou Weddings Website

Image from Bijou Weddings Website


Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa

Nutfield Priory is a four star country house hotel and spa in Redhill inspired by the Neo-Gothic splendour of the Palace of Westminster. This unique Victorian mansion house in Surrey, which dates back to 1872, delights with its stylish interiors hung with fine paintings, unique artwork and many original features. The hotel has 15 feature bedrooms and for that little extra indulgence, The Byron Suite located in the tower is spread over three floors and makes a wonderful choice for a romantic celebration.

Image by Catherine Pound Photography

Image by Catherine Pound Photography


Great Fosters

Set amongst 50 acres of stunning gardens and parkland, Great Fosters is a dreamy setting for your wedding day, whether you choose to exchange your vows in the majestic surroundings of The Orangery & Conservatory, or opt for a more intimate celebration in The Garden Room. The main house, which dates back to 1550, features a selection of beautiful historic suites and bedrooms, ideal for a memorable romantic escape, whilst The Cloisters and The Coach House offer a tempting array of suites and rooms.

Image from Hitched.co.uk

Image from Hitched.co.uk


Pennyhill Park

Pennyhill Park, an Exclusive Hotel & Spa is the ideal venue for your perfect wedding day. From an award-winning Michelin star dining experience, to the 124 luxurious bedrooms for your overnight guests, the hotel offers everything you could need for a sensational wedding celebration.

Image from Hitched.co.uk

Image from Hitched.co.uk


Kingswood Golf Club

Kingswood will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I ‘grew up’ in essence. I started working here at the age of 21, just after I finished university and finally took a leap of faith and left almost 7 years later. The venue has such a warm charm to it and is light, bright and airy with sweeping views over the manicured gardens and course. It doesn’t have a typical ‘old world’ golf club style and instead has neutral decor and the most beautiful ballroom with crystal chandeliers for your civil ceremony. The Lodge, is a purpose built luxury boutique hotel built on the grounds of the golf club. It is plush and modern with beautiful facilities and just enough bedrooms for your nearest and dearest as well as two killer bridal suites. Choose from the suite with the balcony that looks over the grounds or the ‘James Bond’ room which is an extensive suite complete with bath tub big enough for two, a dining table, a King sized bed (plus an extra double bed that comes out from the wall, just in case you want to stretch your legs!)

Image by Surrey Lane Photography

Image by Surrey Lane Photography


Aviator Hotel

Technically on the borders between Surrey and Hampshire, the Aviator hotel is a world away from a traditional ‘wedding’ venue. It’s super modern and slick with an extra helping of fancy! Positioned to capture the most impressive views of the neighbouring private TAG Farnborough Airport, 50ft from ground level the Sky Lounge is a versatile space designed to leave a lasting impression. Designed to host wedding ceremonies, wedding breakfasts and evening receptions, the Sky Lounge’s versatility means it can be designated for your personal use for the duration of your wedding to host and entertain guests. Architected as the premier event space at Aviator, the 4th floor at Aviator can also be used exclusively with the Sky Lounge, 4th floor rotunda and atrium and 19 luxurious Sky Suites, creating a contemporary setting for sophisticated weddings.

Image from Aviator Website

Image from Aviator Website

Northbrook Park

The perfect Surrey country wedding venue: this historic grade-II listed, 18th Century manor house, surrounded by manicured gardens, and handily located just outside of London, is ideal for wedding ceremonies, breakfasts and receptions up to 250 guests. Set within 120 acres of tranquil Surrey countryside, this stunning grade II-listed, 18th Century manor house, on its own estate, is this picture-perfect country house wedding venue.

Image by Natalie J Weddings

Image by Natalie J Weddings


SUSSEX

South Lodge Hotel & Spa

Beautifully set in 93 acres of Sussex parkland with panoramic views of the South downs, South Lodge is an idyllic location for a celebration to remember for the rest of your life. Private banqueting suites sharing a marble foyer area lead to a flowered terrace, rolling lawns and the beautiful lake. Offering the perfect setting is very important, our banqueting suites are licensed for your civil wedding or commitment ceremony. The suites and rooms at South Lodge are an irresistible fusion of the past and present. Every room is individually styled and designed so that no two are the same, with gorgeous soft furnishings, plump cushions and quirky furniture.

Image by Lisa Beaney

Image by Lisa Beaney


Alexander House Hotel Utopia & Spa

With four stunning ceremony and reception suites, a bespoke outdoor wedding gazebo, and a beautiful 120 acre estate for prime photo opportunities, our luxury wedding venue in West Sussex is the perfect setting for an unforgettable day for up to 90 day guests and 200 evening guests. Walk down the aisle, exchange vows, and celebrate your love surrounded by unparalleled beauty. One of the most distinguished wedding venues outside of London, Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa offers award-winning service, elegant interiors and grand architecture.

Image via The Wedding Secret

Image via The Wedding Secret


The Ravenswood

Set in the heart of the Ashdown Forest in Sharpthorne, West Sussex, The Ravenswood offers 18 acres of landscaped lawns, gardens and lakes.  These beautiful surroundings create an unforgettable atmosphere for your wedding party and their guests. There are three suites that can be used for your celebrations: The Princess Beatrice Suite (named after the daughter of Queen Victoria, who once lived here), The Jacobean Suite and The Baronial Hall.  They can cater up to 150 guests for your Wedding Breakfast and up to 300 guests for your evening party.  The Little Castle is perfect for those wishing to have their ceremony outside.

Image from Ravenswood Website

Image from Ravenswood Website


Goodwood House

Goodwood House lies at the heart of the Estate. Surrounded by stunning parkland, its opulent Regency interiors form the backdrop to one of the country’s finest art collections. As a family home it has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, a wedding here will be a relaxed yet special affair. The Goodwood Hotel offers a comfortable nights stay in chic surroundings, or for a night of luxury for you and your close wedding party, Hound Lodge is our exclusive-use luxury lodge. You and your guests will receive the very warmest of welcomes. With your own butler and chef you will not have to lift a finger as you are treated to everything you could possibly need. Your very own vintage bus, or defenders will be on hand to transport you and your guests around the Estate and make your wedding that little bit more special.

Image from Goodwood House Website

Image from Goodwood House Website


Amberley Castle

Nestled in the heart of the rolling South Downs lies a picturesque venue waiting to be discovered. Tucked behind a sixty-foot curtain wall in 12 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens, is the magical backdrop for your dream wedding. Whether you picture a romantically intimate gathering of your nearest and dearest or the decadence of your own private castle for a weekend, Amberley Castle offers everything you need for your special day. With 19 resplendent bedrooms, all luxuriously appointed and lovingly in-keeping with 900 years of history, Amberley Castle is the perfect retreat for you and your guests.

Image from Amberley Castle Website

Image from Amberley Castle Website


Balcombe Place

A Balcombe Place wedding can be a traditional fairy-tale or a wild and eccentric affair - maybe even a little of both. A private home situated along a private drive, with far reaching views over landscaped gardens, Balcombe Place is ready for you to make your very own. There are no hard and fast rules at Balcombe, although there are some guidelines, but the beauty of Balcombe Place is that it is your home away from home, and therefore it is down to you how you use the space.

With an array of enticing suppliers at your finger tips, an open mind and an unrivalled support network they are ready to help you create a day that you will remember for your lifetime. With five stunning reception rooms, formal gardens and the privacy of the surrounding estate, Balcombe Place is flexible to your needs and wants. You can decide how you would like to use the house and grounds for your wedding, inside or outside, formal and traditional or something quirky and relaxed. There are seven stunning bedrooms at Balcombe Place to use for your bridal party.

Image by Sarah London Photography

Image by Sarah London Photography


Froyle Park

A specialist Hampshire weddings and events venue, just outside of London, set in a magnificent 11th Century Jacobean manor and surrounded by 80 acres of rolling Hampshire countryside. This magnificent estate, located near the quaint village of Upper Froyle and surrounded by 80 acres of parkland, rolling hills, and sheep-dotted fields, is the quintessential country wedding or events venue. The elegant outdoor dome, with a backdrop of panoramic views of the Hampshire countryside, is perfect for wedding ceremonies, with seating for up to 240 guests.

Image by Real Simple Wedding Photography

Image by Real Simple Wedding Photography

Gate Street Barn – A Luxury Barn Wedding Venue in Surrey…

Gate Street Barn, nestled just outside of Guildford in a little village called Bramley, is nothing short of perfection. As a venue it has everything and as a team, they have everything covered to make your day unforgettable.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

The main barn where you can have your civil ceremony and it’s quite frankly exquisite. A truly magnificent barn that is perfect for couples looking for a little rustic glamour. There is a glass conservatory that has been lovingly added to the main barn, leading out to a courtyard area which is truly quaint. There are other buildings dotted around the courtyard including the main office space that is so in-keeping with the style of the property, you would think it was a little annex. There is also a wonderful cottage where guests can stay overnight to extend the celebrations. It is utterly charming and has a very traditional style.   

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Back to the main barn….

The vast size of the barn allows for a really fluid and private celebration. When you hire Gate Street Barn, you take the whole property. This means no restaurant, no public bars and no hotel rooms. It is an exclusive hire making the celebrations all the more intimate and personal. When it’s time for a drink post-ceremony, guests move through to the beautiful bar area, clad with luxury wood and a light and bright conservatory space that joins the bar and main room. This is a gorgeous place to relax and admire the rolling fields behind the property.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Time for dinner…

Head back to the main barn where as if by magic, your tables are dressed for dinner. Gate Street Barn has several options for catering and you will not be disappointed with any of them. From Kalm Kitchen to Just Jane, Tandem to Rhubarb, the team at Gate Street have picked some of Surrey’s finest catering companies to cater for their guests’ culinary whims.

Party time…

Drinks are flowing, celebrations are in full swing and It’s definitely time to put on your dancing shoes and take to the floor for some epic moves and photos! As the barn is an exclusive hire, your guests are free to mingle, relax in a quiet corner or chat by the bar in total privacy. The only thing left to do is grab a glass of wine and something to eat from the evening snack bar.

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

Photo by Fresh Shoots Studios

We are so proud to be one of only two recommended bridal boutiques for Gate Street Barn and offer fun and unique appointments for our brides in a relaxed and no-pressure environment. We have a gorgeous collection of dresses that fit the theme of Gate Street that we like to describe as ‘bohemian glam’. Taking earthy tones, playful materials, floral applique, interesting patterns and truly unique wedding dresses that fit with the luxurious yet rustic nature of the venue.

We have created a gallery below of our favourite bohemian style dresses that we think go perfectly with Gate Street Barn. For more information on this beautiful Surrey wedding venue or our bridal shop in Dorking, simply head to our website and get in touch!

All photos of Gate Street Barn were provided by one of our favourite Surrey Wedding Photographers, Fresh Shoots Studios.

Hannah & Team