Your William and Kate Royal Wedding Etiquette Guide

Posted on April 28, 2011


I checked my mailbox every day, but the invitation to William and Kate’s wedding never arrived.  I assume my name was on the bubble, but when Elton John heard about my ability to turn every wedding reception into Paul’s personal karaoke party he was afraid I’d steal some of his thunder.  Still, I’m excited for the wedding and think it’s a perfect occasion to learn more about Britain, America’s neighbors to the south.  Or maybe it’s west. I’ll check on this.

I asked my British friends if they’re as excited about the wedding as I am.  Half answered no, with a frown and a shrug.  The other half answered yes, they were excited, also replying with a frown and a shrug.

I asked my Canadian and Australian friends how they felt about Kate’s addition to the family of their British overlords, and they didn’t like the way I phrased the question.

I asked my American friends if they were excited for Britain’s big wedding, and they said, “What’s Britain?”

If you’re an American who has been invited to the wedding, know that the British have different wedding customs, and you should take note of the following:

1. Women: What to wear? Do not wear the same thing as Kate.  Wearing a wedding dress if you are not the one getting married is considered poor form throughout the United Kingdom.  Also in America.  Also everywhere.

2. Men: What to wear?  Same advice as to the women–do not wear the same thing as Kate.

3. Gift: I assume William and Kate will receive some fairly expensive gifts, and no matter how much you spend your gift will pale in comparison.  Your best choice is to get something so cheap it’s funny, like a DVD box set of The Tudors.  Although if you really want to make a splash with your gift, it would be pretty impressive if you could somehow give back America, India, and Hong Kong.

4. Bouquet: In America if you catch the bouquet, superstition says you’ll be the next to marry.  In Britain if you catch the bouquet you’ll be the next to catch bubonic plague.  Not a fun tradition, but still required by law.  The House of Lords and florists have called for its discontinuance.

5. Rice: The British don’t throw rice at weddings, they throw dirty looks.  Also on all other occasions.

6. Wedding reception: It is inappropriate to grab Kate and shout, “Conga line!”  The British version of the Conga line is just a line, and you don’t touch each other, and there’s no dancing.

7. Seeing the bride before the wedding: In America, it’s considered bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.  In Britain it’s bad luck not to see Kate on TV 24 hours a day for a year before the wedding.

8. Decorating the getaway car: In America it’s common to decorate the getaway car with shaving cream, soap on the windows, and to fill the inside of the car with something.  The British version of the tradition is to wave as the car drives past.

9. Toast: If you give a toast mentioning you’ve slept with the bride or the groom it’s considered bad manners.  If you mention you’ve slept with the bride and the groom it’s considered very interesting.

10. Reception line: When you greet William, probably not a good idea to say, “I hope you’ll be just as happy as your parents.”

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Posted in: Advice