The Non-Bride Guide to Wedding Season

Here's everything you need to know before hitting up the next banquet

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Here's everything you need to know before hitting up the next banquet

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1 Decoding the invite

V You should attend both the ceremony and reception if you are invited to both.

V If there is a wedding theme and dress code, try your best to respect them. No dress code? A garden reception generally means sundresses and sandals, while a more traditional dinner banquet usually means cocktail or formal floor-length dresses. And please don’t let your date wear jeans!

X Don’t assume you can bring someone. This means if there’s no “and partner” on your invite, you’re on your own. Given the effort the happy couple put into creating guest lists, it’s mostly not appropriate to ask either. 

2 Guest etiquette

You don’t have to be the model guest, but these rules ain’t rocket science.

RSVP on time

As a guest, respect the RSVP deadline so the wedding party can confirm their numbers (most hotels need this a month before).

Don’t wear anything bride-like

It’s generally understood that wearing white to a wedding is bad form (unless the dress code says so). But this extends to wearing anything bride-like (think lace, mermaid or fulllength gowns). All-black outfits are also a no-go – it’s too sombre, especially for an Asian wedding.

Arrive on time

The only one allowed to make a late entrance is the bride. Aim to reach about 20 minutes before the ceremony starts. If you do arrive late, wait till the “I dos” are done, and see if you can slip in without calling attention to yourself.

Let the photographer through

Priority should always go to the professional photographer (after all, that’s what they’re being paid for, right?). So let them get a good shot of the couple instead of leaning towards the aisle to take a photo of the bride walking in, or rushing up the altar to photograph the first kiss. 

Presents vs presence

This is relatively easy here, where money is always welcome. The general rule is cover your share. If you’re invited to one where tables cost $2,000+, just give as much as you can. For religious weddings, if there’s a meal served, the going rate is $20 to $50. If you prefer giving an actual gift, that’s fine too.

Keep it offline

Not everyone wants their wedding to be Insta-famous straight away (and that includes Instagram stories). Ask the couple’s preference for photos when it comes to social media. If they have a hashtag, tag away!

3 The hen party
Being a bridesmaid means planning the hen night (or weekend). Whether the bride-to-be is looking for a night of unadulterated fun or a cosy weekend with the girls, here are some ideas.
Staying in Singapore?
1 Paint the town red
Looking to get properly sauced up before the big day? Rent a limo or party bus for the ultimate night out with the girls.
Cosmosine ( limos have bar and karaoke facilities, and can fit up to 18 guests. Want more? Choose from a slew of decor themes, party games and more.
Party in style with Singapore Party Bus ( The fleet of buses and SUV limos have dedicated chauffeurs and host services.
2 A pampering spa session or makeover
Because being a bride is stressful, why not help her wind down?
A tranquil space at the Singapore Polo Club, you and your friends will be properly pampered with Lush Spa’s Sparty packages. The best part? You don’t have to travel between places to enjoy a good massage, soothing spa session, and drinks.
Get glammed up with The Big Blow’s Pamper Parties! A panel of expert stylists will be on hand to ready you and your friends with hair and makeup services at the salon or your home. 
3 Private dinners
Get fancy with a private dining experience so you can be rowdy and not worry.
Dining at Xi Yan Private Dining at Craig Road is like having a meal at home, only fancier. There, you’ll get to savour the Chef’s lunch or dinner menu that’s specially tailored to your tastes. The space also offers facilities like a microphone, music selection, plus balloons, a photographer and more.
The Sunday Room at The White Rabbit offers plenty of natural light, as well as an old-world charm. With its mouthwatering European-inspired menu and stunning decor, the room is perfect for groups of 10 to 20 people. 
Going away?
Get the girls together and head somewhere around the region for a short bonding trip! Popular and affordable destinations within two hours of Singapore include Bali, Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi, but other cities like Yangon, Ho Chi Minh, Langkawi, Ko Phangan and Palawan are worth a visit too. These don’t take too much of a toll on your wallet, and are great places to check out if you haven’t been there. At the end of the day, it really boils down to your preferences – are you looking for a relaxing getaway, or one that’s packed with shopping, cheap food and massages?

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4 The bride tribe

Besides planning her last night out as a single woman, your job as a bridesmaid is also about all things practical on the day, like...

Appointing a leader

It’s not necessarily the maid-of-honour, and everyone’s got different skills. Figure out who will mobilise the troops best, and let her do the job.

Being upfront

If you have concerns about practical things, like the cost of dresses or accommodation, make that known early.

Thinking ahead

Sometimes, the bride doesn’t actually know what she wants or needs on the day! That’s where awesome bridesmaids come in. Someone should always be on blotting duty, dress duty, handphone duty and also coordinating with the groom, wedding planner, band and so on. Have a kit with safety pins, tissue and mints with you at all times.

Never complaining about the dress

At least not to the bride…

Helping with enquiries on the actual day

Whether it’s directing the guests to the toilets or their seats, or fielding well-wishers away from the bridal suite, help the bride out by doubling as a coordinator.

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5 Dress to impress

Wedding dress codes can be terrifying, so follow these handy tips for a no-fail outfit.

Religious ceremonies or solemnisations followed by lunch receptions

Knee-length dresses or formal separates in lighter hues are appropriate for church weddings. Sleeveless tops are OK, but avoid anything too revealing.

Dinner receptions at a restaurant or hotel

A floor-length dress or shorter cocktail dress will do nicely. For the latter, accessorise with a statement clutch, jewellery and heels to make your look more formal.

Beach or garden weddings

Skip the heavy fabrics (too hot), heels (that might sink into the sand or soil), and short dresses with light fabrics that may give rise to some embarrassing upskirt moments.

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6 General wedding trivia…
Why brides throw flowers (and other things you wondered about).
Brides in Ancient Rome wore flower garlands to signify new beginnings, fertility and good luck. In the Middle Ages, herbs were carried to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. It wasn’t till the Victorian era that flowers became part of the bouquet we know today.
The tea ceremony remains an important aspect of Chinese weddings. The ceremony is a formal introduction of the bride and groom to both families and their relatives. The tea is served warm with red dates and lotus seeds for good luck and fertility.
Used in both Indian and Malay weddings, the henna or Mehndi ceremony usually takes place two days before the wedding. During the ceremony, ornate patterns are drawn onto the bride’s hands and feet, and are witnessed by the bride’s close friends and female relatives. Traditionally, the patterns are supposed to incorporate the couple’s names. For Malay ceremonies, the couple’s fingertips are stained with henna to signify their newlywed status.
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7 What’s trending down the aisle
From drip cakes to off-the-shoulder gowns, expect to see these trends featured at this year’s weddings.
Green weddings
Thanks to Pantone’s Colour of the Year, Greenery, we are now seeing more green arrangements that are refreshing, easy on the eye and cheaper than lush blooms.
Off-shoulder dresses
Making its way from the runways to the bridal salons, off-shoulder dresses dominated searches on Pinterest this year. And whether you’re looking to channel Disney princess or boho chic, there’s something for every bride.
Drip cakes
Going naked’s no longer cool, as these drip cakes with tantalising frosting and cream now take centrestage.

Images Text Amanda Tan. Some prices unavailable at press time.