William, Hanson reveals the new rules for Covid wedding etiquette

William, Hanson reveals the new rules for Covid wedding etiquette

The new wedding etiquette rules YOU need to know: William Hanson reveals why ‘ludicrous’ fist bumps, matching your face mask to your outfit or texting the bride if you’ve been pinged will make you look common

  • EXCLUSIVE: William Hanson tells FEMAIL the new social etiquette for weddings
  •  Masks should never be matched to outfits and guests should be tested before
  • Debrett’s etiquette expert also shared the Covid-safe wedding rules 

For years wedding etiquette has remained unchanged, never wear white unless you’re the bride, always have an open bar, and keep speeches short and sweet.

But after a year of postponed, shrunk down and cancelled nuptials, is there a new set of social guidelines to follow?

As thousands of couples get ready to tie the knot this summer,etiquette expert William Hanson shared the new rules for keeping Covid-safe during ceremonies and receptions, while still passing the muster for the social set.

Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, William revealed the dos and don’t for wedding season, including never matching your mask to your outfit…

Throwing confetti is okay to do – but check with the venue first, Liz advises. Stock image is pictured 


‘Although mask-wearing is not as prevalent or required as before, all guests should have a clean one on standby in case they arrive at any part of the venue that asks them to wear them.

‘A key part of weddings is how the guests dress – it’s half the fun, and many put much thought into their outfits. The rule is now that masks should complement the outfit but not match.

‘The same rule as for men’s top pocket-handkerchiefs applies – it should complement or tone but not match exactly.

‘If you have gone to the (frankly) ridiculous effort to get your mask in the same fabric as your dress or tie, then woe-betide your social kudos.’.


‘In the current climate, I’d much rather attend someone’s wedding and find some easily absorbed, fragrant anti-bac on my place setting than a saccharine bag of sugared almonds, or other beyond naff wedding ‘favor’.

‘Hosts don’t need to have individual pots of germ-busting gel on the table – a communal dispenser at the entrance to the venue will suffice. 

‘Still, it would be careless for couples to have a wedding today without paying lip service to the heightened hygiene requirements of the age.

Should you ever go in the first place? 

All this is very well and good – but let’s be honest with ourselves. Over the last few months, we’ve been invited to parties and events where we are reasonably confident that those attending won’t be following a COVID-safe policy.

Weddings are perhaps the worst best example of this. It’s only human for guests to think, ‘is it worth possibly getting COVID/pinged at this event?’ If the answer is yes, that’s your call. But if the answer is no, then guests should decline the invitation.

Traditional etiquette states that you do not need to tell hosts why you cannot attend. That said, if the wedding is your best friend or sibling, for example, you are going to have to tell them.

But for B category and below friends, if you can’t go, you simply reply in the negative without listing your excuse.


‘If money were no object, sending all guests their own lateral flow test a week or so before the wedding is a nice touch that will calm those who may be anxious about socialising in larger numbers than usual.

‘But budget and practicality may make this a non-starter. 

‘So the minimum hosts should do is politely request on the additional information sheet, or – dare I say it – wedding website, that all guests take a test the day of or before the wedding.

‘If any of the venues have COVID requirements – such as showing a vaccine certificate or COVID pass – hosts must inform guests in advance of this.

‘Some suggested wording: “The venue have asked the wedding party and all guests to bring proof of double-vaccination, a recent negative lateral flow test or natural immunity. 

“You can do this using the NHS COVID Pass, an NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 test notification, or an internationally recognised equivalent.’


‘Much drama! The day before or, worse, the day of the wedding, you get pinged, called by Test and Trace or test positive for COVID. Obviously, you cannot go to the wedding.

‘Even if the bride and groom insist it’ll be fine, and they are relaxed, attending is the wrong thing to do. Their insistence you come, putting all their other guests at risk, speaks volumes. (You can review your friendship with them after the wedding.)

‘If the Big C means you have to pull out legitimately, do it on the telephone. A shy apology text is only going to rankle your hosts and they do deserve better.

‘Hosts should accept last-minute drop-outs with good grace and not make the guests feel bad for doing the right thing and isolating.

‘The day before the wedding, call the couple directly. 

‘On the day of, it may be better to contact someone else in the wedding party who will be less stressed getting the hair just right or toying with which shade of soft rose blush to apply to their cheekbones.

‘When sending out the additional information sheets, hosts today should include a contact number for the day for guests to call if there is such a drama.

As thousands of couples get ready to tie the knot this summer,etiquette expert William Hanson shared the new rules for keeping Covid-safe during ceremonies and receptions, while still passing the muster for the social set.


‘Traditionally, the wedding party would greet all guests in a receiving line at the wedding breakfast or reception entrance, shaking hands and hugging a plenty.

‘If all guests have done testing and are being sensible, there’s now no reason not to keep the receiving line. 

‘But for more COVID anxious guests, trotting down the line they can take a proactive approach and not extend their hand or arms for the more conventional greeting and offer a contactless one.

‘And by that, we mean a namaste or hand on heart. Elbow and fist bumps are ludicrous and not contact-free.

‘The people in the receiving line should be on alert to read the body language of each guest and alter how they greet accordingly.

Debrett’s reveal the post COVID wedding rules, from not serving finger food to avoiding talking about Covid over dinner 

 By Bridie Pearson-Jones for MailOnline 

Liz Wyse, etiquette expert at Debrett’s shared the new rules for keeping Covid-safe during ceremonies and receptions.

Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Liz revealed that couples should provide guests with hand sanitisers and avoid serving finger food, while she added that it’s ‘perfectly fine’ for hosts to ask guests to take lateral flow tests before the wedding.

For guests, respecting couples rules is key – while you should even discuss Covid-19.

Here, she tells FEMAIL the dos and don’ts for wedding season… 


Keep guest informed on Covid policies 

‘If you are hosting a wedding soon after the lifting of Covid restrictions, it’s only natural that some guests may be feeling anxious about attending an event,’ Liz explained. 

‘Equally, guests will most likely be confused about what is and isn’t allowed. Ensure you communicate clearly about what’s expected, and what you will be doing to keep the wedding safe.

‘If your wedding venue has a Covid-safe policy, make the information available to guests and perhaps include a link to any relevant web pages when contacting your guests,’ she added.

As thousands of couples get ready to tie the knot this summer, Liz Wyse, etiquette expert at Debrett’s shared the new rules for keeping Covid-safe during ceremonies and reception s, while still passing the muster for the social set, including providing hand sanitiser (stock image)

Provide hand sanitiser and allow guests to wear masks

‘If you are hosting yourselves, let people know what measures will be in place: ensure fresh air is circulating, hand gel is provided, that there are hand-washing facilities with plenty of soap and masks are available if they will be required at any point.

‘While masks are no longer mandatory, make it clear that anyone who prefers to wear one is welcome to.

‘Keep an eye on official guidance and if anything changes, let guests know as soon as you can,’ Liz added.

Confetti and bubbles is okay

‘During the pandemic, some venues and authorities have advised against throwing confetti and blowing bubbles. 

‘While this is often at the discretion of the venue or couple, it’s best to let your guests know your decision in advance’.

It’s okay to ask guests to take a Covid test before the big day – but don’t ask small children to do so, Liz added (stock image)

It’s okay to ask guest to get tested before the wedding 

‘It is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to take a lateral flow test prior to the wedding, indeed it will probably help everyone relax. 

‘Several large events this summer, including Wimbledon, the Euros and Goodwood Festival of Speed, required guests to test before entry and it may even be a requirement of your wedding venue. 

‘However, you will need to let people know in plenty of time so they can obtain testing kits. 

‘Do not insist that small children take a lateral flow test.’

Don’t serve finger food 

While cheese, bruschetta and olives are usually a delightful treat – avoid serving finger foods for now (stock image) 

‘While Covid is still an issue, avoid finger foods, shared plates and canapes. 

‘Even if you feel the risk is low, your guests may be uncomfortable about eating them,’

Accept apologies with grace 

‘Don’t be offended if any invitees feel unable to accept your invitation; accept their decision with good grace. 

‘Perhaps they are still anxious or they may have a health condition they’d rather not discuss. Listen graciously to any concerns, and adapt if you can.’


Respect the rules 

‘If you have been invited to a wedding, respect the stipulations of the couple as you would with any other wedding requirement such as no children or no stiletto heels. 

‘If you’d like to attend but have concerns you feel haven’t been addressed, have a quiet word with the hosts to see if you can be accommodated.

Know when to politely decline 

‘If you feel strongly that requests are beyond the pale, it is better to politely decline the invitation than argue the toss with a couple who’ve planned a wedding in a pandemic, most likely with cancellations, disruption, disappointment and extra expense.

Check if people are okay to hug     

As we emerge from social distancing, remember that not everyone will be on the same page and give a cheery wave in place of a hug (stock image) 

‘We Brits can be awkward enough when it comes to social greetings; should it be a single kiss, a double, a hug or a handshake? As we emerge from social distancing, remember that not everyone will be on the same page. 

‘If you’re still feeling wary, a cheery wave can fend off a potential hugger. Failing that, a polite, ‘Sorry, I’m not quite ready for hugging!’ should do the trick. 

‘Once the alcohol has begun to flow, you may find yourself swept up in an embrace, in which case, hold your breath and attempt to extricate yourself as swiftly as you can. 

‘Should you find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted physical contact, try not to drench yourself in hand sanitiser while still talking to the offending person.

‘If you’re at the other end of the spectrum, delighted to find yourself surrounded by friends and family and keen to throw your arms around everyone, do ask, ‘Are we hugging?’ first

Don’t talk about Covid 

‘While the pandemic has of course dominated all of our lives, make sure the subject does not dominate the conversation at what is meant to be a happy occasion. 

‘It is at best tedious and at worst upsetting. Steer the subject well away from vaccine chat and gloomy statistics. 

‘Covid will, of course, creep in, but tales of how you met the happy couple, discussions about the venue and food and even small talk about the weather are preferable’.

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