Don't tweet from the church: Royal etiquette guide

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 2:57 PM

LONDON -- Don't give the queen a friendly hug and don't tweet from the church.

That's just the start of the advice being offered to those attending Britain's April 29 royal wedding.

St. James's Palace says the guest list is an eclectic mix of European royalty, military personnel, charity workers, diplomats and friends of Prince William and fiancee Kate Middleton. Some invitees will have been born into families that teach children to curtsey as soon as they can walk, but others may need a bit of help navigating the etiquette and protocol that such an important day demands.

Anyone who is invited to the royal wedding will be given detailed instructions on how and when to arrive at Westminster Abbey, where the wedding is being held.

The first rule: Don't be late.

"The queen should be the very last person to arrive at the church before the bride and her attendants," said wedding planner and etiquette adviser Sarah Hayward. "At most weddings, guests are asked to arrive around 20 minutes before the ceremony but the royal wedding will obviously have several important guests and very high levels of security so give yourself plenty of time to get there."

Next, choose an outfit that blends in.

Women should wear a dress - not too short, not too skimpy and certainly not white. Most British women will complete the look with a hat or a fascinator - a small feathered or jeweled hairpiece attached to a clip or a comb.

"Never ever ever do anything to draw too much attention to yourself," says Hayward. "It's the day the bride shines."

Men in the armed forces should wear a military uniform. Male civilians are asked to wear either lounge suits - business suits by another name - or a morning suit, formal attire that includes a long jacket and a vest. A tophat should be carried, not worn, inside the church.

Couples should remember they will be seen together.

"Often you see a husband and wife who look like they are going to two different events," says William Hanson, an expert on protocol who gives lessons around the world on proper behavior. "One person will be in something that looks like pajamas and the other is in black tie. You don't need to be color coordinated but do think about how your outfits look together."

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