Events etiquette is a large ocean which you need to carefully navigate – unless you want to get shipwrecked on the Island of Embarrassment, or at best run aground on the Rocks of Shame.

Most of us have a funny story about someone who committed a faux pas at a function; or worse yet, know someone who is always that guy who takes over the conversation, drinks too much and ends up in a fountain, or always answers his phone smack bang in the middle of importance moments – you know, that guy. Knowing your fish fork from your bread knife and when to wear or not to wear a tux can be murky waters.

Let’s look at some of the golden rules of etiquette that, when followed, will have you sailing off into the Sunset of Success in no time.

  • Invitations and RSVPs

It’s simple: If the invitation is for you and a guest, you can take someone along. If the invitation is addressed to you by name, with no mention of an accompanying guest, do not show up with a plus one – generally, events cater only for the invitees and showing up with an uninvited guest messes up catering, table placements and budgets, and is just plain rude.

Your RSVP is your map to the event – it contains all the information you need regarding time, venue, date, dress code and reason for the function. Use this information! Show up on time, suitably dressed and prepared.

The actual meaning of RSVP says it all – Please Respond. As the planning for the event has various elements that will depend on the number of attendees, it is very important to respond to the invitation on or before the stipulated date.

  • Dress code

The dress code should be stipulated on the invite, so you have no excuse to disregard it. If the event involves an invite, a venue and catering, chances are it’s a reasonably formal event. Use the dress code as per the invite to guide you:

– Black tie: Formal evening wear, i.e. a tuxedo for men and a long, formal dress for women.

– Business attire: Suits and dresses you would wear to work in a corporate environment.

– Business casual: Trousers or chinos with long-sleeved shirts, dresses as you would wear to work in a more casual environment (but keep it modest and classy). This can include “jackets and ties required”.

  • Arrival

A lot of planning goes into an event, so the least attendees can do is arrive on time. Invites will usually allow some leeway, e.g. 18h30 for 19h00. That means that you should arrive by 18h30 or shortly thereafter, as you need to find your seat and greet people. This must all be done by 19h00, when the programme will formally start.

Stay until the function is over. If it ends with a dinner or drinks and snacks where people can mingle, you can leave after 15 to 30 minutes. There are few things as rude as people leaving earlier, creating a distraction and ruining the presentation/ceremony/performance for everyone. Don’t be that person.

So you’re at the event and inside the venue. Who to greet, what to say and which one is the right spoon? Check out our next blog for the second part of this blog, where we will take you through the rest of the rules of engagement (at events).


From corporate dinners to wondrous weddings, UP A TONE Events will cover every aspect of your event and take care of all the details, so that you can focus on what really matters: your guests. Contact us today to find a one-stop solution for your event.