On Monday morning Prince Harry and Meghan Markle told the world they are expecting their first child early next year. Despite the happy news, many were quick to wonder when the Duke and Duchess told the rest of the royal family.
It soon emerged that senior members of the firm were made privy to the pregnancy on Friday – the day of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s wedding.
Despite logistically making sense – Markle probably wasn’t knocking back the champagne and was about to embark on a tour of Australia where she will be photographed for 16 days straight (not easy to hide a growing baby bump) – people have accused the couple of committing the ultimate wedding guest sin.
On Twitter Ali Schwartz from California said: “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure it’s etiquette not to upstage a wedding with a baby announcement.”
Corrine, a student from Warwick, said: “Hang on Meghan announced her pregnancy at Eugenie’s wedding - god forbid anyone ever tries to upstage me like that.”
Another agreed: “They couldn’t wait at least a week after Eugenie’s wedding before announcing their news? Instead, they told the family on the day of her wedding like wow, way to upstage the bride on her day. What does Andrew have to say about this? RUDE!”
Mark Right, from Leicester, who got married last year, told HuffPost UK: “I never would have thought of myself as an attention-seeking diva type but I did find myself feeling for Eugenie about what happened. After you’ve planned your big day and dreamed about it for so long you don’t want other people talking about someone else’s happy news all day.”
Regardless of the logistics – Harry and Meghan probably saw it as their last opportunity to make a face-to-face announcement to their family before the rest of the world found out – sharing the news on someone else’s big day is clearly a major faux pas for many people.
So how do you ensure that you don’t stand accused of upstaging a bride and groom on their wedding day? Is it simply a case of not making any personal announcements and leaving a sufficient window either side of the big day so no one can suggest you are trying to ‘steal their thunder’. Or is it more nuanced than that? Are there other ways you can upstage people too?
Bernadette Chapman, who runs the UK alliance of wedding planners, says in her experience there are three ways that a bride could be upstaged on her wedding day. By making a marriage proposals, by announcing a pregnancy and by wearing a white dress when you’re not the actual bride.
Chapman says: “We know of one instance where the sister of the bride was proposed to just before the first dance. We also know of a bridesmaid that was demoted from her future sister in law’s wedding as she was recently engaged and the bride didn’t want to be upstaged on the day.”
As for white dresses, Chapman said she planned a wedding where the mother in law and sister in law wore white dresses. “Much to the shock of the bride.”
To address both of these issues, Chapman says: “Don’t use a wedding as the opportunity to publicly propose to your loved one. Yes, you might feel it is perfect as everyone is there to witness it but its not an appropriate time to do so. This in my opinion is a tad rude and disrespectful. A definite no no.”
And female guests: be considerate about what you’re wearing to avoid any death stares as you enter the church.
When it comes to pregnancy, however, Chapman says it can be complicated. “In my opinion the first two are not acceptable whereas a pregnancy can sometimes be impossible to hide.”
One wedding planner she knows, Michelle of Ritzy Events, was pregnant at her brother’s wedding, her zip broke on her dress and she wasn’t drinking alcohol. She therefore felt she had no choice but to tell family she was pregnant.
Chapman says: “If you are early stages of pregnancy and don’t feel you can hide the sickness or not drinking then consider telling a few close friends before the wedding. Ask them to keep it quiet and ask for their support hiding the pregnancy from other guests and the bride.
“Remind them not to talk about the pregnancy at the wedding nor make references to their tummy and reiterate you want the day to be about the bride and groom not you. Doing it this way stops the loud speculating on the wedding day which could be construed as upstaging.”
Bride Jane Bradley agreed that this would be acceptable behaviour: “I honestly would not have given a crap if one of my mates had announced their pregnancy at my wedding. It’s joyful news and you love your friends so you’re happy for them and imagine hard to hide if not drinking.”
If you’re unsure, best to check with the bride and groom themselves before you make any public declarations.