When it comes to planning your perfect day, there are lots and lots of little details that you will have to oversee. From choosing your bridal party to creating a guest list, choosing registry items and thanking your guests, there are many aspects of your day that will require a lot of tact and sensitivity. In the hopes of helping to make things a little bit easier, I have compiled a list of pointers and etiquette guidelines that will help you navigate some common situations with poise and grace. Here we go!
CHOOSING YOUR BRIDAL PARTY
Even before you tackle the guest list, think about those special people that you want standing beside you on your big day (aka your bridal party). Select those closest friends or family members whom you trust to support you during the planning process and beyond. Take your time and give this some very serious thought, as once you have asked, it would be considered very poor etiquette to go back on your decision. Think carefully about each individual you are considering. Do you see yourself being close to this person five years down the road? Will his/her personality mesh with the rest of the group? Is he/she responsible? Be selective, remember, you will be spending a lot of time with these lovely people leading up to the wedding day. Do not be tempted to rush through this task.
Tip: Remember, a bride can choose to have a “Man of Honor” and a groom can choose to have a “Best Woman” stand beside them. Feel free to tweak traditions to make your day perfectly yours!
THE GUEST LIST
Certainly, one of the most daunting tasks for a newly engaged couple is that of creating a guest list. It is important to keep in mind that your wedding day is about you as a couple and your guest list should include those you treasure and love. This particular task may take you into some tricky territory, so here are a few common dilemmas and how to go about handling them:
“Plus-One” / Significant Other: A plus-one is a must for your guests who are married, engaged or in a long-term relationship. You are not obligated to include a plus-one for all of your single guests, especially if they will be amongst friends or are part of your family. However, it would be a thoughtful gesture to include a plus-one for single, out-of-town friends who may not know other guests at your reception.
Officiant: Inviting the officiant to your wedding reception is a nice gesture if your guest count allows it, however it is not mandatory unless you have known him/her for a number of years. If your officiant is hired for your wedding day only, it is not necessary.
Boss/Co-workers: Do not feel obligated to invite your boss or your co-workers to your wedding, unless of course they are part of your inner circle outside of the office, and you want to include them. Be mindful when discussing wedding details with your office besties during work hours, as you want to be sensitive to those who will not be invited.
Children: This is likely one of the more delicate situations you will encounter when planning your guest-list. Although it is considered poor etiquette to say “Adult Only Reception” or “No Children” in your invitations, you can politely ask for the “Number of Adults Attending” in you reply card or say “We have reserved two places for you”. This is a subtle way to let your guests know that they will have to make alternate arrangements for their children. Traditionally, if children are not mentioned in the invitation, it means that they are not invited, but if this method proves too subtle for some of your guests and you receive RSVPs with children’s names on them, your best bet is to be honest and promptly give them a call to gently explain that it is an adult reception. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent. If you are not inviting children, try not to make exceptions, as this will certainly result in some parents being offended.
A note on children: Of course, there are some ways to include children while still maintaining an adult-only reception. If your budget allows it, you can set aside a room for kids only with games and fun foods (ask your caterer for details). There are many professional event child care services out there (check out Little Party Goers) that will create a great environment for kids while the grown-ups are enjoying the reception.
Definitely one of the fun parts of wedding planning is setting up your registry. Choose at least three different retailers and offer your guests a good variety of price points as this will allow them to find a gift that you are sure to love, while sticking to their preferred budget. Do not…I repeat, DO NOT include registry information in your invitation. A gift is a gift and guests are free to choose what they want to give you, any registry information in your invitation could imply that it is an obligation. You may include registry information in your wedding website, or have your Maid of Honor/Best Man, and family members relay this information to inquiring guests.
THANK YOU NOTES
After all is said and done, your wedding would not have been the same without all of your special guests. Take the time to thank them for attending and sharing your day, as well as for any gifts they gave you to help you along in your married life. Send your thank-you cards as soon as possible (ideally within three months) and make them personal. Make sure they are handwritten and if possible mention the specific gift given and how you are (or will be) making use of it. If the gift was monetary, you do not need to make mention of the amount, but feel free to say what you might be putting it towards. Here are some examples:
Dear Aunt Mandy,
Thank you so very much for the lovely dinner set. We look forward to sharing many home-cooked meals with loved ones for years to come! Will you join us for dinner on Saturday, April 10?
Lots of love,
Cindy and Mike
Dear Aunt Mandy,
Thank you so very much for your generous gift. Mike and I will be putting it towards a gorgeous espresso maker we absolutely love! We hope you can join us for a coffee soon.
Cindy and Mike
I hope these guidelines help you along as you plan your wonderful, fun-filled, very special day. Remember not to look at wedding etiquette as a chore, but rather as a way to be courteous to those you love. At times it can be very simple, at others seemingly complicated, so as a general rule always remember to show others the respect that you would like to be shown to you. Lots of love and happy planning!
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